The great debate...

I've umm and ahhed over whether or not I should write this post. It's something I have discussed with many, on many occasions and have always hoped that things would swing back around but I am not sure that's the case!

I know I am biased... but I thought my point of view might be an interesting one because this hits so close to home.

Overseas online shopping VS. Your local store.

Now writing this, I don't just mean in the fabric and patchwork industry but of course this is the one I can pull most examples from because it's the industry I work in and love.
I can understand the pull to O.S shopping - everybody can! It's cheap, and easy. The range of stock presented on the web is greater than you'd find in your local independant store... but I also see the draw backs.
Anybody who comes into Amitie can feel the warmth. I am so proud to work with the women I work with because the service they give is outstanding. We are known for free advice, a helping hand and a warm smile (majority of patchwork shops are) ... what if this was to disappear? What if there was no store to go into and touch and feel, to get the true colour value, to ask for advice and opinions?
Here at Amitie we do try really hard to keep the prices down... but it can be quite difficult remembering we have a small population that's quite far away so fabric needs to be brought in via a distributor. These distributors do put a mark up on, yes but remember they also employ people.
I was greatly offended when a debate started on a local blog. Patchwork shop owners were referred to as "greedy" and called "fat cats". It hurt me to know people think patchwork shop owners are laughing all the way to the bank. Unfortunately, this is a labor of love not money!

I am also afraid for the future of this country -  we don't see any growth from the money sent overseas. I feel blessed to live in a country where I get paid a good wage, I get superannuation and I have a good health care system available to me. We've seen a lot of industry die because it's cheaper to get things done overseas. I would hate to see small business' go and the unemployment rate increase.
This is something that effects all sorts of small business' - my friends get a pretty fierce rant from me when I find out they go into a sunglasses store to try on the sunnies they like, and then go and purchase them online for cheaper. They've wasted that shops time and resources just to cut them out of the market.
I'd never tell anybody where they should spend their money - people's finances are their own. This is just a patchwork shop employee's/young woman's point of view on something that is constantly on her mind.

amitie girl


Chookyblue...... said...

good wished I had a shop near I find I shop in limited online stores who I find have a good shop....easy to use..........sometimes that is overseas and sometimes I ring a couple of shops where I have different arrangements.........I find some online shops very difficult to find things or shop usually don't go back there.....

...BUT I also think I am lucky I am not close to your shop as I think I would be bankrupt (not prices just quantity) constantly there finding more wonderful fabrics to take home to my stash.........doing classes etc..........

Nothing replaces the touch and feel and trying to match up fabrics..........

Andi said...

This is such a hard one for me.
I adore Amitie (and all the wonderful people who work there) and try to shop there when I do shop locally. And I agree with the previous comment that there's nothing like being able to fondle and FEEL and really see the fabrics before you buy them.
But it's so bloody hard when there is such a massive price difference. I know it's not the fault of the shop owners. Local distributors seem to have a hard time passing on savings from a strong Australian dollar.
But its just hard when we're all trying to stretch our dollars as far as we can.
It's just hard.

ifabrikate said...

Please forgive me!!! I just bought a pair of Nike running shoes online from the US at half price (with postage) - that's $100 saving and I got to pick the colour - not possible here. Do I in any way redeem myself by telling you that I will now most likely spend that $100 on fabric - here in Aust - because I like to see it and touch it before I buy? (If I was in Melbourne it would most definitely would be Amitie - I came for a look while on holiday not long ago and left $180 poorer - your shop is so irresistible!) BTW the shoes were from Footlocker, which is the same shop where I tried them on here - how come they were less than half price? I don't blame the shop owners, it's probably the govt duties and taxes, the latter of which we all pay too much so who can blame us for trying to get a better deal?

Belinda aka beeware said...

Tricky issue.
I do love amitie & try to visit it whenever I am in Melbourne (...& inevitably buy too much) I also like to support local fabric shops here at home.
Occasionally I fall prey to bargains on the internet. It is all to easy to look & buy...
There is definitely nothing like going into a shop & looking & feeling. I also think you are more likely to buy a product you will be more satisfied with. I will be trying to stick with Australia this year (with an aberration or 2..)
Thanks for your thoughts :)

cilla rule said...

Dear Amitie Girl,

Your store is fabulous, not only for the help and advice from all your friendly staff, but for me it is a total therapy session - you could never get this feel of warmth and caring and general well being on line.

I am not going to shop on line for many reasons, but mainly because I enjoy my visits to your store enormously even if I only come in for a quick look now and then and it definitely keeps me sane.

Thank you all

Cilla Rule

One Flew Over said...

I also work in a Melbourne patchwork store and you have raised some very vaild points.

There is nothing like purchasing fabric in the flesh and where possible I try to buy local.

Mainly because I don't stash fabric and only buy on a per project basis so I can afford to support local.

However, there are a lot of crafters out there who may have financial pressures and the cost difference when buying fabric from the states is huge.

I know for a fact that it is cheaper for my boss to purchase kona solids as a retail customer from the US than buying it from the local distruber.

I think this is wrong and the distributors need to take a hard look at what they are doing to the local industry.

There will come a day when it is no longer viable to run a fabric business in Australia and it won't just be the customers loosing out.

Margaret @ Konstant Kaos said...

I agree that you that the sales value that you get shopping locally and in a physical store is better than online. But sometimes the $$ difference is massive and I find myself drawn to the online purchase. I spent a lot of money in bricks and mortar stores and I make a deal with myself that if I can get it locally then I will buy it locally. But if there is a special online on a pattern that I can't get in Australia because the distributors didn't make it available in Australia, then I will buy online.

I know it is tough competing with a faceless online company, but shops like yourselves, Patchwork and GJ's offer more than just fabric and you need to capitalise on that fact. That is your point of difference, know your customers, build those relationships and they won't care about the cost of fabric.