Thursday, December 2, 2010

Competition in the Craft World

I have always been proud to be part of an industry that focuses on mutual support of its members. I'm talking about the craft industry in general her, not just the fiber arts world.

Obviously there is an element of competition in the craft industry, but you would never see Macy's send customers to Gimble's if Macy's didn't have what he customer needed. Well, except that one time in 1947, yet I frequently see yarn and craft stores refer customers to other shops and call the other shop and have the competing shop hold the item for the customer. In what other industry does that happen?

What people don't understand, I think, is that every dyer (or yarn shop or craft store) is so different that they each fill a niche the other could not. Each attracts a different kind of customer. The stock may have some overlap and yes, obviously, one shop may lose out on occasional sales to another. Ultimately, however, the entire community benefits by having multiple shops because of simple math. Providing the market isn't overly saturated with virtually identical shops/crafts/etc, 

 More opportunities to create crafters + more awareness of the awesomeness of handmade goods = more crafters + more people supporting crafting efforts = happiness + $

 No, nothing happened. There is no drama to see. It's just a sign of the times that crafters are again starting to refer to each other as competition instead of as cooperative partners. The market IS saturated in a lot of crafts. There are more crafters than there are craft buyers and it's making everyone a little tense and a little desperate in their marketing. I can't even pretend that I'm not guilty of occasionally falling in to the desperate marketing trap. I hate to tell you how much time I've spent trying to write clever twitters when oh, say, my *actual thoughts* provoke better conversation rather than some contrived nonsense that "contributes to my brand story". Puke. I promise not to listen to that advice anymore.

I guess my point is that I really believe it the power of cooperation. A rising tide raises all ships and other such hippy dippy love everyone nonsense. As the economy gets more harsh for crafters, I hate that people who used to consider other crafters partners are now viewing each other as competition. This season is harsh for all of us this year. No need to bring someone else down in the name of profit.

Again, no, I don't have any concrete examples to share. It's just an undercurrent I feel. First it started with not promoting online/community friends, then it started with desperate marketing, and now I hear crafters referring to each other as competition or sniping to vendors about what other crafters are doing. It gets around, you know, and it's easy to spot trends if you read as many blogs, ravelry groups, twitters and facebook as I do. Or, you know, maybe not! Maybe I'm seeing a pattern where there is none.

I have no idea how to end this rambling post about what's been on my mind, so I'll just say that even though there is no requirement that one one crafter must boost another crafter up, there is also no requirement that one crafter push her fellow crafter down. What differentiates us from Target is that we're a community, not competition.


  1. I agree with you completley! There have been a handful of times when I've called up Knitorious to see if they have a yarn, or they've called us. Once we sent a lady over for a $70 sale. It's not seen as a loss on our behalf because it about providing a positive experience, that's what bring people back.


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