It’s Black Friday. I will not be waiting in line for anything, except maybe for a cup of coffee at our local coffee shop, but that’s only if I get out of the house. I’m just not a big fan of crowds, traffic, or big box retailers – no matter how good the sales.
Instead, tomorrow, I’ll head out and shop on Small Business Saturday. As a small business owner myself and as a person who loves to see the entrepreneurial spirit in anyone who is seeking to live their passion, I try to do all I can to put the dollars I have toward the wares and efforts of people who live closely to their work.
As my friend Jansen said, “Local business owners/employees, like writers, take pride and ownership of their work. They answer to the toughest critic: themselves.” When success depends on delivering high quality products or services and when a person sees – first-hand – the complaints and the joy of her customers, we do better work than if we are disconnected by layers of corporate hierarchy and miles of distance.
Take my friend Karen, for example. She just opened The Etiquette School of the Commonwealth, a school offering classes on manners, civility, and good conversation for children and adults. Karen’s classes for children are held in her own dining room, and because of this intimacy and openness, her students feel close to her as person and take her direction more seriously then. Plus, this situation allows Karen to adjust each class as she learns how to improve her teaching. If she was managing twenty teachers and not teaching herself, her connection to both her students and her lessons would be diluted.
I think of it this way. When I sit down to write, there’s nothing between me and the words. I put them down. I move them around to make them work better. I take out a few; I add others in. I am intimate with my work. This closeness – it’s what makes my work better, more alive, more real. It’s also why computers don’t do much writing.
So this week, as you think about holiday gifts and sales, think about what it means to be a writer – the care that goes into that work – and see if you can’t support some others who do the same in etiquette classes or laser-grading systems or reclaimed wood furniture or whatever it is you want to buy. Seek out a local craft show or visit your mom and pop electronic store for the new gadget. Visit Etsy for one-of-a-kind gifts. Put the energy you’d use waiting in line and elbowing people out of the way toward finding the perfect, individual gifts. It’s more fun than Walmart any day.
So my challenge to you this Black Friday is Look for the personal, the local, the original, the special. Shop like a writer.