Friday, February 1, 2013

The bitterness of poor quality remains

"The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten." - Benjamin Franklin

Wise words by Ben Franklin to be sure. I remember a while back listening to the host of a nationally televised program complain about a particular furniture store. I won't say which one exactly, but it starts with an "I" and sounds a little like "chia" (like the chia pet). He complained about the assembly. He complained about how quickly it falls apart. He said, "I don't know why people keep buying this stuff (he may have used a descriptive term other than stuff)." At that point two thoughts crossed my mind. I was certain that if I walked into his house that I would see a whole house full of furniture from that store. And I would have felt pretty confident betting (with my own money even) that once that furniture fell completely apart that he was going to march right back to that store and buy some more of it. Everybody sitting at the table with him all nodded their heads in agreement and piled on a bit. The bitterness of poor quality was very much on display. The sweetness of low price was as forgotten as who lost the Super Bowl in 1982. If it wasn't for the fact that I had already poured myself a stiff drink, I would have had to pour myself a stiff drink.

Those people on that television show aren't alone by any means. In fact, I'd say that they are the norm. Why do I say that? Let me sum it up this way. The biggest furniture manufacturer in the world (last I heard) is also known for making furniture that can't survive a move. People line up when they open a new store. Some people literally camped out on the sidewalk in front of the store the night before the new store opened near me. People were stoked. It was an event. The beginning of a new era. The best thing to happen since someone came up with a way to actually go to the bathroom indoors. I watched the news coverage and poured myself a drink. For the record, I'm not as big of a lush as I'm making myself out to sound (although I am working on it, you have to constantly strive to improve your skills after all).

What gets me is watching people complain bitterly about the low quality of what they bought last time (either at that same store they bought it from or at a competitor just like it with a different name). If you are so annoyed with the low quality, why are you back to buy some more of it? Oh yeah, the sweetness of the low price. Suddenly choosing the sweetness of high quality while enduring the bitterness of the higher up front price (a post in itself for a different day) becomes almost a revolutionary thought.

Well hold up a second there, some of you say. It's not that we don't want to buy high quality furniture. Nor is it that we are unwilling to pay the price for that furniture. It's just so hard to find it. Nobody does that sort of thing any more. I have actually had people say that very thing to my face, while looking at 100 square foot display of woodworking that I have for sale. Honestly, I have no idea what to say to people when they tell me that. Okay, that's not entirely true, but my sarcasm is not the point.

If you are tired of being bitter about buying low quality, then stop! There really are literally hundreds (and more likely thousands) of high quality craftsmen (and a growing number of high quality craftswomen) in this country. You don't even have to put in all that much work into locating one of us. As I'm writing this there are over 2,100 items in the furniture category  on Etsy. There are 788 woodworkers in the woodworking community on Google+. Most of them will build you a high quality piece of furniture if you but ask. Are you on Facebook? I don't even know how many individual woodworkers and small woodworking shops are there. I find new ones every time I go on it. Last but not least, you're here. So you've already found one.  All you have to do now is decide to make a better choice.

And with that, I'm off to..... I bet you were thinking I was going to say pour myself a stiff drink. HA! Fooled you. I was going to say make supper. I poured the stiff drink back on the first paragraph.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

2012 Apex Craft Fair - Arvada, CO

The 2012 Craft Fair is almost here! It is a long running craft fair with lots of great hand-made vendors. It starts Friday, November 2, 6-8:30pm and goes through to Saturday, November 3, 9am-3pm. While it is a much smaller show than the Colorado Country Christmas show at the Denver Merchandise Mart (which is the same weekend), this cozy little show sure is a charmer. Assuming that the same people are cooking, the food is pretty darn good too.
So here’s the secret. Check out that Friday time again. It’s Friday night, only for 2 ½ hours. It’s almost kind of a sneak preview before everyone else comes by on Saturday. And the show is small enough to see the whole thing in 2 ½ hours. More than one of our shoppers last year were at one of the other shows during the day, but made a point to come to this one Friday night. I have no doubt that most of them also had another show in mind on Saturday. So if your plans sound similar, jump on I-25 to Hwy 76. Get off onto Wadsworth Blvd and head north (turn right). The community recreation center is on the right hand side of the road at 6842 Wadsworth Blvd. There’s parking in the front and more around the left side of the building. Stop in ($2 admission or free with a donation of school supplies), grab a bit of dinner and put your feet up for a bit. Then wander around the best little craft show you will find this weekend. We will be up on the stage, be sure to stop by and say hello.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A straight forward answer and a puzzling reaction

Every once in a while I will be engaged in a discussion regarding the expected life span of my work.  This seems to come in two forms and each form has distinctly different reactions. Some will, upon inspection, note that they are certain whatever they are looking at will last for a very long time. It is something that they appreciate in the piece.There is another group of people though who ask how long I expect something I built to last (and thus how long they should expect it to last). Their reaction is different and I'm not exactly sure what to make of it. Talking with a potential customer a few weeks ago provides a perfect example. While at the Art Fair in Loveland earlier this year a man walked in and inquired about one of my humidors. This humidor as a matter of fact.

Mahogany and Planetree burl humidor

We talked about the solid Spanish Cedar lining. We talked about the interior size. We talked about the humidistat. Then he asked me how long I thought the box would last. I answered, "You won't live to see that day. Chances are, neither will your children. They will be leaving it in their will to one of your grandchildren." I went on to say that with normal use and care 100 years should be within easy reach and longer being quite possible. When I said this he got this mostly blank and slightly bewildered look on his face. He isn't the first. In fact, some variation of that response seems to be the general rule. Sometimes it is accompanied by them saying "Oh...." which kind of trails off. You would think that I started breaking out physics calculations involved in long distance sniper shots or something (well, once you account for spin drift and the movement of the earth while the bullet is in the air using these formulas...). My first question is what reaction am I actually seeing? My second question is why?