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.
The 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.