May 24, 2005 12:34 PM   Subscribe

There seems to be a trend lately where people are preferring goods made in smaller batches, often locally - crafted, if you will - such as olive oil, beer (at least in the 90s) and lately distilled spirits. What are some other examples of this? (Not necessarily food.)
posted by gottabefunky to Shopping (37 answers total)
Cheese and bread. Coffee.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:39 PM on May 24, 2005

posted by SheIsMighty at 12:42 PM on May 24, 2005

Greeting cards.
Baby clothes.
posted by Specklet at 12:42 PM on May 24, 2005

Yes, soap! MrsMoonPie was looking at Dejah420's offerings just last night.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:56 PM on May 24, 2005

Boutique clothes (for adults too).
Limited edition art and "collectibles."
Hand-dyed yarn, handmade knitting needles.
posted by GrammarMoses at 12:57 PM on May 24, 2005

posted by rocketman at 12:59 PM on May 24, 2005

Numbered prints by unknown artists instead of posters by famous artists.
Stationery and paper products.
Knits (hats, scarves, sweaters, cozies) and felted items (pins, hats, purses).
posted by cali at 12:59 PM on May 24, 2005

Actually, thanks to fertility treatments/later childbearing, babies aren't necessarily small-batch/one-of-a-kind anymore. I can't tell you how many triplet strollers I see in my neighborhood every day.
posted by GrammarMoses at 1:01 PM on May 24, 2005

posted by scratch at 1:03 PM on May 24, 2005

posted by mischief at 1:13 PM on May 24, 2005

posted by docpops at 1:14 PM on May 24, 2005

posted by matildaben at 1:19 PM on May 24, 2005

Pottery, clothing, jewelry, woven fabrics, metalwork, woodworking...check out a craft show.

And of course, produce.
posted by desuetude at 1:19 PM on May 24, 2005


Wait, what? I've been getting mine at Wal-Mart...
posted by mkultra at 1:26 PM on May 24, 2005

posted by docpops at 1:36 PM on May 24, 2005

It's not "lately" though. You may have just been exposed to it. Craft/artisan/local movement has been around a long while, as has DIY, slow food, and other quasi-related movements/trends.
posted by desuetude at 1:37 PM on May 24, 2005

This isn't "lately". There's always been a subculture that's preferred and promoted locally-produced, small-quantity, non-corporate, hand-crafted goods. I suspect there always will be. (At least here in rural Oregon.) It may be that you're only just now noticing it.

We try to buy milk from a small dairy near us. We buy local wines from small local producers (some of whom are friends). We buy our meat — especially our fancy holiday meat — from a small meatlocker that's been a family-run operation for nearly a century. It's damn good stuff, orders of magnitude better than that which you'd find in a supermarket. Many of our friends buy beef from friends and family. We pick our own berries, or buy them from a local produce stand. We grow our own vegetables. We make our own licqueurs. All of the women I know knit.

I'll admit that while this stuff has always been around, people seem to value it more lately. As I say, I've attributed this to age and maturity; when you're young, you want the cheapest, quickest thing. You often don't consider there might be other factors involved in a purchasing decision.

For some reason, this question reminds me ofAction Girl's Guide to Living. Action Girl is keen on small-scale production and do-it-yourself.
posted by jdroth at 1:42 PM on May 24, 2005

Dark chocolate.

On preview, yeah, Oregon probably leads the way in this stuff (in the U.S.).
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 1:46 PM on May 24, 2005

Agreed. As a fellow Oregonian I'm slowly discovering the niche outlets, as well for our dairy and fish and occasional forays into bovine ass and rib meat. Wine, beer, dried fruits, plants are all abundantly produced by small outfits around here.
posted by docpops at 1:46 PM on May 24, 2005

jdroth - dude, I owe my occasional gut to Noris Chocolate Milk. I won't even touch Hershey's or Nestle.
posted by docpops at 1:47 PM on May 24, 2005

More: many couples I know create their own Christmas gifts. (My favorite last year: a sampling of artisan salts.)

I tend to prefer locally-produced hand-built furniture to mass-produced crap. I spend a small fortune on certain clothing items because they're wool garments made in small batches. They'll last for decades, though, instead of months or years. I'd much rather spend a few bucks to see a local band than to spend ten times as much (or twenty!) to see U2 in concert.

Portland's Saturday Market has been around for years. It features all sorts of artisan crafts. (Some of this stuff is just junk, but some of it is truly wonderful.) Most of the communities in the Willamette Valley feature weekly farmers markets in spring, summer, and fall. Our favorite restaurants are holes-in-the-wall: small places with no atmosphere, but with food prepared by real Lebanese, Mexican, Chinese immigrants who know what the hell they're doing.

Surely New Mexico has much of these same things?

What about self-published comic books? Your friend who writes poetry? Your uncle who takes amazing photographs? These are all aspects of the same thing: a desire and passion to be creative, and tos hare the fruits of ones labors with others.

on preview: docpops, Noris Dairy's stuff may cost more, and it may not store as long, but it's damn good. And they deliver! I have to admit that I'm a huge sucker for the fact that they use glass bottles. In fact, I just noticed I've got one of their bottles sitting next to me, and I'm at work. (I use the empties for water bottles.) And their chocolate milk is great. :)
posted by jdroth at 1:55 PM on May 24, 2005

Everything. People's desperate need for "authenticity" is the worlds great new insecurity.
posted by fire&wings at 2:04 PM on May 24, 2005

Mustard. Mmmmmm, Mustard.
posted by grateful at 2:14 PM on May 24, 2005

The reason this seems to be a trend lately isn't maturity, and its not just because there is a subculture dedicated to supporting local producers. Its market segmentation. Marketers have recognized that authenticity and individuality are just as important as conformity when it comes to selling products, so they pitch things as uniquely crafted.

Microbrews are a perfect example. Many of them are produced by the large brewers, but they appeal to those of us (myself included) who like to feel that our taste is somehow outside the mainstream of beer drinkers. And we're often willing to pay extra for that veneer of authenticity or uniqueness, so all the better for the producers.
posted by googly at 2:35 PM on May 24, 2005

I'll admit that while this stuff has always been around, people seem to value it more lately. As I say, I've attributed this to age and maturity; when you're young, you want the cheapest, quickest thing. You often don't consider there might be other factors involved in a purchasing decision.

That seems like slightly odd reasoning. While you are getting older, consumers in general are not.* (Also, plenty of old folks want the quick and cheap, while many young people are attracted to the expensive and obscure.) I think it's fair to say that quite aside from the way that people's buying habits change as they age, an interest in the artisinal is trendier and more mainstream now than it was, say, fifteen years ago.

*Yes, the baby boomers, for example, go on getting older, but there are plenty of younger consumers entering the market, too.
posted by redfoxtail at 2:39 PM on May 24, 2005

That seems like slightly odd reasoning.

I am the master of odd reasoning!
posted by jdroth at 2:44 PM on May 24, 2005

I get really great free-range eggs from a local farm. They rock.
posted by Alison at 3:20 PM on May 24, 2005

Locally-produced goods/food are available..well, not everywhere, but -- my point is, if you know where to look, you can usually find the guy who does woodcarving on the side or a small local farm from which to get your eggs. Not necessarily just in areas "known" for it.

(Oh, uh...not knocking the Portlanders, just feeling a little...well, I do that too! And I live in Philly!)

I think we could overanalyize the trendy factor and age factor forever and not get anywhere. The boomers can finally afford to buy luxury stuff with a socially conscious pedigree. Folks like me in their thirties can save money by buying into CSAs and learning to cook...and also buy expensive boutique jam. Whatever. Lots of stereotypes that can go both ways.
posted by desuetude at 4:11 PM on May 24, 2005

Handmade bicycles.
posted by fixedgear at 4:49 PM on May 24, 2005

I remember hearing a report on NPR about some (for lack of a better term) microbrew chocolate maker in NYC (or Boston, I forget)... I don't even LIKE chocolate, and I was drooling.

For me, it's not the trendy factor, though I admit that the thrill of "discovering" something is important. Rather, for me, it's the flexibility that microbrews have to experiment, to try new things. When you're churning out 15 billion chocolate bars per day and scraping off seconds to add pennies to profits, the art of crafting something wonderful gets lost.

Anyway, this was a question about "local batches" but, of course, now I can't find the show in the archives. (Hell, it might've been on something like Anderson Cooper 360...) I'll look some more.
posted by socratic at 4:49 PM on May 24, 2005

Small run, limited edition toys. see www.critterbox.com
posted by doctor_negative at 4:53 PM on May 24, 2005

posted by NickDouglas at 5:31 PM on May 24, 2005

Coffee (and damn good coffee at that)
posted by aspo at 5:41 PM on May 24, 2005

High-end audio equipment. There are lots of very small (1-10 person) companies producing cutting-edge stuff at very reasonable prices. Many of them are also willing to do custom work - upgraded finishes, components, etc.
posted by GoatCactus at 6:20 PM on May 24, 2005

posted by hydrophonic at 6:23 PM on May 24, 2005

Salsa -- doubling a recipe can utterly ruin it. Small batches are key.
posted by Dreama at 9:40 PM on May 24, 2005

Pet stuff. Treats, collars, hand knitted cat toys, etc.
posted by BoscosMom at 12:38 AM on May 25, 2005

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