Okay, it's that time of year again, and I see everyone getting all into an uproar over "Black Friday".

And once again I want to hide in a burrow, away from the idiotic behavior of clueless people acting clueless all in the name of "giving".

A few points to remember:

1) Retail is pure democracy, and you vote with your dollars. Businesses (stores) can do nothing without the assent of willing consumers, rewarding them with dollars.

2) "Sales" are not "steals". Sale prices, bargains, deals, discounts, etc. are written into the profit margin of an item before the merchandise even leaves the factory. That means that if an item is marked at some "low low" cost for Black Friday, that is the price it was intended to be sold for. The "Suggested Retail" price and all those numbers that are crossed out before the one you think is a "bargain"? Those are there to make you think you're getting a deal, and to make you feel psychologically comfortable with the price you're paying, which is exactly the price the company wants you to pay. No less.

3) There is no objective business reason that a so-called bargain can or should be offered only at a specific time or date. Limiting the offer is a retailer's attempt to hype their business and get a quick estimate on a season's performance. If nobody shows up on Friday, they'll still have the merchandise on hand and the need to move it, they WILL create new "deals" and schemes to get it out of their stockroom by Dec. 24th.

4) Opening stores for "off" hours, the "Midnight Madness" sales, etc., only combines the false impression of a "discount" (in #2) with the hype of #3. It does not display your consumer savvy, it only demonstrates the sick effectiveness of cheap ploys. Worse, voting with your dollars at midnight the night after a holiday means voting FOR companies that require their lowest-paid employees (the cashiers and stockroom attendants) to work a middle-of-the-night shift. For consumers that buy into the cheap ploys.

So go stand in line at midnight to get your "bargains". But look at everyone working in that store, when you do. See them, at midnight or two a.m.? Those aren't automatons, they're people, and they have families (at home, sleeping, probably) and holiday gift shopping of their own to do. And unlike you, the shopper, they didn't have a choice to be there. Holiday shifts are mandatory for those retailers.

Here's the thing that people have a hard time grokking: If the stores threw a sale, and nobody showed up, they would still run those same discounts later on, during normal business hours. The merchandise has to move for the company to make a profit. An executive would look at the spreadsheets and say "Hmm, people like our widgets, even more than the competition, but the prime buying hours are between 8 and 10 am, and then again between 2 and 3. We're wasting money on all that staff, all night long." And next year, things would be a little different. Instead, each year they come up with even more and more extreme plays, and each year, more and more people, blindly following the advertising, fall for it, and each year it gets worse for everyone.

I have it easy: my shop is stable, and my workers well-cushioned. I can tell you right now how many visitors we'll have and much money we're going to make on Friday, and it's not going to be any chaos at all. But other people don't have it so lucky, and I cringe for them.

I cringe, too, for all the people telling me (like I should be happy for them, since I'm a shopkeeper) that they're looking forward to standing in a line at midnight. I only grimace. You're being played, sucker, and worse: you're hurting other people in the process.

Each dollar you spend is a vote for something. What kind of world are you voting for?
This time, the American Craft Council Show.

title or description

More travel, more shopping, more bright and shiny goodies to attract my wandering magpie's eye.

Sing it, now: These are a few of my favorite things! )
daphnep: (sparkly!)
( Feb. 16th, 2009 11:37 am)
This weekend was the Buyer's Market of American Craft, and as usual, I found far more beautiful things to fall in love with than I could actually buy. Here are some of my favorites, with links to sites where YOU can buy them, retail, if you decide you love them too.

title or description


Sparkley and shiny and pretty, oh my! )
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Since I speak from experience, I'm going to answer this one.

1) Don't even think about it unless you LOVE what you're doing. You are going to live, breath, and bleed that business for as long as you have it, so if you don't go in from the start with a keen, fierce passion, there is no point.

2) Have enough start-up capital to run your business without a single sale for the first year. Even if you plan for 100 "what-if" scenarios, there's always the possibility of that 101st coming along, and you need to be prepared for all contingencies. I was actually in the process of opening my first retail store on Sept. 10, 2001...you literally never know what you're going to be facing until it hits you.

3) Know your market. Do your research, and know exactly who you're selling to. Where is your money coming from, and why are people going to give it to you instead of to someone else? Over and over again I hear people thinking about starting a business say "It's perfect, because there is no competition!" I say if you think there is no competition for your product/service, it simply means you haven't looked hard enough. No business idea is 100% unique, chances are you're just putting together existing ideas in a different order or location. There is competition, and if you don't see it before it sees you, you're wasting a huge opportunity. If you don't see any, ask yourself "why not?" Look particularly to the big corporations. They have money at their disposal to do in-depth research, and if they're not in your neighborhood or field, find out why--perhaps they know there's not actually a market for their service, yet. If you've truly tapped a new, growing market, still, keep watching the big guys, and keep in your business plan the "what will I do if/when Big Competitor X starts offering this service/moves in my area?" question. Keep in mind that as a small independent, there is always, always somebody out there with more financial power than you, and in the early years, you're going to have to compete by virtue of being nimble and quick in comparison. I'm not saying you can't take them on and win, I'm just saying you have to set the stage for your victory and know in advance how you're playing the game. Think David and Goliath, baby: David and Goliath.

And best of luck to you.
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