You say you want a revolution?
Forget occupying Wall Street. Occupy the stores, shops and sites that support local craftspeople, artists, makers and creatives.
There already seems to be an artistic uprising, ready to take down “the man” and the man’s crappy taste in décor, jewelry, fashion and furnishings. But it’s happening as silently as a knitter.
I like to think of it as “The Etsy Revolution.”
Etsy.com was started in 2005 by a carpenter and artist who wanted to create a marketplace for his and others’ handmade wares. Six years later, Etsy has become more than just an Amazon-like website for discounted stuff. It’s a world of inspiration and creativity, an unending stream of new ideas and vintage collections, and a gathering place for artists and artisans and those who love them. It supports the people whose skills are not supported by chain stores and big boxes, by the over-crowded Internet and by our societal affliction for things that are mass-produced and machine-made.
Etsy has more than 1 million members, 25 million unique views per month and done more than $224 million in sales so far this year.
I find lovely things on Etsy, gifts especially, and it’s a remarkable place to go when you have question marks on your shopping list. Then you realize when you get the box in the mail—usually beautifully wrapped by the creator’s gorgeous detailing and a hand-written note—that you are dealing with real people.
You can even search geographically and purchase items from friends, neighbors and locals.
The one downfall is that you miss out on buying from local shops and ensuring that your sales tax dollars make their way into your city’s coffers, thusly supporting city services that you use and need. You also miss out on the human contact and the oh-so important customer experience that comes with shopping in person.
Of course, there are stores that sell products and crafts from local companies and artists (You’ll see many of them in our Locavore’s Gift Guide).
You can also visit artisan markets, such as the Firefly Handmade Holiday Market Dec. 9–11 at Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art or the Fancy Tiger Crafts Holiday Fair at Sherman Events Center, 1770 Sherman St. in Denver Dec. 2–3. Both of these exhibit and market the work of
Colorado’s artisans, crafters and very, very small-business owners. These events are so special and rare. It’s such a delicate way to revolt against the rut of blind buying and wanton consumerism.
What’s happening across the country is an important and viable reaction to our current economic and political situation. I like people who take advantage of the First Amendment. But I also like the idea of having the 99 percent impact the 1 percent by shopping at locally owned shops and buying locally made products, buoying our creative class and finding value in human-made products.
It’s time for a retail revolution.