My husband was dropping off our parcels recently, and a woman working in our shipper's office said, "I was looking at your site, and I think I might buy some of these blankets this year as gifts; I'm mostly shopping online." Another employee chimed in, "I'm going to do all of my shopping online, too."
That evening, he went with our kids to the mall to pick something up (masked, natch), and as he surveyed the hallways — with some permanently closed stores, some shuttered from lack of employees, etc. — Wayne's thought was, "I think I need to do all my shopping at the mall!"
I want local stores. I want in-person shopping. This means independent boutiques, absolutely. And, honestly, it also includes (for me) big franchise stores, too. I want to have locations where I can go in person and touch, feel, and explore certain products; where I can speak to a human. Try on shoes. Smell lotion. And look in others' eyes.
(I also, of course, like niche websites (🙋♀️ dignify) that can offer specific products, selection, and shopping opportunities that would not be possible otherwise. An in-person version of our business would not work, like, at all.)
This past summer, I went to a local lumber store and asked questions about our deck railing. We explored all of the options and priced out all of the pieces of wood. When we went home, the real challenge came into play: do I buy the lumber (at a higher price) from this shop that offered me the help? Or do I use their expertise, but save money at Home Depot?
I appreciated the insight & expertise, which in my experience, is rare at giant hardware stores. Ultimately, if I want to be able to access this (I decided), I need to put my money where my mouth is!
As bleak as it sounds, I am making nearly every spending decision based on who do I want to survive this thing?
If I grab a coffee or we're able to go for dinner, I am choosing the restaurant by asking myself, what restaurant do I not want to go out of business?
If I'm buying a Christmas gift item that is sold in multiple places, I'm choosing who gets my money by which store I most value being in existence.
A positive side effect of this brutal time is that for many of us, we are more aware than ever how (and where, and to whom) we spend our money.
So, this month: shop like it matters! Because, to the many business-owners, to the community served, to the people employed: it does matter!
Just after I finished writing, & posted this, I read this from a dear friend who owns a flower shop (we always joke in the fall that we'd love to hang out... in January!). I've included her words because they seemed too relevant not to share — an earnest glimpse at how customers matter.
If you are shopping at small businesses (or anywhere) this year please be patient and kind (even if you don’t want to.)
Wear a mask (even if you don’t want to) and be extra, extra, extra kind and friendly and funny (even if you don’t want to).
Do what you can to make retail employees laugh, smile and feel cared for (even if you don’t want to!)
Don’t be part of the 10% of positive Covid cases that shopped in retail stores while symptomatic (even if you don’t want to!)
A shut down is terrifying as a small retail business owners.
This is a stressful time of year in retail and especially for small businesses - this is our livelihood and whole world. No small business can afford to close down for two or more weeks right now! It’s not just the shop but the employees and their families, the reputation, the income and the payroll and the rent . . . !!!
If you can buy your gifts from small retailers do it!!! Love them, support them - they will love and support you back!!!
It has been A MINUTE since I've written a book post! It's actually been over a year, which is a shock — I have read some excellent books this year, and I know many of you are avid readers!
In the past, I've shared book lists for: different points-of-view, family dynamics, & books to give as gifts... today's post/list is nothing more than a thoroughly biased list of books I've enjoyed recently & recommend!
Hasn't this been the refrain of the week?! "Hard to believe that it has been a year."
A year ago, I published a blog post, "A Kantha Blanket's Journey" : a behind-the-scenes look from creation of a blanket in Bangladesh to enjoyment in your living room.
But, the truth is that it was really a way to address the un-(or subtly-)spoken concern from people wondering if they would get COVID-19 in the mail with their blanket!
Somehow, impossibly, I travelled around the world one year ago!
I am deeply grateful to have taken a trip to Bangladesh when I did. I was at a stage of my life & business when the adrenaline had long worn off, and I was a getting a bit stuck in a cultural mindset trap: "I don't feel like doing this every day."
More details on that, I'll save for another day (or perhaps for a more intimate conversation!). But, let it suffice to say that my colleagues in Bangladesh do NOT operate from that mindset... it doesn't even factor into the conversation.
Being reminded of this, as well as seeing — in person — the inner workings and impact of the blanket biz on the production side... well, it was deeply regenerative for me.
If I had not visited in January 2020, I don't know when that trip would have taken place! Soooo thankful.
Here is one story of a woman artisan I met: Poli.