With Big Box stores everywhere, and the internet giant, Amazon, taking retail by storm, it's super easy these days to opt-in to the incredible convenience - to say nothing of the surprisingly cheap prices - that these stores afford. As a marathon shopper of nearly legendary proportions, I get it...I really do. But the question is: are we trading quality for convenience? More importantly, are we trading our American values, hopes and dreams? The answer is, well...yes. Pretty much.
I'm all for a good bargain, just like anyone else. But being a small business person has altered my perspective on some things, let me tell you. So here's a few things you should know before you pick up that next Made-In-China find:
Why are Handmade Products More Expensive?
Handmade products are typically more expensive than mass-produced items for a couple of reasons:
1. Handmade typically contain quality ingredients, which are more expensive.
2. Small businesses typically cannot afford to buy their supplies in giant quantities like larger manufacturers do. Therefore, their profit margins are much smaller.
3. Handmade goods are not automated or mass-produced; therefore the cost of labor are higher. In fact, many people who make and sell handmade goods make far below what would be considered a living hourly wage in America, simply to be able to compete with their pricing!
What About Shipping?
We've got to give it to Amazon. They've made the "free-shipping" thing a part of the American consciousness. After all, who wants to buy a $5 item and pay $6 to ship it?
What you may not know, however, is that the "free shipping" mantra does not ENTIRELY ring true. Aside from the $119 you pay annually for a Prime Membership, according to Moneytips: "One of the main mechanisms that makes free shipping feasible is that merchants are paying fees on the back end that you do not see as a consumer. Presumably, merchants have already priced those fees into their products." So in reality, your free shipping? Not really free. It feels good, sure; but like so many concepts we've been sold, it's just not really true.
So What Does this Mean to Small Business?
Sadly, what this means to small business in America is that we have to work a lot harder to get your business. Luckily, many enlightened Americans are tuning in to the need to support local businesses and have begun to opt for quality over quantity and personal relationships over faceless corporate machines. That's a huge relief to the countless American entrepreneurs struggling to bring their hopes and dreams into the marketplace. But we've got a long way to go.
We live in the same economic climate as our customers. We understand the need to bring affordable, quality products to market. What's more, we want to make CUSTOMERS, not just sales. So, while you may pay a little more on the front end, just remember this: what you are getting on the back-end has real value. While you may not think about the impact your purchase has on the people you are purchasing from, rest assured: buying handmade makes a real difference to real people. More importantly, what it means to YOU is that when you buy a quality product from an American craftsman, you get so much more than just a product. You create a relationship with people who genuinely care about your satisfaction.
When you buy handmade, you support a dream. Thanks, so much, for supporting mine!