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Monday, March 08, 2010

Handmade Rocks!!

I come from a long line of people who loved to do business with shop owners they knew and trusted and who made their living serving the needs of a other words...Mom and Pops; where customer service came from the owners of the shop and you established unique personal relationships with the people you did business with.  There was Tony the Laundry Man, Frank who ran the local clothing store, and Ray the Butcher who ran the local name a few.

I can remember my Dad bringing the entire family into a shoe store, that's six kids mind you, and waving a mighty hand toward the owner and saying "shoes for all of them!" or "skates for all of them" in the sporting goods store. To my dad, this was a point of pride.  Both he and my mom worked hard and the reward was to be able to provide all of us with everything we needed.  It also gave him great pride to give the shop owner a large amount of business because they had a personal relationship and were both invested in the success of the business.

Those were my early lessons in how business was done...and they never left me.  When I chose business as a career, I had corporate offers but stuck to small business and either ran them or accounted for them for a large part of my career.  I simply loved how small businesses operated and became part of a community of like-minded individuals who believed in quality, a high level of customer service, treating their employees fairly, and relationship building and considered those the building blocks for success.

But then, small businesses and small business opportunities began to disappear because of the K-Marts and Wal-Marts of the world.  The Mom and Pops, in my corner of the world anyway, are nearly extinct now...and the few that do exist have developed a niche market that keeps them going, but often they do not flourish.

That trend made me turn my attention to nonprofits because for awhile I could find the same elements of community collaborations and quality service that I would never find in a large private sector corporation setting.  But soon, due to increased competition for funding, nonprofits too were forced to adopt a more corporate model and somewhere along the line, the soul of these institutions began to disappear and with that, their capacity to serve the community was often compromised...that really broke my heart.  There are, of course, exceptions but yet another end of an era had come.

Fortunately, I have discovered the handmade industry which has many of the same qualities as the old time Mom and Pops and the old-school nonprofits... coalition building, quality over quantity, and superior customer relations.  And most importantly, a shared fundamental belief in the benefits of choosing handmade...that there is no other sensible choice.

I have experienced with my customers, what those shopkeepers experienced long ago and I can go back to those basic principles of quality products, a high level of customer service, and a feeling that I am part of something larger than one small etsy shop...I am part of a community...with a very strong voice!  I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with each and every one of them and say, "Handmade Rocks!!"


jewelry by NaLa said...

Wonderful--both the article and the ideal ...

trusk4u said...

Bravo! Fabulous article! I remember those times too and my family was the same way when it came to patronizing local shops. Sad to say that when I go home for a visit now, it has been taken over by WalMart and the other shops have long disappeared.

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    I am an MBA Jewelry Artisan and owner of Zur Designs.  I create handcrafted jewelry using only the highest quality materials such as sterling silver,semi-precious gemstones, swarovski crystals, and pearls.

    My designs are inspired by life, love, and the beauty that surrounds me from the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts to the wonderful beaches in Rhode Island...both I consider my home.