Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Is There Any Room For Quality?

One of the most frustrating things for me, as a crafter, is finding good quality products at an affordable price. If I buy at one of the chain craft stores, and you all know who I mean, the emphasis is on price. Some items are better than others but you can be assured that the birdhouse you buy for $5.99 and on sale for a buck less, must have cost them $1 at most. And when you spend as much time as I do and fight the white glue blobs and splotches, you know exactly what I am talking about. This is just a cheapie product.

It didn't really matter at first. I was new to the idea of crafting and any old thing would do. But now that I have an ETSY.com store and am trying to sell to other venues as well, I realize that while the design and workmanship of my work is a labor of love, it is on a cheap canvas. (To see what I am talking about, check out my ETSY.com store. Type in KrugsStudio to go directly to the store. While you may not like the style or design, you will see that it took many hours to complete.) The comparison would be to grab any old tea towel, staple it on a wood frame and say you have a canvas. It doesn't work that way.

I have looked online and while there are some wonderful examples of wood craftsmanship, the cost would put it out of my ability to buy the base product and charge for what I hope to do with it. And many of them are really meant to be just used. The finish is not adaptable to my painting.

Complaining one day to a friend, he thought he knew some sources in China that might be willing to make items I designed, of much higher quality and still be able to sell them at a reasonable price. This would mean then that not only would I have a more reasonable cost alternative but would be able to sell them at wholesale to others as well. If we can get past the "price" issue, a whole new range of ideas and products could become available. Even the ability to accept custom orders!

Here is one of the designs I created...I call it the "Craftman Birdhouse."

The beauty of this product was that it remained lightweight, uses outdoor grade Sycamore wood and was glued with outdoor glue...furniture grade outdoor glue to meet the standards in Japan. I thought that I wanted the top to be removable but in hindsight will move the screws to the bottom, add drainage holes and I think it would be good to go. The cost? Under $20 each and even less if bought in units of three or six at a time.

The screws will continue to go into threaded inserts so the screws never touch the wood. This birdhouse can be hung outside as is, or for crafters and others, stained, painted, and sealed for an even longer life.

For a painter such as myself, this is a dream come true. However, the question remains, is there enough of a demand for such an product line? Is there a place for a "middle" price point, a product that isn't the cheapest nor the most expensive but does offer a longer outdoor life? With any hobby chain product, even in California, the birdhouse is guaranteed to fall apart in a year so I can't even imagine what it would be like in the midwest. I used five coats of Varathane but it made no difference. Would people be willing to pay more and then not have to buy a new one every few years? Is the time spent by a artist on a much better product, the money spent by the end user worth a few dollars more?

That is the question.

Please feel free to reply or contact me here.

Best regards,

Alan Krug

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