Shopping Season: AmazonSmile

Did you avoid Black Friday or embrace it? How about Small Business Saturday? My Instagram and Twitter feeds were overflowing with fun images of local shopping. What will you do for Cyber Monday? In our world, many people shop online because of the wider variety available (basically everything) or the convenience or the prices (sometimes true, sometimes not). Online shopping can mean local businesses or small businesses online, websites like Etsy, or, of course, Amazon.

My confession: I shop online, sometimes at Amazon. It’s easy to find anything. Sigh. It’s conflicting. But, I’d still choose Amazon over Walmart. Does anyone else feel that way? Well, here’s something to make you feel a bit better.

If you’re shopping on Amazon on Cyber Monday (or any day, actually) consider going to Why? Because if you choose a charitable organization, then 0.5% of your purchase will go to that organization. In Vermont, you can choose the Preservation Trust of Vermont. When you choose your charity, type in “preservation” and many organizations come up for your choosing. The trick is to always remember to sign into AmazonSmile. Read the FAQs here. It’s easy, and no additional cost to you, and will help your favorite organization. Happy shopping!

The Nerve of Amazon

On Saturday December 10, 2011, Amazon offered customers $5 off a $100 purchase if they walk into a store, scan the price with a mobile phone app (to provide the info to Amazon) and then leave the store without buying the item. Read about the deal here and here.

Essentially, Amazon is bribing people to do their market research. And it’s a horrible way for Amazon to undercut competitors. Worse, it’s a cruel way by which Amazon can undercut all brick-and-mortar stores. Locally owned business, as always, stand to suffer the most from this stunt.

While online shopping is one debate, Amazon shopping is an entirely different debate. Amazon cannot and does not support and give back to communities. If everyone bought everything online, where would people work? How would people interact in communities? Shopping is an integral part of daily life (this includes grocery shopping, the hardware store, books, bicycle tires, tools, toys, clothes – you name it), and if that part were to vanish from all of our communities, where would we be?

Sure you can argue the free market economy and capitalism and business strategies. Go ahead. However, just because these giant conglomerates of businesses are typical for today’s world, does not mean it’s the best way of living. I have shopped on Amazon many times, but I’m pretty sure that article was the last straw for me. Thankfully, I did not do any of my Christmas shopping via Amazon.

I like the way this article from Gawker balanced the issues at hand:

By all means use Amazon – they have amazing selection! – but there’s no need to be a tacky jerk to your neighborhood store in the process. Unless that store is a Wal Mart, Target, or American Apparel, in which case go to town (by which we mean, go out of town).

Has anyone else heard about this ploy? How do you feel about Amazon?

Christmas Shopping

Happy December! Merry Christmas preparations: tree choosing, house decorating, snowflake wishing, cookie baking, present buying, family & friends – what could be better? It’s the best time of the year!

Around the internet you’re sure to see gift guides for all, suggestions for shopping, tips for finding the best deals or coming up with creative gifts. What may be the best tip: shopping locally, of course! By shopping local you can find those creative, unique gifts for all, have a good time, enjoy the local events, support your local economy: the benefits are endless.

Back in 2008, probably before many of you readers were following Preservation in Pink, I wrote a series of Christmas shopping posts called “Christmas Shopping Considerations,” discussing the options for Christmas shopping (online, retail, local, eccentric) and the impacts of our decisions (financially, socially, preservation-esque).

Christmas Shopping Consideration #1: Avoid Big Box Retailers

Christmas Shopping Consideration #2: Can You Shop Locally?

Christmas Shopping Consideration #3: The Case of Online Shopping?

Christmas Shopping Consideration #4: Gifts for the Historic Preservationist in Your Life

Need another couple of good links to get you started on #4?

5 Christmas Gifts for Heritage Lovers

Holiday Gift Guide  (from the National Trust)

Christmas Shopping Consideration #4

A series of posts considering the options for Christmas shopping (online, retail, local, eccentric) and the impacts of our decisions (financially, socially, preservation-esque). This is post 4 of  4. See considerations #1, #2, #3.

Consideration 4: Gifts for the Historic Preservationist in your life*

For people on your list who are preservationists (or those you may want to sway towards preservation), there are a few ways to approach gift giving this holiday season. 1) You can search for gifts that exclaim “I love historic preservation!” in one form or another. 2) You can go the alternate gift-giving route such as giving to charity or giving the person a membership to an organization. 3) You can appeal to whatever weakness he or she has, such a love for retro. 4) You can adopt a flamingo.

“I love Historic Preservation!”

Having had searched for similar themes in the past, I know that it’s not as hard as you’d expect to find preservation related gifts. If you check out the CafePress shop, Place in Time, you can find apparel, notebooks, note cards, mugs, bumper stickers, and more with inspiring quotes, witty sayings, etc., including the classically dorky “Isn’t it Ionic?” Come on, preservationists, you know you laughed at that one. Place in Time also has a page for links where you can find additional gifts relating to art, architecture, anti-sprawl, etc. You can also find the infamous “Preservationists make it last longer” quote on the Cornell Preservation Studies Students Organization CafePress shop. Check it out – it’s for a good cause and the statement is forever entertaining, whether on a mug, magnet, shirt, tote bag, etc.

Of course, there is the academic approach like buying those books we tend to drool over. The epitome of preservation books is Thomas Jester’s Twentieth Century Building Materials, which is now out of print and around $100. The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s site, Preservation Books, had a pdf catalog of recent releases. If you are a member of the Trust you receive a 10% discount (25% if you are a Forum member). The University of Tennessee Press has a good selection of folklore and vernacular architecture books, sometimes on sale.

And you should always check your local historical society or preservation organization, because they likely have a store, possibly online, such as Preservation North Carolina. PNC sells books and one of the greatest bumper stickers ever, “Historic Preservation is the Ultimate Recycling.”

How about “I love archaeology”? – ever think of an archaeology themed rubik cube? definitely appeals to the archaeology folks.

Alternate Route

Actually, a combination of the routes, check out the t-shirt page of Vintage Roadside. If you buy one t-shirt ($20) you receive a year’s membership to the National Trust for Historic Preservation (a $20 value). (Only valid for new members, bummer.) The t-shirts have fun retro road stops.

Some organizations that your preservationist might like include the National Trust, the Society for Roadside Archeology, the Vernacular Architecture Forum, the American Association of Museums, the Oral History Association, the Society for American Archeology, the World Monuments Fund…the list never ends. Also don’t forget regional organizations like the Southeast Chapter for Architectural Historians. You can always try searching the state or region with the particular subject (historic preservation, archaeology, etc.)

If you’re on, say, a larger budget than I am, you can consider a weekend getaway to one of the Historic Hotels of America for your parents or your significant other (and you). Sometimes we come to the realization that we just have too much stuff and we don’t need anything else. This is when the non-material gifts are most appreciated.

If you choose to donate money to a charity and want to be sure that your money is going to where you want it to go, read about it on Charity Navigator. There are many organizations that will gratefully accept money for rebuilding after a natural disaster or preserving buildings or documents and all of their needs.


Not exactly related, but it captures some preservation minded spirit, check out Retro Planet for wonderful home décor items themed on the 1950s. Of course, you can probably search for any decade or era that you’d like. We all have our fetishes.

Adopt a Flamingo

It’s been mentioned on Preservation in Pink before, but adopting a flamingo would be completely relevant around here.

Final Thoughts

If you’re in gift giving mode, the most important part is finding a gift that someone will love. Just remember that if you don’t agree with shopping at a particular store, then you don’t have to just because that person loves it. You always have other options. I will try to stick to my beliefs about shopping, the economy, preservation, and all of the related ideas, and I hope you will, too. This post here hopefully provides fun solutions and alternative ideas. Collectively, I hope that these posts have at least reminded you to consider that historic preservation is a way of life, and it can affect all aspects of your life.

*Note, to those who love me, this is not a list that should be taken as a hint. Although, Mom, adopting a flamingo would be cool. I’m just saying, it could be our real-live mascot.

Christmas Shopping Consideration #3

 A series of posts considering the options for Christmas shopping (online, retail, local, eccentric) and the impacts of our decisions (financially, socially, preservation-esque). This is post 3 of  4. See considerations #1, #2, #4.

Consideration 3: The Case of Online Shopping

There’s avoiding big box retailers, shopping at locally owned businesses, and the consideration of online shopping. Is this preservation friendly? It depends on how you look at it. Again, I claim no economic expertise, so please correct me where needed.

Last Saturday, I was enjoying a leisurely morning with coffee, sun shining in my windows, and some online shopping.  For whatever reason, I can stand online shopping for Christmas anytime in November, but I can’t stand Christmas actually existing in the world before Thanksgiving.  My mom happened to call as I’m doing some online shopping to talk to me about her online shopping.  We have both increased our online shopping in the past two years or so.

I find it to be a pleasant experience. Generally, I can find anything I want on the internet, google something to find a discount code, comparison shop at the same time, and I avoid the annoyances of in store shopping like long lines, the way too early Christmas music playing, wondering if I’ll find a better deal in the next store, driving in traffic, spending extra money on gas, etc. And I can do all of this from the comfort of my couch with coffee, without the worry of spilling my coffee because I’m holding too many things. 

Personal benefits aside, what can online shopping do for preservation?

In considering the environment, it obviously saves gas. Your package will still have to be shipped to you, but it will be shipped in bulk with other items. That delivery truck is going to be out on the roads anyway, but your car not on the roads is helping the environment.   

Consumers are able to purchase products from anywhere in the world, such as small, locally owned businesses. That extra revenue can certainly benefit Main Street America.  Perhaps the small businesses in small towns will have less risk of going out of business.   Or, it could help stores in your own town. For example, every store in my town closes at 5pm, which is when I get home from work. I do not have time to get to the store. Most are only open on Saturdays, which doesn’t always mesh with my schedule. Some of the stores have online stores, which allows me to shop at the store without conforming to their short hours.

But, is online shopping really beneficial to historic preservation?

Where are people shopping online? If it’s still the big box retail stores, is that helping any? It might be, because that could mean less of a need for a physical store. Maybe that gives those acres of trees or that historic street a greater chance of surviving the concrete buildings and parking lot threats.

Could increased online shopping lead to fewer packaging materials and plastic bags and paper products? An article by Koosha Hashemi from ezinearticles discusses this idea. 

With general commerce in mind, online shopping’s effect of decreased foot traffic runs the risk of drawing business away from eateries because people aren’t out, about, and hungry. And it takes away from the possibility of “community” because everyone stays at home. 

There isn’t an easy answer.  Each case can have benefits and drawbacks for historic preservation.  I think online shopping can go a long way in helping small businesses reach out to a greater customer base. What we lack for online shopping now is a database of local businesses. It currently takes a few internet searches to find what you need. 

For now, the best thing to do is weigh your options, consider what factors are the most important to you, and stick to what you believe is the best for historic preservation and you combined.


Next in the series: gift ideas