28
April
2004

Who says Main Street is disappearing?

I’ve been meaning to write a little bit about the new projects and goodies that I’ve received in the mail. And about the dangers of web shopping. As I thought about it, I grew concerned that I’m buying more over the web than ever before. And a little guilty that many times I often go to the web first before looking around for local shops to provide the goods I seek. Is my willingness to buy online shutting down the small businesses of the world? Am I responsible for closing down Main Street, U.S.A.?!

But then I thought about what I purchased on-line recently:
- a suit jacket
- some sock yarn
- some crochet kits
- some internal components for my TiVo
- some custom-made pom poms
- a new Palm PDA
- some Kinder eggs

And I realized that with most of those purchases, I was supporting small businesses. Yes, the Palm purchase was from a Big Box retailer, but I probably wouldn’t have bought it anywhere else and at least by buying it online I was spared an actual visit to those stores I detest. The suit jacket was also from a major retailer, but they didn’t have my size in stock when I wanted it. And I’m not at a point in my life where I might regularly go to a tailor.

But the rest, all small businesses.

The pom poms came from a small cheerleading supply company. The TiVo stuff from a boutique web store that only sells custom-made TiVo parts and sells them along with a few other geeky items: 9th Tee (look at one of the most useful products I’ve seen in ages: Power Strip Jumper Cables). The Kinder eggs from a guy who sends them from Canada to people in the U.S.

The crochet kits are for farm animal finger puppets are from Nancy Queen Designs, a designer with a small web storefront. I love making crochet toys because they turn out so neat and they usually finish quickly. I don’t know who I might make these for, but when I saw them, I knew I needed to get them, if only to have the patterns.

The sock yarn came from Threadbear Fibers, a yarn store whose owners both have active blogs (Black Dog and Crowing Ram) that serve as inventory advertisements. They gush over the products that arrive and it’s almost like I’m opening each of those boxes myself. It seems they do a huge mail order business that way.

Which brings me to the point. Both the crochet kits and the sock yarn I discovered by reading blogs. I stumbled onto Nancy Queen’s site when a co-worker asked what else she might make with eyelash yarn besides scarves. I remembered some purses on a blog I’d recently read, went back, followed the link to NQ’s site, and looked around, stumbling onto the kits.

Maybe some small stores are finding it hard to compete in the modern world. But others are thriving in their place. Not only do they have dynamic websites and mail order, but they have mastered the art of self promotion by talking about their craft in such a compelling way. For the thrilling account of what it is like to start your own yarn shop, read Digital Yarn (and don’t miss the blog at the store itself: Knit Happens). I wish I lived near these stores so I could visit them. Someday I may find myself in their towns and wander in.

So, either I’m a more responsible world citizen or I’m just justifying my inability to control my crafting habits. Either way, I’m happy.



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