Caveat: Please forgive me for dropping graphics of some of my brand items in this article. I couldn’t help myself as I love shameless self-promotion 🙂 The article has important info in it, however, so bear with me please & enjoy!
I remember (sort of), loving to go shopping with my mom. She taught me about “outfits” rather than buying “just Levi Jeans”. I was relieved upon discovery that “an outfit”, could be made from Levis because I didn’t wear much else in the way of pants.
Those lessons would serve me well in the “80s Yuppie Movement” while living and working in Washington, D.C. where what one wore was nearly as important as his/her pedigree and/or education. Am so glad those days are over (at least for me). I believe my wife Lee agrees. It was a neverending frenetic “keeping up with the Jones’” and no matter how much one had, and at one point I had a lot, it was never enough. That became another powerful lesson that would serve me turning into a senior.
I still see numerous peers playing that “frenetic game” in which money rules over all. Please don’t get me wrong. I like money and I like making it. It is simply not at the top of the list; not even close; unless I’m making it doing exactly what I love doing. So far so good.
Which brings me back to shopping.
As a college student in the early 70s in Dallas, I took any kind of jobs offered to me such as waiting tables, managing a walk-in movie theater, working in a health food store, etc. Though they were all very different jobs, they all involved dealing with the public.
Fast forward not too many years and the dotcom boom was beginning. Included in that boom was retail sales. Retail was not at the top of my list as “fun ways to make a living”, but humor did. So did design, and I attended retail school in Dallas while going to an accredited college across town. I wanted to “learn it all.
I didn’t become so lucky, but every lesson, whether “good” or “bad”, served me in later life. At age 49, I returned to college online, and learned a fascinating topic. Retail.
Yes, the very same retail I’d learned while “finding my way” in early life. But this retail required digital design of my own line of products, and learning to deal with manufacturers. I found I was not working as much with the public, except on social media which I learned to like, but also taking that information from interaction with media followers to become “the seed” if you will of image designs that went onto the products. Wow. Sounds high-tech and different. Well, it actually is today, but my latter-life education has taught me that if asked, even online, most people will tell you what they like, or don’t like, and most people in this day and time prefer to shop from the comfort of their own home.
They have, and I have, nothing against malls or Main St. shops, but one can’t help but be reminded of business classes.
When ordering from an online boutique shop (or shops) with good reputations one is more likely to get a unique product not found in malls and downtown shops. We all love unique. None of us like being at a party where someone is wearing our same clothing or has the same gift we’re describing.
More importantly to many, economics plays a major role in any buying in today’s marketplace. Common sense tells us that the lower the overhead, generally the better the price. That is true in both my wife Lee Hiller’s shops and my own.
But what about employees. We indeed create a fair amount of jobs, but they are contractors who work for the organizations that make our products. They get paid the same amount no matter how many products we design. Again, cost stays down.
I don’t say this just about our online shops, but of nearly everyone’s.
If a person is looking for unique quality affordable designer products, at the cost (or lower) than non-designer products as found in a mall or shop (or even a box store or their website), the trick is to find your favorite designer at such places as CafePress.com, Zazzle.com, RedBubble.com or Amazon.com.
If one is the least bit savvy, he/she can buy the most memorable different gifts, for 1/10th what they’d spend elsewhere. Plus these are the type gifts that will be used, cherished, and remembered (as they often become valuable collectibles as well).
Shop smartly. Shop with small businesses and/or designers. You will come out ahead in the short (and long run).
Rick London is the founder of Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons aka LTCartoons.com which he launched in 1997. He also owns several licensed image shops that sell funny gifts such as Rick London Gifts and one that specializes in funny tees and clothing called Rick London Cartoons. He is married to nature photographer Lee Hiller who sells designer gifts & clothing at Lee Hiller Design.