Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shopping the artist spirt in everything

I love shopping. It doesn't matter if it's at Macy's, Payless, The Container Store, Brooklyn's Artists & Fleas, or other any other venue. It's not just the joy of buying something new. It's the joy of seeing someone's creativity and passion on display. I know that somewhere, be it just behind the table or lost in the mists of a design & manufacturing process, that somewhere there was a creative person who put a little bit of their soul into the product I'm examining.

It's easy to forget that when you're at a big department or box store. They spend so much time and money on advertising and display. So much that it obscures the sweat and tears that go into bringing a product to the masses. Having worked on the manufacturing side, I know all about those tears and sweat. I know how many revisions go into a design. I know how often suppliers can't meet the demands. I know how often machines break down causing delays (and grey hairs). I know how difficult it all is.

Those same challenges exist for small businesses. Which is why I'm in awe of anyone who is willing to dive into it. (and yes, I think I'm nuts sometimes too!) When it's just you (or a few people), there's no one else to solve problems (or blame for them). You do EVERYTHING! You may get into it because you love baking/sewing/carving/building/etc... but then you have to reproduce your work repeatedly. You need to market it. You need to network. You need to track sales. You need to file invoices. You need to do your taxes...

It's certainly not the side of business that I enjoy. At times I seriously consider looking for security under the umbrella of a larger company. I'm sure I'm not alone. But what's amazing, and I don't know if it's the American thing to do, but when the going gets tough, many people seem to look towards themselves, look inward, look at their own resources. And, when they lose their jobs, they sometimes think of it as an opportunity, that kick in the pants, to finally do "what they've always wanted". It certainly might explain the blossoming of independent markets that I see around me. The markets that are all about the small business. The individual risk taker.

And the markets are some of the most fun places to shop ever. Because at the market, I can look into the eyes of the person who grew the tomatoes, or sewed the shirt, or threw the pottery, cooked the jam... I can talk to them. Ask them questions. And almost touch their passion and excitement. Which for me, makes the tomatoes taste better, the pottery more beautiful, the shirt more special.

No comments: