Statement: Fair Trade

I’ve been thinking for a long time about what is driving the economy in SL, and I don’t like what I see. I see talented people struggle, almost solely creating stuff for Miserable Mondays, Tatty Tuesdays, Whiny Wednesday, Thrifty Thursdays, Fuckedup Fridays, Squealing Saturdays and Silly Sundays and then they manage to squeeze in some time to keep up with the rat race for the various themed  projects, sales events, awareness fairs, agency ego trips and other craziness.

Whereas I think there should always be room in our community to reach out for those in less fortunate situations ( I seriously love how people manage to step up to the plate and create awesome stuff when disaster strikes, like for instance the Haiti earthquake, the Victoria fires and the Pakistan floods) I also think that stuff has gotten way out of hand, and when I listen to the people around me, I think I’m not the only one with that opinion. Creators make hardly any sales at a number of events, to the point of not making tier anymore and closing down. Others still do have sales, but they are so tangled up in things that you find panic plurks about not having met a deadline and being bashed by the organisers of the missed deadline event and in many cases, I have not seen any regular releases in ages, just specials.

Now, I realize that this is not something that will change easily. Frankly, I think many more shops will close over this madness before things normalize, because I simply think the market is over saturated. In the future, content creating will be for the professionals with a good business model, and the true hobbyists who don’t care if they are putting in money instead of  cashing out some. I still think that being a succesful content creator in SL is possible, but I seriously doubt it will be the case for the people in the rat race right now unless people are willing to start to think long term again, instead of making a quick buck.

Personally, I have decided to NOT feature any of above mentioned weekly cheapies anymore on my blog.  and be REALLY selective on what events I will give coverage.  I want to support quality content. Fair Trade. A fair price, for good stuff. And I hope that over time some of the creators that I admire will have the guts to step up and say “Hell no, my stuff is worth more than this!”

♥ Graz

23 comments

  1. I agree with you on this. There is a pressure to participate and it’s due to trying to keep up with the “Jones” as we say here in the States.

    I myself don’t go to hunts, don’t run off to the next 49L give away. I’ll pay what the Item is worth and to me it’s worth a lot more. My time is worth plenty more and the creators time is too. So I will pay that price, the fair price and be happy that I’m helping in keepings someone’s hard work and dream alive in SL. Without the creators in SL… what would the point be in logging in?

  2. As much as I love what the original innovation was behind some of those ideas…I tend to agree that we’re heading, very fast, to a bad ending.

  3. I am completely in your opinion it was really more and more of these special events. For good stuff I like too pay a fair price.

  4. I agree absolutely and have committed to doing no more hunts or special events for the next few months to concentrate on customer appreciation promotions and regular releases as well as upgrading my sims, products and listing on marketplace etc. I may in fact, unless the event is very special, give them up for good. I see what this over saturation of freebies/hunts and huge events is doing every day in my own business and the ones that are now having to close down weekly. I hope others will see this too and agree to back up a little and look at the long term as you said. Maybe one day we can get back to quality work for a price and freebies and cheaper things being what they used to be, tokens and light promotional items, not everyone’s VERY best work for little or no return. Imagine a row of restaurants all with wonderful samples at the door…each one having a lovely and substantial serving of their food as you walk by…will you purchase lunch when you get to the end of the street?
    What started out as a fun idea to promote quickly turns into boring and sometimes destructive. Thank you so much for posting this very much needed food for thought.

  5. The freebie events and hunts will die a natural death if creators stop participating in them. I am keeping my current (2) commitments, and not committing to anything else for a while. Everyday it’s something new, some new promotion, some new charity. I’m exhausted! Grazia, this post is very timely, and spot on! Thank you!

  6. Defiantly agree with what is going on with the Day of the Week whatevers. I see the same craziness with “Grid Wide Hunts” and the general pressure to provide more and more unique free things for little to no reason at all. It used to be a joke to see a store with more prims dedicated to the events they were in than the actual products they had for sale, now its pretty common.

    A lot of it comes down to valuation. While it can be nice or a good marketing tool to put out a cheap or free item once in a while, doing it all the time hurts your products valuation. When people know they can get pretty much whatever they want for nothing, none of it has any value to them at all.

  7. Well said, I am a small store trying to find a foothold in the saturated market and have worked myself into a right mess. I have decided that after all the events I’ve signed up for are over I’m going to be very picky over what I decide to do. I have lost money on fairs etc as I made very few if any sales, I’m continually being told how great my work is but the sales don’t make me feel like this.

    I have already dropped 60l weekends and am now moving on to make better stuff on a more regular basis for the store and those that truly appreciate us designers that put time and effort into creating quality items.

  8. I may be in the minority here, but I will have to say that as a consumer, doing some of these “hunts” and weekday specials has been beneficial (at least to me.) I am not the type to usually just rush in, grab the low price item/hunt item and not look around.

    I’ve found many shops that participate that sometimes I’ve never seen before. If I am there at this shop I’ve never been too, let’s say for example Tee*fy. I wouldn’t have known Tee*fy unless I saw it at the Dressing Room. I LOVE that shop. I went there and bought quite a bit of things, then I have also returned severeal times too. I’m definitely a Tee*fy fan now.

    And not only that, but i found a Tee*fy in a little shopping area that I went through everything and shopped. Same with hunts. I found an awesome gold puffy winter vest jacket in a store on this Harajuku hunt, and I’ve never saw that store before. I ended up shopping even more.

    If there were not hunts or sales, then I may not even know about these as I try to read blogs a lot, but if people aren’t blogging these off the road shops, then I may never see them.

    On the other hand, yes I can see the industry is saturated. The modeling industry in SL is very oversaturated. I think SL in general, for “fashion industry” has a lot of things that have gone wrong.

    I don’t know if I necessarily want these activities to stop. I look forward to some of them all the time: stumblebum, themeory, FLF, Lazy Friday, HDH, so I have somethign on my weekend to plan for. I see bloggers posting pictures and check the rumor and then I can go and pick up things I’ve seen. I don’t do a lot of hunts, but when I do, Tiago and I go together and we have fun looking around for the items. He tells me “No Shopping!” and I do it anyways 🙂

    So there are benefits from this. I just hope that I’m not really the only one who not only benefits and enjoys the activities of daily deals and hunts, but also helps with my extra purchases of normal priced items and discovery so I can be a repeat customer.

  9. Grazia, you have a great point but Summer has said what is on my mind.
    It gives me something to look forward to, and sometimes, I can find a new favorite store from an event, or hunt.

    Otherwise, I would have probably never heard of the store before or even know that it exists. To me, I see these event items as samples for the store to show off.

    Of course, I would gladly try to pick them all up but when I can, if I like something that is a new release, I would buy if I can afford.

  10. I wholeheartedly agree!

    Yeah, these events can be beneficial, but they are gimmicks, and excessive. Why would anyone want to buy a designers item full price if they can just bide their time until X day of the week to get it cheap?

    There are other ways to get your name out there, without having to succumb to pressures from these copycat groups – like advertising, like everyone else does.

    If designers who see this post take a stand, it might make a difference, who knows – it’s worth a try.

  11. I don’t feature those items either as their shelf life is usually one day or one week and then are no longer available. Many people who read my blog posts read them later than the day they were posted, so those items would not be useful to them. I also agree that the ubiquity of discounts and hunts has made folks more resistant to paying a fair price.

  12. This is a very good post Grazia – eloquent and intelligent.

    On my end, I don’t do those cheap day sales and tapering off the events for quite some time now for Fab.Pony; it’s a choice based on timelines. If it works for some people that’s cool. Enough time is required to invest in solid forms of advertising and (enjoying the process) of creating.. my days have 24 hours…

  13. Excellent post, I totally agree with Grazia. Of course consumers benefit, who would not benefit from low prices or sales? The answer is, the creator community. As Ivey Deschanel so nicely put it, if restaurants offer free samples of best dishes everyday at the entrance, why would you buy lunch at the end of the street? Of course it would be beneficial, won’t we all like that? But it is bad for the community in the long run.

    What we need to keep in mind is, the more the stores, the more the competition the more competitive prices consumers will get. If you go for the short term advantage of slashed prices, you will soon run out of choice amongst creators as most will leave very soon, leaving only the big ones around to monopolize. Then, you definitely will not be able to buy what you want when the sales craziness is over.

    Never the less, this is akin to preserving the eco-system, not biting the hand that feeds the system, both consumers and creators need each other, death of one will invariably lead to death of the other.

  14. Hi Grazia! First I would like to say I am another admirer of your blog hehe.

    Second, I agree with everyone said above me. Great post!
    I think that the designers sometimes feel obligated to participate in these events.
    Like you said, it is not fair to the designers, because the process of creating an item – clothes, skin, hair, shoes etc. – is very complex, it requires a lot of time and hard work.
    And money too because one upload costs 10 L$. Imagine how many uploads the designers do until the product is done.
    So they deserve to sell their creations for a good price.

  15. I agree with Summer, although I don’t usually do hunts and the only events I look forward to are Project Themory, The Dressing Room, and 50 Linden Fridays. If a designer makes something I like I will pay full price for it if the price is reasonable. On the other hand, I have seen some completely outrageous prices for products and I find that arrogant on the end of the designer. Since Ivey commented above, I will use her as an example of what I consider reasonable prices. I often buy things from her store at full price because I find the prices reasonable. Some of us have limited income in real life, but love Second Life so these events give us a opportunity to make our avatars look pretty. There are things I have purchased at these events that I would have never bought at the regular price in the first place. Therefore, I don’t think it is always the case of why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free (cheap). More than often its getting something over nothing (50L or 0L?).

  16. A lot of really good points above. It’s about economics and expectations when it comes down to it.

    The effect is that people are being trained to expect some good things for free or low cost over and over. It’s one thing to have a ‘loss leader’ and quite another when you give away the farm.

    The growing pressure also comes from the ‘something for nothing’ mentality that comes in RL and SL. Especially our digital culture that wants movies/music/games for free from a Napster inspired generation.

    It lowers the perception of value if people expect to get good things for next to nothing. Paying a price for a good or service becomes a joke for so many because they assume it should be that way. Ask any SL photographer how people haggle with them or undercut a cost ‘because it’s just a picture’.

    What so many people are dealing with is the over riding expectation of things that are quick, fast and cheap. Key word being CHEAP. Wal-Mart just realized that rollback prices don’t work as a fix-all. They have actually increased some prices and seen that consumers are responding by paying it!

    You can’t discount your way to prosperity. The volume required is far more than the economy of SL can support.

    The economics of it will teach a lot of hard lessons and that’s unfortunate. The better alternative would be grid hunts that are about fantastic products at quality prices. Rather than throw freebies at people, get them to visit a series of stores with high quality merchandise and a 1/2 off incentive on an item? That way, you have the LM in your inventory and a chance to really evaluate the products.

    A quality publication or group in SL could really make something like this if they felt like it and if business owners tired of the freebie madness banded together.

    Just sayin.

  17. These events have killed the Gorean fashion industry. We have Sunday, Specials, 25L tuesdays, Twisted Thursdays, 30L saturdays and it goes on and on. I too started off by featuring some of the specials but after Bina and Little Tasta closed I stopped. It’s not just mainstream fashion that has been effected, role play fashion is as well. I support what you are doing 100%

  18. A year ago roughly I stopped operating my business at the full blown job I was treating it as in the two years prior.

    A few may still see my designs around, but by current standards, I am at best an oldbie.

    Dysfunctional Dolly Designs may shortly be closing its doors forever, including the 40 someodd retired freebie items I give over 300 away of a day at the Gorean Freebie Market, where these freebies were what the idea originally was of – Items of decent quality, enough to sample ones work, supply new people to see a designer, and so they have a nice starting ground.

    Once all the major hunts, 25L$ this and that, etc all started, I simply could not keep up. Not to mention a rather Pirate-name-themed place that has become prevalent in Gor, I lost a lot of business for people no longer wishing to support original designers, simply getting what was cheap, even if it was a business in a box item, or copied other designers works, or even if the designer themselves was an obnoxious snotbag.

    tl;dr – I’m closing my almost 4 year old business because of this trend.

  19. Just found this post – completely agree. Unfortunately, until I’ve found a good way of getting people in my store to buy the regular stuff I’m stuck doing the L$60 weekend thing. Like most of the responses here I’ve quit doing hunts, but will participate in an event if I feel there is good exposure.

    One way I’ve found to help boost my regular sales on L$60 days is strategic product selection and placement. I’ve found increased sales of the products near the L$60 item. Also when my L$60 item is part of a set, I’ve gotten good sales of the other items in the set. So it’s not all bad, and it keeps me afloat until things turn around (if they ever do.)

    I also do have a basic jewelry set I put out for avatars under 30 days to get for free. Newbie retention is an important thing. The number of avatars that start up and then quit within the first month is much too high – we need to keep them in Second Life so they can come buy our stuff!

    I do notice that there is a general feeling among consumers that hunts aren’t worth doing because the stuff you get isn’t very good. And yes, we’re all getting smarter and not giving away stuff anymore, hopefully it’s only a matter of time before the freebie culture fizzles out.

    Thanks for the post, Grazia. It’s really nice to have someone like you on our side!!

  20. Just had to toss in my two cents here. ^^ I found this post very well put together but overall, I slightly disagree like Summer. I would not have found as many shops as these sales or rarely (because I don’t do them as much) hunts have brought to light. I do agree there is serious overkill on daily sales but I also think that if it’s too much for designers, they shouldn’t sign up for it in the first place. I understand the glamour of trying to draw in new people through the sales but they could always do small little events at their store instead, those draw my interest more of the time. ^^

  21. To me, low priced items are not an insult to the creator. People only have so much money, personally I would rather buy ten 10L outfits than one 100L outfit. So the great majority of my spending is on sales, deals and such. I do buy full price items regularly, but when I do, that means one store is getting a bigger chunk of me and several other stores will be getting nothing. Does that help creators? I don’t think so, yes it helps one creator and hurts the others. Maybe for shoppers who rarely shop, maybe once a week or twice a month, then the sales would hurt stores. But for people like me who shop nearly everyday, who’s main SL activity is shopping it’s different.

    Another thing to consider, SL is a game. I don’t feel that creators deserve to make a profit anymore than anyone else who puts a lot into SL. I am happy of course if they do, but they should be doing it for the fun of things, the hobbyists as you put it. I have friends who pour a ton of money into secondlife, they own RP land, personal homes, live music venues. They don’t make a profit of course and don’t expect to. It’s great if they do but that’s just not realistic.

    So my point is, maybe it’s true some designers may not make a profit and will leave SL. But I would rather have (for example) 15shops of hobbyists than 2shops of more expensive profiting places. With saturation the only way to make sure people make a profit is to remove the extra stores. I put in a set amount of USD every month, and I spend it all but I will not go over. I will buy as many items as I can with that.

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