A Yard of Fabric, a Spool of Thread...







Recession. It's an ugly word. The news stations have recession logos they paste at the bottom of the screen when they run their doom and gloom stories on the economy. Everyday, it's the economic update, more casualties, more downturn, no relief in sight. Geez, you know its happening, you know it's bad, but somewhere on this huge earth there is good news. There are companies making it and consumers spending their hard earned money. My other job is retail. I've been at the same high end store for 11 years. I may as well say it, Williams Sonoma. OOHHHH, I can hear you, "that place is expensive", "you must be in a world of hurt", "your sales must be in the dumps". Let me start by saying I am not any sort of spokesperson for Williams Sonoma. I am on the lowest rung of the employees of this great company. I work in the trenches. I greet the people who walk in, offer samples, sell them what they need, thank them graciously, and on occasion work behind the scenes unloading the daily truck. I have a degree in film, not economics. But here is my take. There isn't a recession. There's a slowdown. There's a scare.

People want to spend their money. They want to give gifts and have parties, they want to cook up a storm. They are shopping. They're buying $100 knives and peppermint bark. They want Christmas towels and gingerbread bundt. They are hunting out that perfect gadget for their favorite cook. Granted, they are worried, and pensive, but they are shopping. Thoughtfully shopping. Is it so bad that people are planning purchases, thinking about what Grandma would really like instead of just picking up some stuff? Could the benefit of all this be that for the first time in a long time people are thinking before they spend? Do you remember how many gifts you got for Christmas? I don't, but I remember that they were well thought out. Gifts any kid would love (at least in 1974). Now it seems more about quantity. We are inundated by the bargains. Is there a bargain at the dollar store? What can you possibly buy for a dollar that isn't disposable or that someone would want? But we are wowed by that one dollar price. Forget that you'll have to buy another and another and another. It's a mindset.


Besides shopping smart, shop at home, in your neighborhood. We recently received an email from our favorite fabric store here in Santa Monica. The store has been there for years and years. Russell the wickedly creative owner has been at the helm and he is feeling the pinch. He doesn't drive a Jag, he is always there dispensing sewing advice, teaching cool classes, working on that dream. But there's this recession thing. And he sent an email saying help. Help my store. You are my most devoted shoppers and you're not shopping. He's not asking for people to come in and buy $2000 machines, (although that would help!) he is asking his loyal customers to buy a yard of fabric, a spool of thread, a pack of buttons.

Wow. I know this audience. You are a lot like me. Shelves of fabric, racks of thread, bins of buttons. What the heck, what's one more teeny little project looking at you? A yard of fabric makes a pillow, a handbag, some napkins. We always need thread. Bobbin thread for embroidery, that hot new color you have no use for (yet) but really want on your rack. Buttons to replace on that old navy jacket to make it hip and modern. But what you are really doing is saving your neighborhood, the roots of America. The only way to get out of a recession is for people to spend their money.

So get out there and shop! If you have a job and are not one of those people with an enormous amount of credit card debt then go forth and spend. Away with the recession and in with thoughtful spending. Out with huge retailers whose products are low priced and lower quality and in with retailers who support products made in the US and support your community. Buy things you enjoy, that stimulate the American economy. Shop where people are friendly, helpful and attentive. If a sales clerk treats you like your money is no good, move on. It's time for retailers to be more gracious to the customer. It's time for the customer to be more thoughtful when they choose where to spend their money. Turn off the news and stimulate the economy yourself!

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