2017 was a year filled with all kinds of highs & lows & twists & turns both personally and professionally. We are, and continue to be grateful to our great customers & fabulous artists and craftspeople for their ongoing support of cornerstone. I am personally thankful for all the love, hard work and great energy that Lisa, Sue, Gillian, Lynn & Lise pour into Cornerstone.
Normally at this time, I would tell you about all of our fabulous art & craft (but you already know that!) so today I am going to share with you some concerns that we and other downtown businesses are having for 2018 and hope that you can really get behind us when you've finished the read.
Do you remember the movie "You've Got Mail" with Meg Ryan & Tom Hanks? Meg's character had a small independent book store that had to compete with a big box bookstore (Fox), owned by Tom's character. In the movie, there is the heart breaking scene where Meg has fought the battle and lost her store. You see them shutting the door on an iconic store that had been around for years and passed down from her mother.
I understand how Meg's character felt being the owner of a small independent store. Don't get me wrong! We are not on the verge of closing so not to worry. However, here, is what small, independently owned stores in the downtown (any downtown, not just Kingston) need you to know. Everyday we are competing with big box stores that have big parking lots and lots of inventory (in our case that's not made in Canada). Everyday we are competing with the likes of Amazon, where from the comfy coziness of your chair you can happily click away and buy whatever it is you want. That's progress and the trend in retail. In 2018 we WILL have the Cornerstone online store finally running so that you can click from home if that's how you like to shop. Competing with these trends is an opportunity to change and grow. BUT in addition to shopping trends that we have to adjust to, small independent stores have been forced, as of January 1st. to raise the minimum wage of staff significantly....I am not going to discuss the pros & cons of this here, but I will share with you that January for all retailers, large & small, is the worst possible time to implement this. Customers are shopped out, recovering from what they have spent and do not wish to come out in the cold weather. I understand completely!
Here is what I am going to ask you to do though. Support your downtown businesses. Come out in the cold weather. Tell your friends and family what a great downtown you have and encourage them to shop here. If you are a tech person like and
on FaceBook. Follow us on Pinterest. We will soon be on Instagram and You Tube as well! Our new website will have a blog called "Perspectives on Art & Life" that I hope you will enjoy!
I am also calling on all of our wonderful artists & craftspeople to let people know where they can find your work! Follow us on social media and in turn if we haven't yet followed you we will! If you aren't on there get on there!!! Supporting each other throughout every step of the process is what keeps everyone's dreams alive.
Here is what Amazon and a lot of big box stores don't have that Cornerstone Does!
- Amazing customer service to help you choose just the right gift
- Artists & craftspeople who have been carefully selected to bring in pieces of work in almost every medium and price point
- Beautifully, Canadian made handcrafted works, that you can touch and feel the love & energy that was put into it by the artist
- The knowledge that we are supporting Indigenous & non indigenous artists from throughout Canada, who are in turn supporting their families and communities
- Inspiration - we want you to come in and be inspired to try a new art or craft
- Knowledge - our wonderful staff is knowledgeable about all of the artists - where they live and their process
- Beautiful packaging so that you can look good giving the gift without having to wrap it yourself!
- Friendly, fun atmosphere with personal touches (& sometimes home baked cookies :) Our staff love sharing stories with customers - it's a place to visit and talk shop! (art & craft)
- Participation - we really do listen to you the customer! If we can't help you find what your looking for here, we will try and direct you to another business in the downtown that might have what you are looking for! Or we will try to find an artist who can provide what you want. We want you to be happy & satisfied
- The knowledge that through your support you are keeping many dreams alive
Many of the retailers in the downtown converse with each other, the Kingston Chamber of Commerce and the DBA to come up with great ideas to encourage you to make the trek to come and see us so that you remember how awesome we all are! Without your continued support in the winter and throughout the year the downtown could become a core of empty shops by summer.
In the winter we still have the same fabulous culture in the downtown that includes restaurants with amazing food and where live bands still come and play, art galleries, bookstores, boutiques, gaming stores and we still have all that great shopping.
So I am going to thank you in advance here for listening to me and for considering my requests. Put on your hats & mitts (you know the ones you got from Cornerstone) and your boots and coat and come on down and play! You won't be disappointed! I promise!
From Our heart to yours,
Penny & the most amazing staff,
at Cornerstone Canadian Art & Craft