For the past month, DNAinfo.com New York has been running subway ads featuring objects you–hopefully–don’t often see on your morning commute, such as the giant meat cleaver that dominates a promo for a pig butchering class at The Brooklyn Kitchen.
The cleavers and salamis and bongo drums lining MTA trains are part of a campaign encouraging New Yorkers to patronize the city’s small businesses this holiday season, rather than doing their shopping online. A comprehensive gift guide at DNAinfo.com offers suggestions at every price point for everyone on a New Yorker’s list, from boss to toddler to new girlfriend.
Gift guide author Victoria Floethe writes, “Much can be said for the convenience of the two-click online purchase, but shopping local will reignite your love affair with New York.”
Floethe gamely provides suggestions such as spa packages for best friends, quirky rubber stamps for your office Secret Santa, and a wind-up musical robot for the teen boy in your life who apparently would not skulk out of the room in disgust when presented with such a gift.
But much as New Yorkers love to talk about knowing the guy who makes the best pickles or the three trains you can take to get the most authentic haircut or the place where the bagels are special because in 1947 something happened to the building’s water pipes, New Yorkers also love to talk about how busy they are.
Is your average harried New Yorker really going to change up their schedule to pick up truffle salt from that one place that’s supposed to be great for their sister-in-law? Or will they surf the gift guides that have grown popular among bloggers in the past several years that link directly to items on Amazon.com?
If DNAinfo’s gift guide can help local businesses in New York earn a holiday boost alongside the retail giants offering discounts on already-lower-priced-if-impersonal consumer items, it will be a strong statement about the economic–and not simply sentimental–significance of shopping local.
But with the National Retail Federation estimating that between stores and websites, shoppers spent $59.1 billion during what is now called “Black Friday Weekend” (RIP Thanksgiving?), that’s an awful lot of truffle salt.