My husband and I chose to go to a large local craft store (that starts with an "M") for a discounted framing cost of $458 but in return we received our print back, damaged. There is a long blue line that runs on the print (we assume it happened during the framing process). The manager couldn't do anything to help the situation as the corporation's damage and refund rules nicely protect the business.
Because the corporate policies are super tight (and well planned) the store manager sent us home with a loss of product and money. The manager we dealt with was abrupt, matter-of-fact, and it felt like she was very condescending - it was our problem, not hers. She told us that the print was damaged upon arrival, was recorded by personnel, but she would not show us or give us a copy. Wouldn't that evidence have shown us that she was right? We were really upset and within my husband's and my talk of "fighting the system" I realized a large lesson and it will change the way I do business in the future.
Our intention to shop at a big store was to save money - to get a deal. Yet, we paid greatly for getting a few dollars off and the experience was less than thrilling. The manager didn't have to treat us nicely, and she didn't care to. The fact is that the M. arts and crafts store will survive with or without me as a customer. They'll probably survive with or without my mom, sister, and other very crafty friends. That's the result of big business - they're big and we're small.
I do believe that it's possible to choose to help instead of hurt when I feel wronged. From this experience I've decided that I can help by shopping locally in the future. Not just so I might be treated better, but the products and benefits of my patronage will be more positive. When I buy big business, where does my money go? It goes to the corporation, which leads to a few having big paychecks. When I buy local, the money goes to my fellow citizens and my community. Big businesses want my business, but my local businesses need me.
For things like clothing, I have realized that buying local can be a challenge. There are little (if any) locally owned clothing stores in my community. Yet, I've lately been shopping at my local Vintage Values resale store, where the money collected goes toward a valuable community service. In the past few months that I've bypassed the major stores and headed over to the resale shop, I've found not only great deals on real quality clothing but a sense of satisfaction because I know that my dollars are helping. Also, I realize that I'm decreasing my footprint here on our plante because I'm able to make use of products that have already been made, sold, and distributed. Nothing new had to be created with additional resources. Here's a little taste of what I picked up this past Friday (yes, in one trip).
1. A nice silver tray for the coffee table ($10)
2. Sweaters for the upcoming fall and winter cold weather...
3. Slacks for work...
4. Shirts for work and at home...
My last trip to the resale shop cost about $90 for all of the clothes pictured above, three skirts, two pairs of jeans, and a few things for my husband. Pretty good deal. Included were brand name items from Ann Taylor, NY and Co., Banana Republic, Gap, and others.
I still shop on Craig's List for my home things, which helps local families. The people I've met (via buying their stuff) have been moving, redecorating, or trying to earn some extra money for important things. I've benefited by gaining the things I felt I needed for my home, and the sellers gain the money they need. And again, the transaction is without additional resources being used to produce or transport the product. I've listed my examples of great finds in a previous post, Convenient Shopping, but here's the most recent and proof that one can achieve great things by shopping locally.
New dresser for my dad's winter bedroom ($100)
Cherry queen-size bed ($200) and rug ($60) for my dad's room
So, I'm turning lemons into lemonade and a disappointment into an opportunity. I will do my best to keep my money going to local businesses who need it and shopping in a way that decreases my footprint and prevents the additional use of resources. With the big businesses, their intentions involve making a profit. With local businesses, their intention is to make a living. That's a HUGE difference and it's one that I need to remember. The lady who runs the local fabric and quilting shop told me that she began her business because she loved quilting and she wanted to help people do it. I doubt that the big crafting stores would have the same type of answer.