Most small business owners think decisions by the National Labor Relations Board exclude them—after all, aren’t those the guys that deal with big unions? Yes, but “labor” applies to nearly all businesses, regardless of size, location, and type. If you have employees, you’re probably in the club.

Which is why you need to know about an April 30 deadline coming up–the NLRB requires qualified businesses to post an 11 x 17 poster detailing employee rights by that date.  [click here to continue…]

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I’ve been pretty vocal on The 3/50 Project’s Facebook page today about the overwhelming risks passage of SOPA or PIPA would have on independent brick and mortars. Here’s a cheat sheet to get you through the muck.

SOPA: Stop Online Piracy Act (the House bill)
PIPA: Protect Intellectual Property Act (the Senate bill)
• Main difference: SOPA extends to also include streaming content
• Main risk: While the initial focus was international pirating of video and music, the bills have been overwritten to include all domestic U.S. sites, including social media, making site/page/blog owners responsible for fan posts and content

A simple example of SOPA overkill making a small business owner responsible for someone else’s unethical behavior: (For the stationery store owners and printers in the group, think: Bride brings in her own graphic or monogram design…)  [click here to continue…]

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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…]


Blogger earns a massive thumbs down

by Cinda Baxter on February 16, 2010

in Law, Rant, The 3/50 Project

registration_marksThose of you who own a registered trademark, brand, or business name know how important it is to protect it, assuring that a third party doesn’t use it without permission, then twist your hard work into something unintended. Thankfully, social sites like Facebook and Twitter understand the inherent risks, and uphold the law, doing a fine job of quickly pulling down unauthorized use of trademarks and copyright protected materials (upon confirmation of legal ownership).

Blogger, on the other hand, chooses to protect the scammers.

That’s right. I said scammers. And in case there’s any doubt, I’m seriously ticked off (more accurately, I’m seriously p***ed off, but my Mom reads this, so gotta keep it clean). [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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