If you haven’t already, it’s time to ditch the corporations profiting off of this pandemic. This year, consider making the switch to only supporting local businesses, like your neighborhood coffee shop or bookstore, an online shop from an up-and-coming artist you love, or me, your friend who got really into making sad adult crafts last March and has gone too far to turn back now.
Shopping at a small business means that you can enjoy a more unique selection of items that you just can’t find at a dull, big-box retailer like Target, or even on the page of a more experienced Etsy shop owner. Some one-of-a-kind items are exclusive to my one-woman-powered retail juggernaut. I mean, where else can you find crumbly olive oil bath bombs to give you that “wet pasta” sheen, a sheet metal-pressed necklace that really should’ve been made by someone with a steadier hand, and a staple-laden flower crown that, turns out, is a poison ivy death trap (sorry!)? I can’t believe I went this long without mentioning my scrumptious soy wax candles. Due to unforeseen circumstances in which I started pouring the wax into mason jars before reading the instructions, the wick is not included. But I’ll make you one if you just give me a few months and link me to a YouTube tutorial.
Every small business has a story. For example, I started working on crafts as a way to distract myself from crying all the time, and now I’m selling those crafts because I actually don’t know what to do with sixteen beaded anklets. Plus, shopping small means you get a more personalized customer experience, like a sweet little handwritten note shipped with your order. Me? I’ve got a homemade abacus that I quit halfway through making. I’ve been meaning to get it off my hands, and if you even buy one item from my collection of “Celebs Who Look Like They’re Melting, On Purpose” cross-stitch pillows, I’ll throw in this splinter-infested, extremely loud calculator for free.
Your support really matters to small businesses, many of which operate under strict financial constraints. As someone who runs her small business from her bathtub while drinking a box of Franzia straight from the spout and cursing God for not allowing her to just have a goddamn hobby without feeling pressure to monetize it, I appreciate any and all purchases of my DIY weighted blanket (crocheted blanket with knitted pockets stuffed with quarry rocks). It means a lot to me, and keeps me afloat, unlike my botched weighted swimsuit idea from the summer.
When you shop small, you’re not just stimulating the economy—you’re contributing to maintaining a vibrant community of creatives, entrepreneurs, chefs, artisans, and me, a woman frantically monogramming champagne flutes with glitter paint to meet the demand of hundreds, maybe tens, of potential customers who are begging to get their hands them, and then eventually seeing those customers hold the flutes in their hands and say, “I’ll have to pass, but your 8-year-old has an amazing talent for arts and crafts!” I truly believe that's what Lowell, Massachusetts is all about.
Plus, I’ve got a gift for everyone in your life, no matter the occasion. Need a housewarming gift for your brother and sister-in-law? I’ve got a perfect paper mâché cactus to brighten up their home. It does look phallic but that’s because it’s supposed to look like that, not because I fucked it up really bad. A for-fun present for your niece? Give her one of my signature scented sticker packs. What’s the scent? That’s for you to figure out—I can’t do all the work for you. And for your grandma’s birthday? I’ve just finished a set of floral masks made out of recycled fabric, the type of masks that say, “You should’ve just used new fabric.” These are but a humble sampling of the many projects I dipped my toes into early on in the pandemic before losing steam and watching a full business week of America’s Next Top Model reruns.
If I'm being honest, I’m surprised that, as my friend, you haven’t yet invested in one of my knitted lamb baby toys, just because they’re all lopsided and just because every single one looks “like it knows something bad.” I get that you “don’t buy from Amazon at all” and the reason you’re not buying anything from me is that “our park hang has turned into a hostage situation,” but I’d really urge you to reconsider and support your community. I may not be the best at crafts, nor am I making a profit, but that doesn’t matter when your mantra is “A viable business model comes with time.” Some would say that my mantra should be, “I am a marketing manager and I should probably just do that if that’s what I’m good at,” and to that I say: can I interest you in this table-sized cork drink coaster that I forgot to cut into 4×4 squares?