WNC Travel Guide

I don’t like following crowds and have a naturally occurring cynicism of trends. That said, there’s one holiday promotional movement that strikes a real chord with me.

I’m talking about the “Small Business Saturday” or “Shop Small Saturday,” whatever name one chooses as a label. It’s this Saturday (Nov. 27), and the concept is to shop at the privately owned businesses in large and small towns across the nation as a way of supporting all they do to help their local communities.

It seems the holiday shopping season comes sooner and sooner every year. Before the turkey has even cooled people are lined up outside the big box retailers waiting for their chance to snag the best deals of the season.

The holiday season is upon us and shoppers are crowding malls and discount stores to buy the latest gadgets and find the best deals.

bookFor all of you who haven’t started your holiday shopping yet, for you who scorn Black Friday, who keep telling yourselves day after day that you will go buy gifts tomorrow (tomorrow: what a wonderful word!), for all of you who wake at dawn in a cold sweat knowing that you are down to the wire, the holidays can hover like dark clouds at midnight. Gift cards are the backup plan, but then you remember you gave your mother, your siblings, and Uncle Billy-Bob plastic for the Olive Garden for the last five years running. Suddenly your mouth is drier than a sack of Kibbles and Bits, and your hands are shaking the way they did that morning after Billy-Bob’s New Year’s party and you woke face down in his backyard bean patch without a clue as to how you got there.

coverThere are a few time-honored traditions on Thanksgiving. Like turkey and stuffing, or football and napping. 

Or, increasingly more over the years, shopping. With retailers rabidly encouraging shoppers to get an early jump on the Christmas season gift-buying frenzy, the day after Thanksgiving has emerged as America’s celebration of shopping.

The day even has a rather ominous sounding name: Black Friday. 

out frBy Colby Dunn • Correspondent 

Though winter may have you couped up inside, you can dream of sunnier days in the outdoors with The Smoky Mountain News outdoor holiday gift guide, a rundown of the season’s hottest gifts from the region’s top outfitters. So for the budding outdoor enthusiast or seasoned nature lover still on your gift list, we’ve got you covered from head to toe, pretty much literally. Or if you’d like to reward yourself for making it out of the mall alive and not using a waffle iron as a weapon on Black Friday, there’s some options for that, too. 

out frFor outdoors enthusiasts, Christmas brings but fleeting respite from the cold, dark days of winter — with the promise of spring hikes still many months off.

If it’s impossible to bring them to their favorite trailhead or mountain top, the next best thing is to bring the gadgets of the great outdoors to them.

art frIf you have it, they will come.

That’s the philosophy for the small facet of independent toy stores remaining in Western North Carolina.

“The kids know it’s here, and this is where they want to come,” said Melanee Lester, general manager of Mast General Store in Waynesville.

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer

This Christmas season, Laura Ammons has scoured for presents for her loved ones, checking off her list as she scoops up the perfect item. Rather than encountering a mad frenzy of crowds, however, Ammons sits quietly and peacefully (to the envy of many harried shoppers) while she does her Christmas shopping — online.

Gifts that keep giving

Looking for a Christmas present? Western North Carolina is home to many outdoors organizations, conservation groups, outing clubs, nature societies and environmental non-profits in need of charitable contributions.

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