Anarchist Craft Stores?

So this is vaguely random, but today as I sat at Red Emma’s, the worker-owned coffeeshop/bookstore in Baltimore, I was thinking about anarchist projects. We’re used to the idea of the “infoshop”, which is more or less to say anarchist bookstore (although it has implications of meeting space as well). In some cities we’re spoiled enough to have anarchist cafe’s as well, so those of us who like to spend money on prepared food and coffee and other such non-essentials have a good place to do so. There are a handful of bike shops (Baltimore just got one). Then there are a few anarchist free stores… these are my favorite of all of these, though of course they are the hardest to maintain. But to focus on the moment on anarchist businesses… why mostly bookstores? (I’d rather not get into the pros and cons of anarchist business in general at the moment)

Maybe it’s been done, but I’d love to see a craft/hardware store run by and for DIY folks. Bookstores (and I love bookstores, don’t get me wrong) offer mostly the exposure to theory, but what if we had a place that offered an exposure to craft? Homebrewing supplies, fabric and thread (kevlar is cheaper in bulk, by the way), metalworking tools… available from a worker-owned place. Hell, if it’s a downtown kind of location, you could also do consignment selling of crafts, offering local artisans another outlet to earn a living. Let’s re-invent the infoshop.

Now, I’m just throwing this out there. I don’t see myself really working on it. I would just go there a lot if it existed. If anyone knows about projects like this already in existence, please let me know!

5 thoughts on “Anarchist Craft Stores?”

  1. Hmmm, “Anarchtica”?

    Iz a good idea, komrade.

    There used to be a couple of businesses in town here, co-op shade-tree mechanic and woodworking shops with pooled-tools (like everyone can afford a plasma cutter?). They lasted a while, but maybe they didn’t do it so right, or maybe it was the weirdness of the Reagan years?

    T-town once had a whole food co-op ($10 a month for a buttload of fresh whole foods). That died, but some of the same folks went on to start “The Middle Path Cafe”, worker-owned, with some of the best food in town (I’d kill for their potato toddy bread, 20 years later).
    It was waaay hippy and I loved it.

    The electronic maker community has a few resources like (established by some EE students that managed to keep it up after graduation), and they offer some pretty cool “toys”, but a maker-doer anarcho-flea-market of goods, services and information under one roof would be a fun experiment (he said thinking about this vacant former Safeway down the street, right downtown).

    I may have to leaflet, see if there’s any local interest in such a venture. What’s to lose?

  2. There is the Blauwe Duim (The Blue Thumb) in Amsterdam – not quite the same thing, but a place where one can rent tools and find various other hardware-ish types of things and, if you’re lucky, get some advice on how to do whatever it is you’re trying to do. Run collectively, some volunteers, some paid staff, I think. Grew out of the squatting community some 25 odd years ago. It feels a lot like a neighborhood hardware store, and the folks who work there really see it as a kind of DIY activism in and of itself.

  3. Just saw this on Infoshop.

    [1-2-3 Community Space in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn has] many resources available (also free or cheap), including a screenprinting and photo development studio, access to welding, power tools, art supplies, a library, kitchen, and open meeting and activity space.

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