Alright, an impromptu blog post coming at you, just because I think this is so needed this time of year.
Yes it’s Black Friday, and yes there are deals to be had. Which is great! We all work so hard for our money, and of course we want it to stretch as much as we can. But this post is all about the truth behind the sales, and some things to consider when shopping a sale from a small biz.
When we talk about sales, and getting things for cheap, it’s like we won. It’s like a we vs. them (the retailer) and we take some sort of satisfaction out of getting a huge discount from regular price. “You like this? I got it for $12!” like its a victory. And I’m not sure why this is bragging material, but it always seems to be. Here is the thing with that mentality when it comes to small business sales…
You may be winning but the maker is losing. Likely, that full price tag is justified, in raw materials expenses, fabrication time, packaging and labeling costs, and all of the unseen unthought of costs like printing shipping labels, like the time it takes to deliver or get it to the post office, like the electricity bill required to light, heat, and make your product. These are all of the costs that go into a handmade product. So when you’re loading up your cart with sale items, hitting that free shipping limit and thinking ‘YES! Look at me saving money!’. But what’s actually happening behind the scene is that the maker's time is being purchased at a discount, that money is being taken directly out of that maker's pocket.
Amazon doesn’t feel you saving 30%, but small businesses do. This 30% isn’t just a line item, isn’t just a little something coming off of the top, out of a fat savings account, out of a big old retained earnings box. That savings you get on sale items is coming directly out of the pockets of the small businesses. Sometimes, that’s just what has to happen. We have to partake in the sale culture of retail because thats kinda the name of the game. And I’m mostly okay with that. But think about the costs those businesses are faced with, and think about the squeezed margins we face because big box stores have conditioned consumers that shipping should always be free, and sales should always by 30% or more. Which leads me to my next point
I guess my small business is at the point where we now get trolls on social media (yahoo!). And those trolls say “15% isn’t even a sale”. “Can’t do more than 15% off for me?” “I thought it was 20% off of the entire store, plus free shipping, plus free delivery, plus free goodies, how come it isn’t?” You won't see larger sales than what we currently run because it makes my business model COMPLETELY UNVIABLE. The makers I buy from don’t give me discounts on orders, so the discounts I give come directly out of revenue that I need to pay rent, pay shipping, pay staff, pay me.
If you’re buying from a business that does 40% off, 50% off, guess what? It means you’re getting ripped off with every other purchase that wasn’t marked down. At without co. you’re not. Our prices are what they are because we buy quality goods, from Canadian makers, paying a living wage, to bring amazing products into your homes.
Here are some cold, hard numbers for you. Let's do a little example on a $50 bath gift pack that you buy from us on sale
Original price: $62.50
Sale price $50
Cost of goods: $32
Gross profit: $18
Shipping paid by customer: $0
Shipping paid by me $13 (on average)
Remaining Profit to cover employee picking & packing time, time to get to post office etc. $5
Oh and here’s a little bit of extra fun - i pay 2.5% on all online orders, so that $5 is really $3.75
That shit don’t add up - you see what i’m saying?
Now before you think my business model is broken and that I’m a terrible entrepreneur - our margins aren’t always this. And there are in store orders that help balance out those shipping costs. So this might paint a bleaker picture, but on a lot of my orders, these are the real numbers we’re working with. Like when I have to pay $25 to ship a package to Newfoundland, OUCH. There are also some products in the store that we make a higher margin on (thank GAWD). And I really do get a kick out of giving you guys freebies, and sales, because it’s fun! But here’s what also happens….
The trolling continues
“I can’t combine my discounts?” Hell no you can’t. Then I would be paying you to take my products off my hands. “Can I combine my orders to get free shipping" - also nope. The admin time in processing two orders does not justify free shipping when you placed TWO different orders. “I forgot to use my code, can you refund me the difference?” - also a big time nope. I pay 2.5% on the deal I'm giving you, and another 2.5% on the refund I'm giving you, all because you forgot to punch it in. Nope.
So here’s what I think. When you’re supporting a small business - you could balance out sale vs. non sale. You could shop only the sale and give them some love on social media, you could shop only sale items and give them a review. You could shop only sale items but pick the order up instead. Or you can buy only the sale, choose the free shipping, and just be happy with the wonderful products you’re getting at a great friggin price. The choice is yours, I just want us all to be aware of the costs.
Now go wild, support local, shop your little heart out on Black Friday sales, just do it with your eyes wide open. BUY LOCAL OR BYE LOCAL
I'm heading back to the shop I go to do the making, the picking, the packing, the shipping, the delivering. All of these things I’m happy to do, because all of these things keep my business going, my employees paid and my heart seriously so damn full despite how this may have read. *insert angel emoji here*
I promise I won’t wait another year to write a blog post. And I also promise the next post will be an uplifting one, about the customers who tip us on our deliveries, and leave little thank you notes, and leave me snacks on their doorsteps. And regulars that like, comment and share our posts, and DM me on insta, and do all of these crazy wonderful things. There are so many good people in our community, and so many good customers, that it makes it kinda fun laughing at the trolls!