Thursday, May 20, 2004

"Zebras & Bananas"


My wife, Debbie, does crafts. She's done them for years now and is always trying to find something new and novel that'd make them sell better. So one day she asks me, "What do YOU think will be the next good thing in crafts?" ("Yeah"...like I'D know.) I replied, "Zebras & Bananas."

I wasn't trying to be funny; just honest.

You see, it really doesn't matter what new idea you come up with in doing craft work, because it's too hard to try to protect you ideas in that market. All you have to do is come up with something different for a craft show that's popular, and by the NEXT craft show, everyone will have copied it, and there's little that you can really do about it. Other crafters can always say, "Oh, I saw this idea here, or there", or, "Oh, we've been making these for a long time now!" And it's damned hard to prove they weren't.

And EVERY crafter does it. They get these ideas out of craft books and magazines and on The Net sites and everybody copies everything. There's no "Craft Police" that go around to the various shows and arrest people for using someone else's ideas.

And oddly enough, "zebras & bananas" DID become popular ideas for decorations, especially in the household. Just look at any store that sells home knick-knacks for that purpose and you'll see all sorts of things like fruit and jungle motif for sale. Even where I personally work we have dozens of such ideas, some specifically either in the form of bananas or zebras.

Taiwan ( China) didn't help crafters either. They have cheap labor and can produce inexpensive copies of things we find popular here in The States in this catagory as well. We used to make these yard ornaments for the holidays, like Halloween and Christmas. In fact it was one of our biggest sellers. I'd cut out pumpkins and black cats and witches and Santa Claus, and reindeer and snowmen which my wife or I would paint and then either nail or screw onto 4 foot wood stakes you could put in your yard during those times. We usually sold them for anything from $7. to $20. depending on how large they were or how much time, material cost and effort it took to make them. But, before you knew it, there they were in various stores, now made of plastic with factory silk-screened color and for five bucks or less. There went our market on them completely. So don't think they just bootleg movies and watches overseas; it's ANYTHING on which there's a profit to be made, and those who own retail stores here in this country are to blame as well because they purchase these...because they're cheaper.

But, bless her, my wife keeps prodding on making crafts, always trying for the next "big thing" with them. She over-spends on supplies and never comes out ahead, and quite honestly if we didn't take it all as a loss at the end of the year tax-wise, I'd found someone to buy out all of her craft stuff a long time ago as a lot, just so we could make room to store more "junk".

And it keeps her off the steets.

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