But where can I buy all the pretty???

Visit Vagabond Romantics shop now to browse and buy altered art, wearable collage, and lovingly curated craft materials unearthed from the farthest reaches of granny's attic.

Friday 25 November 2016

No Sales Today, Thank You!

Of course, normally I am not-so-secretly hoping that anyone reading this blog will go straight to my Etsy shop and make a few purchases. After all, you all want your lives to be just as exciting as mine, don't you?! But today I am breaking with tradition and asking you to refrain, in honour of Buy Nothing Day 2016.

Today is a subversive little holiday which was founded by Vancouver artist Ted Dave in 1992 as a day to take time out from our usual habits and consider the implications of overconsumption. 

American habits - especially the bad ones - seem to spread all over the world. From fast food to lowest-common-denominator politics, it seems like the worse an American idea is, the faster everyone else rushes to adopt it. So Black Friday sales suddenly abound here in the UK, though thankfully not with the same level of insanity that accompanies the Stateside events. Across the pond, it's a chance for retailers to finally turn a profit and for consumers to spent the night queueing to buy artificially cheap "bargains" that they will later look at and wonder "What was I thinking?!" In the UK, it's more likely to mean a 10% discount on something you were probably planning to buy as a Christmas gift anyway.

So just for today, if you possibly can, spend the day away from all retail and consumer outlets. You may find you actually already own everything you need! And if you must buy, buy it from an independent business. It's kind of common sense, but it bears repeating. When you buy, say, a piece of jewellery in a High Street shop, you can be sure it's made in a factory abroad. You can't be sure of the conditions for the workers. Chances are that mere pennies of your purchase will actually go to the makers (and hopefully some for the designers too) whilst most of it will feed into the overheads of a huge company and directly benefit no one but their shareholders. The quality may not be brilliant, it may even be the kind of "fast fashion" that is designed to fall apart so you're forced to buy next season's designs. And there's every chance that at any party you go to this holiday season, there will be a few people wearing the same thing.

In contrast, consider buying a similar piece of jewellery from a maker on Etsy. It's often the case that they will be charging a very similar amount to what you'd pay on the High Street - we're all trying to compete and sadly most artists still consistently undervalue their work as the conditions above have created a false impression of the true cost of many items. That Etsy crafter is very probably (assuming they are playing by the rules!) making that item by hand, in their home, between school runs or while the kidlet naps. Each piece we create is our baby, and we love it, and we desperately want the buyer to feel the same way. You're not likely to run into anyone else wearing the same thing, or feel the need to worry because it might have gone out of fashion next season. And the money you paid - barring transaction, listing and postage fees - goes right back to the maker. And it may be enough to allow us to pay our listing fees for the next month or year, or buy that sleeping child the toy they have their heart set on, or the materials we need to try out the new idea we're working on. It may even be grocery money for next week or go towards the rent. And however much we end up with, whatever profit margin we've allowed ourselves - we, the makers and designers, are in control. We have chosen what price we think we should be paid (albeit probably underestimated it!) and we know what percentage of the cost is going elsewhere. We'll give you personal service too - I've already gift-wrapped my first Christmas sale, and the customer didn't even have to ask. And in the very unlikely event that there's an issue with your purchase, you better believe we're going to bend over backwards to put things right - small businesses can't afford to have unhappy customers!

So if you can avoid buying anything today please do. If you must buy, try to support local and/or independent businesses. And beyond today, think about making some changes to your shopping habits. If you are reading this, I am probably already preaching to the choir. But we really can't say it enough: buying a gift direct from a maker shows the recipient you care, and is also the best present the artist can hope for!

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