While the press and economic experts debate whether we had a “mini-recession” or a “mild recession” in 2015 – most of us know that Canada, along with most developed countries, has been in a recession. It has affected someone you know. Someone you know is unemployed and struggling to make ends meet. Someone you know has lost their job or had their hours cut back. Someone you know is struggling in their small business because of the downturn in the economy. Governments and administrations can manipulate economic data, and the press can suggest that we are headed for economic growth in 2016, but the evidence is clear. Many Canadians are suffering.
So why are we talking about this sad news on our blog – and right before Christmas you might ask? Because we feel somewhat helpless at times with the global state of affairs, and we are concerned about the future of our economy and how that affects people. We bought this business because we are passionate about supporting B.C. Artists – some of whom would not be able to make a living without retail stores like ours who sell their handmade art. We are writing this article to ask you to please consider supporting these wonderful B.C. Artists and other local businesses before you spend all of your Christmas shopping budget at big box stores.
We believe that one way you can help is to consider buying locally produced goods and services. Below is a short list of reasons to support local, handmade goods.
1. Locally crafted work is unique! Unlike items made in a far off factory; local crafts people make work that is individual and one-of-a-kind. This does not just apply to a magnificent vase or a glass bowl. Even with a humble coffee mug, every piece has a very slight difference. When just one person or a husband & wife team makes an item the numbers are by the nature of the process – small. It’s great to have or give as a gift something that is genuinely unique and locally made.
2. Local artists produce work of excellent quality. They always take personal pride in their handmade work. I have yet to meet an artist who was not passionate about their work! From potters to glass artists to textile makers – this is their life and they are justly proud of their work. If treated well, much of this work can last a lifetime. How many things can you say that about in our society today? How many of those ‘bargain’ mass produced items last more than a few years?
3. Save money! Contrary to what some people believe, buying directly from the artist at a craft fair, market, or their local studio can often cost less than buying a mass produced item from a department store. Reduced transportation costs, no middle men, and modest advertising budgets help to keep costs down.
4. Local artists do really care about customer service! The artists are available to repair, alter, clean or replace your purchase if you should ever need this service. They are genuinely interested to help if there is ever a problem. You never, ever need to speak with a remote customer service person.
5. Personal service is very important to local artists. Many artists will custom make work to your specification. If you need a gift for a special occasion then very often the artist will be happy to make it to your requirements.
6. You can start your own personal art collection with a small budget. We recently had a nice young couple visit our Studio to purchase some Robert Held glass heart paperweights (which start at $45). They were glass heart collectors – and were excited to see some new styles that they could add to their collection! If you are on a budget you can collect individual pieces over time. Many of our customers collect pottery, jewellery, glass art & more!
7. Shopping locally helps your local economy. By supporting local artists it keeps money in the community and ensures that hard learned skills are alive for future generations.
8. Go green and help your local environment! Local arts & crafts produce a minimal carbon footprint – little transportation is involved. Conservation is important to all of us. Much of what local artists use is recycled – including what little packaging is ever used!
9. Fun and Learning. It really can be a fun shopping experience – you get to meet or learn about the artist, find out about their skills, and how they make their work. It’s impressive how much time and effort goes into a single piece. So take some time to visit your local artist’s studio or gallery, or local craft show. It can be great fun! You can check Meetup.com for local art appreciation groups in your area. If you are in Victoria there is an arts & crafts meetup group: http://www.meetup.com/Meetup-art-group-of-Victoria-BC/ The Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria is a great resource as well: http://www.cacgv.ca/
10. Supporting your local community. A locally handmade gift reflects the community and region in which it was made. It has greater relevance for the person who purchased it, and to the person to whom the gift is given. Thank you for taking the time to read our top ten reasons to shop local this Christmas. We would love to hear from you! What will you do to support local this holiday season? Finally, if you would like some suggestions or gift ideas please see our blog here; Gift Suggestions.
Please share with us in the comments below. From our family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!
Side Street Studio Victoria, B.C.