This has been a tough year for a lot of people financially. I get it. It's hard when you see prices rising, and have no idea if or when they'll go back down again. A lot of folks are cutting down costs where they can, and artists are often some of the first to feel that loss. If people are reeling in their spending, they're less likely to buy something that isn't essential. After a summer of lackluster shows, and hearing all the makers around me talk about how sales are down, and they're feeling disheartened and unsure of how long they'll be able to keep going, it feels a little bleak out there for artists.
With the holidays and gift-giving season approaching quickly, I want to urge you to shop small this year. Buy from a local maker, or online from a small business. I know Amazon makes it so easy- it's cheap, fast, and sometimes way too simple to just click one button and be done. Small businesses can't compete with that. But I guarantee you're not going to get a hand written note in your Amazon package. You're not going to get a piece of jewelry that was handcrafted, with love and intention, and packaged with care. You're not going to get a mug that every time you use it, you can feel the heart and soul that went into its making. It may cost a little more, but when you buy handmade, you're supporting someone's dream, their passion and hard work. And you're also helping to keep the arts alive. How boring would it be if there were only box stores and chain restaurants?
I know when I use my handmade mug in the morning, it makes my tea feel so much more special. I'm drinking out of a piece of art, and I love admiring it and remembering the potter at the craft fair in Washington who I bought it from. When I wear my dyed silk top that I bought from a one woman show in Texas, I can feel the quality and the care that went into its design and creation. I also feel good knowing that those dollars I spent went to an actual person, that is working hard to pursue their dream.
While it may not be feasible to buy everything from small businesses, every little bit helps. Support small businesses when and where you can. Buy your morning coffee from a local coffee shop instead of Starbucks. Go to a holiday craft fair and buy a couple of your gifts from local makers. Maybe you buy less, but what you do buy is more meaningful. And this year, that feels especially important.