Thankful Thursday XXV – The Biggest Craft Fair…

Last week I mentioned one of the relatively good new byproducts of our cyber-age, namely delivery services like Door Dash. This Thursday, I’m thankful for another creation of our wired times – Etsy.

When I was a kid, artists would have booths in local flea markets selling their wares – hand-painted T-shirts, framed pictures, crocheted things, you name it. Sometimes you’d see a truck parked in the corner of a dusty gas station with paintings (as likely as not mass-produced) propped up against it for sale. It was an alright way for creative types to share their work and make a few bucks. But that might have been the limits of it… a few. After all, it was a bit of a crapshoot. They’d have to rely on the right person coming along at the right time, and having cash on hand and a desire for their particular piece of work. Maybe a hundred, two hundred people might pass by their table in a day, most of them disinterested. If the person who would absolutely love your painting in their living room was the next town over, it would probably be going back home with the you, gathering dust. Similarly, if you were in the mood to add something unique to your walls or wardrobe, you were playing lottery-type odds expecting to find something just right among 20 vendors in a local clubhouse on a Sunday afternoon. Etsy has changed all that to the benefit of the creators and shoppers.

Now, to state the obvious, anyone with a computer, tablet or smart phone, anywhere, can see your creations and order them, and by looking for a specific category, find your needle in the huge haystack quickly. Rainbow-colored wool scarf? Picture of Paris on a rainy night? Union Pacific-adorned baseball cap? Rock that looks like WC Fields? All there, just a click or two away. Suddenly that person who would absolutely love your painting who’s in the next country over will find it, its days of gathering dust gone with the wind.

I love it. I’ve used it to sell books I’ve written (a few copies), baseball caps I’ve customized (a handful), and a few wall hangings or paintings (well… at least I’ve listed them ). Never made a lot of money off it, but it’s nice to make a few extra dollars and find someone appreciative of my work at the same time. On the other side of the counter, I’ve purchased a couple of cool vintage photos, some one-of-a-kind clothes and gifts for others on it that I’d not have found at the local Walmart or Kohls.

Ironic in a way, isn’t it? The internet has allowed Amazon to become one of the world’s dominant companies and biggest retailers, mass-marketing everything from books to soap to pharmaceuticals. But at the same time, it’s allowed individual tiny home businesses to set up and offer an alternative to the conglomerate mass-marketed products homogenizing culture across the globe.

I’m thankful for little craft fairs and the people who create for them. And for the world’s biggest, virtual craft fair, the one at our fingertips.

PS- the talent behind the picture above is someone else’s; the painting is not mine. But thanks to Etsy, it could be…

Thankful Thursday XV – This Community

This Thankful Thursday, I’m thankful for you! And WordPress, creator of this terrific forum we have here to share thoughts and writings. It’s led me to a host of new wonderful people, showed me interesting columns almost daily and has let my ponderings find an audience too, with strangers and ones who’ve gone from strangers to friends.

It’s a cliche to state that the internet has changed everything in our lives, but it’s true as well. There are downsides, goodness knows – ask anyone in the brick-and-mortar retail world or the recorded music biz for starters – but it certainly has expanded our possibilities in ways we wouldn’t have dreamed possible three decades back. I would have never guessed I’d be able to find several hundred people in places as far flung as California, New Zealand, northern Ontario, England, all of whom would share my interests in pop music, or baseball, or book reviews or any number of other topics, but that’s exactly what has happened . It means a lot so many of you out there take time to read my musings and often comment as well. Likewise, I’ve not only made friends but learned a great deal about those topics from the writings of many of you readers. It’s something we take for granted now, but if we cast our memories back a bit, any of us might have been a voice in the wilderness or the annoying one at the office who won’t shut up about their current earworm or their thoughts on what their baseball team should be doing to win more; the type the others quickly duck around the corner when they see us coming. Thanks WordPress for keeping me from that!

So a simple one today, but a meaningful one. A community of like-minded people, writers and readers, brought together by this space. Speaking of which – what are you thankful for this Thursday? Comment below, or if you have a more extensive thought, let me know and I’ll get you an e-mail address if you’d care to have your thoughts shared here in the coming weeks.

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