You know what really pisses me off? Buying a new coffee plunger, washing basket, tee-shirt, pair of tongs – whatever – knowing it’s not going to last two years before it breaks, cracks, stretches or fades and I have to replace it.
I resent spending money on stuff that isn’t going to last, especially necessities such as clothing. In the past few years I’ve found it increasingly difficult to find clothing of decent quality, made of suitable material at a fair price – that suits me.
The latter is probably a reflection that I can’t just wear whatever I fancy anymore. The younger me used to be able to walk into a store, pick out virtually anything off the rack and rock out. Now, not so much. (note to former me, don’t get hung up on your body, enjoy it while it lasts)
Last weekend, I went to the Nelson market with my buddy Sarah. For those of you not familiar with Nelson’s Saturday market, there’s probably about 100 stalls there offering food, fresh produce, arts, crafts and clothing. It’s something of an institution in Nelson, and always packed out.
While a lot of what’s on offer is what I’d term kitsch, such as jewellery made with paua or river stone, or beautiful paintings and pottery rendered ordinary because they’re adorned with tui, fantail or pohutukawa. You know, the classic kiwiana that used to be funky, but now there’s pohutukawa-emblazoned china and harakeke screen-printed cushions everywhere you go, and I’ll just scream if I see one more paua pendant.
However, there were heaps of gems to be found too, including Ross Johnston’s knives, which he designs and hand crafts himself using recycled steel, native timber, bone and deer antlers. We visited his Blackbird Valley Forge in Moutere last year, and while we didn’t buy anything (the price was a bit prohibitive, although they are made to last a life-time) he kindly shared a few pearls of knife wisdom with us for free.
Are you listening?
“Always cut towards your mate”. Undeniably useful.
But wait, there’s more: “some knives aren’t worth a wart on an arse”. Important advice if you’re on the market to buy a knife.
My friend Sarah bought us each a pair of earrings, handmade with Japanese Washi paper, by a talented lady named Mio Aisu-Macleod. Intricately painted, the earrings are very delicate and hang lightly, framing the face with a gorgeous punch of colour. Love ’em! Thanks Sez!
We both tried on a number of dresses, at different stalls. I ended up buying a light cotton dress, simply designed and put together by Nelson designer Robyn Reynolds. I ruled the dress out initially, because being a size too big it looked like I was wearing a sack. But Robyn pulled out her pin cushion and proceeded to take in the sides, created some darts under my bust, and transformed it from a shapeless toga-like tunic to a lovely dress that fitted my body like a glove. I still wasn’t convinced, but she said all the right things (ie, flattering me and allaying my fears that I didn’t, resemble a box) and we ended up agreeing on a price, including postage.
As Sarah said after we parted ways, we were both richer for the experience. Robyn had made a sale, sure, but she’d done her best to make sure I was happy with the garment before foisting it on me. Smart move Robyn, because I’m more likely to tell others all about you now. While $100 is not a huge amount to spend on a dress, it’s certainly not cheap either.
But I don’t mind paying for a bit of extra service and attention. I love the thought that I’ve bought something from someone who loves their job and is good at it, rather than a mass-produced product made for some ambiguous body shape by people working in appalling conditions and being paid a snip of what they need to survive on.
It’s like buying a bottle of wine from the cellar door, rather than the supermarket shelf. At the cellar door you taste a variety of wines before making a decision about which one to buy, you learn about the wine, the people, the process, and develop a true appreciation for it. Then, when you pull out that bottle of wine to share with your friends you’ll have a fun story and fond memories to go along with it.
Sure, buying from the supermarket is cheaper, and I do it myself, often, because I don’t have an endless supply of cash. But I do make an effort to taste the different wines of our regions every vintage (lucky me, living in Marlborough). Plus I get a huge sense of well being knowing I’ve supported someone’s passion, skills and experience that they’ve honed through years of work.
While I love the idea of buying only ethical foods and clothing, the reality is, I just can’t afford to, and I’m not that evangelical that I’ll make do with only two changes of clothing and one bottle of wine a week, I’m sorry!
But making more thoughtful purchases will help stem those impulsive buys, live a less-cluttered and simpler life and hopefully have a bit more cash to spend on things that have been made with love, care and attention by people who take pride in producing things for people to treasure.
So, what say you? Do you give much thought to the source of the food and consumables you buy? Do you care?
Tell me what you think, leave a comment below. Cheers