I know there seems to be some sort of attraction that I’ll never in a million years understand about heading to a 1,600,000-square-foot shopping place called a mall that is crammed with 1,700,000 square feet of people trying to get the best deal on the latest iPhone cover for a stocking stuffer. I know that some of the arguments are that it’s easy to park and everything you need is in one building. I know that it can become a holiday tradition. But let me drop a few knowledge bombs on you. If you can’t get it in your town, then you probably don’t need it. If you’re living in a very small town and travel to the next biggest town and if you can’t get it there, you probably don’t need it. Yes, you can make the argument that a mall is one stop shopping. OK Š it’s also a one stop hypertension attack when you’ve been in there for three hours and still haven’t found what you’re looking for.

We’re an instant gratification nation; we want what we want when we want it and that’s fine. Me, however, I believe that anything worth having is worth waiting for. So if I want a cell phone case I’m gonna waltz into US Cellular and see if they have it. If they don’t, I’ll ask them to order it. The only thing I need to hear after that is, "We’ll call you when it comes in, Fish." Easy, peasy! I don’t have to look at the rotten marriage couple fighting with their kids over what to get Nanna this holiday. Nope! I’m done, because, you see, I’ve done my shopping locally. So there you have it, another reason that you should take your dollars and dump them on local merchants. Will they always have what you’re looking for? No. But that also included the dysfunctional Family Robinson screaming at each other, so keep that in mind!

I know it can be a tough thing to wait for the things you want. You want to be done, you want it over, wrapped and under the tree. I get it. I’m the same way. But I’m also not a guy that enjoys these huge sprawling box stores. I don’t necessarily have a problem with the concept of saving money, but I do have an issue with forcing a worker into working through Thanksgiving Dinner so that your board of directors realizes a bigger profit while paying that worker minimum wage. Sorry. Just can’t support that. I’d rather head in and see Woody at Burrows Specialized Sports and see if he has it and if not, order it or walk across the street to Sam’s and see if they have it (free popcorn! Just saying. Try and find that in Eddie Bauer at the mall). I know that their employees are treated fairly and you know how I know? I’ve been shopping locally for a long time and there’s always the same faces in those places.

So this can be my annual plea for you to spend your money locally. You can’t use the-parking-is-easier-at-the-mall excuse, because it’s not. You always park a million miles away from an entrance then have to walk another mile once inside to get to the store you need. Let’s say you need to park in downtown Brattleboro at the parking garage to pick up a nice piece of boutiquey clothing for your Aunt Kathy. I’ll bet you whatever the article of clothing costs that I could get to any of the downtown stores from the garage in literally a quarter of the time. Bonus -- no psycho-meltdown from some over-indulged snotnose kid who has to wait for his copy of Grand Theft Auto until Christmas.

Holiday shopping should come with a warning label and some prozac, but since it doesn’t, give yourself the gift of calm this season and shop locally. It’s simple, it’s easy, and I can almost guarantee that it’ll be more pleasurable. Best of all, most of us could probably avoid saying, what the hell is up with that?

Fish is the morning talent on Classic Hits 92.7 FM. He also offers up his opinion on-line at www.whatda hell.net. E-mail him at fish@wk vt.com.