Valentine shopping is just around the corner in Coraopolis, Crafton, McKees Rocks...


Photo by Matt Weed

Stock at Crafton's Blue Snail Gift Shop changes throughout the year.

-CAUGHT IN THE WEEDS-


By Matt Weed


I was asked to write for this column because of my colorful personality on the worldwide web.


I have zero experience, degree or background as a writer professionally, and I am certain that shows. I’ve been thinking a lot lately on how I can utilize this new journey to hopefully provide an enjoyable reading experience for you while continuing to do what I was doing on my own before I was asked to write a column. In 2022, I want to alternate between my ramblings and focusing on supporting our local small businesses.


So many local businesses are still struggling for an array of reasons. For some, business never returned to normal capacity and demand even after restrictions due to COVID-19 were lifted. For others, they’ve had a hard time getting noticed in this world of online purchasing that has really gone full steam since the pandemic happened.


So let’s kick off this year with a little support!


Blue Snail Gift Shop is a quaint little shop with a charming, eclectic vibe. I stopped in one day last October for a last minute gift and was greeted pleasantly and immediately was offered help to find a gift (as I was also in a hurry). Stock seems to change there relatively frequently and with the seasons. You find all kinds of things there, and I have seen everything from buttons, cards and reed diffusers to cocktails kits, and is located within the Crafton community at 24 E. Crafton Ave.

So that day I rushed in, was assisted, and found a gift that would work, and she was even nice enough to do up a gift bag for me as I have no skill in making gifts look pretty. She didn’t know me, she didn’t know who I was, and she didn’t know that I am the self appointed “Official Unofficial Mayor of Crafton” as I refer to myself sometimes on Crafton’s Dumpster fire of a community Facebook group. But she had absolutely no issues stopping what she was doing to help me out and find a gift.


That speaks volumes to me as a customer and shows she loves her store and her work and helping people. You would be hard pressed to find that level of one-on-one personal service in a major department store or typing like a mad person in an amazing support chat trying to find out where on Earth your packages were actually delivered. It's what makes small business shopping special and something we should never take for granted. Because if we continue to give in and order online, these little gems will disappear.


We need these small businesses more than you may know. Shopping small helps keep money in our communities and helps our communities grow and become better places for everyone to live. Shopping online often sends money out of state and puts money into the hands of the ultra-rich who, more times than not, don’t return that money to their communities. Small businesses are vital and should not be overlooked just because it’s more convenient to mindlessly throw items into a virtual cart and smash that “pay now” button.


So go to Crafton to visit the Blue Snail Gift Shop or another local store you’ve been meaning to check out and find something for Valentine’s Day. It’s hard to believe that’s not too far away. Help support your neighbors and their dreams of owning and operating a small business in your area. And help keep money in your community!


Editor’s note: Crafton’s Blue Snail Gift Shop is closed after the holiday rush to help staff catch their breath and will reopen on Jan. 18. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday and closed Sundays. For more info, bluesnailgiftshop.com.


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