to see relationships where none exist." -- Thomas Disch
Ah...the cottage industry...
It is defined as: "An industry where the creation of products and services is home-based, rather than factory-based. While products and services created by cottage industry are often unique and distinctive given the fact that they are usually not mass-produced, producers in this sector often face numerous disadvantages when trying to compete with much larger factory-based companies."
And so, when I find "cottage industry producers" who are trying to compete, I try to support them and offer their products in my shop. Many times the cost of the items will be higher than the mass produced, but how many Americans do you know who want for the 80 cents per hour that the Chinese earn? The workers from rural provinces usually earn about $200 a month, working six or seven days a week. I am sure though many of the American artisans, not to mention small retailers, do not make much more than that some months either, but, when you see products made in the USA, pause and think about the American cottage industry.
Here is a new addition to my "repurposed" theme. Talk about seeing a relationship where none exists--journals made from old records! These are amazing, and they make great gifts if you think about the titles in relationship to the gift. Consider a truly fun gift for the graduate!How about for a young girl becoming a teenager?The front of the journal is the actual album which has been bound into the cover, and the back is the album sleeve. Sometimes the record itself is creative...what a great gift for someone for whom "1999" was a memorable year!Or maybe Purple Rain speaks to someone?How about someone from California? Check into the "hotel"?I have other classics also...Breakfast at Tiffany's, Bruce's Born in the USA, Cher's Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves. And, Katie from Pennsylvania, the creative spirit behind these journals, presents her products with total panache.
Another cottage industry creator is Andrea from Florida. Her cotton scarves will add interest to your spring tees...and each has a pin which could be worn separately as well. I have asked her to work on some hats for those summer evenings on the deck or the boardwalk. Unlike dealing with importers, I can communicate with the artist...a personal touch in this impersonal world.
And last some fun soaps made in Georgia. From sweet egg soaps, to molded birds and bunnies, what a neat gift or accent for your bathroom. And, no need to worry about what chemicals might be lurking in the product...triple milled shea butter only...interestingly, shea butter is a fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree. It is widely used in cosmetics as a moisturizer, salve or lotion. Shea butter is edible and may be used in food preparation, and occasionally the chocolate industry uses shea butter as a substitute for cocoa butter although the taste is different (you think so?).
So, as the economist Theodore Levitt said, "Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things." I am grateful for my fellow Americans who are doing wonderful things so that my shop can offer the extraordinary touches to brighten up the ordinary days. The big boxes may be cheap, but remember the "little boxes" and those "cottages" where the true American dream is still trying to survive despite apps, point and clicks, and midnight madness.