Sometimes, It’s Monday, and You Just Need a Win

It’s Monday morning, and I’ve already overslept, managed to get angry with a friend about something I’m pretty sure didn’t even happen, and messed up the coffee. Of course, I’ve also started a blog, made up the time I lost, and set my day back on track — but it’s easy to forget that part.


Life is hard. It’s hard because of small problems like Mondays, and it’s hard because of big problems like losing people you love, dealing with chronic pain, living in a country where you aren’t free … basically there are a million things that can make life difficult. When so many things both big and small can feel like setbacks (on these hot Alabama days, just walking outside can feel like a punishment), sometimes you just need a win.


I think that’s a big reason we like buying on sale so much. When we get free shipping or a bonus gift with purchase, we feel like somebody’s finally treating us right. When we research the best price and find a super sale, or when we clip a bunch of coupons from a big box store, or when we know we get a ton of great stuff for very little money, we feel like we’ve finally done something right — we played the game and we won. Winning feels great, especially when life is hard.


This weekend, I read The Happiness Project, and it got me thinking about how I frame my thoughts. I’m not depressed, but I’m generally pessimistic and melancholy. That means I’m a rock star when it comes to noticing things that go wrong and worrying about things (both real and imaginary), but I barely pay attention to the good stuff that happens. I have to work harder to notice the good, because it doesn’t come naturally.


I know shopping locally has long-term benefits (improving the economy, providing basic rights for workers, etc.), but it doesn’t usually involve a lot of exciting, money-saving sales. That means I don’t get a cash-saving rush from shopping local, but I wondered if there were other short-term benefits of shopping locally I’d been missing. I thought back over my weekend, and this is what I came up with:


  • While at Bamboo on Thursday, another table paid for our drinks as a surprise (and I got to celebrate IPA Day with some TrimTab).
  • During a wait for a table at El Barrio, we had a great conversation with a server from Melt and a guy who’s working with REV Birmingham’s new bike share program.
  • Two different people who I don’t know well stopped me to tell me how much they like Church Street’s frozen coffee drinks.
  • On Sunday, the baristas at Revelator were really nice to me (and made me good drinks).
  • While I was waiting by myself at Paramount for half an hour or so, several bartenders (about half of whom weren’t on the clock) stopped to say hi and make sure I had everything I needed.
  • My Instagram post about The Happiness Project prompted a mini book discussion between another independent bookstore owner and two big Birmingham-local supporters.


I didn’t process these things as results of shopping locally at first because they just felt like a part of life. But moments like this happen to me all the time, and it really is a result of shopping independently. Have I ever had a nice moment or a connection with an employee from a corporate store? Sure. But they come few and far between because those workers are over-tired and encouraged to promote the parent company and sales over everything else — and that attitude just doesn’t foster a personal connection.


I actually save a lot of money shopping locally, but because that savings comes long-term (by buying less and thinking through purchases more), it doesn’t feel like a rush. But shopping locally does bring me closer to my community and to the people in my life, and that feels pretty amazing both in the long-run and in the moment.


Carrie Rollwagen is author of The Localist: Think Independent, Buy Local and Reclaim the American Dream, creator of 30 Days of Local Praise and co-founder of Church Street Coffee & Books. Find her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @crollwagen.

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