Our Local Economy & Our Collective Power
by Ari Takata-Vasquez
Our local economy is something of absolute beauty. Say you come into the shop and buy a shirt that’s $100. Of that $100, $50 of it goes to the designer who made it, of the $50 I’ve kept, $25 goes to replacing the item so there’s stock in the store (from a local vendor who will buy raw materials). Of the other $25, $12.50 goes toward paying for the space you saw entered to see the dress (the building owned by a local landlord), a bag and tissue to wrap it (made in the USA like everything else at Viscera), and a number of other expenses, including the time and equipment required to take a photo of the dress you bought and list it on our website and social media so you even knew you wanted the shirt in the first place. The remaining $12.50 goes toward paying the person who sold you the shirt. That $12.50 is probably spent to buy coffee from a local cafe on the way to work, it’s spent on a greeting card from a locally owned gift shop, and it’s spent on a ticket at the locally owned movie theater.
That is the multiplier effect in a local economy. Your money spent locally, stays local, and helps create more jobs and fund other independent businesses. Now I know this isn’t a complicated process, but it’s an important one. And once you start to actually break down each interaction, each person, each business, each raw material that goes into the things you consume, you’ve created a massive web of interconnectedness. That’s our local economy. And the messier that the web gets in a smaller area, the stronger it gets. Supporting our local economy doesn’t take much effort. It doesn’t require taking a day off to attend a rally, it doesn’t require heaps of cash; it just requires intention when you decide who to give your money to.
Our Collective Power
None of us does achieve anything alone. What I mean by this, is that no matter the individual level of excellence an individual achieves, it wouldn’t be possible in a vacuum— we need community. I’ll take the same example of a shirt and break down the production side of the multiplier effect. Say the shirt is designed and produced in house. I design the top, create the pattern, cut the fabric, sew together the pieces, finish the edges, add the tags, and hang it up on the rack for you to buy. This is solely my own achievement, right? I’d argue otherwise. To make that garment, there are probably hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people who made this possible. The fabric had to be spun from threads in a factory, the threads had to be made of fibers, the fibers needed to be harvested and cleaned from a plant (i.e. cotton, flax, etc.), someone had to grow those plants, and the chain goes on and on. But it doesn’t stop at the actual materials that go into the garment directly. To create the top, I needed a sewing machine; which was assembled by skilled factory workers, made of plastic, steel, and electrical wires that were made at yet another factory. Other people had to make the tags that get attached to the shirt, the hanger it’s put on, is again, made by other factory workers. The rack it’s hung on is custom made copper rack (whatup to my contractor Eli!), that copper, again, is made in a factory, and installed in our shop that was built by even more people, it keeps going but you get the idea. In all of this, we haven’t even started to talk about the intellectual labor— how I learned to sew in the first place, the industry trends that influenced the design, or the marketing efforts required to even let you know the store (and this particular dress) exist. So when you buy that shirt, you’re not just supporting Viscera, but your supporting the people we work with down the production chain. I like most people, enjoy shopping online. You get to see it all in one place, and if the company has a solid branding and marketing team you might even feel connected to the company. But, that feeling they’re trying to recreate digitally is what you get organically and authentically in a locally owned brick and mortar shop. You walk through the doors at Viscera and you’re met by a real person (usually me!) who wants to share the stories of the items hanging on the rack. Afterall, the things you buy at Viscera become a part of your daily life. It’s your favorite t-shirt, the apothecary item you use at the end of the day, or the bag you carry around every day. These stories of these items and their creation process connects you have to the person who made them, and that story is why you value that item and don’t treat it as disposable. Because let’s face it, if you believe in science, climate change is real and we can’t afford to treat anything as disposable. So, I ask that if in reading about the importance of our local economy you think it’s important to keep locally owned small businesses in Downtown Oakland, you help keep Viscera’s doors open by contributing to our Indiegogo campaign. It doesn’t take much to help, in fact, there are perks at every price point. You can help strengthen your local economy and make a difference in Downtown Oakland with just a few clicks on our campaign rather than on Amazon.