Sunday, July 29, 2012

"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is

not winning but taking part; the essential thing is life is not conquering but fighting well."
     ~Pierre de Coubertin
The opening quote this week comes from a 19th century French educator who was primarily responsible for the revival of the Olympic Games in 1894, and, since the Games opened this past Friday, I thought it was a good lead in for this week.  "USA! USA! USA!" 

That is a chant that will be heard echoing throughout the venues as the events occur.  I have been on a USA kick this year.  So many people are trying to survive this new 21st century economy.  It is an opportunity for creativity to flourish, but the demise of manufacturing is not a new trend.  For example, take this Chein world bank.
Julius Chein started the company in a loft in New York City producing toys for the Cracker Jacks snack line. The American Can Company provided the lithographic printing for Chein's early output until 1907 when Chein opened their own full production plant in Harrison, New Jersey. With their new facilities, they were able to produce piggy banks, noisemakers and model horse-drawn carriages. They also manufactured a number of toys under license from companies such as King Features Syndicate and Walt Disney Productions, producing Popeye, Felix the Cat and various Disney character toys.

In 1926, Julius Chein was killed in a horse-riding accident in Central Park.  His brother-in-law took over the company, and produced complicated mechanical toys such as  Ferris wheels and carousels.

During World War II, the company suspended toy production, instead producing nosecones and tail units for bombs and casings for incendiary devices. After the War, Chein returned to toy production with considerable success. When the US occupied Japan,  increasing competition came from Japanese manufacturers who produced mechanical tin toys for lower prices.  Then, in the late-1950s and early-1960s, as Woolworth's began to offer more inexpensive plastic toys, Chein was faced with the dilemma of competing with plastic toys that could not only be produced more cheaply but could also incorporate electronics.

So, the Made in China is really nothing new...Japan was responsible for the demise of many of our factories mid-century.  We will not stop Chinese imports, but we can value "USA".  I have a variety of unique items that are from our "Olympic" artisans.  Here is a video about Katie, the artist who creates the Vintage Vinyl Journals we have.  Note that these are not mass produced! (Hope the video works...this is my first time embedding a video!)

And, she was mentioned in a blog post by Ty Pennington....

Keep in mind that when you buy from a small shop, that owner is more than likely going to spend their earnings on more artistic finds and on merchandise for themselves in local stores.  It is not going to "corporate."  I know I will buy from folks at the flea market, from artists from around the "USA", and I will use my extra money at local produce markets, bakeries, and thrift shops.

When a shop owner can deal with an artist directly, it is so much more satisfying than paging through a catalog.  I am into "steampunk," and I was able to work with my "jewelry elf" to create some necklaces to fit that theme.
Of course, she also creates some wonderful work using old earrings...
as well as some creative "dangles" that can work as key rings or sophisticated "steampunk" creations hanging from some handcrafted ribbon necklaces.
Of course, my BFF "elf" comes up with some unique birdhouses...
We have silk flowers made in California, scarves from Florida, and all natural laundry soap from New Hampshire (and that soap is amazing!).  Of course, scattered around the shop are the cards and tags from a Texas shown below with a repurposed typewriter key bracelet.  
When you consider all of these made in America products, you must remember that these products are made with wonderful old parts and pieces, not some unknown metal or fabric.  They are truly labors of love not of profit, and, despite what people may think, most of these creators probably make less than some of those Chinese factory workers, but they "fight well"! 

If you travel around the world~or just around USA! USA! USA!
consider supporting a local shop...look for those "Olympic" artisans who need your support as much as those volleyball players or amazing gymnasts.  The unique touches will surely cause someone to look up from their "Smart phone" and think how smart your gift or treasure find is!
So, if you watch any of the Games, remember there are "gold medal" people everywhere in this country giving you "Olympic" shopping your local shops and one watches the parade of nations in these ceremonies, it is impressive to see the variety we have on this globe, and, that as a shopper, I cannot imagine that you would only want to see Walmart as the only store in your town (no offense, Walmart, but sometimes unique is the treat).

"There is something in the Olympics, indefinable, springing from the soul, that must be preserved."                     ~ Chris Brasher

1 comment:

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