In this crazy holiday season, there is a set of phrases tossed about constantly, especially by folks like yours truly: Shop local. Shop small. Shop handmade.
I am the first person to admit it: handmade and small businesses aren't necessarily intrinsically good. We don't automatically make more durable products than big box stores. A small business is not a guarantee that ethical standards are being upheld (hellooo unpaid overtime). We are - at the end of the day - salespeople. And our prices are not always especially competitive.
So is shopping local/small, and handmade still a good thing? Well, to keep it simple: Yes, it is.
Here are some of my thoughts on why shopping handmade and local are worth your time and hard-earned cash.
Handmade is special. I have high regard for handmade things. To me, handmade, uniquely crafted items serve as a record of a moment in time, capturing specific motions: saw blade markings in wood, finger impressions in clay, brush strokes on a canvas: literally the artist's mark on the world. It's also just plain lovely to have things like this in our possession, because they give joy, beauty & meaning to the things that create our homes or wardrobes.
Creativity is basic (but like in a good way). I think the act of making is fundamental and primal, for artists and really-- for all humans. Even if you aren't a maker or artist, you probably wear clothes, maybe put on make up, listen to funky fresh music, and lovingly decorate your home. Each of those areas of life requires some form of creative decision making - and you do it daily. Creativity and artistic choice is a delightful part of life. Why not bring a little more colour or uniqueness to yours?
Keep it local. Lots to say here. Minimize the carbon footprint by hitting up a local craft show. Not only do you get to meet the maker, you also skip the packaging and shipping costs/enviro impacts. Local businesses also often are invested in supporting others when they can, with portions of sales going to non-profits, etc. Clearly that's awesome. Shopping local also means keeping folks employed in your own region. How can that be anything but good? When your community thrives, everybody wins.
Fine craft is a legit art form, and one that everyone can participate in. Believe arts and culture are important, but can't afford that $9000 painting? No problem. Buy a mug from a ceramicist. Order a hand-printed t-shirt from a local printmaker. Boom - you just supported the arts.
So the next time you hear #shoplocal or #shophandmade, consider why these movements are meaningful for you - or for the person on your shopping list! Just like anything else, you can be choosy. Look for handmade businesses that align with your values. Or give back to their own communities. Or make an excellent product. Better yet - all three. There really is no shortage of handmade goodness out there, so find the things that draw you - and enjoy them!
If you have other ideas or thoughts about this topic, I'd love to hear them. Always happy to nerd out and talk craft!