Heather Ross, Fabric Shopping, Google, and 15 minutes…
…or how to spend less (theoretically so that you can buy more.)
I’m a notorious stasher. It’s pretty well known amongst my friends that I collect certain things with an uncompromising passion (ie obsession.). Stamps, yarn, paper, and fabric… I have tons of it all. I know I’ll get around to using it eventually. In the meantime, it helps insulate my house which reduces energy costs, right? *nudge*
Since I’m not made of money, I’ve had to become a pretty savvy shopper to keep me in excessive supply. I almost never pay retail for anything and when I do, it’s only after I’ve done a lot of research to make sure I can’t find it cheaper elsewhere.
Thanks to online shopping, we’ve got stores from across the country (and around the globe) available to us. I’m a big fan of shopping locally and supporting your town’s craft stores. You can find great deals in the sale sections and with coupons and you should take advantage of those when you can. But barring local deals, the internet is a shopper heaven…and hell considering the sheer amount of info out there. But it’s often worth the effort.
For example, Heather Ross recently announced that she will not be releasing new designs in the near future and existing lines will not be reprinted. Suddenly her fabrics (which were already in high demand) are instant collectibles. But what does that really mean? It means some sellers are raising their prices from sale/retail to collectible/rare prices. But that doesn’t mean you have to pay that.
The Fabric Shopper, which is an absolute favorite site of mine, is running a little piece on finding some of Heather’s fabrics. (What’s that, you didn’t know about The Fabric Shopper?! Quick…subscribe to their feed asap! It’s awesome.)
West Hill Article Lightening Bugs and Other Mysteries Article
They’ve done a great job of finding the fabric for you on Etsy and other major online sellers. But as I started cruising those links (and I won’t list any specific stores here to protect the “innocent”) I realized that there was some definite supply-and-demand pricing going on. A yard for one pattern was listed for $35! Fat quarters are being listed for $13 and $15. I, personally, am not willing to pay that much…especially when 15 minutes of my time will suss out everything I want for more reasonable prices. And I had to find more reasonable prices since Ross is one of my favorite designers and I have to get my hot little fingers on some of that fabric before it’s gone gone gone! 🙂
Here’s where Google comes in. Through my day job, I have a solid knowledge of search engine practices. And here’s the thing…sometimes you have to go deeper than page 3 of the search results. Corporations pay companies like mine a lot of money to help them figure out how to optimize their website so that it appears on the first page of search results on Google. And there’s a business reason why. Studies show, clicks are maxmized from that first page and that most people don’t dig into the results more deeply than the 3rd page.
But for bargain hunters, there’s treasure to be found beyond page 3. Small retailers don’t have the website build/taxonomy know-how or website traffic to get their pages on those first results pages. But they have the product, and they have it at good prices. Sure, their site may not be flashy or pretty…but who cares?
I spent 15 minutes searching through Google results for “‘Heather Ross’ fabric” and I went through the results up to the 20th (!) page of results. But what did that yield? I found Heather Ross prints I didn’t find on Etsy or ebay. I found prints listed in the sale section of stores for 1/2 off retail (and that’s for yardage going for premium prices on Etsy sellers and on Ebay.) Sure, it took some digging on the various websites…but when an Etsy seller lists a fat quarter for $13 and I find a yard of it for $8.95 it’s worth it to me.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Etsy and eBay fan…especially Etsy. I find great bargains there all of the time. But the Heather Ross example is a great instance where Etsy/eBay are not going to yield your best deals or even your best selection.
You may be asking “What’s your point?!” by now. My point is – I hate spending more than I need to and in today’s economic times, I wanted to share my experience with you so that you can save a little money but still fuel your craft habit too. The Heather Ross example is just a single example. Dig deeper in search results and you’ll find a plethora of buried bargains for anything you want to buy.
And to save you some time…here are the prime links I found for Heather Ross’ Lightening Bugs and Other Mysteries and West Hill collections. You can often find pieces of her other lines at these stores too…but I focused on the two previously mentioned lines. Happy shopping!
On Board Fabrics 1
On Board Fabrics 2
Sew Mama Sew
Crafters Vision (search for Heather Ross)
(update 4/6/09 – After a couple of reports from you, I’ve removed Around the Block from this list as it appears they are out of business but still taking orders. Grrr. Thanks for keeping me informed everyone!)
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