The funny thing about homesteading is that you usually get into it thinking you’re going to be self-sufficient. There’s this romantic image of being able to do whatever you need and not having to rely on anyone else to do so. It’s a wonderful idea, but it is misplaced. Anyone who has tried knows there simply isn’t enough time in the day to do absolutely everything. They’re probably also familiar with burnout. That’s where community support comes in.
Most of us learn eventually that while it is important to have a wide skill set, the answer to a truly resilient homestead is community support. Many intentional communities capitalize on this by having a shared labor bank where people can barter for goods or services with their own skills or items.
When we do buy things we like to keep it local by sourcing everything we can from people we know and supporting small businesses over big chain stores. This also gives us the opportunity to get to know them, to ensure fair wages for everyone involved, and to ask questions about their sources and processes. It’s even better if they sell secondhand, upcycled, or repurposed things!
This week community support means mutually beneficial support of a small local used bookstore called Nine Lives Books. I’m a book nerd. I love to read and learn, and I have a stack of 30+ books I’ve bought in the last month sitting by my bed in a precarious pile. And yes, I fully believe in collecting more books than you can read. Needless to say, because of this we have a lot of books in the house, so obviously we’re going to need several bookshelves. Preferably sturdy ones.
What’s community support got to do with Nine Lives Books?
Well, they were recently notified their lease won’t be renewed because the building owner is destroying the building. Now they have to sell off as much merchandise and as many fixtures as possible before they move. That includes several solid white oak seven-foot-tall bookshelves. Perfect.
Since I learned of this relocation rather late I decided to swing by and chat with the owner and some staff to ask if they still have some bookshelves available since they’re moving in three days. Turns out they did and I got to pick up my three glorious, beautiful, sturdy, well-loved bookshelves on the spot for a great price. Bonus, they even helped me load up!
$100/bookshelf for custom-built hardwood may seem steep when I can buy a run of the mill shelf from a chain store, but I appreciate the craftsmanship and the raw materials alone would cost close to that anyway. I also get to enjoy the fact that these hand-built bookshelves were made locally, by money from a small business supporting a craftsman in the community. And now I’ve given money back to that local small business to support them in our community.
The end result? I’ve got a product I’m happy with and gave a cash boost to a local store scrambling to move 4,000 square feet down to 1,000 in less than a month.