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Christmas shopping: A pink kitchen set and the 'buying local' dilemma

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The kitchen in the picture was fabulous. It had a wooden oven and a microwave, plenty of refrigerator space for fake food and even a drink dispenser – but the price tag quite literally took my breath away. For a moment, I thought if my father was willing to fork over $300 for a toy maybe I could talk him into remodeling my actual kitchen.

I spent the morning online pricing other toy kitchens, until I located a pink retro model from the same company for a third of the price.

My e-mail with the lower-priced model presented my Dad with a quandary: Mrs. Miller in the Haines & Essick’s toy department had spent a lot of time helping him select the kitchen set; it didn’t seem right for him to go buy it cheaper somewhere else.

By the time he got me on the phone, Dad had been to Haines & Essick four times and was having Ginger hold all his calls while he figured out how to fairly procure his granddaughter’s present. Mrs. Miller could order the pink kitchen I found online, but not at the same price. After discussing numerous scenarios, she conceded that my Dad should take the better deal online. During his third visit, Dad tried to pay Mrs. Miller some arbitrary finder’s fee, handing her a hundred dollar bill that she refused to take.

In the end, my father bought the pink kitchen from Haines & Essick even though it cost him more.

I’ve always thrown around the term “buying local,” and thought I walked the walk: I frequent farm stands and independent bookstores. After college, during my self-righteous phase when I came back home and threw around all the new jargon I learned, I no doubt lectured my father on the importance of “buying local” and eating “locally-sourced food” – things he had done all his life without affixing a fancy term to it.

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