As I mentioned in my last post, we need to take a look at the very popular question, "So let me get this straight -- these businesses (samplers) SELL the products that the Handmade businesses send them for FREE???" Actually, here's an example of this question that I have received since taking over The Little Black Boxes: "Crafters send in samples of items for free and The Little Black Box packages them into boxes and sells them for money, right? Why would I want to give someone 100 pairs of earrings so they can sell them?"
Some sampler owners, as I have witnessed in the Etsy forums, get very defensive when asked this question, but I LOVE the opportunity to explain this!
First, businesses must consider the samples they submit to TLBB (or any other sampler on the market) as part of their advertising costs, in the same way that they would pay for an ad in a magazine that is then sold to customers by the publisher.
Yes, all samplers on the market (and there are several) do ask for businesses to submit samples which they then package and sell to their customer base. The sampler businesses DO NOT take credit for the work of the contributing businesses and are in business for the sole (or at least the primary) purpose of providing an advertising service for those businesses. Yes, they must promote their samplers as well as the individual businesses, but without promoting (and selling) their samplers, the contributing businesses' work would not get into the hands of potential customers.
And, yes, folks who buy samplers do go on to buy from the contributing businesses! This type of advertising does not work for everyone, but IT DOES WORK!
As to the issue of the sampler business making a profit off the work of the contributing businesses -- The $20 we charge for TLBB Boxes barely covers all of our costs. It has to cover packaging and packing materials (I do get USPS Priority Mail boxes at no cost from the post office, but I have to buy boxes for International customers as well as paper and ink to print the shipping labels, packing tape, tissue paper, gift boxes, ribbon / bows, business cards & postcards), the costs of the website and newsletter services, shipping, and PayPal fees. Plus, I advertise our boxes on a couple different sites, and these costs come out of this $20 also. And this does not pay a wage at all for me or my mother (co-owner), who spend countless hours each month promoting the Boxes and contributors, in addition to the time it takes us to sort, package, and post the boxes. We are not in this to make a profit -- we took over TLBB because we believe in the business concept and truly want to help Handmade businesses advertise and grow their businesses.
Any questions? Please post them! Would love to hear any feedback and suggestions for future articles, too! Till we meet again...
PS -- Forgot to mention that income taxes also have to be taken out of that $20 per box charge.