Friday, November 13, 2009

More for Le$$...

I was listening to NPR this morning and the subject was the economy. The question of whether or not the economy was getting better or stronger, despite the fact that unemployment is still high. The discussion reiterated the plight of the small business owner, and the reality of the consumer power that is not being used. Simply, people are not buying things- even if they do have a job, and if they are buying things, they are certainly buying less. My goodness- I could go on and on about this subject but I will try to stick to some major points.

1. I AM that small business owner- not only do I manufacture goods, but now I have a little shop to sell directly to my customers- so I am both in the retail and wholesale end of things.

2. From my point of view, it is true that people in general, are not buying things retail. Even though Spring 2010 has wholesale orders (and for that I am extremely grateful) there could definitely be more. Just being honest, really. I cannot blame the buyers of these stores across the country for not buying more of my product- it is the fact that people are not buying things from their stores that makes their budgets so small for the season. It is a vicious cycle really and it is the little guy who suffers the most.

3. The thing that gets my goat a bit is the way some people are trying to take advantage of the situation that we are all finding ourselves in. As small business owners try to maneuver through the recession and still stay afloat- some people find it a great time to try to haggle or get goods for reduced prices and discounts.

I am sure that most of the time it's hard to understand that we have already reduced prices, taken losses, and cut corners. It is down right sad to see how people try to leverage a difficult time and a desperate moment into a gain for themselves. I think it is called carpetbagging. I know- we all love a discount- but if a few extra dollars go into the small business you are supporting- than it might just survive!

4. Which brings me to More for Le$$.....
Everyone wants something special, unique, one-of-a-kind, made locally, and sustainably.
Paying a living wage for garment construction is not inexpensive, sourcing fabrics from fair-trade co-ops is not the cheaper option, growing and harvesting raw materials that use extensive crop rotation and biological pesticides instead of cheap, harmful, chemical sprays- costs more money than the alternative.

All of these careful considerations of the planet and the people that inhabit it cost more money- as does creating a clothing line ethically. I try my best to educate my clients, and consumers at large about these issues- many of which the average consumer is unaware of. It is an uphill battle- and I understand that the price of organic fruit and vegetables is more than non-organic- and the same with clothing. Walmart, Target, H&M are far less expensive than my collection- but we have to ask ourselves "at what cost?" The problem is that we all want something special, unique, one-of-a-kind, made locally, and sustainably - BUT WE DON'T WANT TO PAY FOR IT.

We all want stellar customer service, personal attention, a genuine interaction with our local small business owners- but we don't always support them. In order to do that, we have to frequent their businesses and spend our money- or pretty soon- our only option will be big box corporations that are huge enough to withstand the crumbling economy. They have the ability to slash prices, lay off American workers, and source labor over seas where there are low human rights standards. Is that what we should be supporting?

Please excuse my rant- it is not often that I go ahead and put it out there, I just feel like I talk about this subject often, and I would love to hear others' point of view regarding the more for le$$ mentality of our society-

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