And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for…have they been able to keep their New Year’s resolution for another month? Well, of course we have! But I will say, it is getting increasingly difficult, especially when it comes to taking care of our 7-year old and his crippling addiction to Skylanders. The bad weather (and minor flooding in our shop) has made for a rather dull month in terms of purchases, but we have been keeping busy, don’t you worry! The next couple of months should prove to be interesting, with our desire to completely redo our back yard from re-claimed materials, and as well, finish up some other pesky household projects. Now that the focus is off of getting our downstairs showroom space renovated and open, we can focus a bit more attention back on our home, which is, admittedly, a neglected space since we opened the shop 2 years ago. Read more
Archive for Bartered It!
While our “Buy Nothing New for a Year” resolution is mainly a family commitment, as business owners whose lives completely revolve around, inside, above and beneath our business, we do the best we can to integrate the challenge in both of our worlds. Such was the case yesterday for our first successful barter of the year, which completed about a month of negotiations and netted us a pretty cool (and extremely needed) fixture for our store! Read more
I love to grow things, like plants and little people. It is just so amazing to feed and water and tend to something and to watch it develop into a beautiful plant, or person! I grow flowers, but also as many vegetables as I can fit into my little green space. Nothing is more satisfying that growing your own food. An heirloom tomato from your
garden tastes nothing like the pale, bland tomatoes you buy in the supermarket. Plus, you know exactly what has not been fed to the plant or sprayed all over it. We’ll be growing some veggies this year to feed ourselves top quality food and to save some money.
March is the time to start seeds indoors here in the Midwest, and it helps get us through those last cold months of the winter, giving us hope for the green that
spring brings. So, it is time to start planning and gathering supplies, and not purchasing them. Below is a list of a few of the things we’ll need to start seeds:
- Seeds We already have seeds from gardens of previous years, so I’ll take inventory of those seeds. Then, I’ll likely spend hours looking at the Seed Savers Exchange catalog, drooling over their amazing selection of veggies. If I buy seeds, I buy them here. It is a great organization and they are not far away in Iowa. You can also do a seed exchange with neighbors! If you have any to trade, please comment below!
- Seed starting containers Rather than buying seed trays, you can reuse multi-compartment seed starting cell trays from previous years, small containers out of the recycling bin (just poke drainage holes in the bottom with an ice pick), or use toilet paper rolls. My mom sent me a link to Minnesota Locavore’s blog that tells you how to reuse toilet paper rolls to start your seedlings—brilliant idea! You can set the whole thing right into the ground in the spring, as the roll is biodegradable. Start collecting them now, even ask your friends and family for theirs!
- Soil Instead of buying soil and compost from a home improvement or garden store this year, I’ll be seeking out compost and soil on Craigslist.
- Covers I cover my seedlings with plastic to keep in moisture and heat until the seeds sprout. So, I’ll be collecting plastic lids that come with the used containers in the recycling bin and clear plastic bags that I can wrap around the containers and secure with a rubber band.
- Markers You need to mark what seeds you’ve planted in each containers. I’ll be looking for waterproof things like plastic strips or something similar to write on with a sharpie and stick into the dirt.
- Fertilizer Once the seedlings have sprouted and got their second set of leaves, it is good to fertilize them periodically. I’ll likely be on Craigslist again here looking to barter with a vermicomposter, or just regular compost to add to the seedlings.
I’m going to go and rummage through my recycling bin right now for supplies! Watch for the next post in the gardening series of Buy Nothing New for a Year on getting those seeds started. The rewards in the spring are worth all of our preparation now! Let’s get growing!
Living on the Northwest Side of the city now for six years, I’ve become accustomed to the abundance of barber shops that line the main corridors, all flashing promises of transforming you into Don or Betty Draper for the pittance of $5. I’ll admit, it’s hard to trust such a good deal, especially considering that $5 is what I paid for a haircut over 20 years ago when I was in middle school. Much like my mom likes to tell me, “when things look too good to be true, they probably are…” finding a good, really good $5 cut (even on the NW side) can be equivalent to spotting the Loch Ness Monster.
Truth be told, I had to endure a few brutal clippings before meeting Sandro, who by all accounts is a true craftsman, and as professional as they get. Reminiscent of the old-school (and being in my mid-30′s, I believe I was lucky enough to catch the tail-end of old-school) this is the kind of treatment that you would expect from any $35 cut. Really, this is not going to be a business review, but the entire story is predicated on talent and relationships, which requires some back story. Stay with me! You walk in, you’re greeted by name, you wait your turn, you sit in the chair, pleasantries are exchanged but no direction is needed…you are in the hands of a professional…he knows what you want and he will deliver. While his price has increased from $5 to $8 since he opened his own shop (a small premium but well worth it) I just cannot imagine going anywhere else. I’ve built a relationship with a professional, and I trust him, much like I would a mechanic or a doctor. I’ve seen him go from 2nd chair to 1st chair to owning his own shop within a few years. Yes, this is still America, land of opportunity, and dreams still can come true for hardworking people!
Now those that know me know that I was dealt a weak hand in the hair department. At least this has been true since my mid-20′s. Prior to that, I had luscious Kenny G-style locks (not really), but those days are behind me. While there may not be much left on top, I admittedly do not have the easiest head to cut, and therefore require a relationship with a professional. Had I been so skeptical that I skipped the $5 circuit, I would probably have spent well past $2000 on haircuts (yes, 2 grand in haircuts for a bald guy) in the previous 6 years.
Let’s do the math:
$35 haircut at a men’s salon x 1/mo. x 6 years (72 months) = $2520
$5 haircut at discount salon x 2/mo. x 6 years = $720
As you can see by the example above, not only was I able to cut my costs by approx. 66%, but as well, I doubled the frequency of visits! Not only am I saving money, but I’m looking twice as good doing it. BOOM! Of course I did not factor in the tip (which you would give in both places) nor did I account for the past year where his prices increased $3 a cut, but you get the point without me breaking out the calculus, right?
Relationships are everything when it comes to saving money, and when you’re building those relationships with small business owners, you’re also supporting the local economy. My relationship with Sandro has saved me thousands over the past 6 years, and yielded me a great look and the satisfaction of being a small part of the success of another local entrepreneur. Additionally, Melissa has been lucky enough to meet a stylist who does house calls to Thrift & Thrive (YES! HOUSE CALLS!) and barters with us for clothes and furniture at the shop. Just recently we traded her a really cool vintage couch for a bit of cash and 6 haircuts (2 each for Melissa and our 2 boys.) There’s so much more to be said about the wonders of bartering, but that’s another blog entry for another time!
Even though haircuts would be exempt from our resolution, falling under the “personal hygiene” category, there is still no reason why it shouldn’t be an area that we are conscious of and able to save money in. We expect that our resolution will both be about saving money AND jump-starting the local economy. There are treasures to be found in no-frills products and services in every single category…you just need to make the effort to find them!
Small non sequitur: I once made a sales call to the worlds largest private-label nut processing company, and in doing so, found out that an overwhelming majority of the nuts on the market originate out of that same facility. In other words, you’d have to be nuts to not buy the generic brands! Once you can get past the fact that there’s not some character with a cane and a top hat telling you that his peanuts are the best, you’ll be amazed at the money you can save. Even better if you can find them from a local farmer, boiled, salted and in a paper bag. What does that have to do with haircuts? Absolutely nothing. I just love boiled peanuts.