Monday, November 23, 2015

On Gift Making, Discounts and Loyalty

The Dutrieu Necklace design is
currently on sale in my Ravelry store with
the use of coupon code giftalong2015.
So we’re beyond the first full weekend of the Ravelry  2015 gift-a-long, and I cannot keep up with all of the projects. Really. No kidding. If you don’t keep up on reading the threads in each category (or at least in the categories under which your own gift projects are categorized) you’ll come back in 24 hours and see hundreds of posts. We are an extremely chatty bunch. I’ve acquired two patterns so far – the Etheria Cowl and the Snow Flurry Mittens - and I’m about a third of the way done with the lovely cowl, which I plan to gift to a family member. The mittens, however, will be mine, all mine. Stay tuned as I wrestle with my double pointed needles. I am, if nothing else, determined.

Progress on my Etheria cowl, a beautiful design from
Julia Trice, the designer at the helm of Mind of Winter.
Something came up in our gift-a-long planning group last week and it’s something about which I feel rather strongly, so I’m going to discuss it here because hey, to paraphrase the song, it’s my blog, and I’ll discuss it if I want to. In order to receive the 25% discount on my (or any participating designer’s) eligible designs this week through Friday, a purchaser needs to enter the code giftalong2015 in their online shopping cart. This rule is very heavily broadcast prior to the sale week. Nevertheless, many designers (myself included) always receive some sales for the full price of the pattern, absent the discount code. I have (both this year and last year) automatically refunded the discount portion of the sale back to the buyer, under the assumption that they just forgot to enter the code. Of course, not all purchasers forget. Some want to support independent designers and genuinely want to pay full price, so they purposefully omit using the sale code at checkout. When I wrote that I provided the refund, I received a few disagrees on my rationale – that if I were a brick and mortar store, the customer would expect the sale price to be rung up at checkout. Of course, since it’s a code, it can also be likened to a coupon, and if the customer doesn’t have the required coupon, the merchant is under no obligation to provide said discount. It also still leaves the choice with the buyer and takes the guesswork out of the equation on my end – did the person just forget to add the code, or does she/he really want to pay full price?
The Snow Flurry Mittens from Cynthia Levy. She's
allowed kind permission to use her photograph.

For me, however, I've been providing purchasers of my designs the discount automatically and without hesitation or reservation, and here’s why: I love my design small business. Perhaps my family's working class roots are showing here, but I consider it an extreme privilege to own a business that I not only love, but that also provides me with a small income. As a result, that privilege comes with a responsibility. As a customer in other’s businesses, I cannot tell you how many times someone at check-out has provided me with a coupon because I forgot the mailer or flyer at home, and each time I’ve been grateful. It also keeps me coming back as a customer. Why wouldn’t I want to do the same for my customers? I would hope that any lover of my designs choosing to pay full price would, in the face of my honest refund, happily purchase another pattern! I believe that building such a rapport with my customers is part of my responsibility. It's also something I enjoy doing. Of course, it doesn’t mean I’m perfect (no saint here), but I give it my best shot each and every time. I hope those who purchase my designs recognize this and appreciate it.

I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this. Leave me a comment and let me know as a customer whether you’d be grateful for the automatic refund, and if you’re a small business owner/designer, how do you handle this situation?

And for everyone: the Ravelry gift-a-long 25% savings on designated patterns in my store ends this Friday, but then I’ll have one more sale beyond Friday. From Saturday, November 28 – Monday, November 30, I’ll continue having 25% off everything in my Ravelry store, no coupon code needed, to celebrate Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.  After Monday, no more sales in 2015. Hey, as I said, I’m a small business owner, not a saint. 


  1. Wait! You're using double-pointed needles?? :-D

    I agree with refunding those who "forget." I can't tell you how many times we've gotten the "family," or "just because you are nice" discount. It always makes us feel special, and we return the favor with increased loyalty and more purchases.

    There is one (brick&mortar) store in particular where this sort of thing happens for us. We used to live up the street and stopped in often. Now that we've moved we always stop in when we're in town and they still invite us to their "invitation only" holiday event.

    Anyway, something good for me to think about as I re-consider an Etsy shop of my own.

    1. Yup on the dpns! I am gonna master those suckers once and for all. Besides, I really like the pattern. :)

      And on the online shop - do it!