DEAR HARRIETTE: A good friend owns a gift shop in a nearby town. I usually buy gifts from her for my family for Christmas, but I didn’t buy any gifts this year. I feel bad that I didn’t support her, but I couldn’t afford it. I decided to stick within my budget for a change. I have been avoiding her because I feel bad that I wasn’t able to patronize her store. What can I say to her so that she will know that my not coming in to make any purchases was not personal? -- No Holiday Shopping, Tampa, Florida
DEAR NO HOLIDAY SHOPPING: Stop avoiding your friend. That is what is making things awkward. Reach out to her or stop by and wish her a happy New Year. Then tell her what you told me: You are sorry you couldn’t buy anything from her this year, but your budget was tight. Tell her you hope she had a good season, and that you wish her the best for the coming year.
What your friend already knows, if her shop is even marginally successful, is that she cannot depend on friends to keep her afloat. Friends are great for goodwill and emotional support. Being in business requires that you find and cultivate other clients.