For Thanksgiving, a mini-rant, and a pile of gratitude.
I was talking to a good friend of mine yesterday who also owns her own business. We were talking about Thanksgiving, about holiday shopping, about the economy. It's well known that the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the single busiest shopping season of the year. Many retailers make their entire year's worth of profit this month. The pressure if on, not only for the retailers, but for us, the shoppers, to buy buy buy.
Since November 1st, I've noticed that my inbox has been filled with all of these emails. You know the ones -- we're all getting them, I'm sure:
"Get your Black Friday Deals today!"
"Don't wait for Cyber Monday! Shop NOW"
"60% off everything in the store TODAY ONLY!!!!!!"
There's such a sense of urgency to them, as if buying up their piles of stuff will somehow make the world a better place, my life more fulfilling, that by buying that new pair of Gap jeans, I'll singlehandedly be supporting the economy.
My friend told me that a certain large, multinational retailer was opening at 3 a.m. on Friday with post-Thanksgiving deals. THREE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING. Does this strike anyone else as insane?
Hey, do you remember that time the security guard at a Walmart was stampeded to death by a crowd of early morning shoppers?
It's all been making me think: What if we didn't go to Walmart, or Kohl's, or Macy's on Friday?
What if, instead, we took that money that we were going to spend on things that we don't really need, supporting giant corporations that don't really need us, and instead put it toward something beautiful, something handmade, something filled with love and thought.
What if we spent that money locally, at the independently owned yarn shop, or locally owned gourmet foods store, or independent bookstore, or tiny Etsy shop run by a single mom in Colorado?
What if, instead of a pile of things, we gave our loved one a single, special, locally grown, carefully crafted piece of art?
I hope I don't sound all "I know better than you." That's not what I mean at all. Really, what I mean is that all these offers and sales and discounts make me feel like all of these corporations are saying, "you can't afford our stuff unless we give it to you for free." Or "You and yours aren't good enough to deserve this at full price." And: "Quantity over quality."
But I don't agree. I am worth it, and so are you.
As a retail shop owner who makes her living based on her customer's continued willingness to spend money in her shop, it might strike you as odd and rather insane that I'm going to say this, but I'm going to:
Stay home on Friday.
Don't go shopping.
Don't buy into the frenzy of sales and slashed prices and discounts.
Eat a leftover turkey sandwich, read the newspaper, hug your mom or your brother or your significant other. Watch football. Don't watch football. Pick up your knitting, or your quilting. Walk your dog or your cat or your armadillo.
Take a moment to breathe and enjoy the day.
But Don't Go Shopping.
Your money is worth more than that. Your time, your family, your friends, your holiday season are worth more than 60% off the latest fashions.
This friend of mine owns a lovely shop, and they're closed on Friday. The "biggest shopping day of the year," and she's shuttering her doors, giving her staff the day off, and decorating the shop for Christmas. I think that's a lovely idea.
I've been thinking hard about this a lot lately. I own a tiny yarn shop, so I know the value of each and every dollar I earn. I know how much love and labor goes into each sale I make. And I know how much love and labor goes into each purchase each one of my beloved customers makes from me. I love each and every skein I dye, and I love each and every skein that I sell and I appreciate every home my yarn goes to.
We hear it often: these are trying economic times, for all of us.
But isn't that all the more reason to value each dollar, value each person, and value each purchase? I want to make my holiday dollars go further not by buying ten things for a huge discount. Instead, I want to make my holiday dollars go further by giving things that count, by supporting someone like me, who owns their own business and crafts their own art, whatever that art is.
Okay, rant over.
In the spirit of independent, art, local and love, I want to send out a big, fat Thank You to a small fraction of the independent and/or local businesses that have supported me and whom I have supported over the years. Thank you all for being here, for your independent spirit, for making my life better in some way.
And thank you to all of the people in my life: friends and family, both old and new, fiber-y and climb-y.