Updated: Jan 3, 2021
The Christmas season always brings about ambivalence in me. The festivities bring about a sense of melancholy (for all the ones we've lost and cannot have back), and good cheer (for all the loved ones still around and gather with to reminisce). This year has been difficult for a lot of people and a lot of small businesses. While there are 7+ billion people around the world and millions of small businesses out there trying to stay afloat, I do want to focus my attention to just 1 person, and 1 small business.
One Person Lost
In April 2000, I was baptized into the Seventh Day Adventist Church by this man, Pastor Albert Dy. In my younger years, I always viewed him as the Buddha of our community. At least the smiling and happy one. Behind the cheerful demeanor and the warm hugs, he was a man who inspired deep, critical thinking and finding ways to make things happen. He was always proud of his children and how he has brought them up. He and his wife valued education - asking hard questions and seeking truth. He passed away just a few days ago and I will always carry those values with me.
One Small Business Lost
This morning when I woke up to check my emails, I saw a familiar shop's name with the heading "Sad Announcement". Unwound Artisan Yarn Shop was one of the Local Yarn Stores (LYS) we visited yearly during the Yarn Shop Hop that happens mid-July in the Driftless Loop. Having lived in Northeast, Iowa for 3 and 1/2 years, it is a joy to drive around the Driftless Loop (Caledonia, MN; Winona, MN; La Crosse, WI; Viroqua, WI; and back to Decorah, IA) lugging around a whiny husband, a curious little one, and compadre in knitting to join the hunt for yarn treasures. I remember Unwound as a small gem in La Crosse to visit. In fact, any LYS or small business is memorable.
In the vast seas of retail and capitalism, small businesses are the places you find connection, community, and true quality. It's the kind of quality that you cannot buy from Big brands. The kind that impacts an ecosystem much closer to home -- family. The "mom-and-pop shop" is not one for mindless purchasing. It's one that grows with you and takes root in your heart because not only do you remember the storefront, you remember the faces behind the counter that made your creative dreams come true with their own hearts and hands.
One Microbusiness born
This year has definitely dealt big blows to a lot of small and local businesses. It has made me question myself many times, "Why start a new one when so many are losing their own businesses and jobs?". Am I rich enough to supply jobs and purchase all the wares of closing shops to keep the local business thriving? No. Do I have a large enough social media following to make my own dream come true? No. But what motivates me to just bite the bullet and roll with the punches? I want to make an impact by keeping small businesses alive in my own capacity. Not everybody knits/crochets/weaves, and the knitwear purchased in Walmart/Target is not handmade, hand dyed, nor created with supplies that came from a local/small business. While I'm not a fast knitter/crocheter/weaver myself, I do know a handful of women who definitely are and would make those Pinterest designs come true for you. While for now I am a one person show testing the waters, I do see myself providing knitwear/crafts created from artisan shops like Unwound, providing designs that feature yarns from local shops, and connecting you with small shops and people who will spark your creativity.
One Person at a Time
Everyday on my walk from home to school, there is a mango tree with a sign on it. The quote says, "One volunteer, is better than ten forced men". Last night, I watched hours of videos focusing on how yarn/knitting businesses began. Chandi from Expression Fiber Arts mentioned that on her first year, she had one $22 sale, yet now she owns a steady business that inspires so many to be creative with Fiber Arts! Were it not for the push of a friend of mine, (Ann Ashland Wayne from Blue Alley Salon and Gift Shop LLC), I would not have taken the steps to make this website and shop a reality. There is a lot of hidden power in one person resonating with another who shares the same vision and dreams. While I don't expect to be super great this 2021, I want to do what I can to fill the gap left behind by folks who have the same mission and vision that I do and give you that opportunity to be part of this special ecosystem. This coming year, I hope to gain your support in keeping small businesses alive, bringing in one person at a time to join the movement.