Here’s Why You Need to Buy Local, Buy Handmade

Support Local Farmers!

That’s the same sign I saw at least half a dozen times in every town I went through during a drive out to the country the other day. Signs for Farmer’s Markets and Village Malls and all these rustic, hand-painted calls to action. I stop as often as I can at these things, as well as one-off businesses and shops that offer everything from homemade pies and truffles to handmade soaps and lotions. Why? For me, it’s simple:

I would rather pay $12 for something that was handmade with a passion, and help a local family, than spend $3 and support some international conglomerate that’s making $2.99 of the item and paying a penny to some child in China or Taiwan or India or wherever.

Yep, It’s The Economy, Stupid.

No, this has nothing to do with the book, but rather it’s the epitome of why I feel the way I do. See, I know lots of people who are still unemployed after 2, 3, 5, even 10 years. They announced on the news (and are talking about it today) that for the entire month of August 2011, not a single job was created in the US. Not one. For my unemployed friends and acquaintances, I’ve done everything I can to convince these people that rather than let this get to them, find something they can do – creative, technical, or otherwise – and start their own gig. Build their own life. No one’s suggesting they’ll become “internet millionaires” or anything, but rather they’ll have something they can do with their time that results in an increase of their income. Maybe they’ll be able to pay every single bill they have one month. Maybe they’ll feel that sense of accomplishment when they look in their bank accounts and don’t see a negative balance. Maybe… just maybe… they’ll breathe a little deeper for once.

Even I’m doing it.

I love my new job with BlogWorld because I love connecting content creators and showing them that there’s a place they can go to learn, network, connect, and expand their dreams. I also love consulting and helping people find their passions and build an income with it, too. But what I really love, many days, is when I can steal away to my studio and just play with materials, coming up with something different and beautiful. And why shouldn’t I sell it? If I think it’s beautiful, someone else will. If I think it deserves a prominent place in my home or around my neck, someone else will. I’ve taken my time and skill, and made something that someone else will want. Hopefully, it’s someone who sees the value in owning something entirely handmade by a woman who really has a passion for what she’s doing, and is trying to build a life for the family she’s working to have.

Just like that 20-something young man who makes the beautiful handmade glycerin soaps, saving up money to buy a diamond for the woman he loves.

Just like that newly-divorced mom who is trying to give her kids the world by hand-painting silk scarves.

Just like the 62-year-old grandmother who crochets at night, selling her wares so she can soften the worry lines on her children’s faces when she sees them looking over their checkbooks.

I often joke with my friends, saying, “I just want to make a bajillion dollars by sitting in my studio and making art.” While I wouldn’t turn away a bajillion dollars (else I’d think you’d all have me committed), I don’t need a bajillion dollars. I need to pay my bills and have a creative outlet so my brain doesn’t go all kooky on me. I need to pour my heart into something I make with my hands and have other people enjoy it so much they come back to buy more. And they tell their friends!

See, if I need a new scarf, I head to Zibbet and find one. If I want to spoil myself and get some new bath bombs or lipgloss, I head to local shops. If I want to head out for coffee and a sweet treat with a friend, I’ll go to the family-owned pasticceria before I’ll head to Dunkin’ Donuts. This is because I know that these people, my fellow Americans, New Yorkers, neighbors… I know that they’re struggling sometimes, too. Everyone is. I know that I can help them by choosing to purchase from them. I know that when I cash out in a Zibbet shop, that the person I’m buying from will get an email and it will make them smile. Just like I’ll smile when I receive my package.

There’s a point to this… I swear it.

My point is that even though it’s cheaper to go to “Super Big Huge Box Store That Underpays Everyone” for food, jewelry, bath products, and scarves – it’s also keeping hard-working artisans and passionate people from one more sale. It’s putting money in the wallet of the fat-cats, so to speak. Heck, not even the young Chinese girl who’s slaving over those items is making a decent wage for it, but what’s worse is that the only people in America who are, are the ones who don’t care about anyone or anything but making their wallets fatter. That’s it.

My “day job” involves me getting to talk to people every day. Real, honest people who are just trying to make it through their day, week, or month. I care about them. Do I not care about that poor Chinese girl? Of course I do. But my responsibility lies to those who live “at home”. We’re in a horrible situation here, people. We need to take care of each other. Here, is my point:

Buy local, even if it’s not in your hometown, but rather anywhere in your country. Buy handmade and when you do, make sure you look over that item and picture that 20-something future husband, that struggling, single mom, that worried grandmother. Imagine the look on their face when they realize they just had another sale. You just gave them a deeper breath, and that should make it all worth the extra few dollars you just spent.

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