Puppets (Battery Not Required)
Wise Daughters is experiencing a happy and unusual serge in sales of popcorn monster puppets, made by local puppeteer Joel Brubacher of Banjo Puppets. It seems to have started with a neighbourhood birthday party about a month ago. The young guests admired the birthday girl's very appealing puppet, and soon a few had also acquired them. They took them to the local school and daycare, and pretty soon a fad was born. I've sold about 30 since, and it's been interesting, for a number of reasons.
The first is that some parents are expressing their genuine pleasure that their kids want a locally handmade toy, not the latest plastic piece of crap. Some have even taken the opportunity to share with their kids the concept of a carbon footprint. These puppets come to Wise Daughters by bicycle, from about 6 blocks away. If ever there was a teachable moment about sustainability, this is it.
These same parents do not balk at the $19 price, understanding that handmade = labour intensive. Others, however, do a little ranting. I understand that $19 is a lot of money for a lot of parents, and absolutely respect those who say "no" or better yet, "You'll have to save up for that." Some grown-ups have wondered aloud why Joel doesn't just have them manufactured offshore somewhere. This is also a teachable moment, but these are my customers, not my students, so I have to tread carefully. I explain that a mass-produced version would not and could not be the same as the lovingly handmade one - not in the quality of the materials nor in the craftspersonship. And I try to work in a mention of the merits of local goods, without sounding too much like a self-righteous hippie.
But the most interesting aspect of this puppet fad is the discussion around what this product "does". A dad turned it around and around in his hand today, asking his son: "But what does it do?" I'm not suprised when kids look for the "on" switch, but I kind of expect adults to know that a puppet is operated by the imagination.