We need to talk about Black Friday. It’s been here a few years now in the UK, and there seems to have become a certain level of expectation that all businesses will offer amazing discounts. Well that’s all well and good from the big retailers, but I honestly think that it’s too much to ask of smaller businesses.
I started this moan over on Instagram this morning after seeing and sharing an image by @bycharlieshand (below) but I knew that I’d barely scratched the surface. So hang tight.
For a lot of small businesses Black Friday now means that most of their Christmas sales are crammed into the space of about three weeks which is really not a lot of time if your products are handmade and each one unique. (And not forgetting of course allowing time for the postman to deliver it). Such products cannot be pre-made and ready to post out as soon as the orders start coming in. They take time, care and in my case great precision to make each one just right. I won’t let my standards slip, and I’m pretty sure that my customers wouldn’t want that either. The Christmas run up used to be over the space of around two to three months, and thanks to this somewhat crazy tradition that seems to have started it is now flipping manic for much less time. Personally, last year I was working up to 18 hour days when I was at full capacity. Flooded capacity? Over capacitated anyway. And I know of other small business owners who were exactly the same, trying to keep up with the demand of the last minute shoppers. This is just one of the reasons why it makes no sense to participate in the Black Friday frenzy as a small business. (Just to be clear I didn’t participate in Black Friday, it was manic because so many customers came at once and in the end I did have to turn orders away which I absolutely loathe to do!)
Now I’m not saying don’t shop, quite the opposite! I’m saying don’t wait for those small businesses to discount that handmade item that you have your eye on because chances are they won’t discount it anyway.
Not only this, but the margins of small businesses are not that of the likes of certain electronics stores and the big retailers and so we just can’t offer those same huge discounts, not at least without suffering for it – working like a lunatic for no profit. We need to pay the bills and feed and support our families too.
I think that Black Friday is all well and good if your TV has given up the ghost, but let’s keep it to the big boys and not expect the same of the small businesses.
Please do support your local shops, markets and shop small online this Christmas. You never know what you might find. But I do know one thing, and that is that the person who runs the little shop that you visit, or online business on Etsy will value your business far more.
And if you are a small business owner and have decided that you too will not be a part of this mayhem, there is a hashtag for that… #noblackfriday for the people who are taking a stand against the pressure to conform. You really don’t have to compete with the big boys.
I really am so greatful for every single order that I receive, and all of your support in my jewellery making business dream. Thank you for being a huge part of it, making it all possible, and respecting my choices in order to stay afloat and not starve!
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Graphic by: By Charlie's Hand - check out her awesome papercutting skills here https://www.facebook.com/ByCharliesHand/