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    Shop Thoughts

    A Small Business Boat in an Ocean of Immediacy

    A Small Business Boat in an Ocean of Immediacy

    A woman came into our shop the other day and after looking around for a few minutes she picked up an item, loudly scoffed and proclaimed that she could “get this way cheaper on Amazon”. 

    Were it a different day, perhaps with less people in the store or with a little more emboldened bravery on my part, I might have said something in response. Like many an imagined comeback, I stewed on this interaction for days. I rolled her statement around in my brain. The tone. The assumptions.

    I think what I would like to have said is something along the lines of this:

    “Wow. What an amazingly insensitive thing to say in a small business!”

    On “prime day” I was reflecting on the artificial urgency of purchasing a blender at a discount and the mountains of returns that Amazon ships off to be scrapped (did you know online orders are twice as likely to be returned as in person ones?). If you’re an eco-conscious person, massive big box retailers probably already make you bristle. I could talk all day about the evils of big business but ultimately, shopping on Amazon simply doesn’t reflect my values.

    All of this being said, it is not my intention to make people feel guilty for buying things on Amazon. I understand that we all balance different priorities, cost being a major deciding factor. I refuse to vilify people for making choices within their means. Our culture of immediacy places unseen stresses on our day to day lives and the ease of getting things delivered quickly can alleviate many pressures. We live in a society that wants us to be everything all at once. It is a struggle to balance it all.

    But still, where does this leave me? Where does this leave Fishtale?

    I couldn't possibly compete with Amazon. Shipping is wildly expensive! I can't be in two places at once! But also, I am not the same as Amazon. Not even remotely.  

    My goal as a business owner is not to become a billionaire and shoot myself into space in a rocket. Jeff Bezos is an icon of capitalism that frankly makes my skin crawl. I believe it is impossible to be an ethical billionaire. It isn’t possible to accumulate vast immeasurable wealth without making extremely awful choices along the way. 

    My goal as a business owner is to live simply. To pay my staff a living wage. To showcase Canadian goods and participate in the local economy. Buy local & shop local. My goal as a business owner is to facilitate connection. To build bridges between creatives and showcase the talents of so many local makers. My goal as a business owner is to enjoy coming to work every day. 

    I cannot offer you same day free shipping. I cannot offer you a limitless collection of discounted items at the click of a button. I am simply not catering to that experience. 

    What I can offer you is what we have committed to since day one. A curated collection of goods we love and believe in. Fishtale is entirely Canadian business sourced. That goes for everything from our recycled paper shopping bags to the locally made goods and the sodas, seltzers & kombuchas. It is important to us to be exactly what we set out to be.

    It has been a strange and unnerving time for small businesses. We just made it through a global pandemic only to be met with rising prices in just about every possible category. Sometimes it feels unmanageable. Sometimes, it is unmanageable. I've heard from countless small business owners that the last year has been the hardest yet. We can only put one foot in front of the other and hope for the best.

    I suppose my takeaway from this experience is nothing new. Words can wound. Sometimes in ways we might not immediately be aware of. We can be left with a desire to plead with strangers. Can't you see that we are trying? Can't you see that this is different?

    The retail world is an odd place to exist when you aren't actively encouraging overconsumption. We're not pushy salespeople. Our shopmate Jesse (in our Kingston pop-up at 94 Brock Street, folks!) has a note pinned in the fitting room that says "Buy what you need. Love what you have." We can only hope that when you buy what you need, you try to shop at a local shop. We love what we have and we'd love to tell you about it.

    So, yeah. Maybe you can get something like it on Amazon. Maybe it'll be cheaper.

    But at what cost?

    Books, Snacks and March Break Plans

    Books, Snacks and March Break Plans

    We’re kicking off March break with a fervent nod to our childhoods. We’re hosting a book fair!

    Don't tell me you're not yearning for the days when you went to school book fairs with a pocket full of coins, wide eyes, and a burning desire to buy reading materials? Well yearn no more, fellow book nerds! Saturday, March 11th from 10am to 5pm we will be hosting the good humans from Little Ghosts Books, Happily Ever After Books, Aaron Millard Illustration and The Sidekick! Swing by and peruse works of horror, romance, greeting cards and much more! Not to mention some special spooky and romantic treats from our favourite Lured Bake Shop and fresh hot coffee from The Sidekick!

    For those of you who are interested in a little more details about these folks, I’ve put together a few words about our guests so you can plan your visit and check out their goods beforehand! 

    Little Ghosts: A Good Story Will Haunt You

    Little Ghosts

    Our pal and fellow small business owner Chris Krawczyk opened Canada’s first horror genre book shop in April of last year on Dundas St. West in Toronto. It’s an adorably spooky little spot with big black bookcases, a rolling library ladder and a 12 foot tall skeleton on the back patio. Little details pepper the shop with frightful intentionality; a wall of disembodied hands here, a coffin shaped mirror there. With a focus on small and independent works, Little Ghosts has created a wonderful and inclusive space for anyone seeking a literary thrill. 

    Happily Ever After Books: A Bookstore For Romantics

    Happily Ever After Books

    In the beautiful realm of unlikely friendships, Happily Ever After Books was introduced to us through Little Ghosts! Not having a brick-and-mortar shop themselves, Happily Ever After has done pop-ups at the horror book shop forming a perfectly adorable meeting of niche literary interests. A new business as well, owner Jenny believes in the life changing ability of books and hopes to deliver everyone their own style of happily ever after.

    The Sidekick: Comic Shop & Cafe

    The Sidekick

    A Leslieville, Toronto staple for the coffee and comic book curious! The Sidekick offers up a variety of in-house roasted coffees, drinks & snacks alongside their ever growing comic & graphic novel selections. Go for a coffee and a comic, stay for a beer and a sandwich!

    Aaron Millard: Illustration & Cards

    Aaron Millard

    Illustrator and pun enthusiast, Aaron creates whimsical greeting cards to surprise and delight any recipient. With their familiar characters and plays on words his work is adorable and fun.

    Looking to round out your Wolfe Island plans this weekend? Check out The Hotel Friday night for collaborative music with Joyful Joyful, Michael C. Duguay & New Hermitage. After you come to Fishtale on Saturday and buy a book & a cookie, consider sneaking in to see the Heather Haynes Art Exhibit when the Hotel opens at 4pm!

    One Week Left: All Things Local & Thanks

    One Week Left: All Things Local & Thanks

    We're right in that holiday crunch time. If you have anyone left to shop for things are starting to get a bit hectic. Don't worry! We've got lots of great last minute gifts at the shop. As always, we urge everyone to keep supporting local makers and shopping at all their favourite local boutiques. This year it counts more than ever!

    The time between Christmas Eve and New Years is simultaneously the longest and shortest week imaginable. Many shops are closed and running out of milk (or Baileys) can rightfully be considered a family emergency. Time slows down with big meals and warm gatherings but somehow we'll be stepping into the new year in the blink of a proverbial eye.

    Personally, I think the best way to coast through the holiday season is with rotating charcuterie boards and mulled cider. Grab yourself a beautifully made board by Stone Road Woodworks (we have lots) and keep it topped with all your favourite snacks. Wilton cheddar, anyone?

    With the year winding down Annelise and I wanted to thank everyone who has shopped with us this year and from the very beginning. It really means the world to us. Every compliment or encouraging word really kept us going through this stressful year. We couldn't have done it without your support. We love you to the moon, you crazy kids!

    We wish you all a very happy holidays, whatever you celebrate. Let's face it, we all have high hopes for 2021.


    Holiday Gift Guide: Under $30, Stocking Stuffers & a Cocktail Recipe

    Holiday Gift Guide: Under $30, Stocking Stuffers & a Cocktail Recipe

    This year is a strange one for everyone. A lot of us are separated from our families and friends and will remain that way over the holidays. It sucks. A lot. We're having a bit of a hard time getting into the holiday spirit this year and that's saying something because we consider ourselves semi-professionals in the art of festive cheer. How does one manufacture cheer? We decided the other day that we're going to send a little something to as many people near and dear to us as we can. We should all do our best to brighten each other's days, even if it is from afar. It doesn't cost much (if anything) to put a smile on someone's face and this year is certainly a good time to spread a bit of love.

    So here goes! We have some suggestions for inexpensive gifts that go a long way and ship easily.

    Starting with a fan favourite we have candles by Rhicreations. Made with soy wax and sometimes a mix with Wolfe Island beeswax, they are long burning and beautifully scented. This year's festive candle is Holly Day, a blend of dreamy Christmas scents that doesn't overpower. Truly any of these candles are hits.

    Next up we have the lovely locally made soaps from Wolfe Island Soapworks. Check out the Geranium Soap for a nice floral punch! Consider pairing it with a Lemongrass Lime Bath Bomb and a mini candle to make a little apothecary gift set for under $30!

    Annelise and I both have a fondness for miniature things and boy are these Bud Vases from Owen Davies a hit! We have a variety of styles so you can pick one that really suits your gift recipient.

    Another great gift we have is these Island-made wrist wallets by Marcia McEwen. Big enough for your phone and your keys, these come in a variety of different prints and are only $20! 

    To finish off today's blog I'll leave you with a cocktail recipe which is of course another great way to brighten someone's day. If you're a fan of a classic whiskey sour or old fashioned try this easy to make, bright & citrusy sip.

    Island Sour
    2 oz bourbon (or whiskey)
    ½ oz maple syrup
    ½ oz orange juice
    ¼ oz lemon juice
    4 dashes Angostura bitters
    Serve over ice. Garnish with Maraschino cherries and orange or lemon peel


    Next up: Foodies, amateur bartenders & all things locally made.

    Holiday Gift Guide: The Person Who Has Everything

    Holiday Gift Guide: The Person Who Has Everything

    Welcome to the Fishtale Holiday Gift Guide!

    Over the next few weeks we're going to give you some ideas for how you can shop easily for all the different people on your list. We figured we'd start with the most difficult person and leave the easy stuff for later. So without further ado, let's call this mission: Present Impossible.

    Everyone has at least one person to shop for who already has everything. Either they buy everything they need or want (my brother) or maybe they simply don't need anymore stuff. We're certainly not advocates for overconsumption but it is always nice to get a gift. So, for the person who has everything we have some suggestions!

    To begin: Consumables! First up we have chocolate. Personally, we're big fans. We carry a wide variety of Postcard Chocolate Bars by Alicja Confections, a chocolatier out of Ottawa. There is such a wild variety that you are just about guaranteed to be able to find a fun option for pretty much anyone. To top that off, they are also postcards and can be stuck right in the mail! Ramen Noodle milk chocolate anyone? If you're in the Ottawa area, be sure to check out their shop on Bank Street. 

    If your gift recipient is a coffee drinker, consider grabbing them the 454 Box from our friends at Haymakers Coffee Co. There are no wrong answers here but we suggest you pick a couple different roasts for them to try. You could also opt for our Breakfast Club gift box which includes a half pound of their coffee if you're feeling like bestowing some local maker love upon them.

    Next on the list is the cozy category. Everyone likes a little something warm and boy do we have options! Our personal favourites are the hand knit felted slippers Knit by Lola makes here on Wolfe Island. They're 100% wool, super warm and cute as heck. We have a selection in store and online but she is also in the shop on the 28th & 29th with her wares so stop by! She also makes felted wool mittens that would be a lovely gift and require a bit less guesswork for sizing purposes.

    Last but very much not least, a great option to consider for the person who has everything is a donation to a charity made in their name. On the Island we support Wolfe Island Friends of Ferals, an organization that helps manage feral cat colonies. In the Kingston area we support the Kingston Humane Society and the Kingston Interval House. We recommend looking into the organizations in your area and doing your research to make sure the funds are handled appropriately. 

    So there you have it folks! Hopefully this little guide has given you some ideas for how to handle the tough to shop for person in your life. If not, come see us in the shop and tell us a little about them we'd be happy to help!

    Next up on the blog: Gifting under $30 and a Fishtale holiday cocktail recipe!