Monday, August 23, 2010

Here's something you can do

Photo from The Collective Mind, posted by Bob Bragman. Many thanks.

Among my friends are retailers, present and past. These are not rosy times for them. During the years I appeared at rubber stamp stores, especially for free demonstrations, I overheard - not that they were whispering - too many customers urging others in the audience either to buy the item being shown at a huge chain store with its unmatchable discounts or, more recently, to shop on line. Valid businesses, not witless advice, just not appropriate to be spouting when you are collecting free handouts, taking notes on how to use new materials and, as a friend once described it, sucking up the air conditioning. Bad manners.

I'll step out in front on this one and volunteer to buy something from an independent retailer or other local business this week...yes, I know we want and need the good chain one is watching, it's okay to go to Kinko's. But a magazine from a local newsstand, latte from a one-up coffee merchant, a yard of ribbon from the craft store, a stack of mysteries from the charitable thrift shop or second-hand bookseller...any and all would help keep the ship afloat.

And a note to customers of the shops that do things like offer how-to demonstrations at no charge: I know your mother raised you better than that. It is simply polite to (a) thank the owner or manager for their generosity and (b) BUY SOMETHING. One pen, a sheet of scrapbook paper, you'll still scoot out the door for less than a dollar in most cases and go from being thought of - by ALL the staff - as a cheapskate and become someone they will greet more warmly next time. Believe me, they don't forget these things.

I was one who got really cranky when, post 9/11, we were told that if we didn't shop, the terrorists would win. Expletives are not part of my blog writing, but just imagine what I'm thinking. This is different; this is us, all together, with our Social Security, a dollar left over from lunch, 25 cents from the bottom of an old purse, bringing a modicum of good will into the community and doing what we can to see that our towns and neighborhoods will not only prevail but prosper. If you possibly can...thank you and please come again.


Lisa H said...

In a time where mindless consumerism is dying (as well it should), this message conveys the up side of intelligent, purposeful and focused buying habits.
Be smart.
Buy independent when possible.
Remember that the small shop on the corner is usually run by your neighbor.
If you receive great customer service: say "thank you" and, as MLK so simply stated: BUY SOMETHING.
Clapping from Colorado...

Erin in Morro Bay said...

Hear, hear! The hardest thing has been watching our independent book shops and craft stores shut their doors when the "chains" have moved in. Still shop local whenever I can. Especially galleries and Open Studios - support your local artists! Etsy's wonderful, but so are the creatives in your home town. My daughter is a manager at Michael's so have to give them some of my custom!

Penelope said...

Nice prompt, Marylinn. Mindful shopping. Thanks.

Radish King said...

I love the way you rock the boat. If you ever need me to be expletive for you, you know where I live. I could stand beside you like they have people translating speeches into ASL, only I could put random swear words in.

Radish King said...

And kisses to Lisa H for her reminder to say thank you and if people are wearing a name tag and bog knows most of us have to these days use their name. It will make them as warm as melted American cheese inside. Thanks again Marylinn. You inspire me.

Claire Beynon said...

Good call, Marylinn - yes, yes, yes.

And thank you.

Sultan said...

I agree with your sentiment but sadly feel like this is a losing battle.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Thank you, everyone. I know from what I understand about readers of these musings that I am preaching to the choir. Still...

Lisa - Thank you...the reminder to acknowledge good service needs to be added to the equation. The only chance we have, if we have one, of keeping the doors open for ourselves and our owner/neighbors is doing business mindfully.

Erin - Pasadena somehow continues to support an independent, family-owned bookstore (2 locations!)...I know the community's affluence is part of what fuels that, but we do like our institutions here as well, and thank goodness. Only one of the Southern California stamp stores in which I used to teach is still in business. As with so many things, balance needs to be found.

Penelope - Thank you, glad you stopped here and left a comment. Hope to see you again.

Rebecca - We could have links to your translation page for every expletive I omit...hahaha...if I pull out my soapbox any more frequently, we'll be in business.

And I appreciate your reminder about paying attention to - and using - the names of those who assist us; Lisa, whom I know to do this, would agree. Thank you.

Claire - Thank you. Sometimes I will wander, mentally, down Pasadena's main street and remember all the businesses that used to be there. From my childhood, I think two remain. And favorite specialty shops, boutiques...ancient history.

Laoch - It may be a losing battle; I know how much work goes into an independent retail business. But as in so many things, as long as we have the energy and even a mild sense of outrage, we can keep making noise.

Sherry O'Keefe said...

consumerism- if we think it is only about the product we haul home, then we've lost the process. and when we lose the process, we lose the opportunity to add something to our spirit. buy the book from the independent bookstore and you'll hear a story about how that book came to be in the store. buy the corn from the good earth market downtown and you'll soon meet the gardener who picked that ear of corn. likely he can tell you about the soil that reared the corn. so on and so forth.

this was just the post i needed to read today. thanks!

Marylinn Kelly said...

Sherry - We forget, I think, how much power is generated by our authentic exchanges; we are all enriched. Thank you for saying it was what you needed to hear.

Anonymous said...

uh huh - community building is that easy.
Its the personal experience..
I guess we begin, and hope others will eventually see the way.

PlacentiaGirl said...

Mary Jo McGraw and I taught classes at the recent Stampaway show in Ohio. I can't tell you how many times the "big box" store names were mentioned as sources for "cheaper" art supplies. You know Mary Jo, she's not one to mince words, so she finally let someone have it by telling them if customers continue to buy art supplies from the large retailers there will be NO MORE independent stamp or art supply stores, or stamp conventions, for that matter. It's one thing to take advantage of coupons and sales, it's another to pick the brains of the stamp store staff, sit through their free demos (I typed demons -- a Freudian slip), and then waltz down to Miguel's or WallyMart and spend their money. You get what you pay for.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Elaine - How fine to see you here; thank you for coming by and commenting. Hooray for Mary Jo. I wish I could say that this is a fresh, new form of rudeness but it has been going on since I was doing demos regularly in the late 90s. All we can do is keep championing our indie retailers and hope customers take the hint. :)