Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Support your local!

I went to the doctor's office this morning, and on my way home I thought I'd stop by a scrapbooking store to see if I could get some ink for my new cupcake stamps! Oops, wrong street (weird, 'cause the store's named after the street!) I happened to have a frequent buyer card, so I called to see where they'd moved...they hadn't. They're gone. This local chain once had four locations, and it's down to one.

In a 150 km stretch from Hope to West Vancouver along Highway 1 we have a total of five beading stores, and the one in Chilliwack won't be around for much longer. I know of four scrapbooking stores within about 100 km, and I can only think of a handful of non-quilting fabric stores that aren't part of a chain.

Part of the problem is the large chain stores - Michael's surely takes a chunk out of pretty much every type of crafting market - and part of the problem is the 'net. It's so easy to order something cheaper that will be here in a few days rather than driving to a store, finding a parking spot, then spending far more than you expected! And Michael's or Joann's always has that 40% off coupon inviting us to get that thing we've wanted for a while for almost half off!

I know I'm lucky when it comes to local suppliers for bath and body supplies. I can hit Voyageur, Suds & Scents, and Aquarius in one morning driving, Otion in Bellingham in a half day trip, and Soapcraft through mail the next day, so I'm spoiled for choice. If you have the option, I really encourage you to consider shopping at your local supplier. It might cost a little bit more, but if you have a chance to go into the store and talk to someone, it's worth the extra effort and possible slight expense (although if you factor in the mailing costs, you might be saving money).

The most enjoyable part about shopping local is the relationship I've built with my suppliers. Voyageur has been an amazing supporter of my youth programs, giving me 20% everything I buy, plus loads of surplus containers and ingredients. Karen at Soapcraft always throws in lots of goodies for my kids, and Tanna at Suds & Scents gives me 20% off craft group supplies. Aquarius gives me 10% off and loads of free stuff as well.

I learn so much from my suppliers. I've learned all kinds of scrapbooking and cardmaking techniques from the scrapbooking store (I get 10% off for my groups and loads of free stuff from Classic on Alexander in Chilliwack), I've learned tons about cupcake decorating from Dicken's in Chilliwack, and I've learned more than I can even tell you about jewellery making from Strung Out on Beads in Abbotsford. I wouldn't have so many possible projects at my disposal if I hadn't developed relationships with my craft suppliers! And it's a lovely feeling to be greeted by name and told about something I might love - new cupcake fabric, sparkly crystals or lime green beads, or diabetic melting chocolate.

If you have a chance to shop local, I say take it! You're supporting a local business person (most likely a business woman!) who employs people who know their crafting stuff, which in turn supports our local economy. You'll meet some great people who share a passion for something you love, and you'll probably learn something new. (Admit it, you can never find anyone in Michael's who knows anything about crafts - you wonder why they're working there!) Yeah, you'll probably spend a little more than you wanted - when you can touch, smell, and see new products and learn about other products or techniques, you know you're walking out with more than you intended - but you'll feel good about it!

I know some of us don't have this option with bath and body ingredients, but consider it for the other crafts you make. Or books (especially books - we need more independent stores). Or other things you might buy at a local mega-mart. I know money doesn't grow on trees, but think of a few things you could buy from a local retailer instead of that giant monster mart and shop there. I think you'll enjoy the difference! 


Tara said...

I am so lucky to have a local supplier in my city. And I love the fact that she is a mother of two working out of her home. She is also great in that she will often stock items just from asking her to. :-)

Mich said...

Right on!
We don't have a B&B supply in town, but we ALWAYS first try the locally owned hardware, nurseries, etc.
I know that Dave or Vern will help me find the right bolts and Jason or his dad knows what shrubbery will thrive on my Eastern exposure.
And if it doesn't work, they'll help make it right.
It just feels better too.