Justseeds was recently mentioned in a local article. Which is totally awesome press! However, I also want to avoid the possible interpretation of us as primarily competition for other local businesses, so I wanted to expand upon the conversation about small businesses in the struggling market.
You can read the original article
I love Tiny Showcase, and find what they do to be inspiring and vital to artists and people who love art. Justseeds has been selling prints online since 1998, but the print sales is a small part of what we do. However, more than anything else, I love and appreciate how vital Tiny Showcase, Justseeds, and every other up and coming artist run business is in bringing beautiful and thoughtful art into our lives. If there is currently an increase in artist run businesses, I see that as a success. We need to welcome and support all small artisan run businesses, and appreciate the diversity and uniqueness that every small business brings with them. There is also a lot of possibility for ways that small businesses can work together and support one another as well. Tiny Showcase and Justseeds can serve as an example for the way in which small businesses support each other rather than compete with each other. Last year, Peter Glantz worked with Black Cat Graphics to create two offset prints; ‘Your Heart Is A Prism’ and ‘Change Your Relationship to Nature’. He had a signed, numbered, limited edition that was for sale first at Tiny Showcase (both prints sold out) and then after they sold out, an unsigned, unnumbered edition became available on the Justseeds website. This worked out beautifully. We do have some crossover of our audience (I for instance buy art from both Tiny Showcase and Justseeds), but also we do have our own unique audiences. Tiny Showcase has an audience of art collectors who appreciate special and small print runs, and Justseeds tends to accommodate more of the ‘masses’ seeking art from an explicitly social change perspective. We both are small organizations that are made up of artists, which serve artists and the people who need art, but I think it is a huge mistake to categorize our existence as competing with one another.
More about Tiny Showcase HERE.
The problem with unbridled, free market, American style capitalism is that it has fostered and allowed the growth and takeover of large corporations that have put small businesses out of work. The top 1% of the wealthiest families in America own more than 34% of the entire wealth of our whole nation. (http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html) Americans are not blind to how we have been taken advantage of in this system—in fact this current recession turned depression has made that very clear. A majority of Americans are upset by the Wall Street Bailout, which was only successful in further depleting the wealth of the people and putting it into just a couple corporate pockets. In my opinion, one of the best things that can come from this failing market is that more people who are now out of work will join together, and start their own (or even better – cooperatively run) businesses. If enough people support small businesses, the corporations could be the ones going out of business. Currently we do not have enough small businesses to support all the demand for services, which is in small part why corporations are still succeeding (in addition to bailouts, tax breaks, and a host of other state sponsored assistance). The question should not be “are small businesses competing with one another?” but rather, “how can small businesses increase promotions and grow their support base so we can all succeed and put the big corporations out of business?” This might sound idealistic, but it’s important to remember that before corporations existed, everyone was a part of a small business.
Now more than ever in recent history, people are careful about the money that they spend. However, people are also very aware that it is large corporations that have bled the American people. More people understand that supporting local and small business is the answer to having a more sustainable and healthy community. In a changing world where people turn to small businesses rather than large corporations, the answer is that we all need more small businesses to grow to meet our needs (not less) and also we all need to learn how to promote ourselves better. There is a huge market out there for people seeking handmade art and homegrown food and other services. There are more people in our country that want art, but can not access it, so the answer is how to communicate with more people and make art more accessible to them. I am thrilled when I hear that more artists are starting their own businesses. I am even more thrilled when I hear they are cooperatively run, or artisan run, businesses. We are the ones who will best look after our own interests, we can not continue to pretend or believe falsely that corporations will ever act in our interest. I do believe that this market will stabilize if we are able to move towards a more sustainable and healthy future without the large corporations, and instead with worker owned and run small businesses and cooperatives. The best scenario I see is that if we all do our part to start and support small local businesses, and continue to promote ourselves to what will then be a growing market, that the large corporations will continue to fall apart. Then the question will become not whether small businesses will succeed, but rather, “how do we all continue to meet the overwhelming demand for our goods?”