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posted by Julie Turner Dec 20,2012 @ 09:09AM

Crafty Feast Consumerism

Last weekend, the Midlands’ holiday shopping landscape was dotted by Crafty Feast, an annual, one-day retail festival. The juried event featured 100 crafters and artists selling their unique wares in a real-world, Etsy-esque environment. For anyone who cherishes unique and handmade, the event is a one-day haven in a mass produced world.

That it has been a simmering success is no surprise. There’s growing interest in handmade goods thanks to many shoppers’ greater inclination to shop in places where their hard earned dollars mean more than padding the wallets of out-of-state executives.

Online directory, which connects U.S. consumers with local businesses, has studied the economic impact of the buy local trend and found even a small shift in dollars has the power to make a significant local impact.

If the people of an average American city were to shift 10% of their spending from chains to local businesses, it would bring an additional $235 million per year to the community’s economy. —

Today, here in Columbia, we have a great deal of local choice. We can go to restaurants like Rosso that source as much as they can from local farms and producers. We can source our own goods at way more than a handful of large and small local farmer’s markets. We can connect with local retailers who craft exquisite handmade goods that range from beef jerky to hand-sewn handbags.

One such local retailer is Sally Peek. Through Nana by Sally, she makes one-of-a-kind handbags and sells them through local retailers, markets, community events and her popular online Etsy store. Even in a shaky economy, Sally notes her sales have steadily risen.

“I think there has been a steady move upward of people making conscious efforts to support local businesses. My customers appreciate the one-of-a-kind quality of my bags in combination with the attention to detail since they are all hand cut and sewn,” says Sally. “Consumers place a great deal of value in one-on-one interactions with creators of any product.”

The moral? This kind of entrepreneurialism isn’t just for fun. It’s serious business. Modern consumers are proving how serious the impact of these businesses can be.

posted by Cathy Monetti Dec 13,2012 @ 06:30AM

holiday spirit, WECO style


Today is the day of the annual WECO Pot Luck.

Thanks to weeks of careful planning, it is a highlight of the holiday season.


There's the feast,


a White Elephant Gift Exchange,


and hours of strategizing prior to the White Elephant Gift Exchange.


Perhaps you'd like a closer look.*


And then there is this one.


Excitement is mounting.


*All white elephant options not photographed due to gifter hoarding

posted by Kevin Archie Dec 05,2012 @ 05:30AM

Back in the Groove

I got my first CD player when I was in the third grade. (Author's note to the younger generation: a CD, or "Compact Disc," is an optical disc that digitally stores data that's read by lasers — yes, lasers). As a result, I spent many evenings locked in my room listening to CDs and pouring over the booklets that came with them. I loved learning more about the artists, reading their lyrics as I listened, then moving on to another once the 3-disc changer reset back to one. I cherished those CDs and held onto them for a long time — until, of course, the discs got scratched.

My next logical stepping stone in music listening had to be mp3s. (Author's note to the older generation: an mp3 is patented encoding format which uses a form of lossy data compression…oh, never mind. Just remember they play on electronic devices). While I have enjoyed the benefits of this portable format, I've always felt that there was something missing from the experience. It feels disingenuous to take a track that was intended to be no. 8 on someone's carefully laid out album and stick it on a workout playlist in between Kanye West and Justin Bieber. And perhaps worst of all, I'm less inclined to spend time solely with the music I'm listening to because I'm always on my computer to be doing something else. The Digital Age has relegated music to something of a background noise.

As a graphic designer, I feel it's important to be intentional with everything I do — including listening to music. This is partly why I love vinyl records. (Author's note to the younger generation: vinyl records are flat discs with an inscribed modulated groove through which a needle renders sound. / Author's note to the older generation: people still listen to vinyl). In fact, vinyl has made a bit of a resurgence in the last several years. The medium offers clarity of sound, a longer lifespan when taken care of, and my favorite part—bigger artwork! The cover art is perfectly sized for that empty spot on your bedroom wall between your bookshelf and that vintage 60's-inspired floor lamp.

Vinyl is large, tactile, and weighty, providing a greater sensory experience to users and a plethora of possibilities to packaging designers (the latter can be seen below). It requires listeners to manually choose albums and then listen to all the songs in the order they were intended to be heard. It requires listeners to slow down and pay attention to the music. It requires listeners to listen, which is something that often gets lost in this "listen-while-you-work" playlist happy world. I'm not by any means saying it's wrong to listen to music while doing other things (I would have Spotify on right now if it didn't distract me from writing). I just think it's important every once in a while to slow down, turn off the computer, and intentionally enjoy a good record. Luckily for me, vinyl necessitates just that.

Below are some of my favorite records. They help demonstrate how designers can get more creative with the medium as well as the important role design plays in the record industry.




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