Day 1314 – Maybe There’s a Third Category
STEPHANIE ROSENBLOOM writing in the NY Times opens her story with the following:
The nation has two kinds of retailers these days: those bracing for a grim holiday season, and Wal-Mart.
I’m going to hope against hope there’s another category: retailers who don’t sell crap but offer products and services that enable “ordinary” people to, for a change, not buy shit and give it as a gift. These would be, oh, craft supply places, online frame vendors like the very good American Frame, and little one-person shops like me who can take digital files and make archival prints.
I know it’s a tall order to ask Americans to revert to our primitive ancestors and actually make something and then give it as a gift. Obviously little Timmy wants a Wii, not a little picture of his grandmother who died last year. A book of photos from some family event would obviously seem a consolation prize to most kids. What about a cd of grandfather reading a series of personal letters interspersed with some music?
I’ll be the first to confess that “christmas” for me meant only one thing: stuff. My “family” had no meaningful rituals around “the holidays” beyond the exchanging of stuff. In fact i had to make a booklet for, oh, 2nd grade or something around that time explaining the wonders of christmas. My booklet was a list of the loot i was hoping to receive. I was so strapped for ideas that i used “a new bicycle” twice to fill the required number of pages. I recall my mother when she saw what i’d made, “nothing about family?” NO, of course not, i was just a kid, we’d never done anything thus far as a family, what makes christmas any different? Looking back i see how much i missed.
Maybe, just maybe, this “season of giving” will revert to something more meaningful than an exchange of crap made in Indonesia to replace last year’s crap from Malaysia that’s completely worn out.
Sure i’ve got self-interest on the line here. I admit that. I would love to produce a slew of prints for people and actually begin to off-set the money i paid for this beast of a printer. But more than just spit ink onto paper i’d like to participate in something that might actually last more than ten minutes after the wrapping paper is in the trash.
That retail is the last gasp of our economic engine scares the hell out of me, but whatever comes will come whether i’m scared or not, so i plan to, in the words directed at me by my co-worker, “nut up” and take the ride. Maybe a few years of “sorry Billy we can’t buy you that, how about this book instead” might prove a turning point in our country’s history.
And, oh, if you’re looking for that perfect gift, i’ve got several old-school black & white prints for sale… and i hope to have more by Thanksgiving. Only… oh… a bunch of shopping days left. Hah!