We've been holding onto a secret, and it's bearing down on us like the weight of the heavens on the hairy, glistening shoulders of Atlas himself.
It's time to admit who we really are.
It's time to tell truth.
We're a couple of stingy, second hand-shopping, mend-it, fix-it, I could-make-that-myself penny savers who have typically not indulged in much gift buying. And now, because of our love of local handmade goods and crafting, we own a gift shop, where our most important job is to help people give great gifts!
We are just a couple of dang posers.
And there's something else...
We're not just reluctant gift buyers by accident.
We actually believe traditional gift giving is highly overrated.
Phew. Now you know.
Please don't tell anyone though, because if people stop buying birthday and Christmas gifts here, our shop will evaporate as fast as morning mist from the Otonabee.
We do see the value in the giving on gifts on predetermined dates according to cultural customs (and enjoy partaking occasionally), but we think that giving purely out of a sense of obligation, or a sense that the money we spend represents how much we care, are practices that lead to overconsumption. And who wants piles of disposable crud they don't need or love but feel obligated to keep? Not us. Not Marie Kondo. Not most people.
But here's the other side of that complex coin of consumption at W&L:
In the two and half years of running this place, YOU have taught us just how very, very special and lovely and wonderful gift giving and getting can be when certain elements are in place, and we are becoming better and more frequent gift givers ourselves in the process.
So, in our troubled material world, what makes a very, very special and lovely and wonderful gift that does not needlessly dig us further into a steaming pile of carbon-emitting, plastic-leaching, future-stealing, wealth-gap making waste??
Here's what we have gleaned from your wise ways so far...
1. The gift is truly wanted/needed.
How do you keep a gift a surprise AND find out what that person truly wants? Maybe you can go for a walk downtown with them. Bring up some of your favourite local artists and find out what likes you have in common. Snoop who they follow on social media. Listen carefully. Maybe an experience, a meal, or something you make is going to strike a chord more than something bought. Maybe something practical is better suited than something decorative or vice versa. Maybe they don't care so much about surprises and would actually like to pick something out.
2. It's given out of love & appreciation.
Just to reiterate, please don't stop buying birthday and Christmas gifts or our business will crumble to the ground. However, the most special gifting we've witnessed is given with a true desire to show someone how worthy they are of something beautiful, useful, and special. These feelings might well up at times other than pre-ordained holidays, hence our belief that spontaneous gifting can be even more special than the scheduled kind.
3. It lifts someone's spirit when they need it most.
"You don't get flowers for chronic pain" is a sentiment expressed on many a personal blog. We tend to pile presents on people when they're receiving a lot of attention already, but what about your bud in the corner who is dealing with depression, anxiety, loss, loneliness, trauma, or ongoing physical health problems that have no cure? Or your single bud who receives way less gifts overall than your coupled friends?
4. It reinvests in the community.
A gift can be extra special when the giftee knows where it was made, by whom, and with what. The value of objects has so much to do with the people and places to which they are connected, and we LOVE sending money every month to dozens of people in the community who get to spend more time being creative as a result. We know you get it. Thanks for investing in the little guy instead of billionaires when you can.
So here's our new gift-giving mantra:
<<GIVE FOR CONNECTION, NOT OBLIGATION>>
Meanwhile, we promise to do our best to reduce our environmental footprint by sourcing locally, favouring suppliers who source materials locally, reusing packing materials, and providing space for people who are doing important work for the planet.
And on that note, please join us on the the third Sunday of the month, February through May, for the Repair Café!
This is an amazing local crew of very kind nerds who volunteer their time to help you save items from the landfill. They used to work out of The Spill (R.I.P.) and have an incredible fixing track record. There will be fixers for clothing, electronics, and housewares, and more. Bring one or two things, and hang with us for a while! More details to come :)
Anna & Erin
[These outtakes were too good to keep to ourselves.]