The real reason I hate Hobby Lobby (and all those other craft stores)

Coral ranunculus at $9.99 a stem on Hobby Lobby's website. At that rate, a nice floral arrangement would cost what a month's worth of painting lessons would run you. 
The Census bureau reports that the nation’s international trade deficit in goods and services increased to $47.2 billion in April, as exports decreased and imports increased. (Imported goods and services, by the way, were the highest on record.) The May report will be out at the end of this week, but the news will be depressingly familiar; our trade deficit is about $450 billion a year and it only goes down when Americans are too scared to shop.

I realize that very little of this is from the stuff they sell at craft stores, but what always interests me about these places is how useless most of the stuff they sell is, and how none of it is made in the US.

But why pick on Hobby Lobby? I dutifully put all the stuff necessary to make this Pantone Radiant Orchid Wood Birdhouse in my online Michael's cart, and it added up to $81.95. That's about what a factory-reconditioned compound miter saw would cost, and with that you could make something useful.
“Hobby Lobby's main shoppers are women of all ages. Because of the dependence on disposable income, the company's stores do best when located in an area with demographics from lower middle class to upper middle class,” reported a shopping center trade rag.

Crafting used to be about saving money: women sewed, we canned, we remade old furniture. Now crafting is a $30 billion entertainment industry. The irony is that none of the stuff in these stores is cheap, and none of it has much to do with either art or craftsmanship.

We are drowning in all the stuff we buy, much of it which will never be used. Many of us then turn to professionals (like Nestle and Bloom, whose photo this is) to put it into some kind of order. That costs even more money.
Meanwhile, crafting’s target demographic carries significant credit-card debt. In 2012, people with incomes of $35,000 or less averaged $5,400 in credit card debt, those making $35,000 to $49,999 averaged $6,700 in credit card debt, those earning $50,000-$74,999 category had $8,900 of credit card debt, while those making more than $75,000 carried $9,200 in debt. And those numbers are down a third from their 2008 highs.

People borrow money they don’t have to buy stuff they don’t need. It clutters up their homes and will eventually be tossed into landfills. It adds to our trade deficit and our dependence on foreign oil. To me, that's the real moral calculation one has to make before visiting a store like Hobby Lobby.

The heck with that. Come to Maine and learn to paint instead. I have two openings left for my 2014 workshop in Belfast, ME. Information is available here.

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