Being a "good" shop owner. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

I finally have hit my last straw with flack from shoppers about prices, quality, and accusations of some sellers on Etsy, Artfire, what have you……. So now I feel that it is time for me to speak out as a seller, AND a buyer.

When I first started this shop, granted, I had been sewing pretty much all my life (self taught for the most part) but there was a HUGE lack of skills and knowledge on my part.  I was so hungry for tips, tricks, and know-how that I stumbled upon What the Craft run by Lex of Smarmy Clothes.  BRILLIANT!  Here is a girl JUST like me that makes a living off her sewing, and she is sharing her awesome knowledge with me!  Good deal!

SO I opened up an Etsy shop, and got to creating.  I made jewelry, purses, handbags, clothing, magnets, whatever.  I was trying to find my “niche”.  Finally, I honed my skills, got a serger and a few more machines, and the rest is history.  I know a ton of other sellers that have a pretty similar story, and it is truly inspiring.

The down side to being successful, is the flack that can come from the community, buyers, and other sellers. SO I am adressing it here, in Q and A form.  And I feel that I speak for all of the really good shop owners out there in ALL of my questions.  SO here we go.

Q: I saw that SAME item in another shop, you are a thief! And theirs is cheaper, too! What gives?!!?
A: There may be a million different versions of something in a hundred different shops, on websites, in stores, ect.  I mainly design kids pants, and handbags.  Last time I checked, I DID not invent the pant, nor did I invent the purse, of diaper bag.  I am pretty sure both of these items have been around since Jesus was in diapers and pants carrying around a leather man-purse.  What I DO lay claim to is that all my designs are my own, I do not own a store bought patter (OK, I lie.  I bought one once to make a dress, but botched it cause those suckers are damn hard to read, and threw it in a drawer somewhere).  I put my own spin on the things that I make, and make them my own.  I do research on Etsy, or any other place I think I can find a similar item, and MAKE SURE that my brain is not in the same exact place as another artist.  I KNOW who all the diaper bag makers are on Etsy, I WATCH them! I want to make sure I am not stepping on other people’s toes, that mine are not stepped on, and also that my prices are fair…
Q: So the pricing, what gives?
A: Ah, pricing.  The age old question.  Pricing my friends comes down to quality over ease, for the most part.  Point in case.  If I buy a yard of twill from the Wal Mart fabric section, I am getting a really low quality of twill that is likely to unravel over time, as it is a lower grade of material and is woven more loosely then other twill fabrics out there. SO I buy a higher quality twill, and it costs more for me to purchase, therefore, I have to charge more for my item! I am not in this business to become a millionaire, I just want to be able to feed my kids, and I can’t do that by giving stuff away. And each of my diaper bags takes WELL over 3 hours to make EACH ONE start to finish.  Why? Because I am meticulous, I strength test all my seams, and make sure that nothing is going to bust on out. I want my customers to have the best, and that Is what I ship out.  So I guess, to be blunt about it, you get what you pay for! 😉
Q: But really, there cannot be THAT big of a difference in quality.
A: Believe me, there is.  Point in case, minkee.  I have a baby blanket made from minkee that I LOVE the pattern on from an Etsy seller that I got as a gift when Gory was born.  I LOVED it.  The problem?  When I washed it, the minkee got all rough and sore of dread locked together. Sucks, and I still use it occasionally, but only with the minkee side down, because it feels really kinda gross. If a tiny bit more money would have been spent on one of Rocker Bye Baby’s blankets, then the minkee would have kept it’s integrity, since she gets her minkee from a wholesaler of the top of the line manufacturers.  I have a bunch of her blankets, and I think I wash them at least once a week, and they get softer with each washing. Same goes for twill, zippers, thread, fleece ect. I love my customers, and I don’t want to sell them crap.
Q: Why is shipping so much, more then the postage that I see ON my package!
A: Shipping my friends, it a tricky creature.  When your package comes in the mail, the postage may say 3$, but in reality, you have to also consider the “other” shipping costs associated with shipping a package.  A Tyvek bag to ship the item in is about 40 cents, the cost of the packing supplies averages about to 60 cents ( tissue paper, bubble wrap if needed, packing tape, ink for the printer to print the postage) AND we have to drive the packages to the PO, which costs money in.. Yep! GAS! So in the end, an item that cost 3$ in postage, actually costs me, the seller, a little over 5$ to ship.  But in all reality, I would mark down part of the shipping, just cause I can (sshhh…..don’t tell the hubby) and a lot of times, if you are a repeat customer, I will give you FREE shipping just as a loyalty incentive!
I hope you took the time to really read this over, and take to heart a lot of the things that I mentioned here.  I think as with all purchases, whether they be handmade, commercially made, whatever, the bottom line is that you get what you pay for.  I am a strong believer of being loyal, available, and knowledgable for my customers.  Good customer service means never being snippy, snarky, or short, no matter what.  The customer always comes first.  No matter WHAT!  I think that more businesses should behave in this way, but I guess I have to just do my part and start small, huh?


6 thoughts on “Being a "good" shop owner. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

  1. *nods and agrees*Difference in quality IS something you notice if you buy a lot of handmade goods, as I do, and that's when you continue to go back to some sellers or not. 😉

  2. Just wondering…. but, did anything specific inspire this post!? haha Thanks for the shout out 😉 After the shitty week I have had dabbling in a bit of everything you had mentioned here and more… I would love to go on a "nice" little rant… problem? I probably wouldn't be very nice…

  3. Very well said, Brooke! You are one of the most honest and straight-forward sellers I know, testified by my many cow-print things form you. LOLKeep doing what you do 'coz you definitely got it right.Sheika

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