Squarespace Blog / "buyers guide"

Swinger Sunday - by Audrey Hussey from Kaboogie!

Meet Audrey!! An AMAZING work at home mama behind the best shoe store on earth, Kaboogie... be sure to check her out, after your done reading and commenting on her post of course!! 
As a lifelong crafter, I've always been a very discriminating shopper of handmade goods.  Since I won't sell anything I don't think is "perfect" to the best of my abilities, I tend to be a little hard on my fellow artists.  Blame my pop, everything he made was brutally well done. Since I started selling on Etsy over 3 years ago, I've worked like mad to hone my skills, and create the best brand I can.  I've also bought a lot of goods on Etsy, and it got me thinking.  How does one discern between okay crafts you may regret buying, and perhaps forego handmade websites, and the kind of items you treasure always?  How did my first buyers make the decision to spend their money on KaBoogie shoes? I mean, the obvious answer would be the picture.  There's enough threads, Storque articles and Google articles available so that most sellers shouldn't have an issue with photography.  Yet, some still do.  I know I did when I started.  That doesn't necessarily mean my product was poor quality, but again, it didn't help.  So you can't always rely on the picture.  You could take a chance there, and give a new seller a nice start.  Someone with a 2 year old shop, however, should have been able to put some effort into better pictures, even with limited resources.  Also, did the seller give multiple photos so you can see the product from all angles?   With that in mind, I do think picture quality gives some clue as to how serious a seller takes their business.That doesn't mean they don't make a great product, but it does make a potential buyer have to work harder to decide to take a chance.  Feedback is, in my opinion, one of the more dependable resources a buyer has.  I always check feedback.  I can forgive a negative or two from a higher volume seller, let's say, a misunderstanding about the product, shipping gone wrong, item broke, unreasonable buyer, etc.  Someone with no feedback, though, can seem like a risk.  You have to rely on photos, and a well written description.  Look for comments like "Quick shipment!  Great products!" and especially "Item was defective and seller was SO fast in replacing it!"  Anything to give a clue as to not only quality, but customer service.  That brings me to another well documented, yet little used way to make a well informed decision on whether to purchase a handmade item.  The description should tell you everything you need to know about the item.  I say little used, because as a seller, I get so many questions about products, that is clearly laid out in my descriptions, I conclude that very few buyers tend to read about them.  This works against the buyer, since vital information can be missed, and a potential bad feedback to buyer or seller may be left.  So it's important to read the descriptions!  Once you read everything, especially shipping cost, whether the item is made to order or available to ship, materials, care instruction, etc., ask questions.  Don't take anything for granted.  Are you completely vegan, and want to buy non leather baby shoes?  Ask, don't assume, the soles may still be leather.  Is a soap made with ingredients that give you a migraine?  I bought a DVD on Ebay UK 3 weeks ago.  I did not read all of the voluminous verbage down at the bottom of the page, and never got my video.  Once Christmas came and I didn't get my item, I investigated, and finally read the policy that PayPal payments MUST be made in British pounds.  I ASSUMED Paypal would convert it.  I also didn't read his notice that he was closed for 3 weeks over Christmas.  Ugh.  Buyers, read everything, and ask questions. Asking the seller should take care of two concerns.  One, you (hopefully) get your answer.  Two, you find out whether the seller is a serious business person, the kind who you can fairly well depend on if something goes wrong.  The kind who is available, and communicates with you because they WANT your business.  A seller recently sent only 3 of 4 items I purchased.  I convo'd her, and she had the 4th in the mail, priority, that afternoon.  She lost money in the process, and I know this.  I also know that her product is superb, and she will do whatever it takes to make me happy.  I will recommend her, and buy her products for years to come.  If a seller is new, they may be still ironing out their policies and not know all of the options they have available to settle an issue.  Sometimes you have to keep that in mind, and be patient.  The product may well be worth the efforts. The last, and probably most obvious way to tell if a seller has a good product is their volume.  The top sellers are top sellers because they have several things down.  A quality product, a "brand", meaning a cohesive mix of identity, consistent look, serious approach, great customer service, good feedback, and excellent product photography.  They also have great word of mouth, for all of these reasons.  You can see that they work hard for your business.  When buying handmade products, as with buying any product, you want to think the person put extra care and attention into their work.  Sometimes this won't be the case, but we have multiple ways to get a good idea of whether they did or not.  As a seller, I can tell you that bad feedback is the worst nightmare an artist or crafter has.  I can also tell you, that with all of the junk being mass produced by slave or near slave labor, with no enforced regulations, shipped to us from third world countries, we can no longer ignore the handmade market as a superior option for our consumer needs.  Personally, I would rather spend $10 more on a handmade sock monkey and know there's a similar mom on the other end of the sewing machine, than take a chance that the sweat shop produced monkey from Walmart will fall apart when my boy decides to have a giant stuffed animal battle! Audrey - Amazing, well-written post... and a great guideline for all new (and old) etsy buyers out there... there are a lot of amazing products out there, and a lot of not so great ones... so buyers - be aware... shop a great "brand" likey RockerByeBaby & Kaboogie!! haha
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