I am quite fond of the book, “the American Frugal Housewife”, by Mrs. Child. It is dedicated “to those who are not ashamed of economy.” Written in 1832, it is full of advice for a family who want to keep within the limits of their means: a true inspiration in our own indebted times! My own parents grew up during the great Depression, and of necessity adapted frugality which stayed with them, and many of their generation, their entire lives. Some of that rubbed off on me and my sisters, though the ensuing decades before the Great Recession of recent years persuaded many of our generation that thriftiness was no longer a needed virtue. I am often struck now how much we need these old lessons – my children, though raised to be reasonably economical, have no idea what skimping means and no doubt consider it a fairly shameful activity.
So I have printed a number of household items with the first paragraph of Mrs Child’s book on frugality. I have sold hankies printed with it at my etsy shop, GreenHouseTextiles.etsy.com. A few weeks ago I had an order for one of these hankies and sent it out. Yesterday I received a note from the purchaser, who noted that she had found a spot on it, and did I think it might come out? I was mortified: my studio is sometimes hazardously messy and I had no doubt it picked up something in transit – or maybe got a little smudge of ink on it during printing that had passed by the inspection process. And I was totally out of hankie blanks.
Well, I am delighted with the spirit of the ensuing correspondence, and found that the entire episode reflected the spirit of the quote on the hankie:
NJ: The hanky arrived with a black smudge. If I try to wash it out but am unsuccessful, may I exchange it for another one?
LFN: I am so sorry about that! sure, I can make a refund but at the moment I am out of hankies and they are back ordered so I can't say when I could do a replacement. I really apologize for this. Le me know if that is what you would like. Alternatively, I can give you a 50% refund if you decide you want to keep it with the smudge.
NJ: I'm going to try removing it with OxyClean gel. I'll let you know if it works! You don't have any clue what it might be, do you?
LFN: it may be ink from printing, in which case it probably won't come out. Otherwise, no idea, as I wasn't even aware of it! but let me know -- for the moment I have refunded 50% of the total to your Paypal account, but if you would prefer to send it back I will refund the balance. I admire your thrifty spirit in trying the spot remover first!
NJ: It didn't come out, so you are probably right, but I've decided it fits perfectly with the sentiment in the quote: "Nothing should be thrown away so long as it is possible to make any use of it."
Here's another one: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." But thanks much for the discount!