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5 Reasons Why I Love Handmade Gifts

April 26, 2010

Don’t get me wrong ~ I’ve received my fair share of wacky, handmade gifts before … from the giant orange crocheted beret  that made me look like a weird tangerine wanna-be to the plastic bejeweled kleenex box cover (yes, I wish I could make that one up) … but beyond being memorable, I’ve found there’s a lot to appreciate about the wide variety of handmade products now available on stores like Etsy and the like. I’m talking about the tasteful ones, not tacky. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I went to our “big mall” to buy a gift for someone … Consider the following:

1) They’re extremely personal. With the abundance of search engines out there, it’s easier than ever to plug-in a few key terms and get a much wider selection of potential gift ideas than what you’d find in a bricks-and-mortar, mass-produced shopping scenario. Plus, you can enjoy said shopping experience while wearing your pajamas (or whatever else you like)!

2) One of a kind quality. I think it’s safe to say that most handmade gifts, even if made in batches, would hardly meet Henry Ford’s standards for assembly line efficiency … and that’s a really good thing. First off, the fewer people involved in the process, the more likely they are to be paying attention every step of the way. Sure, you might find some slight irregularities from piece to piece, but the fact is that small batch production typically yields high quality and much less waste.  

3) They support local economies. This one is almost a no-brainer for me. Sure, the internet has made the world a small place. We can Skype with friends in Norway and buy snack foods direct from grocery stores in Japan, and to the extent that this has helped people appreciate new cultural experiences and the interconnectedness among nations, well that’s a powerful good thing and I’m not one to be critical. However, the handmade revolution is upon us, and one of its main objectives is to fortify local economies. It makes sense that when you buy a handmade item, most of the profits (as well as manufacturing costs) stay in the place where that object was made. Even if I’m not supporting another Pennsylvania crafter at a local show, it makes me feel good to know that just about any time I’m buying something handmade the money I’m shelling out will not be splintered and dispersed through an outrageously long supply chain; rather, most of it will most likely help make another local economy stronger.

4) Outstanding customer service. I know, I know, this one might seem debateable. Lots of people probably have a customer service story from hell out there  that haunts them … but here is what I know. When you’re buying a handmade gift from someone, it’s going straight from their hands to yours … and they’re usually extremely motivated to make sure you’re happy with it. With the handmade marketplace teeming with so many artists and venues, competition is huge and your repeat business really does matter.

5) Individual, like me. Here’s the reason that matters most to me. When all is said and done, handmade items really feel more mine … I’m a generally introverted type of person, but I’ve always enjoyed coloring outside the lines and standing out in a crowd. I’m an individual, not some mass-market fiend who desperately wants to look like everyone else, so buying (and receiving) handmade items feels good because I like to have things that feel uniquely me.

There. I’ve said it.

It really is about me. me. me.

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