We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.
David Orr from "Earth in Mind"

Feb 22, 2008

Small is good.

One of the things that I love about our store is that with most of the crafters that we get our products from the relationship is at least a little more than just business. In the span of a day I received an email asking me how we were fairing in the depths of winter and this card.
It makes me cringe to think in how short a time that we have dismantled the small artisan and business owner based economic structure of the world. When I end up in a mall (as I was loathed to do earlier today) it makes me sad to see all these things on racks and shelves with no story, no connection to the maker and certainly no connection between the person who made them and the person who eventually purchases them.

My whole experience today proved this even more so. I was returning a pair of pants that I wore once and had the zipper break. The woman at the counter didn't even ask what was wrong, when I offered she said it was the first time that had happened. After returning them I went to find another pair and every pair I tried the zipper on did the exact same thing. The saddest part is that the brand's whole image is that people shouldn't have to spend a lot of money to get quality clothing.

After dragging Alder to this evil place I figured that he should have some run around time so we stopped at the anemic playground where he stood in a gaze for ten minutes before even doing anything. After another twenty minutes of me getting more and more depressed by the mall culture he didn't complain at all when I brought him his shoes.

I couldn't even bring myself to stop at the food co-op on the way home, all I wanted was to be back hereto watch the snow from my desk surrounded by pieces that people have put their care and love into making.

To make matters worse I stopped at a Dunkin Donuts on the way their this morning. I admit there is something in my memory about eating munchkins in the middle of the night with my parents on road trips, but when I tasted them this morning I really thought I had bitten into a piece of sugared play dough.

I know we live in a bubble, our news is NPR exclusively, we only own a TV for watching videos, we cook most of our own food from scratch and so do most of the people we know, both here and when we were in Denver. I just sort of hope every time I step outside of the bubble that the rest of the world really isn't that depressing. For now I'll stick to the donuts from the dinner downtown where they also serve turkey hash.

I dedicate this to everyone who makes things by hand, works for a small business and anyone who cooks their own food.


Wendy said...

It's not too long ago that the Mall and Dunkin' Donuts were very much a part of my life, but it's long enough ago that, like you, when I do end up at either place, it feels weird ... almost wrong ... certainly not "real".

Here's to finding more "hand made" stuff ;).

Erin said...

I so here you...

When I am faced with the "real world" I get too easily depressed. It's so sad. I'm lucky to live where we live; in a place that appreciates local and handmade, where the mall culture is non-existent and the closet thing we have to a department store is Maine owned. One fast food restaurant, one gas station...it's lovely.

The Grocer said...

You know what I find most amazing and unsettling in equal proportion about our consumer culture is that so many otherwise intelligent, bright people seem not to see what it's doing to them, their families and other people around them.

Jimin said...

i enjoyed reading this post. going to mall isn't fun anymore. very stressful and sometimes i want to scream.

Wendy said...

I just wanted to add that I watched the movie The End of Suburbia last night and I thought of you and what you're doing with your shop. According to the movie, what you're doing is the future, and I'm so excited to see it come to fruition ;). Didn't know you were a trailblazer, did you? ;).

Lisa said...

I can really relate to this post. I'm so glad that we live in a smallish town with a vibrant downtown full of local merchants and several local food producers. I haven't been to the mall in years and hope I won't have to go for many more.

paintergirl said...

I have always felt a sort of dread and sadness in a mall. It's like a Donnie Darko kind of thing.

Now I find myself having to reteach my mom about eating homemade. The person who never bought prepackaged foods. She bought potato salad from the grocers the other day, and I said, "you know I can make that, and it will taste better." I will win.

All we can do is try and do the right thing. Pick up litter in a playground, walk as much as possible for errands. It's hard and I'm rambling. I haven't had a computer in a week.

Anonymous said...

ugh, i hear you on the safety of the bubble. we had to find the Mac store at the mall a few days ago for a replacement powercord and i nearly left there in tears. 'thank god i don't have a girl' is all i could think. that's so terrible, but it was so overwhelming, all the bling, belly shirts and makeup on such tender young girls. thinking they need to find something from outside of themselves, not yet realizing that all they need comes from within. i thank my lucky stars for a great foundation of friends who provide a wonderful community, and many different images of strong women to act as role models for our children, both sons and daughters.

Christy said...

Living where I do my only alternatives are that depressing "real" world. I can't wait to be somewhere that actually has small businesses that sells things made by actual people!