To thirst, to long for, to deeply desire..... If you were stuck out in the desert, sunburned, parched, barely living and you saw this magnificent oasis there in the distance, you would run to it right? I bet the first thing you would do is dip your hand into the clear, cool waters and take a sip and perhaps enjoy the shade. I know that after walking in the hot sand with nothing to look at, nowhere to go and that sense of complete starkness, my mind would soon think about how lucky I am to have found this special spot. This spot that feeds me and keeps my thirst at bay, this place that is a sanctuary..... I guess I would want to hold on to it and not waste it and conserve it.....protect it and take care of it.
Guess what folks, our local crafting stores and conventions and retreats are that oasis for so many. They feed our creativity and inspire us- they are a sanctuary. Unfortunately, their resources are running dry, they are being overtaken by the arid sands of a Walmart mentality. These places can never compete on cost, they depend on those slim profit margins to pay the business taxes that corporations have found ways around, the lights and utilities and rent, the employees and the product that they buy in small quantities at a higher price. It is so sad that folks have been drinking fouled and tepid water for so long, that they have forgotten the taste of the sweet coolness of fresh and innovative, truly mind expanding and artistic stretching type classes and services that only a small store, retreat or convention can bring a soul.
I think I have come to a point in my own journey where the tepid and lukewarm doesn't really appeal to me, I like things either hot or cold. I like that you may have to struggle a bit to get to where you are going creatively because it makes it worth it and the satisfaction of accomplishment is there. I like it when there are no directions to follow and that testing and experimentation is your teacher- you learn better that way because rather than being spoonfed what it should look like, you are understanding the techniques and products so well that you create on your own. Let me tell you folks, on this kind of journey, you really want like minded people coming with you- these are not people who are there because it is a paycheck and they don't really craft anyway..... those folks need a job, they have one, and do it well but, they are not the passionate folks who will get giddy with you about your discoveries or "get" why transfer and gel mediums ROCK the flippin' universe......
Michigan has lost 5 more stores- little stamp and scrap stores here and there. I suppose for some, it won't really phase them but, to some, they are out there wandering out in the desert just dying for a cool drink and sanctuary...... and the distance between watering holes is becoming father and farther apart. Support the local stores, take classes with local instructors, participate in the retreats and drag all the folks you know with you to the conventions when they come to town.