I remember being a child and hearing and singing this jingle on radio and television commercials:
"Brown eggs are local eggs, and local eggs are fresh!"
Later, a television infomercial would feature Joe the Grocer, a healthy, hearty man who would appear on Sunday mornings and talk about local gardens and the produce that could be bought there. I remember him advising us that fresh produce was grown locally and handled by the farmer and the customer, period.
Why am I reminiscing about these two sound bites from the past? Because their messages rang true to me then, and still do today. The message "Support Small Businesses, Local Businesses" today has a different ring to it, but the truth is still the same. Buying local is the responsible thing to do.
People voice their displeasure at the number of jobs that have been lost in the past two decades. Manufacturing sent overseas for cheaper labor expenditures means lower prices for consumers and higher profits for the owners of those industries, all do to the lower cost of living and level of quality of life for those overseas workers. But if people here would listen to themselves, they would hear an honest call to shop local.
Manufacturers of similar goods produced here in the United States, created and developed by workers living here in the States ~ where the cost of living and the quality of life is recognizably higher ~ have high labor costs and so must set higher prices. It is the same for small local businesses. We pride ourselves on our 'first world' lifestyle. We buy, when we can afford to, American-made products. And when times are tough, some of us turn to cheaper imports. But that never helps things here in the USA. We need to spend our money here.
Our economy right now is still sluggish, following the recession that, like a bad storm that didn't earn a name , whirled through the States leaving behind destruction, broken factories and different expectations. But our dreams and beliefs remain the same: we are The United States of America. We have skills, and raw materials, and creative thinkers, and yes, dreamers. But our dreamers are not without plans to achieve those dreams. We set achievable goals. And we strive to meet them.
Our goal, Rick and I, is to see our dream come true. We've long believed that, post retirement, we would have time to create the toys and gifts that we believe can bring people to the realization of their own dreams and creative strengths. There is another song lyric that I remember:
I believe the children are our future, Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be. Whitney Houston, The Greatest Love
We know that many people of the world make toys and gifts. But what I want you to know is why Rick makes his toys and gifts the way he makes them. When our first child was young, she would often bring a new toy to her Daddy, saying "Please fix this, Daddy." And Rick would do his best not to let her down. Sometimes it just needed a battery, but more often the plastic had cracked, or something had fallen off, or a joint had failed, and it "didn't do what it was supposed to do."
Rick decided then, so many years ago, that children were best served when they were given toys that encouraged them to think, to create, to imagine and pretend. Toys that would allow children to return to them again and again and always have a new experience in their play. And so he decided to make his own, for his own, and for all children.
Rick believes in his products. He believes that our children and grandchildren need toys that have value. Rick believes that toys that run on batteries and only "do what they are supposed to do" (and never do anything different) require little originality and imagination from children. He believes that toys need to encourage the next generations to be original and imaginative. Rick makes toys that are biodegradable in time, but valuable in their durability. He makes toys of renewable resources (wood) and doesn't treat them with false finishes (brightly colored and potentially toxic paints and stains.) Instead, he lovingly sands and rubs them smooth to bring the wood's natural beauty to the eye of the beholder.
I remember more lyrics from that song:
Everybody searching for a hero, People need someone to look up to ... I decided long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadow If I fail, if I succeed At least I’ll live as I believe ...