>> Friday, November 27, 2009
While many lined up at stores during the wee hours of the morning or even pitched tents yesterday to stand in line for "Black Friday" specials offered by retailers across America, I slept in (for the the first time in a long time!) and then got started on some of my weekly reading. I generally separate my student/work life from this blog, but one of the books I'm currently reading for class resonates well with many of the messages, posts, and pleas I've seen from the handmade/crafty community.
For those who make things, the holiday season can be both joyful and frustrating. The holiday season offers a potential boon time to those selling their handmade wares (through their own websites, at craft fairs, on etsy, on artfire, or any other platform). But it can also be exasperating as people reject their wares in favor of mass-produced stuff [or fill in your favorite noun here]. There is no doubt that almost all of us living on the grid buy things that are mass-produced and sold for cheap; few of us have the money to always buy the most high-quality goods made from well-sourced, fair-trade materials by equitably-compensated artisans. At the the same time, however, consumption breeds a mentality that favors more over better, which is why, to betray my leanings on this matter, I avoid malls and shopping to the best of my abilities (with fabric stores being the most obvious exception!).
For those interested in the dominance of Wal-Mart in contemporary America (and the consumption ethos and service ethos it conveys), To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise (2009) provides a corporate biography in which Bethany Moreton reconstructs how Wal-Mart ascended to the top of the world's corporate mountain as a global retail behemoth.
I'm only midway through the book, but so far it is quite readable and engaging -- a laudable characteristic of any book published for a primarily academic and business audience. Detailing how the northwest Arkansas business turned the region's anticorporate populism into its own brand of procorporate populism, To Serve God and Wal-Mart delves into the companionate roles of business tactics, rhetoric, government subsidies, entrepreneurial aims, free-market gospel, Sunbelt migration and buying power, and missionaries to describe the potent mixture of faith and profit in the growing service economy.
It's not a quick read, but no matter where you stand on Wal-Mart, this book offers a different -- and thought-provoking -- twist on Black Friday.
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Posts will continue to be sporadic through the end of the semester, but I hope to have some more crafty things to show you in the next few days. Also, I'll be participating in Sew Mama Sew's December Giveaway Day, so check back here on December 2 to win something fun!