Independent merchants in the hobby, craft, and framing industries have long spoken about misleading practices by Michaels stores—most specifically, advertising deep discounts while actually charging full price.

Well, as the saying goes, the chickens have come home to roost.  [click here to continue…]


Hammering it home

by Cinda Baxter on February 20, 2009

in Discounting, Independent Retailers, Retail

home_studio_1Before I even get started, let me be clear: my heart and soul are with storefront retailers, not home based businesses who purchase the same product being sold to brick and mortar stores, then sell it at a discount.* Having taken plenty-o-kicks in the shins the past two weeks from the kitchen table crowd, I fully expect the following post will result in my photo being plastered to dartboards everywhere.

Oh well. Just be sure to use one with me smiling. [click here to continue…]


Burn notice

by Cinda Baxter on February 2, 2009

in Discounting, Marketing, Retail

urgent lettersSaturday, I received renewal notices for three magazines I subscribe to: one that runs out in May, one in June, and one in September. Three guesses which envelope was emblazoned with “LAST CHANCE!” graphics?

Yup. September. Late September. Nine months away. I’m willing to bet they give me another chance (or twelve).

Several things make me nuts about this jump the gun marketing approach, from the insinuation I’ve somehow forgotten I just gave them money four months ago to the absurd amount of waste created by stacks of reminder mailings to the simple annoyance factor of being continually asked to hand over more money. [click here to continue…]


Back in August, the Supreme Court handed down a decision that, while not favored by discounters and online retailers, protects independent stationers in ways they’ve dreamed of for years. With the blessings of the high court, manufacturers are able to not only set MSRP, but are also allowed to set a minimum threshold for prices on their products and enforce them.

Translated? There’s finally a way to stop discounters and home studios from eating your invitations business alive (assuming your vendors step up and do the right thing).

This summer’s Supreme Court ruling, based on a lawsuit between a discount store and a purse manufacturer, reverses a 1911 precedent that made price guarantees illegal. According to the modern court, such assurances aren’t automatically breaks in anti-trust law, but ways to protect manufacturers (and, by extension, full service retailers) from predatory pricing schemes that devalue their products and business. To see the full Wall Street Journal article explaining the decision, click here.

How does this protect you, as a full service stationer? Simple. It pulls the plug from vendors’ protests that they can’t force home studios and discounters to charge full price. With the exception of Crane’s (who wisely prints “Property of Crane and Co.” on the cover of every album), endless vendors have chanted that anti-trust logic while continuing to enjoy income from discounters, to the fiscal dismay of their full price, brick and mortar retailers.

With the new ruling, however, vendors are allowed to set firm minimum prices, then close the accounts of discounters who continue to price below them. Period.

Imagine the reaction of home studios who rely on discounts to lure customers to their basements and kitchens, or internet invitation discounters, who have been riding the coattails of traditional retail stores for years, essentially using them as free showrooms to make their own online sales.

Paper-related discounters aren’t the only ones crying foul; operators like Brian Okin, owner of an online home improvement store, claim minimum price policies are responsible for him losing sales and substantial revenue. In Mr. Okin’s words, “It just makes it so difficult to compete.”

Huh. Kind of like when online discounters undercut full price storefronts…?

Now…whaddaya say we get those books out of Suzie Smith’s basement studio once and for all?

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