Tuesday, October 4, 2011

no matter how flat you make a pancake ....

I love my local brick and mortars

and believe me my love and support requires some effort on my part because I live in a very small town where stores sometimes sell ... well, a whole lot of crap actually.

And, I understand that these store owners are working with a limited budget these days and an even more limited customer base and they sometimes need some creative thinking to survive and sometimes that creative thinking requires a strange combination of the things my town needs (?) - we have an Irish Gift Shop/Electrical Supply Store (there was a psychic in there for a few months - not sure why she couldn't tell it wasn't going to work out for her there) - we used to have a video store/dry cleaner, an ice cream store/tanning salon and a print shop/dog food store.

Although my all-time favorite local combination store is in a surrounding town and called Crickets and Cream.

They sell - you guessed it- crickets (ie reptile food) and creams (handmade) - they also practice a little holistic medicine (ie witchcraft) and I was once talked into a chair in the middle of the store where the one sister waved some smoke around me to clear my aura for a better look while the other sister helped a little boy and his mother buy some breakfast for his pet lizard, Harry. It was wonderful.

Anyhoo, since I have spent money in all these stores and even shop in my local grocery store every other shopping trip

(if you could see this store and then see the amazing Trader Joe's that has gone up an hour away, you would totally feel my pain with this, but I know if the locals treat our local grocer as a Seven Eleven, it will close down and that’s all we will end up with)

I totally get and agree with the shop local movement … to an extent ...

I would love to support local gift shops … and do … when they sell the things I want to buy - I am not going to buy a China made something or other (which I just assume everything not handmade to be) just to purchase something at a local gift shop unless they can tell me the name of the woman who made that something or other and a bit about her wages and working conditions (and if she ever gets to see her children).

I am 100% behind shopping local when it comes to food and think all our food should be produced locally on small farms (large farms and in particular cattle farms are environmental disasters)

(and I do not throw the word disaster around lightly, believe me, well... except when it comes to my hair ... and my closets ... and my studio ...)

with minimal environmental transportation side effects and maximum freshness.

But on my recent trips to Portland and Asheville I have to admit that all the bombardment of shop local signs in the store windows made me feel, well, a little like heading back to my town’s Irish Gift Shop and spending my money there.

It feels a little less than welcoming to a visitor; like some exclusive club a girl from the suburbs like me doesn’t get to belong to- it sometimes felt a little like a place I didn’t want to give my money to.

(yes, I know I am dangling a participle here- we’ll just ignore my bad grammar, as always)

I may be a little jaded from stores who tell me they really want to carry my lines, but only buy from local artists and from Etsy’s push to promote shop local

(huh- isn’t it an internet as in "world wide web" shopping site)

I know 99% of my sales leave my home state and 28% leave the U.S., so shopping local is not something internet shoppers are looking for or why would they be on the internet in the first place, no one wants to pay shipping costs - if we could get it at our local mom and pop we would.

When shop local knocks heads with shop handmade I will be shopping handmade and whether those hands were working in Australia or one block from my house doesn‘t affect my buying.

Now mass produced goods are a whole other story.

We need a local manufacturing focus supported by a local buying focus which I truly believe will happen once big companies really understand through their bottom line that their jobless consumers can’t afford to consume without a paycheck (and realize China's business tax rates are going up).

I think there is room for everyone though, so I will shop local when they sell what I want and always when they sell what I need or love and can't live without

(please figure this out local store owner!)

but continue to spend my money supporting handmade makings everywhere.

I know that all of us and in particular people living in cities that they love tend to become very location-centric in their thinking and I really do get the pluses in this, but there may also be just a couple minuses to think about ... no matter how flat you make a pancake you're always gonna have two sides

(to quote my grandma)

2 comments:

DancingMooney ♥ said...

Amen sister! Every time I watch the news I say this very same thing...

"We need a local manufacturing focus supported by a local buying focus which I truly believe will happen once big companies really understand through their bottom line that their jobless consumers can’t afford to consume without a paycheck..."

add to that, not that you didn't already think of it, that we as a buying culture, need to start thinking more about made in USA as a market demand.

Oregon does have a very strong 'buy local' economy, part of it is that we are full of creative people and creative thinkers, ans supporters of creative thinkers and do-ers, and part of it is that we are also full of farms of all kinds, produce and plants and vineyards and hops and I'm sure other things when you branch out across the state... But you are right, handmade is handmade and shouldn't be shamed for not being local.

I loved this post, and I am hoping the movement of your thoughts really sink into peoples minds... it seems so simple doesn't it? But yet, will require a change of thinking of the masses before we start getting anywhere with bringing manufacturing jobs home.

p.s. I love your grandmas quote too. ;)

Dar Presto said...

Preachin' to the choir, sister Cat. (You've attained grandma-wisdom at such a young age.) Our municipality keeps forming committees to understand why our little shops keep closing and why locals don't spend money in town. Um, sell something useful? As for the shoppers, I don't know what has to happen to get an entire society to open their eyes to the fact that cheaper always comes at the cost of humanity, in one way or other. My kids know better, and I keep reminding them I expect them to change the world. (Don't let me down, guys!)

As an artist, in addition to the usual stumbling blocks of finding that thing I can sell, I struggle with the notion of being a part of the consumer cycle from *that* side, after coming to terms (with regular re-inspection) of materialism as a consumer. Feel free to address that. In fact, run with it; I'm too lazy to blog for myself.

Oh yes, I encountered a "Record and Wig" store, which spawned many imaginary combos like "Haircut 'n' Gyro."