A peek at what we make
My daughter recently started Kindergarten, and as I swore to myself I would do all of the years leading up to this, I started the journey of being an involved parent and attended the first PTA meeting of the year. It was great getting to meet so many other parents who wanted to be there, making a difference in the lives of our children. After a short time for socializing, we were asked to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I had recited those words. It was probably my Senior year in High School, nearly 20 years ago. But as I recited them, now an adult with twice the years of experience and wisdom that I’d had the last time those words passed over my lips, I began to really think about the pledge and what it means.
It’s more than something you just say when asked. It’s an affirmation that yes, you do believe in the founding principles of this country and that you will do what you must to help uphold them. For some, that means enlisting in the military (thank you those that do!), for others it’s working in a level of government, and for others it’s taking on civic duties, like voting and showing up for jury duty. It’s something that, because of the collective actions of many, has worked for over 200 years.
And in that regard, the Pledge to Buy Handmade is very similar. There was a time when everything we bought was handmade. When the person buying an item had a direct connection to the artist who made that item. When being an apprentice didn’t mean you were on a reality TV show, but rather that you were learning a craft from a master in your field.
But in today’s world, we seem to have forgotten about that. We find ourselves doing what is easiest, and going to the local big box retailer. We buy things that were made in foreign countries just for that retailer. And when that item breaks just outside of the warranty period, we throw it away because we know the big box retailer won’t help us. We know the overseas manufacturer won’t care. They already got our money, and if they lose us as a customer it doesn’t matter to them- there are millions more right behind us ready to buy that same item. Ready to throw it away when it breaks and replace it with the same thing.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. This Holiday season, you can buy handmade items. You can buy with the confidence that you ARE important to the manufacturer. You can buy knowing that your purchase really DOES matter to the seller. People don’t just make things by hand because they enjoy the process, they also do it because they want others to enjoy what they’ve made. As a woodworker, I am fortunate to have met many others in my field as well as others who craft items by hand and none of them, not one, has ever given me reason to think they don’t stand behind what they make 100%.
I’ve had people tell me, “But John- the items made overseas are so much cheaper, they are a better fit for my budget.” I’m on a budget, too. These days it seems just about everybody is. But let me ask you, does your budget account for having to re-purchase that same item? You really do get what you pay for.