Just finished my third reading of a recent New York Times Magazine article entitled “Don’t Mock the Artisinal-Pickle Maker.” As it turns out, those smelly “hipster” picklers, bakers, reclaimed wood salvagers, pigment paper dyers, urban farmers, food truckers, and chicken coop keepers are not in fact a radicalized liberal threat to our modern economy. No, no. They’re just doing capitalism old school.
It’s tempting to look at craft businesses as simply a rejection of modern industrial capitalism. But the craft approach is actually something new — a happy refinement of the excesses of our industrial era plus a return to the vision laid out by capitalism’s godfather, Adam Smith.
This is really good news because my boyfriend has recently been associating with this nefarious type of quasi-industrialism. A butcher’s apprentice at Indianapolis’ Smoking Goose Meatery, he’s on the forefront of the artisan meats game and his boss, capitalist-in-disguise Chris Eley, was recently outed as the Indianapolis Star’s #1 up-and-coming entrepreneur making a mark on the city. One key to Eley’s success – with Goose the Market at 16th & Delaware and its wholesale equivalent, the Smoking Goose at 407 N. Dorman Street – is specialization, as prescribed by Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations.”
More significant, we’re entering an era of hyperspecialization. Huge numbers of middle-class people are now able to make a living specializing in something they enjoy, including creating niche products for other middle-class people who have enough money to indulge in buying things like high-end beef jerky.
To know just how well Eley hyperspecializes, you’ll have to indulge in one of the Goose’s meaty offerings. Here are a few of my favorites.