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SHOP LOCAL – This is the first in a three-part series on shopping local in Yellow Springs for the holidays. Villagers who wish to make a pledge to shop local may sign up in downtown stores or by e-mail to . Yellow Springers may pledge to do all, most or as much shopping as possible in the village.

Across the country last weekend, crowds of frenzied shoppers descended upon big box stores to find bargains for the holidays, standing in line overnight, pounding on doors, and then, at opening time, dashing down aisles to grab bargains. In this time of economic hardship, the annual frenzy reached new heights — or rather, a new low — when at a Long Island Wal-Mart a security guard died after being trampled by shoppers.

Things were a little bit different in downtown Yellow Springs.

“Shopping in town gives me pleasure,” said Liz Porter on Saturday afternoon, as she strolled through Asanda Imports, a new Kings Yard store that features colorful handmade imports from Thailand. “Because it nourishes the town, I feel nourished as well.”

While most people in downtown stores over the weekend were from out of town, some locals could be found doing their holiday shopping in the village. Those interviewed said a combination of factors kept them in town, including the satisfaction of running into people they know, the desire to promote local businesses and their insistence that their shopping habits reflect sustainable energy practices.

“Shopping downtown is not just about supporting local businesses, but also about supporting a system that’s positive for the environment,” said Rose Byrnes, who was checking out pottery at Yellow Springs Pottery. “It’s about not driving all over, not having things shipped. It’s about being in contact with the people you live with who are selling things, about those relationships and connections.”

She likes buying local pottery for gifts, Byrnes said, and she also plans to shop this year at Living Green.

In business a little over a year, Living Green was crowded with customers Saturday afternoon. Locals have shown significant support for the store, which is just beginning its second year, according to owner C.J. Grigsby.

“We had a great Christmas season last year, but over the winter months the locals were what kept us going,” Grigsby said. “People say, ‘we’re glad you’re here, we want you to stay.’ They like the option of having green products.”

On Friday, Bruce Cornett did some holiday shopping at Living Green, picking up environmental board games and generator-powered flashlights.

“We want gifts from us to represent what we’re about. Otherwise, why give them?” said Cornett, a longtime environmental activist. As well as appreciating Living Green’s products, he favors the international gifts that can be found in places such as Global Gallery.

“We can go downtown and see things made all over the world and made by real people,” Cornett said, adding that he and his wife, Carol, do most of their holiday shopping in Yellow Springs because they value a vibrant downtown.

“We think our shops are part of our distinctive nature, what makes this town unique,” he said. “We try hard to shop local.”

In Kings Yard, local resident Pat Siemer said she also appreciates the distinctive items she finds in the village.

“Things are more unique here,” she said. “They’re different from what you find in the mall.” She likes to give family and friends the soaps at Earth Rose and the plants at the Village Greenery, among other things, Siemer said.

For Nancy Mellon, the village provides many holiday gifts for her two teenage sons, including comics from Super-Fly, tie-dyed clothing from the Tie Dye Shop and original t-shirts by Robert Paschell. She likes to give books, and if local stores don’t have what she wants, they’re happy to place an order.

“There are plenty of things for teenagers,” she said.

A member of Village Artisans, Mellon prefers artistic gifts for her friends and other family members. And if she can’t find something in a store, she’ll go to an artist directly.

“There are so many different artists here, you can always get something special,” she said.

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