We love small businesses. America was built on small business. When you come from a small town, small businesses are often all you have. There is no Giant Eagle around the corner. You shop at Garden Fresh where the produce is local, and you eat what’s in season. If the tomatoes are small this year, you can ask Tom if the drought is making his crop small at church on Sunday.
Moving to the burbs changed the way my family shops. We frequent Target, the mall and Mr. Williams doesn’t pump your gas and add the total to your account at our neighborhood Exxon. Now we hit the farmers market as many Saturdays as possible, and shop local when we can.
It was during Small Business Saturday last November that I trudged through the snow to buy a gift card for 9 to Artist for a Day, a locally owned paint it yourself pottery shop.
The paint palette on the front window had been beaconning to our little Picasso for some time. Studio time is only 8$ which includes paint, brushes, tools and firing. You purchase your item to paint separately. I took a quick look around and saw many items under $20.
Now I am not a fan of tchotchkes around the house, but I want to support the business. A ceramic puppy to clean around is a small price to pay to see 9 light up with joy, so in I went. The gift cards turned out to be beautifully painted tiles perfect for wrapping.
I purchased a $25 tile and headed next door to buy some cookies from a local bakery. As predicted, the gift was a huge hit. Unfortunately the tile accidentally got tossed out with the trash in the excitement of Christmas morning.
This is the secong time this has happened during a holiday. We really need to figure out a better way to keep track of tiny things. Predictably there were many tears and promises to visit anyway during the summer. 9 is the elephant that never forgets and has reminded me of this promise every time we passed the plaza- which can be several times a week.
With a rainy afternoon ahead of us today and a desperation to see the floor in 9’s messy bedroom, I struck a deal. Clean bedroom would allow immediate redemption of the Artist For A Day promise. I have never seen a kid clean so fast.
The studio was busy but the girls working took their time with us explaining how the process worked. We selected our items and then were taught how to choose colors and tools.
9 took about 20 minutes to decide. There are shelves and shelves of choices. She eventually settled on a cupcake shaped dish that she planned to keep earrings in. I had not planned to paint, but once I got there I changed my mind. There were so many tempting choices! I settled on a spoonrest since it was my first time. I really wanted to do a serving platter or pitcher, but the size and lack of desgn plan intimidated me.
Painting our items took about an hour and a half. 9 went back to the paint bar several times getting refills and just the right tool to ensure her cupcake was perfect. We really had a nice time chatting and painting. I saw lots of families come and go during the afternoon. Many had been there before and brought snacks and drinks which is a lovely practice.
Then tragedy struck- 9 dropped the carefully painted bottom which shattered into a million pieces all over the floor. Tears were instantaneous. She was heart broken.
Someone came quickly to help us cleanup the mess. We were able to get another piece to replace the broken part and after some serious sobbing 9 revamped her design and got back to work. Other littles dropped paint or other things while we were there and the staff responded in the same no nonsense manner which allowed parents and kids to move quickly past any mishaps.
At the end of our afternoon, we were both satisfied with our work and had a nice time. We spent about $50 with discounted Sunday studio rates ($6) and the purchase of 2.5 ceremic items. 9 was begging to go again before we even got to the car. Usually after an activity I am not ready to consider a return trip before the first one is over, but I caught myself thinking I would try that platter next time. Lookout Artist For A Day, we maybe seeing you again soon.