Friday, February 3, 2012

where things come from, and where things go...

I've had this on my mind for a while now, so I apologize in advance if this blog post seems a bit scattered.

I've been in etsy and zibbet for a while now, buying and selling and frequenting the chat rooms etc; there has consistantly been an issue of handmade vs wholesalers, supplies & "handmade" that come from China, etc that people have issue with.

And yet, disturbingly, their supplies all come from the very places they claim to loathe.

Then the holidays roll around. Not just the December holidays, but other gift giving events like birthdays or whatnot. There's the buying-from-big-box-stores issues, vs handmade. Big Box makes their revenues for that quarter, and yet handmade still stays in shop. Same sellers complain about how they dislike Big Box Store, and yet their supplies come from there. And, did they lead by example by avoiding Big Box and buy entirely handmade that season? Not likely.

But this is nothing new. It has been going on for years. One just musters and shrugs at it all and hopes that the next holiday is better than the last.

Then, though, I come across articles like this one in regretsy - not so much complaining about Big Chain X stealing the ideas of indie artists and not giving them the credit (at the very least) that they deserve, but then go off to make a ton of money off of it. All designers, all big name retailers do it.

Yes, it's irritating that they do it, but what's even worse is that people will buy it. And if not the item(s) in question, they will still buy from these big retailers, which is equally as bad, whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not.

I know that if there are any comments to this thread, there's bound to be a few that will say, "Well, there's a recession on, that's why we shop at Big Box Store." ... or ... "I don't like Company X's business practices, therefore I'm not one of the people you're venting about." (Meanwhile half of their closet is filled with Company X's things.)

The best excuse that I have heard in the past, and from fellow handmade online sellers, is "I'll buy once I have paypal money to buy it." Which means, if we're perfectly honest, it's not going to get bought. The comment may be well intentioned, but it's really something we've gotten into the routine of saying. 

We all know, both the person hearing (reading) it as much as the person uttering it, that it's really not true. For some reason, there are a lot of people who view 'paypal money' in these forea as money that's not really there, it's somehow 'extra' or 'invisible' money that's just floating out there in the interwebian universe. Supplies bought at Big Box X comes from our bank accounts. And yet supporting handmade only comes off of the bare minimum we make off of what we've made.

Here's been my thinking, when it comes to gift giving (for whichever occasion): I know I have 'x' number of dollars to spend per person. How much that is may vary from season to season or year to year, but I know ahead of time what that 'x' amount is. People's birthdays don't change from one year to the other, neither does Christmas. I can budget for those pretty accurately if I put in a fiber of effort into thinking ahead for the next month or so. The varying amount of 'x' doesn't solely rely on what's in my bank account, but ALSO what's in paypal and whatever other accounts I may have. Because, despite it all, what I have in my paypal is still not only money, but money I've earned, just like the money I have in the bank.

From there, I can budget what I can buy for whomever for whatever the holiday is. Naturally, I want to buy an appropriate gift for the recipient, because at the end of the day the gift really should be what they want more than what I want to give them. There's not much sense in gifting something to someone that's just going to collect dust in a shelf or turn into closet insulation. And yes, often their gifts wind up being Big Box Store items, or Company X gift cards etc. But, can I squeeze in a handmade gift here and there? It's always budgetable.

A lot of people in my family tease me for starting my Christmas shopping early. I'm one of those weird people who has my Christmas knitting done by June or July - why? Well, because wool has its best sales, I've found, in January thru June, so that's when I buy it to make whatever holiday knitting I'm going to make. I may as well have it knit while what I want to make is fresh in my head, and it gets put aside until December.

Plus, I've worked in retail for so long, that I refuse to go to the mall in December. I rarely go to stores and malls to begin with, so if I happen to be in a mall in September or October, and I pass by a store where I see a potential gift that I know someone will like come xmas, it gets bought then and there, assuming of course it fits into my budget to do so. That way two birds are killed with one stone so to speak: an xmas gift is out of the way, and it's one less item that's going to make its way onto my December credit card bill. It just makes sense, doesn't it?

The same goes if I see said gift on etsy or zibbet. I know it's handmade, I know I'm supporting the artist who made it, and if I see it before December - well, all the better, I don't have to worry about said package fighting the holiday rush of the postal service.

So, what's the point of this whole blog post? Well, to be honest, it's more of a vent than anything on my part. I suppose I'm mildly frustrated at the fruadulence of it all. Every dollar spent at Big Corporation X or Sweat Shop Country Y, is a dollar we're taking away not only from our own country, but a dollar that we're taking away from our own handmade artisans.

If you can afford to buy a birthday gift, or a holiday gift, you can afford to buy handmade. Whatever your gift-giving budget is for each holiday, try just for a year to spend at least a third of it on handmade, or better yet at least half. Invest in quality. It's always best to have less but have quality, than to have lots which isn't. Before your next shopping trip to Big Box Store or Trendy Company Brand Mall, research what you're buying into. We live in an internet age, it'll just take a few minutes, trust me, it'll be easy enough.

Whether we like it or not, what we financially support is who we morally support. Keep that in mind.

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