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Educating consumers

One of the replies to a recent post (The way we used to build) mentioned the need for educated consumers if we are to continue to sell high quality woodwork. The question that immediately pops into my mind is who is educating these consumers?

Before I go any further, I want to register my protest to the term consumer. I had this funny feeling in the 70s, when this term became the default, that we were losing touch with our humanity. There are so many terms that could be used, like people! Calling people "the consumer” places them squarely at the bottom of the commercial food chain. They no longer have any role in society but to consume for the greater good of economic growth.

But I digress. The question I posed is who is going to educate people? Who is going to make them understand that a piece of furniture made of wood solids is not the same as a piece made of solid wood? Who is going to make them understand that melamine is little more than sawdust compressed into a panel and covered with the thinnest of veneers? Who is going to teach them the value of things made by human hands, something our grandparents understood well?

One thing is certain: industry is not going to be doing this teaching. The industry is far too deeply invested in new technology to have any interest in alerting people to the fact that most of what they have to offer is an illusion. That pretty much leaves it up to us. Somehow we are going to have to get people to understand that there are no custom cabinets at the local big box store.


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