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The QFLEA Shopping News - December 2014

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The QFLEA Holiday Tradition Continues

As you can see from the banner above the article, the fifteenth annual QFLEA Holiday Special is open. Our vendors create some of the most beautiful, one-of-a-kind and personalized items that are perfect for your gift giving needs. It is never too late to check out the many small business vendors participating with us to see what they have to offer.

Why Shopping at QFLEA is Always A Good Idea

This was originally printed in Forbes Magazine slightly edited for size and QFLEA content

Small business is quite frankly big business. The Small Business Administration identified that there are more than 28 million businesses operating in the United States as of March 2014, with about 63% of new jobs being created from small businesses between 1993 and mid 2013. Of these 28 million businesses, most are self-employed making up about 75% of total U.S. businesses.

When you consider how many small businesses surround you in your everyday lives, it is impressive to think about the amount of time, commitment and labor these hard working individuals contribute to make their businesses both come to life and stay alive. Yet, many Americans frequent chain stores without considering their local merchant or other small business options. Customers assume that pricing will automatically be higher at a small business as compared to a corporate owned store, as well as they dismiss the perks that many small businesses offer such as customer care, inventory assortment and community support. However, did you know that many of these misconceptions about small businesses are just that? Here is why.

Stores do not control pricing of most products. Vendors do. Generally speaking, vendors want their products sold at their suggested rate, therefore retailers are not encouraged to lower them unless it is discussed in advance such as stores like Nordstrom do for their famous Anniversary Sale. Many small merchants, as well, also offer discounted items for special occasions therefore not making this exclusive to big box stores.

Inventory is not always more easily available at big box stores. Smaller merchants have the same access to vendors as big box stores do, therefore if you need an item and it is not available in their store, it is likely they can get in touch with the vendor right away and try and order it for you right away. Of course, there are always exceptions, but most small business owners are eager to go above and beyond in their customer service support and this is just one way they can do so for their customers.

Customer service is more personalized, hands-on and noteworthy from smaller businesses. Generally speaking you should expect that a smaller business will deliver stronger customer service. Their personal commitment to their business certainly helps in these efforts, but even from their collective team no matter how small or large it is typically stronger customer care is experienced.

Product diversity and options are often greater at small businesses vs. chain stores. Sure, a big box merchant may have a larger footprint in your local community, but that does not mean they have more variety to offer you. When you walk into a chain store, you know exactly what you will find. However, when you walk into a local business or visit their website, you are often surprised by the inventory options.

QFLEA.com is very proud to highlight and support the best small business vendors on the internet and we always welcome our shoppers to visit us often. Through QFLEA vendors, you never know what you might find and you will be supporting the best of small business.

About the QFLEA Shopping News

The QFLEA Shopping News is published on a very irregular basis by QFLEA.com - The Next Generation Flea Market. This is our first edition in almost two years. Feel free to share it with friends and family

Interesting Traditions Around the World

courtesy of SFGate

Japan: KFC for Christmas dinner - In many Japanese homes a KFC bucket with fried chicken is the main dish at Christmas. Thanks to a lack of turkeys and smart marketing by KFC the fried chicken is so popular you have to order weeks in advance for the holidays. Ozchin/Flickr

Greenland: It is a tradition on Greenland that on Christmas night the men look after the women, serving their food and coffee and stirring the meal for them.

Spain, Catalonia: Caganer ('Crapper') - Statuettes of well-known people defecating are a strong Christmas tradition in Catalonia, dating back to the 18th century as Catalonians hide caganers in Christmas Nativity scenes and invite friends to find them. The figures symbolize fertilization, hope and prosperity for the coming year and can be of regular people or famous celebrities and politicians.

Ukraine: Christmas trees dressed in spider webs - Spider webs in the house are typically considered at best, a nuisance, and at worst, a nightmare for the arachnophobic among us, but in Ukraine, Christmas trees are often decorated with (fake) spider webs to usher in good luck for the coming year. The legend goes that a poor family went to bed on Christmas eve despondent because they wouldn't be able to decorate their tree. The spiders, roaming the home's walls and floors, heard the cries of the family, and took it upon themselves to decorate the tree with their webs. On Christmas day, the strands turned to gold and silver, changing the family's fortune forever.

Italy: La BefanaLa Befana is a lot like Santa Claus, only instead of being a jolly old elf who rides a sleigh pulled by eight flying reindeer, she's a witch who flies on a broom delivering sweets and treats on the eve of Epiphany Day, which typically falls on January 6.

Caracas, Venezuela: Roller skate to mass - As in many Catholic countries, people go to mass during the holidays in Caracas, Venezuela. The only difference is that here, they roller skate. The streets are closed off in the early mornings between December 16 and December 24, no cars or buses, just skaters on their way to church. Iceland: The Yule Cat (Jolakotturinn) - The Icelandics are big fans of myths and of hard work. One famous Christmas character is the scary Yule Cat who eats children who haven't worked hard enough. Basically, if you have finished all your work before Christmas you get new clothes and you are safe. The scary Icelandic Yule cat only looks for the lazy ones in old clothes. A good reason to go clothes shopping.

Estonia: Sauna bath on Christmas Eve - In Estonia, Christmas is a mix of pagan traditions celebrating the Winter Solstice and Christmas. Christmas is usually celebrated on Christmas Eve and then most Estonians start off with a visit to the nearest sauna where they usually bathe nude.

Britain: Stirring the Christmas Pudding - also called plum pudding, is a big deal. Many families have their own recipes dating back generations. The puddings are almost black, thanks to the long cooking time and dark sugar, and are moistened with juice or brandy. Usually, you make the pudding at least four weeks before Christmas, and it can last up to a year. Traditionally, every member of the household stirs the pudding while making a wish. When it is time to serve the pudding, tradition calls for bathing it in brandy and setting it on fire.

Sweden: Christmas Straw Goats - Christmas goats have a big role in Swedish Christmas celebrations from small ornaments to gigantic goats that is set up every year in December. The big Gavle goat is famous for being vandalized or burnt down frequently. Since 1966, the Straw Goat has survived until Christmas Day only 13 times. The arsonists succeeded in 2012, burning the goat to the ground on December 12. You can follow the Goat's Twitter page for updates on its struggle to survive.

Oaxaca, Mexico: Night of the Radishes - Noche de los rábanos is celebrated in Oaxaca every December 23. Stalls at the city's zocalo fill up with radishes sculpted into nativity scenes, historical figures and more.

Norway - Hide the brooms - In the old days, people believed witches came out on Christmas Eve to look for brooms to ride on, so they hid them all ways possible. Today Norwegian women still hide all brooms in their house before going to bed on Christmas Eve

Sweden: Find the almond in the rice pudding - In Sweden, you eat rice pudding at Christmas (before or after the Smorgasbord) and the big question is: Who will get the almond? There is one peeled almond hiding somewhere in the rice pudding and the lucky one who gets it will get married within a year.

Your House: Whatever your tradition might be, we hope that the holiday season finds you health, happy and in good cheer ... and we wish you and yours the very best for the coming year.

Final Thought

In this edition, you've read about some of our vendors. We have hundreds more that you'll also appreciate by visiting us and seeing them and the thousands of high quality items they can create just for you.

The QFLEA Shopping News is published irregularly. This is the holiday edition for 2014.
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