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Local stores and national chains: Where do you buy your clothes?


I think a lot about where I shop. Not because I’m a brand snob or anything like that; I don’t really care much if I’m wearing a hot new designer or famous label. But I do give a lot of thought to who I support with my purchases.  When possible, I like to support independent, local or interesting brands.

This is a hot topic in Austin, though I’m guessing it’s a hot topic most everywhere. Austin in particular is very anti-chain; Austinites are adamant in their support of all things local and vocal in their opposition to all things corporate. All part of the Keep Austin Weird movement.

So because of that, there are tons of local and smaller-scale shops in Austin to choose from. Today on This is Life in Austin, a fun, fashion-related blog written by Austinite Lyssa, there is a post about two Austin boutiquesEmerald’s and Peyton’s Place. I absolutely love Emerald’s; it’s one of my favorite shops in Austin. I’ve never been to Peyton’s Place, but I should check it out soon.

I really like shopping at local stores like Emerald’s.  I’m not against large chain stores at all – I get tons of stuff at Banana Republic and Target, for example – but I do like to support the little guys when I can. It’s good karma, it’s fun, it’s helpful to the local economy. And most importantly, when I buy something at Emerald’s, I’m more likely to have a unique item only a few others will have.  The labels and brands they carry at a store like Emerald’s have a much smaller reach than the items I get at Target; you just can’t get them in as many places.  So I’m less likely to run into other women wearing the same thing I am if that thing came from a small store like Emerald’s. And that’s important to me. I want pieces that are unique (if I were better with my sewing machine, I’d make more of my own clothes).

For me then, shopping locally is not based on some high-minded moral principle, but on more of a practical style principle. I think it’s good to support local merchants whenever possible.  But I think that decision should be based on the quality (and cost) of the products available. When it comes to clothing and accessories, I find that the quality, selection, and prices at the local shops in Austin is just as good as – even better than, in many cases – the national chains.

Okay, all this makes me want to head down to Emerald’s for some back-to-school shopping! Maybe I’ll see some of you there. What do you think about this issue? Do you buy more of your clothes at national stores or local shops?

Jenn @ August 25, 2008


  1. Caitlin August 26, 2008 @ 1:26 am

    Great blog post! This is something I think about often.

    I am in the same boat when it comes to having unique apparel. I don’t need everything to be one-of-a-kind, but I like to have items in my wardrobe that I can wear and know full well I’ll be the only one wearing it to wherever I’m going!

    I can’t complain about chain stores and major retailers as I frequent them often. They’ve succeeded in fulfilling our basic shopping needs: convenience, customer service, reliability and a wide range of prices to fit a wide array of customers’ budgets. Although I LOVE the selection of certain boutiques in Austin, most of what I HAVE to have tend to be the priciest pieces in the store. I understand why the items are pricier (clothes are usually hand made, not mass produced, cost of labor, rent, etc.) and most of the time I believe it is worth the price to know I have a one-of-a-kind item and that I’m supporting local business. I just can’t shop at these places as often as I’d like, so I mainly stick to the large scale retailers.

    If I shop with the intent of blowing a large sum on something fun, I like to go to the (please don’t hate :o)…) upscale brand concept retailers because I know I’m getting professional, top-notch customer service and usually with some sort of extended care plan. Way on the other side, however, the boutique store sales associates are a lot less intimidating and probably a lot more passionate about their items and lifestyle.

    So I guess it just depends on what sort of mood I’m in. Guess I could have said this in the beginning and left it at that!

  2. Work at homes moms August 26, 2008 @ 12:05 pm

    Sandra Kellog wrote about it lately but i think what you wrote is much better.

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    […] talked before how important uniqueness is to style, and on Etsy, you can find completely unique (or at least very […]

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