Today is “Small Business Saturday” – yesterday was Black Friday.  It’s all making me wonder exactly where I – and many others in the art licensing industry – fit in…

If you are on Facebook you will see all kinds of things in your Newsfeed – from “boycott big box stores” to shop local, only buy things made in the USA to only buy things made by hand – every opinion is out there.

There are pros and cons to each of these solutions.  And I must say I am left feeling a bit left out.

I’m an artist – one person with my own business – doesn’t get much smaller than that.

I license my art to manufacturers – currently they are all US based companies – who put my art on their products.  Some of these manufacturers are small businesses with a few employees, others are larger… I’m not sure any would be considered “BIG”.

These manufacturers sell to retailers – some sell into mom & pop or more boutique stores and others sell into big box stores.  This year I have products featuring my art in stores ranging in size from an independent quilt store to WalMart.

Now I’m not looking to get into a political debate about WalMart – but I’m saying that boycotting larger stores also affects small businesses, like mine… it’s not as black-and-white as a lot of people like to make it out to be.

Now add to that the “Made in the USA” vs China debate…

Many of the manufacturers who license art have products made overseas – many in China, some in India and other places around the globe.  In fact, if you feel really strongly about your art only being on products made in the US – you will not be able to make a living entirely through licensing your art.

The reality is that the average consumer is not willing to spend three times as much for a product because it is made in the US when there is a cheaper alternative.  It sounds great but as they say – we “vote with our wallets” and imported products are big business because they come at a price that fits into an individual or family’s budget.

We truly are a global economy.

I’m all for supporting local businesses, but I’m also for supporting business, period.  Because whether you are shopping at a craft fair at the church down the street or Best Buy, Target or WalMart – there are many, many people in the US that are affected by your purchase.  Products made in China are not only benefitting the Chinese economy – there are many, many pieces to the puzzle…

I guess my closing point will be that small, medium and big businesses all exist together and we need them all.  Here’s to economic recovery!

– Tara Reed