Saturday, October 18, 2008

Staying afloat in hard times

Just this week, I was chatting with my friend Martha via email (she's been on the road ) about the closing of ArtFibers in San Francisco. On their blog, ArtFibers summarize the reasons their store on Sutter St. is closing (lease is up, gas prices, etc.), and commented on the state of the yarn business in general (lots of options, hard to stand out). This statement particularly hit me:
Yarn is a durable treasure, easily stashed, abundant. New web tools allow people to engage in 'stash sharing', extending the usefulness of what is on hand. If no yarn sold in the next year nobody would be without a project.

I have friends who earn their living through crafts. They live in Maine; Hillary is a weaver and Mark is a potter. They do a select number of crafts fairs each year. This is not an easy way to make a living, and the cost of gas has had an impact on the artisans expenses, and attendance. The public pays $8 to $10 to get in to spend money. This August I went up to the League of NH Crafts Fair in Lake Sunapee to see them. Word was that business was OK, but down.

This has led me to think a lot about the current economy, the need to cut back on spending, while at the same time trying to keep local artisans and my LYS's in business. After reading Barbara Kingsolver's
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle this summer, I have expanded my awareness of buying local, and noticed what choices I have to do so. If I ask myself would I be happy buying all my yarn, fiber goodies, and books online, or in large chain stores, the answer is a clear no. If I ask myself if I have enough yarn to keep me knitting for a couple of years, again the answer is yes.
approach perhaps I should focus on would be to try to shop more locally knowing it is important for keeping my LYS's open, and when I can, support local artisans, who enrich our community so much. This holiday season, I will be more aware of reducing my purchases, get by without lots of holiday consumables, and making purchases that contribute to others' well being.


The Purloined Letter said...

*Clapping!* Thanks for the absolutely excellent and timely post! There are too many instances when I fall down on my commitments because I'm feeling cheap. I really just need to not buy anything until I can afford to do it responsibly. Lovely reminder.

BarbaraME said...

Excellent post! My older son takes classes at the League of NH Craftsmen - they host the Mt. Sunapee Craftsmen fair that you attended. You *must* let me know if you're in the neighborhood next time. BTW, my older son is a metalsmither.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry I just came upon this post months later. The local yarn shop where I shop for yarn and learned how to knit is closing in two days. It is very sad. Luckily a new owner will reopen as a yarn shop but it will never feel the same for those of us that frequented the shop. I will give the new shop a chance, of course and I will cheer them on, but it is a sad day for the previous owner who put her heart and soul into the shop!