If you know me at all, you know that I love small businesses. Not just any small business, but authentic, welcoming small businesses that value their customers, provide a good service, and have a unique bond with their community (businesses like Samantha House Jewelry, for instance– I had to, you guys, I’M A HUSTLER…). I love artisans, craftsmen, and people who are willing to forgo the security of a 401k + benefits package to make a living doing something that makes them, and other people, happy. Those are the people I like to support and shop from. I’m always so inspired when I hear that someone is quitting their 9-5 to start their own boutique/bee farm/brewery/bistro/whatever. I’m inspired when I’m given the opportunity to work with these people, help them develop their vision and communicate with their consumers. You guys, I love small businesses.
Similarly, I am heartbroken, so so heartbroken, when a small business that deserves* to stay open is forced to close their doors and a hard-working dreamer is forced to abandon their vision and get a real job**. I’m heartbroken every time I pass a Walmart or even (brace yourself) a Target*** and I see people buying knock-off products at a fraction of the price and loading their carts with unsustainable goods that a local artisan would have LOVED to have sold to them at a higher quality.****
All this has been a ridiculously long introduction to this wonderful piece
by our lady Elizabeth over at E Tells Tales
. Last year, I literally spent an entire weekend doing nothing more than reading Elizabeth’s blog. I was captivated, spellbound. She’s one of the most diligent, hard-working, and witty bloggers on the internet. She’s insightful and sweet, she doesn’t take herself too seriously, but she still has strong convictions. I also like her because her husband is a lot older than her, too. In fact, she and Mike have me and David beat by ten years (!!) and their love story is so beautiful. Pour yourself a glass of wine and read it someday. I promise, it’ll move you
Anyway, Mike owns a grocery store in a small southern town and Elizabeth is an ex-English teacher (an English teacher on hiatus?) with an infant son named Everette. Even though she’s insanely busy with raising a human, blogging, and finding time to bathe regularly, she still manages to run a successful Etsy shop
selling her super cute hand-sewn goods. When I read her piece on billing for what you’re worth and supporting small business, I felt excited, sad, angry, inspired, weepy and strong all at the same time. Check it out, you guys, and then shop local, shop small
. You’ll be amazed at how rewarding it is to buy something from someone other than a board teenager at a Target check-out counter. For realz.
So that’s my message for today. Please be thoughtful about where you spend your money- whether it be American dollars, British Monopoly money, or real
Monopoly money. Support local coffee shops, boutiques, farmers, designers, etc. I know it’s difficult (I didn’t realize how difficult is is to know who to trust and where to go until moving here- in Boston I took my connections for granted) but at the end of the day it’s worth it. Worth it because you had a good experience, you put money back into your community, and you literally just helped a small business owner make their rent. AND THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS AWESOME.
One last thing: You’ve Got Mail has always been one of my favorite movies. Because I love books, because I’ve always wanted to open my own shop, because she had to close her shop but she still found a beautiful new beginning, because Meg Ryan was still cute then. I love the story, I love the Pride and Prejudice undertones, I love Nora Ephron, etc. But what I love most is that You’ve Got Mail is a small business story. Yes, it ends sadly for the store, but if it doesn’t teach you to value the businesses that make your community special, I don’t know what will.
xxx now & forever.
*Okay, obviously a business that doesn’t have customers shouldn’t deserve to stay open because they’ve quintessentially failed their customers. But, like, some small businesses are so cool and special and when those businesses fail, it’s devastating to the customers, to the community who took them for granted, and to the owners who remortgaged their homes, invested their nest egg, and still lost everything. Additionally, many small businesses do offer a unique perspective, quality goods, and a welcoming atmosphere, and when those businesses are put out by a big-box retailer or an aggressive chain with huge advertising power and an even bigger parking lot, it is devastating and to me it feels unfair.
**By the way, people, creative/artistic/craft/design jobs are still “real jobs” and I’m simply using this annoying term to illustrate the way people will tell you to get “a real job” when you’re trying to do something unique and independent and how totally fucking annoying it is.
***I’m from Minnesota, of course I love Target. I was raised on Target! And they do a lot of cool stuff with artists, designers, and small businesses that I totally love, but then they do a $2 deal on really crap Archer Farms coffee and I see every local roaster in the area tighten their belts. And then they open a Starbucks in their entryway and kick the cute Java Hut lady out of the parking lot (this really happened, and Java Hut was SOO GOOD!), And then they sell fresh produce and all the local farmers market moves a few miles north and that just doesn’t sit so well with me. But I still love Target’s Christmas commercials with the Crazy Christmas Lady!
****I have a friend in Phoenix who has a local carpenter build a lot of her furniture based on pieces she finds in catalogs- especially the bedroom furniture for her two sons. The carpenter does really beautiful work, is able to customize the pieces for her family and home, and adds extra-special details, like built-in soft-close storage drawers, which make her extra happy. AND, his pieces aren’t just constructed better, they also cost less than the Pottery Barn pieces that [kinda-sorta] inspired them. There’s also a man in her neighborhood who started a business planting and maintaining vegetable patches for people- how great is that?! I want him in my neighborhood! If I had a yard, that is…