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Buying small

Maybe we should think more about buying small or independent instead of thinking so much about buying local.

There have always been products made by small, independently-owned businesses that have managed to gain a worldwide foothold. These might be things made in other countries that may be limited in availability, very expensive but of very high quality and worth the trouble to acquire them. German optics, for example, or Danish furniture.

When Stewart Brand published the first Whole Earth Catalog, he was unwittingly creating a print version of the Internet. It was a global vision that collated a collection of high quality products from all over the world and presented them in an easy to access format. That's where I discovered ECE Primus hand planes. Of course it was not as easy to order the things you wanted but the information was there: addresses, phone numbers; everything you needed to contact the maker and order the product.

Nowadays, the Internet provides quick and easy access to products from all over the world. The downside is that many of the fine products we used to be able to find are no longer made or have been so dumbed down that they are nothing like what we came to expect.


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