This post is a little long so you may want to come back to it at another time. I have added some recent photos of nature at the end of the post that were taken in our pastures a few weeks ago when there were still bits of color.
Has the world of commerce and business changed? Has the way you and I buy things changed so that we don't want as much stuff that the big stores are trying to sell to us? Has the economy really gotten better? Do the big chains think that we are back in the go-go 90's and early 00's before the tech bust? Are people going to consume like they did back then? I really don't think so.
All that talk about big retail businesses making money made me think about the economy that I am participating in and part of. I am trying to make my living by selling virtual knitting and stitching patterns, authoring and selling my books, pottery, notecards and whatever else I dream up to people like you who are reading my blog and following along with me. Besides that, I help out with our small sheep farm which is another story altogether. There are thousands of people like me - potters, seamstresses, woodworkers, bakers, farmers, authors, quilters, Christmas wreath makers selling their wares on the side of the road or in virtual on-line shops -- people living in their own little worlds and homes and studios making and growing things with their hands and their bodies and their brains.
On Marketplace the other night, they said that the recession has been over for six years. I was quite astounded by that. Doing the math - that would put the end of the recession as 2009. Gee - I thought this one began in 2007 with the financial meltdown. Did it really end in 2009? Not here at this house. I think that giant meltdown began the tides of the change of how consumers spend money. I think people are more careful - as they should be - about plunking down their hard earned money for stuff they don't need.
I also wonder how much the "handmade" economy is cutting into the standard corporate economies. I'm probably way off the mark here but I think that consumers are realizing that buying handmade things - or products made by small companies that have a story - may be changing how $ is going around in the economy. I am no economist for sure - let's say that was the only class in college that I almost didn't pass! But I wonder - are consumers changing the way they spend their money? Are on-line sites where you can find everything like Etsy and Ebay taking money away from the big department stores and the "normal" way things are marketed and sold in the US? I would say yes - to some degree.
I wonder how long the big old chain stores will survive - much less prosper again. I know I live in a pocket of New England where things don't work the way they do other places. Here we have very few chain stores and I have to drive 40 minutes to get to a place like Target or Walmart or Old Navy. I'm probably not seeing things the same way you all out there are seeing things.
This summer when I was hosting my workshops with the fabulous students that drove and flew in from all over the place, I couldn't help but think about how these women and you all out there who read this blog, buy my stuff, and support me emotionally with your comments are helping my family and I keep it all going around here. Between our customers at the Farmers Markets who purchase our lamb, to everyone of you who orders a pattern or maybe a piece of my pottery - or buys a book directly from me ---- all of you are keeping us going, supporting our farm and our family.
I can't think of a time in my life when I have been supported this much financially by individuals. I told my students this summer that they were my patrons - in the old-fashioned sense of an artist having a patron. That by purchasing from me or taking a class from me, each one of you contributes so much to our family being able to survive and keep our farm and business going. For this - I thank you all so much.
Enough rambling - I have things to do. Pottery to make, newsletters to write, interviews to do, and a house that needs to be cleaned for Thanksgiving and the Open House. I hope you all have a great day! Enjoy these photos from the pastures below our farmhouse when there was a bit more color out there than now.