Sunday, March 15, 2009

Buy handmade

I've been thinking about writing this post for a few weeks now. It is strictly my opinion, and if you don't agree, tough toenails.

I would rather buy from mom & pop shops, craft fairs, and any other venue of handmade sellers than from large chain stores. Even if I have to pay more to do so.

There. I said it. I'll pay more for handmade than if I bought it from a chain store.

I recently bought a 4 oz bar of soap for $4. In the past, I would pay $4 for 4 bars of Ivory. I also bought a $6 jar of lotion that was only 4 oz. In the past, I would try to get lotion as cheap as possible, including *waiting* for sales at Bath and Body Works.

So why did I spend more for handmade? Better quality. Someone is getting paid better for their hard work by me buying handmade than they would if they were working checkout at the store. They are enjoying their art and craft more than if they were stuck behind the counter pushing cheap crap that is going to break in the first year. They are supporting their family just a bit better.

I went on a search a couple weeks ago to find a model for my dog clothes. The first place I looked was a mom & pop toy store downtown. Yeah, the stuffed animal I brought home wasn't handmade, but the mom & pop is trying to compete against the likes of Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target, etc. They also have personal stake in the store so the customer service is going to be better than if I were to go to someone at Target and say "I'm looking for a life-size dog because I make dog clothes and I don't want my dog to pee on the clothes.".

I went in looking for ONE thing. I left with more than $60 worth of toys, because we ALL left with something new. My son got a new science thingybobber, my daughter got a new toy car, I got my stuffed dog, and my husband found a new otter to add to his collection. I felt happy that I could purchase from the mom & pop, it gave me a sense of pride that my purchase is helping them live the lifestyle they want.

I was in the new Khols store the other day, looking for a few things. I didn't find exactly what I wanted, and my 12 year old son turned to me and said "You know mom, I don't think you are going to find what you are looking for here, besides, I'd rather have you make my new curtains than buy them from a store."

That made me proud.

We wandered all over the store, and somehow wound up in the jewelry section. We came across a rack of necklaces that had brightly colored plastic stones on them, for $22. Granted, Khols was having a sale that day, but still. Plastic. I showed it to my husband and said (loudly) "This is nice, but I can think of at least 3 sellers on ArtFire who could make me something similar with real stones, and no one else would have one just like it." Four other shoppers whipped their heads around to look at me and glare.

Yeah, I made a small scene. Deal with it. I don't want to look just like you because I'm not just like you, I'm me.

We were on our way out, and my husband stopped to look at sun dresses in the women's section. He pointed to one and said "I like that style, but hate that fabric. Can you find a pattern for a dress like that and I'll help you pick out the fabric?"

I love to make my own clothes. With the thousands of patterns at my local JoAnn's store, I can usually find something gorgeous to make. They also have thousands of different fabrics, so I'm pretty sure I can also find a fabric that I'll enjoy and want to wear...that fits my personal style. In the end, I'll have something that is unique.

I mean seriously folks, there were probably 15 dresses on the rack that all looked the same except for size, and who knows how many lurking in the back store room. That means that I would have the same exact dress as at least 15 other women.

Isn't it some kind of fashion sin to show up to a function wearing the same dress/outfit as another woman? The only way I can guarantee that I'll have a unique outfit is to make it myself.

I love the look on some people's faces when they see my latest dress, skirt, purse, shirt, whatever and say "OHMYGOSH that is SO beautiful! Where did you get it? I have to have one!!!" And I smile quietly and inform them that I made it.

This is a small town, and we don't have many luxury stores...if they could even be considered that. We have a Dillard's, JCPenny, Sears, Target, Wal-Mart, K-mart, and now a Khols. No Macys. No Bloomingdales. Heck, we don't even have an Olive Garden here in town.

What do you get with those stores?

Cookie cutter.

You buy there, someone else will probably have something similar, if not identical, to what you just bought.

I have dreses in my closet that are OOAK. I have a black crushed velvet dress with a shortish hem and longish sleeves, and a sweetheart neckline. I made it from two different patterns. I have a yellow dress with purple irises too. It has a tea length hem, sweetheart neckline, and tie straps.

My daughter has her cherished "Cars" nightgown she wanted from Santa. My mom went to both KC and Wichita looking for one, and couldn't find it. I made one for her in under an hour, and I'll be darned if that little girl hasn't taken it to show and tell at least a half dozen times since Christmas.

Her christmas dress was made from black crushed velvet and two patterns combined. She was the talk of the Christmas service because no one had seen that dress anywhere in town before.

Buy handmade. Talk to a struggling seamstress about making your next easter dress, or Mother's Dress for that upcoming wedding. You're guaranteed to have something unique!

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