freebie debate, part 2.

If you did not read Part 1 of the great freebie debate, and would like to, click here:
Part 1

“Freebies” (ahem, complimentary charts) were not as prevalent at the Nashville market this year. A step in the right direction, if you ask me. I’d estimate that roughly 30% of exhibitors offered complimentary designs this year.
Plans are in the works to bring attention to the cross stitch vendors at the summer TNNA show, and one of those plans includes the offering of a complimentary design, which will be part of a unit. In order to receive the entire unit, a shop owner must visit each participating booth. A fine idea at first glance, yet one which doesn’t place a value on a designer’s talents. One of the participating designers was overheard at market saying: “I don’t see them offering free thread or fabric… what’s expected is that the INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY will be given away. How is this fair?!” And I agree with her. Just because the raw material of my product happens to be an intangible thing (my creativity) doesn’t mean it’s worthless. Admittedly, it’s much easier for everyone to assign value to raw materials which must be purchased (ie. cone of thread costs $X.00) but please don’t assume our ideas should be given away just because we did not purchase them from a manufacturer.
A recent post on a message board poses the question: “where did all the cheapness come from?”, meaning why do stitchers believe materials for stitching should be acquired inexpensively? Well, obviously designers who offer complimentary designs on a regular basis play a large part in this mindset. If I can ‘afford’ to give away a nice design, what would make anyone think that comparable designs are worth $8.00 or more?
Also contributing to the mix are larger companies like DMC and Dimensions, who market their products to big box discounters (read WalMart). Needlework shops cannot compete with the pricing because they cannot afford to purchase by the thousands and receive quantity discounts from the manufacturer. In addition, placement of such products at ‘common’ stores removes the *special-ness* of the product. I simply can’t imagine getting excited about purchasing needlework products at the same place I purchase my toothpaste. And since it’s not a special treat, I sure as heck don’t want to pay much for it.
I was almost convinced to begin offering complimentary designs to reap the marketing benefits, but I just can’t. It wouldn’t be right for me to contribute to the decline of an industry which I am counting on for support. A bit like shooting myself in the foot… I will remain committed to my original stance: to offer a complimentary chart *only* in the instance that doing so will directly advertise or benefit a charitable organization.