shopping with euros
Since Ireland is on the euro, highly favored in recent years by the exchange rate with the dollar, the Irish come to New York City in droves to do their shopping. Today's Irish Independent claimed 290,000 of them came to NYC for their Christmas shopping last year. The newspaper story said customs officials were accused of turning a blind eye to assessing taxes on purchases that amounted to 1,900 euros each but that was about to change. "Christmas shopping is costing our jobs," said one official.
The economy 's scenario is the same here as it is at home and the housing bubble has also burst.
But, despite the high cost of things, when Americans come to Ireland, we want something besides souvenirs. And the family run chain of Avoca Handweavers shops is a good bet for quality merchandise. Family members have forged relationships with crafters and producers throughout Ireland and offer their wares, along with clothing, foodstuffs, and gardening plants and supplies. They've also become known for their food quality and offer a cafeteria style eatery and a sitdown restaurant.
Our group of writers had about a half hour to shop before our lunch there and just about all of us made purchases. I found a pair of pale green woolen gloves for 10 euros. That's about $15 and more than I'd pay for the same thing at home but temperatures today are in the low 40s, so I had a good rationale, even if I did pack my two-year old $3 gloves from home.
Ireland enjoys a generally mild maritime climate that belies its latitude that's the same as Labrador. The only giveaway here is that darkness falls about 5:30 p.m
Others in our group bought wool scarves, both as gifts and to take the chill off, and cookbooks. Judging by the size of bags brought back on the motorcoach that is taking us around Ireland some of them made a dent in their own Christmas shopping.
Lunch was also a treat at Avoca, with dozens of selections. I had a brie and spinach quiche and a "brace" of salads - which turned out to be a choice among 15 different salad types of of three generous servings of salad. The cost was 9 euros, or about $13. That's a guessestimate, since I have no idea what the exchange rate is today.
We haven't seen many Americans here - probably because the tourist season ends in mid-October and also because our economy is making people more cautious. The Irish are hoping we'll return in our usual numbers by spring. This country has always been a popular destination for Americans and tourism helps shape the Irish economy.