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Scarlet Quince Ramblings

Cross stitch ... life ... art

Confounded Inflation
September 30th, 2008

There’s so much other financial bad news lately that inflation has not been getting much attention, but I’m here to tell you it’s alive and well. Since I buy the same items for Scarlet Quince over and over (envelopes, labels, ink, etc.) I have the opportunity to notice prices going up. (In “real” life I tend not to notice until things reach a pain threshhold and then I don’t know for sure what the price used to be, though I’d swear that mushrooms used to cost a whole lot less than $5 a pound.) Since I’m trying my best not to increase Scarlet Quince prices (and I do feel like a lone voice in the wilderness) my shopping process is this: I go to the last place I bought, say, envelopes; notice that the price has gone up; spend a bunch of time looking for someone with the same thing or maybe an equivalent for less; buy the envelopes someplace else and still pay more. I never gave any thought, all the years I worked for companies big enough to have a purchasing department, how much work went into keeping that supply closet stocked. All these price increases mean that reordering something, which should take 5 minutes, usually takes several hours.

Fortunately the internet makes it much easier to comparison-shop, although one of my vendors, a big office-supply chain (I won’t name them but they’re one of the big 3) has an irritating way of having drastically different prices in their store than on their web site. Although their store is only 4 miles from here, I often end up ordering online from them, because their store prices can be 30% higher than their online prices. What sense does that make?? Maybe they figure that anyone who shows up at the store is desperate and will pay whatever they have to. They used to have free shipping on orders over $50 but now they add a fuel surcharge to all orders (they claim it is “some” orders but no matter what I’m getting, there it is). I wouldn’t mind if they changed the minimum for free shipping to $75 but this double-talk of still having free shipping and the fuel surcharge is somehow not a shipping charge drives me crazy. (Not that the shipping was ever free; it was and is built into their prices.) I shouldn’t complain because even WITH the fuel surcharge, my online orders cost less than if I picked them up at the store. But I hate that kind of weaseliness. (This is the same place that was out of my ink one time, suggested I drive to a much farther distant store to get it, and when I asked what good their in-stock ink guarantee was, I was told that it wasn’t a GUARANTEE guarantee, more like “if we’re out, we’ll be really apologetic”.) Weasels!

Last week I thought I had found a good deal on cover stock (for pattern covers). I felt a positive glow all weekend that not ALL prices were going up. Well, yesterday it arrived, and — yep, you guessed it, I ordered the wrong thing. Actually the price of floss labels has held steady since I started offering them, and while the shipping charges have fluctuated, they have been fluctuating down (only a little, but it’s something). So that is one tiny bright spot.

7 Responses to “Confounded Inflation”
  1. From Alanna
    13 years, 4 months ago

    I know what you mean! My costs keep going up and up too but it will takr nothing short of a miracle to allow me to raise my fee. Because I sell services, rather than goods, people often feel than any price increase is just ripping them off. I wonder…

    Boy, do I know that one. About all you can do is quote new customers a higher price than existing ones.

  2. From Rifestitch
    13 years, 3 months ago

    We were just talking about this the other day, in relation to DMC. One of the stores had a sale, 3/99 cents. Since when is that a sale for plain old DMC??? Ahhh, please tell me the days of 4/!4 or even 5/$1 sales aren’t over! And how much of an impact did Wall Mart dropping the line have on the increase in the remaining non-LNS? Which, I know, is a drop in the bucket for those outside the US (Alanna :) ), but still, I’m sure you can see the point.

    Would you ever consider downloadable charts, to defer that cost onto the buyer? I know it’s an added security risk, having the electronic files out there for bad people to do bad things with, but only one stepped removed from those eager enough to break copyright already. At any rate, if you need to offset your rising costs, then that’s what you have to do – I’m pretty sure most of us will understand :)

  3. From Julie T
    13 years, 3 months ago

    Oh, downloading charts is not a good thing for me. I would much rather pay a few extra bucks to off-set printing or mailing costs than have to make it happen here, all alone, on my own computer. I think SQ’s prices are very reasonable (and I do shop around). If an increase is needed, I would personally support it, and still buy my patterns from here.

  4. From Meredith
    13 years, 3 months ago

    People ask regularly if they can have a downloadable chart. We decided against this early on, and “sharing” is only one of the reasons. Bandwidth is another issue; our merchant account contract is another. There are others. As a humorous/paranoid note, early on, we experimented with “copy-proof” paper (you can get it from legal supply companies). It has tiny ridges on one side and when you copy or scan it, presto! the copy says all over it “this is a copy” or some other rude message. It’s very easy to adjust the copy settings so as to circumvent it, as it turns out. I do believe that designers who offer downloadable patterns have a lot more trouble with sharing. Part of this is no doubt laziness (all that scanning, so much work) but I think there is also a significantly different perception as to the value of an electronic file (music, pattern, or movie) vs a book, CD, or DVD.

    I think we can hold the line on prices for a while yet but I appreciate the expressions of support. I just think it’s odd that my suppliers seem to be going for death-by-a-thousand-cuts instead of larger, less frequent price increases. Maybe they think no one notices a small increase but I find the constant smallish changes more irritating than larger, less frequent ones would be. (OK, I was very annoyed when one (former) supplier DOUBLED their price on paper. I guess there’s really no way to win.)

  5. From Alanna
    13 years, 3 months ago

    I too vote to keep the paper copies. I agree about the perceived value of a physical rather than a virtual product, and the joy of receiving something excting in the post. Your booklets are very special and unique and I just wouldn’t want to give them up!

    Thanks! Even IF we made downloadable patterns available (which I don’t see happening) paper patterns would still be available.

  6. From fenny
    13 years, 3 months ago

    Meredith, will also vote for the real pattern and not through the computer! The reasons are already written by Julie and Alanna and I agree, your patterns are very special!

  7. From Rifestitch
    13 years, 3 months ago

    Most of the designers that offer downloads here in the States do still have hard copies, from them or through shops. I was not suggesting that Meredith get rid of hard copies – how would shops stock those? It was merely an additional outlet idea….

    A couple of the European designers I like have download charts for us in the US, where shipping costs of a large chart, in the local currency, are rather high, sometimes more than the chart, and oftentimes seem to be an issue for Customs, which can then lead to delivery time taking weeks, possibly months. For them, it makes sense to offer the download, in order to reach the larger market.

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