In case you don’t pay much attention to the goings-on of the nation’s urban areas, Brooklyn, NY, has become a fertile crescent of sorts for a now decade-long handcrafted/artisanal movement. These days, you can’t swing an ironically bearded and bespectacled inhabitant of the borough without hitting a beeswax candle maker or a chocolatier or a haberdasher of some stripe or another. And to be honest, a lot of the stuff these folks are making is of remarkable quality, if also remarkably expensive. And as a 10-year resident of Brooklyn, I take a certain amount of pride and satisfaction in being surrounded by such creative and hard-working types.
This movement has also spawned a cultural paradigm in which eating locally-sourced, organic, and/or wild food is de rigueur, and participating in activities like gardening and even hunting—activities that people who live in the country classify as “everyday life”—have become trendy and cool.
And then there are the nascent businesses that aim to supply these budding bumpkins with the wares they supposedly need to lead this sort of lifestyle. Take for example, Bush Smarts, a New York-based online purveyor of gear for the modern urban woodsman. Co-founder Kevin Sterling writes on the company’s web site, “As someone who goes out of his way for black market raw milk, Amish chickens and bio-active beer, I was bored with buying gear at chain stores that I would break and replace without a second thought…John [Davidson] and I launched Bush Smarts to put some soul back into outdoor gear as a cottage industry.”
Apparently that means taking stuff other people make, dipping part of it in red paint, maybe adding a piece of leather, stamping their deer-head logo on it, and then selling it for exorbitant prices. Cases in point: A wooden spoon for $45, a fire steel for $25, and a 3-liter plastic water jug for $30. While incredulously clicking around their web site this morning, my jaw dropping ever so slightly lower with each new product I glanced at, I finally reached my breaking point when I came across a 10-pack of 6-inch zip ties for $15.
But you know what? Good for Kevin and John, because obviously there are folks out there who won’t think twice about plunking down for this stuff. I’m just not going to take any pride or satisfaction in being surrounded by them.