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Marissa Lingen

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I know it's not news, but seriously. [Nov. 22nd, 2010|10:44 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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markgritter and I were at Kohl's buying tights* and a heated mattress pad, and the clerk was friendly and chatty. Conversation turned to Thanksgiving, and she said that she was going to have to be at work at 2:45 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving. She has a 1-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a 5-year-old. And it's not that she's leaving them alone at 2 a.m., it's that she'll have to be dealing with the three kids after she's been at work since 2:45 a.m. I know this is nothing new. I know this is not news. But it's crap all the same.

In years past I haven't done Buy Nothing Day for the day after Thanksgiving. I've observed Buy Nothing Stupid Day instead--if you're out of milk and you need milk, for heaven's sake buy more milk, but this is not the same as trampling other people to get to the fad toy of the season--for kids or adults. But the stores that make their employees show up in the middle of the night do so because they think they can get more of our money by treating their employees like crap. And the only thing I have to prove them wrong is to avoid giving them my money.

So in the comments here, please tell me of good businesses you know, either online or in brick-and-mortar form. Whether they're individual craftspeople who are doing an awesome job or larger enterprises who treat their employees decently, I want to know the good and interesting stuff that's out there and not feeding into the "haul people out of their beds at 2 a.m. after a major family holiday to use blenders as loss leaders" paradigm. Etsy stores are fine. Traditional stores are fine, although if they're not in the Minneapolis area and don't have a website, they'll mostly be of use to other people reading the comments instead of me. Just--go for it. Tell me what you know that's good. I don't like the word "pimping" in this context. But y'know. If I did and all.

*Thank you, thank you, Vera Wang, for making tights that acknowledge my existence. I am not unduly tall, nor crazy amounts of thin for my height, so I really should not fall between the cracks for makers of hosiery as often as I do. And then the Vera Wang tights are often awesome in concept and wear like cast iron. Hurrah.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: txanne
2010-11-23 04:55 am (UTC)

Yarn, my obsession.

I'm quite fond of http://www.jimmybeanswool.com. Last year, they started a scholarship for college students who are also knitters/crocheters. And their customer service can't be beat. Likewise Webs (http://www.yarn.com); another small business with a stellar tradition of customer service.

For yarn manufacturers, you can't go wrong with http://www.greenmountainspinnery.com, which is owned by the people who work there. They do neat things like buy wool from sheep that graze on the grass under...eh, I forgot the name for those giant electric lines. And a brand-new company in Maine, http://quinceandco.com, where all the wool is from American sheep, so they can reduce their carbon footprint. And continuing the theme, both companies have fantastic customer service.
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[User Picture]From: dichroic
2010-11-23 02:05 pm (UTC)

Re: Yarn, my obsession.

Me too, on both Jimmy Bean and Wbes, and I've done a bunch of international ordering from both places. Also, Spritely Goods yarn who were patient with me through Paypal confusion (and who dyes beautiful yarn), and Sweet Libertine cosmetics, who shipped a package to the wrong address (their mistake) and then made it right promptly by sending a new package to me and not asking the person they sent it to for returns.

And, surprisingly, Bank of America, who during my four years of expatriate-hood and several years before of banking with them, have consistently added services (including some useful ones!), been unfailingly polite on the phone, and have made dealing with them remotely easier and easier over time. (Disclaimer: I've had all sorts of banking accounts with them, never a mortgage.)
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[User Picture]From: magentamn
2010-11-23 05:12 am (UTC)
On my friends list, the next post after yours was the Dreamhaven post. Greg will open the store at noon on Black Friday. Much more sensible hour IMHO.

I like Eye of Horus and Smitten Kitten, now next to each other on Lyndale just south of Lake. I plan to visit both on Saturday, in hour of "small business day".
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[User Picture]From: moiread
2010-11-23 05:13 am (UTC)
Vera Wang probably doesn't make tights big enough for me, does she? :(
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-11-23 04:03 pm (UTC)
Hon, I have no idea how much you weigh, other than "more than me and less than timprov." So I am going to reproduce the size chart on the back of these tights, in case it's useful to anybody:

Size 1: Height: 4'11"-5'6" Weight: 100-150#
Size 2: Height: 5'3"-6'0" Weight: 120-170#
Size 3: Height: 5'3"-6'0" Weight: 165-200#

I like that their sizes are overlapping rather than having gaps in them, even if they do not extend indefinitely to the largest or smallest of us. I have not tried the Size 2, but I could theoretically wear them as well as the Size 1, since I am in both rather than neither. Neither is the case with all too many hosiery manufacturers. But it would be nice if they made a larger range of sizes, I do agree.

Also, if it looks iffy for someone who is interested and reading this, I'd try one pair and see, because rmnilsson's report below about the capri leggings concerns me. I am terrible at guessing weights but not so terrible at guessing heights, and there is no way in hell that she is over six feet tall; they should fit her just fine. And yet apparently no. (Then again, this is the size range on the tights, not the capri leggings, so I dunno.)
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[User Picture]From: miz_hatbox
2010-11-23 05:22 am (UTC)
I may have to try a pair of those tights.

Yah, the supermarkets are pretty quiet on the Friday.
Because we often do Ye Huge Potluck on Friday, Mirth generally sneaks over to Costco for shopping. I don't know what time they make their employees come in, but it is awfully crazy. We just buy food that day, not toys.
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[User Picture]From: stillsostrange
2010-11-23 05:32 am (UTC)
My dayjob is Half Price Books, and they are the best retail establishment I have ever worked for. The hiring default is full-time with excellent benefits, and there is a general air of treating employees like people--people you like having around, even. We do open two hours early for Black Friday (7 AM instead of 9), but we'll probably get doughnuts for our suffering.
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[User Picture]From: juliansinger
2010-11-23 06:16 am (UTC)

coals to newcastle

Brookline Booksmith is Cool. And the Barnes and Noble that was nearby had to close 'cause the Booksmith was better than them.
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[User Picture]From: columbina
2010-11-23 02:28 pm (UTC)

Re: coals to newcastle

It astonishes me that Brookline Booksmith continues to survive simply because it is THAT GOOD. I mean, not that it isn't THAT GOOD, but the demise of many other lovely local bookstores over the past decade (I still cry for Wordsworth in Harvard Square) suggests strongly that, in the world of small bookstores, being THAT GOOD is not nearly enough. I have no idea what their secret is. It may have something to do with the character of the citizens of Brookline; if so, I wish someone would isolate this factor so we could put it in everybody else's drinking water.
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[User Picture]From: zalena
2010-11-23 12:11 pm (UTC)
I'm getting to get my first paid holiday in three years this Thursday (& Friday.) This is something for which to be thankful.

I do practice Buy Nothing on all holidays and plan ahead for milk (or do without). If the mail isn't being delivered I shouldn't be at work. Neither should anyone else.
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[User Picture]From: redbird
2010-11-23 12:43 pm (UTC)
I figure that the hospitals and fire department will be open, no matter what. I also appreciate having a 24/7/365 transit system, and that people can get milk or sanitary napkins or aspirin in an emergency, where "emergency" can reasonably include not having counted days before setting out on a trip. That doesn't justify stores opening at 4 a.m. on Black Friday: it's different if they're open at 4 a.m. every day, or every weekday, whether they're selling that sort of essential, or video games and sweaters and laundry detergent and hardware.
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[User Picture]From: library_lil
2010-11-23 01:20 pm (UTC)
I don't have a store to tell you all about--just a general UGH 2:45am. I am NOT shopping that day-- usually I try to catch the 9:15 yoga class on the Friday after thanksgiving. I don't know if I will this year or not.
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[User Picture]From: clarentine
2010-11-23 01:32 pm (UTC)
I'm a fanatic about really good handmade soap, and earlier this autumn at a local farmer's market I stumbled upon what I hope will become our new household standard: http://elizabethlordnaturals.com/. Lathers beautifully and smells like heaven. My husband's asked for more of the orange patchouli (which I don't see on the website, bother).
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[User Picture]From: mamculuna
2010-11-23 02:03 pm (UTC)
WEll, speaking of milk, my favorite feel-good business is the Happy Cow Creamery, where the small herd of cows is rotated from pasture to pasture, the milk is not homogenized, the cheese is traditional and delicious and reasonably priced. I go there with children of friends, and the cows come up to get milked and let the kids pet them. They truly are happy cows! and the milk is delicious. I'll buy that any day of the year. And my other favorite is the store that sells the milk in my town, Rosewood Market, is one of those incredible places that has great products and serves as a community center, treating its employees well and still offering wonderful service to customers--natural foods, herbs, well-cooked meals, etc. They've survived almost 40 years in spite of the competition of a major supermarket across the street and a big "natural" foods chain a few blocks away, because Rosewood does business the way it should be done. And the owner's name is Basil, appropriately. (Note: these are in South Carolina where you probably don't have any readers, but just letting people know that what great businesses they are).

Edited at 2010-11-23 02:05 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: rmnilsson
2010-11-23 03:20 pm (UTC)
I have never shopped on Black Friday, so I have no idea which stores open when, so no recommendations on that front.

I am happy that the Vera Wang tights worked for you. I tried the Vera Wang capri leggings, to wear with a tunic sweater and boots. They were too short for me, barely past my knees. Which continues Kohls' trend of selling reasonable looking clothes at reasonable prices, but nothing for someone as tall as me.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-11-23 04:08 pm (UTC)
That's very frustrating. You would theoretically be within their height chart, at least from the tights, so I'm sorry they're lying liars who lie.
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[User Picture]From: rosefox
2010-11-23 03:36 pm (UTC)
My friend Danielle makes amazing glass jewelry:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/emblems

This is my current favorite, "A poem about everything":



And if you shop there on Black Friday (midnight to midnight Eastern Time) enter the discount code "blackfriday" and get 10% off.

EDIT: She extended the sale to Saturday, Sunday, and Monday too!

Edited at 2010-11-23 03:53 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: adrian_turtle
2010-11-23 06:26 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure how I feel about spending my money at a store like Kohl's on days other than November 26th. I don't think we're talking about a company that generally treats their employees with respect, and calls for them to work a few difficult shifts during the busy season. If I buy stuff from Kohl's today, or in January, that still contributes to the company's prosperity...but if they lose money, that sleep-deprived clerk with the 3 little kids might lose her job. I don't know how I feel about it, in terms of shopping for social justice. (It's easier for me, personally, because I don't like the texture of most Kohl's clothing.)

So in the comments here, please tell me of good businesses you know, either online or in brick-and-mortar form.

Bob's Red Mill makes excellent cereals, some of them gluten-free, and specialty stuff like garbanzo flour and almond meal. Last winter, Bob Moore (who founded the company) turned it over to the employees.
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[User Picture]From: adrian_turtle
2010-11-23 06:32 pm (UTC)
King Arthur Flour is another employee-owned company that does good things with grains. You're probably familiar with them. They try to help the bakers (teaching, research), as well as selling good flour.
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[User Picture]From: swords_and_pens
2010-11-23 08:46 pm (UTC)
KA have a line of *awesome* gluten-free mixes now, which gives them +1 Cool in my book. I didn't know about them being employee owned, which makes me even happier to buy from them.
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