No, you can’t get this at Walmart… and here’s why.

In just 5 short days, Captain Sexypants and I will be happily manning my booth at the Uptown Village Market in Long Beach. A lot of folks will be coming through, and there will be a lot of artists showing off some fabulous handcrafts.

One of the things that bugs me and invariably happens at every single show I do, is that one person will walk past my booth and say, “Pssshhht. I can totally buy this for $3 at WalMart (or whatever big box store, insert the one of your choice.)”

Normally I smile and say, “No. No you really can’t.”

Inspired by several articles on other blogs and in several professional journals that I read, I’m trying a different tack this time. I’ll have this sign printed out and tucked somewhere discreet but visibly in my booth:

Some reasons why you can’t buy this for less at Wal-Mart:

These items are handmade by an artist.

These items are handmade by an artist in the USA.

These items are handmade by an artist in the USA, living in your local community.

These items are handmade by an artist in the USA, living in your local community, who will turn around and use the money she makes on this sale to support more businesses in your local community when she buys groceries and vegetables to feed her family.

These items are made with components mainly sourced from businesses that are owned and operated in the USA.

Many of the pieces on this table were made with components that came from other small, local artists and they were purchased at a fair price.

This small business is eco-friendly.

This small business is woman owned and operated.

This small business employs people from the local community and it employs them at a fair, hourly wage.**

These items are the result of a lifetime of acquired skills.

NONE of these jewelry designs are available at any big box store. Sure, you can buy something shiny that a company buyer bought for $.02 by the gross, made by children working in unsafe factories overseas, for a substandard wage… but why would you want to?

So when someone hauls out the tired Walmart trope. I’m going to smile and invite them to read this instead.

**”my teenage child” counts as “people”, right?

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About Maia Rainwood

Owner and Maker at Maia Rainwood Design. Wearable art for wise women, birth keepers, witches, and world-builders.
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19 Responses to No, you can’t get this at Walmart… and here’s why.

  1. I am inspired to make something like this for my Etsy shop and for when I sell in person.

  2. TheLabRat says:

    YES! YES! YES! OMG, so totally YES! In yesterday’s Modesto Bee, there was an article about a lady who was born in Gustine, CA, who finally relented to her sisters’, family’s, and friends’ ‘harassment’ to actually sell her self-designed, absolutely BEAUTIFUL artwork… I read the article enthusiastically to my mom…who’s reply was “and where does the get the stuff she sells for $119-$128/piece?” I said “She MAKES it, mom!” “No, she can’t make it all, if she’s supplying all those big stores with enough to keep interest up. She has to be importing some of it.” “Mom, it says right here: She does ALL the designs, she does the finishing on all her items – after employees that she hired from her community have done the bases, she inspects each piece to make sure it meets HER standards, and she signs each piece. No, at this level, she can’t do all the work, but she does MOST of it, and NONE of it is done over-seas or in Mexico and imported.”

    I called a beading friend who refuses to believe her own worth… and told her to read the article. Now… I’m not saying that Anyone and Everyone has a marketable talent for crafting. But those like you that do OMG, THAT”S BEAUTIFUL work, deserve the respect of visitor NOT saying “oh, I can totally get that at (Big Box Store).” they need to realize that NO, they can’t get that exact piece, or even something of a SIMILAR quality or uniqueness from (Big Box Store) or even from the finer jewelry stores that are splashing their cookie-cutter gaudiness all over the holiday TV screen. Instead of saying “he went to Jareds!”, (probably cuz they saw that same item in the display case or on tv..) people should be thinking “he went to Honey&Ollie! (or similar small-business gifted artisan)” (because they HAVEN’T seen it splashed all over the TV, and it’s unique and beautiful, and absolutely perfect for the person wearing it.)

    So, good job, Rain! And definitely put that sign up in your booth. educate the poor visitor that believes they can do better for less. If more people chose to spend their money with local merchants with local-made goods… maybe America wouldn’t be quite so deeply in the economic hole.

    • Rainy says:

      Thanks ❀ I think one of the drawbacks of our consumer culture – where Walmart and Target are everywhere and you can buy furniture for cheap at stores like Ikea – is that we've got a distorted view of the value of things. We've forgotten that things are hard to make. That they take time and effort to create. I honestly think that most folks who walk past my booth and make that comment about the big box store honestly have no idea what goes into the making of things. That makes me sad. It's not their fault, though. It's our culture. We've created that monster.

  3. georgi says:

    I love your sign, please let us know what the public response is to it. I hope it works for you and enlightens people.

  4. msmousie says:

    Amen, Sister! That whole “I can buy this at Valde-Mart” crap used to irritate me to no end… my husband stopped selling his beautiful leather goods & jewelry with me at shows because he absolutely couldn’t take the remarks anymore. I think its horrible that people will say that to a small business person/artist/crafter but don’t have any problem shelling out big bucks for something with a brand name… as if that makes it so much different! It happens to me with my in-laws around Xmas too… They seem to be more than willing to pay $25.00 for a machine knit acrylic hat from Abersnobbie & Fitch but MY prices are outrageous because “who the hell are you to charge that much??” I always ask them who this “Abersnobbie guy” is and where he learned about knitwear. *sigh* Let us know how that sign goes.. I’d love to see it change some minds.

    • Rainy says:

      Yeah, the brand name thing? Hi, we’ll shell out by something made in a sweat shop by children overseas (I’m not crazy about the idea, but there are places in this world where those sweatshops are the difference between starvation and living and I have an uncomfortable conundrum around that reality that I have yet to resolve satisfactorily) who were paid pennies, but we won’t support someone in our own community at a living wage. Because all that Aberzombie and Gap crap is made in sweatshops overseas. Drives me nuts. Why do we value that?

  5. Amen! Perfectly written and I totally agree!

  6. cambriaw says:

    I just love your work and I’m so glad that you decided to undertake this venture, for two totally selfish reasons:
    1. I own four pairs of your earrings that I wear on a rotating basis. (I need some cards, by the way, because I’ve been getting complements on them), and
    2. I’ve watched your progress, and I’ve found the courage to try my hand at getting published. And even though I haven’t made it into Knitty, or Interweave, or Twist Collective yet…I have been published by Cascade twice, and one of those patterns made the Vogue Knitting newsletter. I’ve achieved some exciting things, all because I was willing to risk it, and all because you’ve been a total inspiration and a secret mentor to me (secret, as in you had no idea about it, lol).
    I love what you do. I love your whole attitude about it. I love you!

    Cam

    • Rainy says:

      You WILL make it into Knitty and Interweave and Twist Collective. Just keep doing it. I am so proud of you, omg. I am loving what you’re doing and I think you are brave and mighty. And I’m blushing at your really kind words. ❀ I love you too!!

  7. Kathleen says:

    You are so right and mentioned things on your list that I had not even thought of, so thank you so much for this post!

  8. Tracy says:

    You’re my hero!! I love you soooo much!

  9. Lauren D says:

    Such a great response to something all artisans get to deal with at one time or another.

  10. Andria says:

    Hi Rainy, I left you a comment yesterday but it didn’t appear to “take”. I mentioned that this is definitely a sign that plenty of folks need to read. I also wanted to let you know that I blogged about all that I have learned from you to start drawing mandalas. I hope you will stop by my blog and check out my post (http://andria-drawingnear.blogspot.com), because I really appreciate the inspiration you have given to me through your blog!

    • Rainy says:

      Adria, that’s so great!! I’m so tickled that my little tutorial has been helpful to you. I am loving your post so much!! Your process is fascinating and inspiring right back at me!

  11. Luna says:

    I’m organizing an arts and crafts show coming up in December, and I’ve already made copies of your sign to hand out to my artisans, with credit to you of course, I hope that’s okay with you. I love it.

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