Nov 27, 2008

Cheap Cheap (Bead) Worker....

....not of Western origin.
Our economy is lagging and sagging because of the cheap imports. It's so cheap we can just flick down our card and purchase to hearts content. Like the saying goes: "The cheap turns out expensive." Maybe we have come to the end of saturation in our market. Bisphenol A in polycarbonate drinking bottles, melamine in modified milk and soy products, toxins in imported toothpaste, mercury and malachite green in fish, lead in our toys and jewelry components....we are becoming aware. Whats it got to do with Beads or Polymer Clay? I'll get to that.

Purchasing cheap products may be hazardous to your health, not just when using and consuming them, but when throwing them away. You've seen my articles about our beaches becoming filled with plastic and garbage, plastic toxins in the ocean and about Autism . I should add the Disappearing Male.(CBC documentary). These days we are so willing to sacrifice quality to get it cheaper. Hey! lol....why are we complaining about gasoline being so expensive! when we pay more for a liter of ordinary tap-water! The subject of 'toxins' has been on the news quite a lot, but always got swept under the rug again real quick. But.... as with anything under a rug...the bulk eventually gets noticed! The bulk is quite the hill now, isn't it.

Now on the Artist side of the cheap cheap cheap, here is some more controversial food for thought.....

Are you a subscriber and customer of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads? The most recent notice is of a big Holiday sale ....wow....finished necklaces for $1!!!! look here Asian Bling for less!

Seeing a major "supplier" selling finished jewelry from Asia not only leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but it may even contain lead such as this simple gemstone piece and this prettier crystal one. Keyword in the description is: "may contain". May....so the supplier isn't sure and feels they can get rid of the responsibility by saying "may"....or the buyer may feel that well, maybe it contains it, so maybe not and there will be less risk. mmm....
Un-suspecting buyers that aren't beadworkers themselves may not recognize a lack in craftmanship when the stringing material is inferior or not nickel-free for those with allergies. Now, it does happen with us that we purchase clasps as nickel-free and then find out otherwise, either because the supplier was unaware and didn't check quality or because the supplier to the supplier was deceptive.....(as in melamine-milk incident). I think wholesale suppliers/distributors should be liable and be able to assure us buyers what a product is and is not.

Now, getting down to what realllllly bothers me about this '....' hitting our market is that we actually have to compete with that!! First of all, we can't compete with the low prices. Wow...look at this.....HIP and TRENDY wood bracelet, 24 for a mere $11.06 and also advertised as low as .26 cents per bracelet. mmm...bracelets are soooo trendy right now, but...can I produce a .26 cent bracelet?....no way, not even if I don't pay myself! LOL! Or polymer clay beads and bracelets advertised for as low as .29 cents! One of my cheapest beads may sell for that (without a bracelet!). I forgot to add....and "FMG" makes a PROFIT on that .26 cent bracelet, at least 50%!!

Then there are the other Jewelry 'FMG' is selling.... Mardi Gras Beads..... A mere $2.19 per 12. Have you ever wondered how they are made? or wondered about the conditions of those young chinese workers? there was a fabulous documentary about that a while back. Horrific!! Toxic!! There is a link to the documentary on the link.

Ok, aside from that....why in the world would a bead supplier want to sell cheap asian made jewelry and not just beads and supplies (a large majority that also gets manufactured in Asia). Supplies used to be their main focus.....and I ask myself.....why won't the supplier support those of us that purchase supplies from them in the first place?!...by selling our finished wares too! Ah...I suspect there isn't as much profit in selling our wares as there is with the cheap bling....duh!

So, I wrote to Fire Mountain to ask some questions. I don't expect a response, but isn't a bead supplier that sells finished products and making us compete with that other market contributing to the same lagging and sagging part in the economy when 'cheaper' comes from elsewhere?

Compare the Automakers here to those in Asia.....and who is loosing their job first? The same goes for the Forestry Industry....why are we shipping Wood products to Asia, just to have them shipped back as a finished product? Why don't we give laid-off forestry workers jobs to finish those logs? ....because its cheaper 'over there'. Why don't we process our own cod (as in High Liner as an example). Why do we send our Fish to Asia to be processed and in the mean-time fish processing plants get closed all over PEI and Nova Scotia.....because its cheaper 'over there'.

Well, they say there is always room for the best.....but there is a point of saturation and the glass is just about full now.....

3 comments:

Dave Robertson said...

Hi Tina, thoughtful post here. You're right, there are all kinds of issues like these to think of in our industry. Pretty ironic in the business of pretty stuff! Thanks for writing about this.

--Dave
at Rings & Things

Tina Holden said...

Thanks for your kind comment Dave! :) I did feel just a tinge of uncertainty about going ahead posting about it, but it has been itchin' at me for some time to say something. Our industry is important and needs to be protected somewhat, at least when it comes to 'finished' goods that are made from the supplies, both imported and north american made.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tina, I've been thinking similar thoughts for a few years.It seems to me that we, who make our own jewelry , need to try to educate our public when we set up to sell. Not in a mean way,but in the way of FYI....Other than that, I guess the best way to meet the challenge of unfair competition is to innovate and design more interesting and better constructed jewelry.

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