Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cyber Monday Thoughts

A few years back I read Judith Levine's book, Not Buying It, which tackled the question of why we buy things and what we get out of it. I read the book right before Christmas that year and decided as soon as the holidays were over I'd give the experience of not buying anything but food or other essentials (toilet paper, toner, printer paper, staples, glue, etc.) a try. I made it through a year, too -- just, sort of, almost. I stopped mid-December since I knew I would want to buy my family presents, so in reality I made it just over 11 months (Christmas to Christmas). I tried to make quite a few presents, but even so I needed to buy some. I rationalized both years that I couldn't not buy Christmas presents, they were essentials after all. To some extent, I still feel that way. In our family we always try to give very personal, and hopefully, thoughtful presents.  We open one present at a time and watch each other intently as whoever's turn it is opens their present. We pass the presents around, we ooh and aah over them, and admire the thoughtfulness of the person who chose that particular present to give. It feels pretty far removed from the mad rush of Black Friday shopping, over the top spending, unneeded and unnecessary presents, hastily torn open presents on Christmas morning, and just about everything else that's wrong with the holiday these days. Yet it's still pretty far removed from the actual reason for the holiday. But it's also an incredibly bonding and special time for our little family and we love the time spent together.

All of which makes me feel very much at odds as I try and think how to attract people to my etsy shop. How much of a discount should I give? How do I appeal to people? This is my first year on etsy through the holiday season. I want people to buy things from my shop. I need people to buy things so I can pay bills. And then, when I don't sell anything for days, I feel a bit down and worried. What did I do wrong? Where are all the online shoppers? Am I selling useless and unnecessary things? I'm thoroughly enjoying the creative process, and making the shawl pins and gourd birdhouses and ornaments, etc. in my shop, but I'm having a hard time trying to reconcile those feelings of wanting zillions of etsy sales and adhering to the testimony of simplicity that we live by as Quakers and all those reasons for not buying stuff that Judith laid out in her book.

I thought about it some and decided to go ahead and give 10% off for Cyber Monday. (The code is listed on my shop's front page.) I hope I give as much thought to each thing I make as I do to each present I buy my own family. I know I dwell over everything, making sure it's the best I can do. I'm still not so sure I should be actively participating in all the hoopla of trying to lure customers to my online store. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday all don't sit well with me. And yet. I just hope everything I make will make someone else as happy in the receiving as I am in the making. Maybe it will make someone ooh and aah in delight.

As a P.S. I have started two new knitting projects -- one of which will be for my daughter as a Christmas present!