A while back, I wrote about creating a budget category for COMMUNITY. This is where I would earmark money to support businesses I value. The COMMUNITY category would accommodate visits to restaurants owned by friends and colleagues. That is why, when the students in my night class said, "Can we get pizza next time?", I suggested that we instead patronize the cafe owned by one of our instructors. So we did.
Have you heard of Chinaberry Books? This is a wonderful book service/catalog with wonderful recommendations for children of all ages. These people really know what they're talking about.
The company sent me a catalog (unrequested by me) 21 years ago, after the birth of the little guy who grew up into Frugal Son. They must have gotten my name from Biobottoms, a now-defunct company, from which I bought cloth diapers.
It was hard to find my community back then: cloth diapering supplies, cotton baby clothes, good quality toys; these were available mostly through very pricey catalogues, which I dreamed over, but seldom bought anything from.
I only bought a few books from Chinaberry. I was--and still am--a thrift-shopper and library-user. But I pored over the catalogs nonetheless.
Evidently, I had a lot of company. The catalogs started carrying notices that people who looked, but bought from discount stores--or now from on-line book sellers--were helping contribute to the decline--and perhaps eventual demise--of this wonderful company.
I don't get the catalog any more. I hope one day to have grandchildren for whom to buy books. I look at the website now and again, to relive the happy days of parenting little ones. Today I was struck by a post from the founder:
The collection of items on our website is the result of literally thousands of hours of work by our staff. We are a small company, so those thousands of hours should say something about our commitment to offer you an intelligent and thoughtfully-selected collection of items. From games that we actually play (you wouldn’t believe how many games have unclear instructions) and toys that we kid-test (and you wouldn’t believe how many problems we find in that process) to items for the family and home that we have used and loved and books that we read cover to cover (and reject thousands), the Chinaberry catalog is a one-of-a-kind catalog.
So, what you find here is the cream of the crop. And while I can’t pass up a good game, love watching a child have fun with a cool toy, and appreciate something that will make my life better at home, there is simply nothing like a book. Books can make us wonder, astound us with what has occurred in the past, make us more compassionate, make us more able to stand up for what we believe in, make us want to get outside our comfort zones and maybe do something, and make us better people. The fact is that a game, a toy, or something for the kitchen just isn’t going to change us or change the world, but a book can light the flame that will do just that.
And this is why it is very significant and disheartening to us that we have had to decrease the number of books we are offering you in the catalog. We devote more time than you will ever know to reading books and then choosing the ones that are great read-alouds; will make you and your child laugh together, think, or talk; will ask your early teen to think about more than the typical teen in our country is thinking about; or that you, as an adult, might find to be a worthy escape when you have a moment to yourself. Unfortunately, so many of those who receive our catalog go to the giant online book source (we all know who it is) to buy the books that they’ve read about in Chinaberry, that our company can no longer continue to devote the same resources to finding great books. If the Chinaberry catalog is of value to you, we ask you to spend your dollars with us if you find a book here that you want. We know it is tempting to get a bargain, but independent booksellers like us survive only because of customers who value our service and take the extra step to support it. We ask that you take this into consideration when choosing where to buy your books. And to those of you who have loyally supported us throughout the years, we offer our heartfelt thanks — your orders are what have kept us in business and for that we are truly grateful!
So often for me frugality has seemed to conflict with community. But I am making an effort to build community into my conscious spending.
Any more thoughts on community and frugality?