June 19, 2001
An acquaintance is unknowingly presenting me with a moral dilemma these days. She and a business partner are importing things from China to sell here in the US, or pretty much anywhere, since they have now set up a website.
The dilemma is that what they're importing is cheap versions of things my fellow crafters make. Of course the crafters here in the US can't compete with the prices. One of the reasons I don't bother trying to sell crocheted snowflakes is that you can buy them elsewhere by the dozen for virtually the same amount of money that it would cost me to make one.
I haven't broached the subject with my acquaintance. I am well aware that what she does is none of my business, and I don't plan to discuss it with her. It was easier to keep my mouth out of it when what they were selling was not a crafted item, but then they branched out into the crafted things. These days it's harder for me to refrain from asking why the hell they can't invest a little more money and buy from local crafters (I know it would be possible) if they want to get into crafted items. But I won't. I'll just refrain from showing much enthusiasm. Not that she'll notice!
This is a dilemma for me because I don't want to see anyone lose money. I don't want this acquaintance to go broke. But I don't want to see American crafters lose money because it's cheaper to buy something cheaply made and brought in by the cargo shipload. I would not want to see the people who are being paid whatever small wages they're making to produce the things lose that sustenance, either.
There's room for all participants in the economy. But please be aware of what you're buying, especially if you're buying at a craft show. Ask the person trying to sell you the craft item for information about it. Please try not to buy items at a crafts show that have been imported for resale. If you want those items, please get them elsewhere.
Please try to support handcrafters whenever you have an opportunity. There will be an online crafts fair this coming fall and holiday season, in which I will be a participant. We who do make our own craft items would appreciate your giving us a chance to show off our wares. If you want a head start on it, check out my site, then follow the links to other crafters' sites, found here.