Holiday shopping is in full swing, and it would be easy to do all of your buying from your keyboard; click on email sales and wait for Amazon to deliver. I can’t argue with the convenience – it’s great to have the world delivered – but I will challenge you to shop small, local, and sustainable this season.
Most of us have a story about a beloved store getting pushed out of business by a “big brand.” Hardware, toy, and bookstores come to mind, as casualties of people trading away service for price and convenience. Thankfully, “mom and pop” stores are making a comeback, finding their niches within their chosen specialty, and providing service and community not available in the big chains.
When we choose to shop small, we are supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs. These can be brick-and-mortar locations all the way to an online Etsy shop, and they are often providing something unique. In many cases, you can meet the owner and develop a relationship, order specialty items, and be notified of events and sales. When you support a small business, you know where your money is going and often find one-of-a-kind items to slide under the Christmas tree.
One of my favorite things about Bear Creek is that I get to connect with clients near and far while learning what my students and customers need and want. My business is just me designing, creating, teaching, and promoting my passion like so many other entrepreneurs.
Shopping local simply means that in addition to supporting small businesses, you’re targeting those shops in your own community, thereby supporting your community’s ecosystem. Local business owners are more likely to live in the town they serve, have their children attend local schools, and participate in events and fundraisers which benefit the community. When you shop local, you’re keeping the money flowing within your community while eliminating shipping costs.
We may not be physical neighbors, but I believe we are both part of a community of needle felters who support one another and long to see the art form evolve. The creation of the Nome Schoolhouse Project came out of a desire to give back to and expand the fiber arts community we are all a part of.
In addition to reducing the carbon footprint associated with packaging and shipping your purchases from their point of origin to your door, shopping sustainable also means choosing products made from renewable resources and natural materials. Skip the plastic toys and opt for classic books, or avoid the consumerism and give experiences instead.
Of course, needle felting – as an art form and a crafting experience – is sustainable as it is based on the beautiful wool of our Romney flock and dyed with natural materials. For many of us, holding the wool in our hands connects us to the land and to nature in a way few crafts do. Needle felting can also be a gifted experience when you share a project kit or even an Academy membership!
So I am challenging you this season to shop small, local, and sustainable as you select gifts for loved ones this holiday season. We all can put more back into our communities while supporting artisans, entrepreneurs, and families. Happy shopping!