We are a week-plus away from Christmas. Time enough to make a plan to ease up on those Amazon delivery drivers and put some local into these weird 2020 holidays.

Shops across Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park are open for your business. They need your business. We need these small retailers to survive until spring. And it is pretty much in your hands because, as we have all learned, Christmas sales are critical to independent small businesses.

In today’s paper we report on the invisible decline two local chocolatiers — La Maison de Bonbon and River Forest Chocolates — are facing this season as corporate clients have cut back substantially on orders that in the past made the year for these dedicated locally-owned shops. That means the rest of us will just have to sacrifice and head over to Forest Park and River Forest to buy some fabulous chocolates.

But we have to do it … in the next nine days.

From Downtown Oak Park to the Hemingway District — now fully reopened and with the smoothest streets ever — retailers like Geppetto’s Toy Box, Fitzgerald’s Fine Stationery, Careful Peach, The Book Table, Ten Thousand Villages and many others have suffered the dual poxes of a year of road rebuilding and COVID-19. Time to show them some love. Time to remember the genuine warmth of shopping in a store where the proprietors are present and they actually love what they sell. 

The Arts District on Harrison is open with gifts so unique, craftspeople so devoted, that you are sure to surprise a person you love when they unwrap a gift of art.

The easiest thing would be to fire up the laptop and order more stuff from national retailers and digital-only vendors who have figured out a lot of logistics to survive the pandemic. The best thing to do, though, is to head to Chicago Avenue, to North Avenue, to south Oak Park Avenue, to Madison Street, to Lake Street and to invest in the shopkeepers who make these villages worth living in.

They need us now.

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