Thursday, August 15, 2013

making your dollars count

Please pardon me while I stand atop one of these: 
And please check out this awesome vintage Arm & Hammer crate from Season's Organics on Etsy!
Yesterday I sold something fairly pricey for my mid-range price point shop.   I did a happy dance that, thankfully, no one saw and I immediately texted my mom and my boyfriend with the news.  The sale not only made my business tick along a little further, it touched my life... and I know the gal is going to enjoy her purchase, because it is unique and amazing and in incredible condition... and functional! That transaction gave me the money I will need for a tank of gas to go visit a friend who is going through a sudden and unexpected loss without missing out on a bill this month.   Now I'm crying. I've been struggling to find my blogger voice.  There's so much I want to write about, and lately I've been suffering from paralysis of the analysis, thinking too hard about how a piece of writing supports the culture of vintage clothing and style.  Finally I have something to say that simply cannot wait for its niche to be carved.

When you buy something on Etsy your dollars matterWhen you buy something on Ebay or Craigslist your dollars matter.  When you shop locally, your dollars matter. You're not feeding a machine.  You're feeding families. When you choose to shop with microbusinesses the money goes directly into the pocket of someone who needs it to keep the lights on or bring home the local, free-range, non GMO bacon. 

When you shop micro, you're shopping
 pro-small business
pro-vote with your dollars
 pro-economy reform
 pro-American Dream
pro-take matters into your own hands
pro-independent business person
pro-independent thinking
 pro-positive values
pro-quality counts
pro-take care of your neighbor
pro-good karma.

I'm so sorry to get preachy, buy I just needed to say it.  We all want to feel that we're making positive choices with our money.  One of my biggest goals for 2013 is to see to it that my spending reflects my values.   For me, that means a lot less Kroger, Starbucks and Target and a lot more Findlay Market, farmers' markets, independent coffee shops, and yard sales (I know, twist my arm, right? Try keeping this girl away from a yard sale.) One can find lots of statistics about shopping locally and how much more money stays in the local economy, but as an independent vintage seller, I am writing today to emphasize the personal impact of what your second-hand shopping and local- and micro-business spending habits have.  Each shop you browse has an electric bill that is coming due. They have insurance bills, product invoices, shop repairs, burnt out lightbulbs,  It costs money to bring locally made soy candles to the masses, and they are doing their neighborhood a service, making it a more interesting and vibrant place to live or visit.  Shopping on Etsy?   Every item you view cost 20¢ just to list, not to mention the cost of the camera that took the photos, the computer they were edited and listed on, and the precious space of that shop owner's home that the inventory takes up.  Not only has that item been made or found, it has been cleaned, measured, catalogued, and carefully described and packed by the time it reaches your doorstep.  Small local shops and online micro businesses are two sides of the same coin.  Many Etsy businesses are now supplying local shops, and micro businesses owners online are more likely to shop locally too. 

Shopping micro may cost a little more money, but haven't we figured out that more stuff doesn't make us happier?  I'm a miser by nature.  I instinctively scoff at pricetags, and I am trying to unlearn this behavior.  I am lucky to live in a neighborhood (shout out to Cinci Northside!) where the only chain shopping locations are a KFC / Taco Bell and a BP, and even those are locally franchised.  Yesterday while shopping for some birthday gifts, I spent a little extra to buy cards and trinkets locally, but when I reflected that I didn't have to do any of the following:  1) get in my car or spend a single cent on gas 2) fight the crazy-aggressive Cincinnati drivers 3) wait in a checkout line 4) search for the aisle where I would find greeting cards 5) deal with any ungrateful clerks.  I talked to business owners about sleep deprivation, the effects of coffee on someone who is already tired, whether it was appropriate to give a "funny" birthday card to a significant other's parents, taking the leap to becoming self employed, and how to have a more successful Etsy shop.  It may have cost me an extra couple of dollars, but I actually came home feeling inspired.  When was the last time a big box store made you feel that way?

Maybe you don't live near a lot of locally-owned businesses, but you still want your dollar to count. Next time you're feeling spendy or charitable, next time you're shopping for a gift or for yourself, please consider local businesses and micro businesses first. Browse your neighborhood boutique or the vast array of goods on Etsy.  Converse with the shop owners.  The clerk at the bix box store doesn't care about your new shoes.  Buy them from someone who will do a happy dance with you. 

*steps off soapbox*

Want to read more about shopping locally?  Here are some great links:
US News from October, 2011, full of additional links
Reclaim, that beautifully frames how local businesses add value beyond dollars
Entrepreneur, a great article that puts into perspective how Etsy, an global online business, is promoting local spending

Do you have any great links to share?   Comments on shopping local?  Awesome micro business experiences you're dying to talk about?  Please comment below, and thank you for reading!


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