I was reading my e-mail last night when I saw a message about "floor trading". This is when people go to shows where you are set up, and sell their wares out of their bags or purses. Some are blatant about it - others more discreet. I had written about this before, but it appears that it's one of those things that a lot of people just don't want to complain about. Why not? You've paid for your space, and they are taking money out of your pocket with every sale they make. Are we afraid the promoter won't let us have a space next time? For me, if the promoter won't take responsibility for protecting my sales, I don't want to put money in their pocket by purchasing a space. Those that do participate in "floor trading" always offer the same excuse - they couldn't afford the booth fee or didn't have enough merchandise to fill an entire space. As shoppers, we shouldn't purchase from these people either. It's not good for the future of shows, in my opinion. Paying vendors will stop participating if they have to compete with these people. I belong to several online groups, and a lot of people share photos of their work. They also tend to share the links to tons of free projects. I started noticing a trend. Almost without fail, every time a new photo was posted, there would be an immediate response along the lines of "great piece", "beautiful work", etc. Your ego is boosted, your work is validated, and you feel good about the piece you designed and worked so hard on. The feeling dissipates when the next line reads - "Can I have a copy of the pattern?" What type of response can you give without sounding like Grumpy Gus? Not all patterns are free and not all designs will be shared. Sharing patterns that you designed to sell or that were purchased puts everyone in a difficult position. Of course, there are plenty of people that are more than happy to share their patterns at no charge, and to them, we should all be grateful.
I try to be generous and often make donations of my items to guilds for their money-making efforts. Lately, I've received several generic letters from guilds addressed to no one in particular asking for donations. They don't offer the opportunity to pay and participate in their shows - but they aren't shy about asking for donations "with a value of at least $25 - $50" that they can use for fundraising. At the very least, they could put our names on the letter. I wonder if they even know what type of product I make.
On the flip side, maybe some things should be free. For instance, I was interested in possibly participating in a big, 4 day show this fall. I downloaded the application, and saw that they required at least three color photos of my work, a photo of a booth from another show AND samples of my merchandise, tagged with the retail price. They charged $15 to process my application and unless your provide them with a prepaid shipping label, you don't get the samples back - whether you get a booth or not. HELLO! The booth fee is $900 and they take 10% of your sales. The real sting came when they bragged that there was $13.7 million dollars in total sales at last year's show. Now, this is obviously a successful show, but with that success, the option of keeping my "samples" is not an option. If you don't pay the return shipping, they sell the samples and keep the money, thus the reason for wanting the retail price. With an all volunteer staff, why does it cost $15 to apply? I'm not asking for it to be free, but, after all, I am paying you $900 AND 10%. Sheesh! I think I'll pass.
I don't know where this attitude of always wanting something for nothing comes from. Maybe we don't understand "handmade" of hard work anymore. Maybe we are so used to everything being "made in China", we expect dirt cheap prices on everything. Maybe.......