If I had the ability to time travel, to do things again, to change my future, I would choose to keep the memories and offer up the time machine on Buy Nothing. Ten years ago I was a newlywed who had just bought her first home and was contemplating parenthood. I was a twenty-something, blonde, supervisor at Costco who had just quit smoking and hadn’t made a piece of art or touched a sewing machine in years (who even was I?)! I had no earthly idea what the next ten years would bring.
I am a professional maker of things, or artist, or crafter, or micro business, or mom-trepreneur. Whatever you want to call me, I am not a corporation. I don’t have employees. I don’t import my merchandise from the developing world. My business overhead includes my car payment and my power bill (we pay extra to buy into a solar program). My overhead is my booth fees to be at shows (sometimes a quarter of my total sales at said show.) My overhead is rising prices for materials, advertising, and credit card processing. My overhead includes a donation to a charitable non-profit organization (this month is the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.) My profit margin is slim. I promise you, the same is true of all artists and small businesses.
The pressure to run sales, discounts, free shipping, or other incentives to shop this weekend is real. Many of my peers will be offering a discount. I implore you to not use the coupon code. Please, pay full price. A discount of 15% to a maker or artist typically means a 15% reduction in their personal income. Imagine if your boss asked you to work for 15% less for the week. And okay, I know, they could just price their merchandise to be able to handle a discount – in fact, I am in a place in my career where I do – but here’s the thing: unlike major retailers, your favorite artist isn’t marking up their merch by 100-350% (clothing), 100-500% (shoes), 200-400% (furniture), 200-5,600% (prescription medication, WTF), 800-1000% (eyeglasses)!* Your favorite artist is lucky if they can markup their products by 50-100%. If they are starting out they are probably working for minimum wage (if that!) and selling items barely above cost. If they are starting out, they are probably counting on the sales from this art show to pay the booth fee for the next, the sales from this print run to be able to order another.
So here’s my challenge: pay a little more. Don’t make artists eat the $3.82 shipping on a $40 order that costs them $30 to produce. Let them know you value their hard work (it’s so hard, y’all). Don’t ask them to work for 15% less, even if they are willing to. They may be offering a discount to be able to compete, but it’s costing them so much more. I won’t be offering a Black Friday discount. Instead I will be offering my gratitude to those of you that respect my value. My deepest and sincere thanks to you all!
Love all; all love,
*Markup percentages are estimates based on common retail practice.