Friday, November 14, 2014

Support *TRUE* Small Business

The shopping season is now upon us (well, according to my down-the-street neighbor who has already put out Christmas decorations).  When you are out-and-about doing your thing, think about supporting small business.

Many small business owners run their shops out of their homes and sell their goodies at shopping parties, craft fairs, or online through venues like Etsy.  We do all three.  While re-evaluating inventory and preparing for shows, we like to scope out the competition.  We have noticed something quite prevalent and disturbing.


What is a "blank"?  A "blank" is something that a shop can embroider or print on, and then sell it as their own.  Now don't get me wrong - I've got no problem with blanks as long as you know you are buying a blank.  In fact I love to purchase items made on blanks because I can get them personalized exactly how I want them.

But here's the problem.... some of these shops are selling their "blank" items at a much higher cost than truly handmade items.

Take our wine bags for instance.  I make these in my home.  They have two layers of fabric - the outside print, and then the inside lining.  I gusset the bottom so they stand.  I string the ties through and add bells or whatever to them.  These are truly handmade.  (Well, except for the actually making the fabric, thread, and ties... but you get what I mean.) The Sapphire Key sells these for anywhere between $6 and $10.

Our aprons are the most time-consuming item.  As with all of our items (except the owls - Cathy makes those in her house!), these are made in my home.  I create the patterns, I pick the fabric and trim, cut it out, make the ruffle, pockets, put it all together, add buttons, whatever.  These sell between $29-$37.50.

Now I've seen other shops selling wine bags and aprons for MORE than what we charge. Let me tell you about these items.  They are "blanks" that were bought quite cheaply (just check out the workmanship for yourself), and then a screenprint image or an embroidery pattern is added by the shop.  Better yet, just do a quick internet search for "apron blank" and see if anything looks familiar to you....

Understand that using blanks is perfectly acceptable.  As I stated, I love buying items made on blanks because they can be personalized exactly how I want them. Also, some items - like glasses, rubber keychains, tshirts, etc. - are a little more difficult to be made by hand.  

My point is:  Just know what you are buying.  The "small business" might not be that small after all.

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