**Special Weekend Posting!**
Random that I’m writing on a weekend, I know, but I wanted to get this post done for two reasons: 1. the topic is relevant to the current weekend and 2. My birthday is on Thursday and so one post earlier makes up for one non-existing post later in the week.
So yeah, I don’t participate on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Not as a consumer (although I did stop and grab items I needed for projects today, but those purchases don’t count) or as a small business.
Mostly because I believe it is all bull and it lessens the value of the products and the manufacturers and the people who make the items. Granted in most cases you’re buying an object that has been mass produced and there are 100 of them at the next store you will stop into just as easily as the store you walk in to at 5 am the Friday morning after Thanksgiving. The fact remains though that somewhere, some being is putting together the flat screen 21-inch television that you rushed out to Walmart (don’t mean to point out Walmart exclusively, you can insert any store here- Target, Best Buy, Macy’s, etc.) to buy. That being in that other country is probably only making $2 a day (maybe a bit more) and inhaling toxic chemicals to put together that TV that you will probably toss out (to the curb, not recycling it) without any consideration in a couple of years.
I know that you may be thinking I’m sounding high and mighty, but I’m not trying to. What I want you to do is actually consider WHERE your product is coming from. When you finish considering it’s whereabouts, I want you to consider the people that put it together. Then consider how it got to you. Then consider where it will end up AFTER you finish with it. This is a series of activities that many will not and can not do because they don’t want to. It makes me sad and pessimistic for our future and yet it fuels me to continue moving toward an environmentally sustainable business and lifestyle.
A lot of people complain about the cost of items these days and not having enough money. It is an issue in food issues, in basic necessities, in medicine and health and yet, it is important to begin placing VALUE on items. It is the only way I believe the economy will get better and that humans will, too. I don’t want you to think that I’m rolling in the dough because I’m not. As a small business owner and a woman with a full-time job, I’m still living paycheck-to-paycheck and if you had seen my account this month, you may wonder what exactly I’m doing with myself. (We’ll just say I overspent on handmade paper from China when I shouldn’t have.) But that’s not the point. What is the point is that the day after Thanksgiving should still be a day of reflection and thankfulness, not let me rack up credit card debt and/or spend all of my money on cheaply made products that won’t last longer than three-to-six months from now.
It is because of these sentiments that I don’t participate in these shopping days for the Holidays. Momentary stops yesterday to get paper for projects, my iphone (for business purposes and YES, I’m aware of the anti-environmental aspects of the iphone) from Fedex, and Whole Foods for dinner items, I came home and read, cooked and relaxed. After doing all of that, I pulled out stationery projects and started working. I stamped, cut, traced, and somehow managed to cover myself in tons of glitter. I also started working on some great new wedding invitations for the Spring/Summer 2012 collection. Yes, the business owner in me is worked and created, but the personal Sara found herself celebrating life and doing what I love. I did not given into the societal pressures of shopping to make people happy on the day of deals, nor will I do the same on Monday, when sales galore will hit the internet.
See, that’s the secret that I learned, the uber generous Sara Stroman who racked up debt by recklessly spending in her past on mostly travel, but also on buying pricey gifts I couldn’t afford for people I love, can be uber generous in not so expensive ways. Those ways include making things, spending time, baking holiday cookies, volunteering, and even doing something as small as sending small tokens year round to people that aren’t expecting it. Those tokens aren’t expensive, they are just “I thought of you” gifts, but they have meaning. And that is what matters.
This year, I’m buying items that matter. I’m printing out photos of my nephew and my brother to give to my nephew so we can put them in his photo album together at Christmas. I’m going to do something even cooler for my Mom- we’re going to design something together. My other brother, well, I don’t know yet and my youngest brother, well he’s getting something cool that I’ve spent time putting together for him. For my friends, they get Christmas cards, maybe some cookies and the ones that are the closest to me like my best friend, something small. But that’s not the point, what is the point is that I’m looking for things of value. Things that have meaning. Things that years down the road will bring smiles, not holes and tears and false expectations of items just as large and expensive in the future.
This is also why as a small business owner, I’m not participating in these days of deals. Yes, I’d love for some sales, BUT I’d also like sales where the value of my work is appreciated as opposed to a good deal. Unlike those gadgets mentioned above, the items I make require my skill and craftsmanship. They require time and dedication. They also require serious concentration and respect. These are items that in the past few weeks I’ve felt I really had to fight for-to explain why they are worth the price tag and believe you me, it is NOT fun. But you know what, I’d rather fight and be able to defend myself and my craft than to constantly offer sales and deals to get noticed.
Customers will notice my work for the obvious-the quality, the fun paper, the great design, the skill, and the service. They may not be clamoring to buy now because there’s no “DEAL”, but in the long run the “DEAL” is the quality product and service that makes the client happy than the cheap product and service that leaves the client stressed and miserable.
So there you have it. If you have participated in the post-holiday days of shopping, I hope you got what you were looking for. I also hope you remembered all that you have to be thankful for. I also want to throw out there that today is Shop Small Business Day. So I should be telling you all to go to my Etsy shop and buy some stationery, but I’m not. Instead, I’m going to tell you to dash out to your favorite small business, hopefully it’s local, but if it is not local and just somewhere like the world of Etsy, you’re still supporting small businesses. Make an impact on your holiday shopping. I’d never tell you not to shop, I’m just telling you to shop with meaning.