Friday, June 8, 2018

"How do you accidentally a squirrel?"

Because somebody asked...Again...

The first comment we ever got on the name was at our first convention: "How do you 'accidental' a squirrel'"?

Clearly my grasp of southern slang and vocabulary was a little higher than his.

While we (obviously) ran with the squirrel as our mascot, the immediate thought on the name was more along the lines of "finding something awesome that you never knew was there".

Like...Finding $20 in your pocket.

I want us to be that thought in the back of the minds of gamers, writers, roleplayers and honestly anyone else that needs some custom art created for them.

We want to be that $20 you find in your pocket.

How do we do it?

I'll admit it - It's a little frustrating doing what we do.

A lot of people don't trust it. They wonder how we get things so cheap and accuse us of only buying knockoffs or second-hand, low-end merchandise. While I'll admit that we can't always find a great deal on name brands, the fact remains that you're paying for the brand name itself - not the quality of the item. I regularly buy items on sale through retailers for my clients and then go hunting for similar items through my distributors. More often than not, I find the exact same items for a LOT less by cutting out the supply chain.

What I learned is that many of these manufacturers sell their products out to companies who then put their tags and packaging in place. You can literally have the same item (not including trademarked characters, etc), sold by multiple places for vastly different cost. Sometimes things are painted differently. Sometimes embellishments are added by the company. Often, company logos are embossed or sewn in. This doesn't change the quality of the product itself - and sometimes it can even compromise it.

* I've purchased name brand clothing from a well known retailer on sale for $45 and turned around a week later to purchase an identical item for $8.50 - the only difference was the name on the tag. Same material. Same design. Same stitching.

* I regularly purchase popular ball-joint type dolls, toys and accessories for crafters. They sometimes pay $15 a piece for the items they use in their crafts - I purchase identical items for them for roughly $3 each.

* Some popular kitchen gadgets advertise for $19.99. I can usually find comparable items (and sometimes even better quality ones) for $10.

* Make-up brushes can be incredibly expensive - especially when they are sold in a set.  We have a current client who joined us because she spent $75 on a set of makeup brushes that we found (and bought as an example for her) for $12.

The thing to remember about buying things at retail is that if they can offer you "free with purchase" items or huge discounts during sales, it usually means that they are still making a profit. Most of these large stores make a 500% markup or more on their products while purchasing from the manufacturer for pennies on the dollar.

When you purchase from a retailer, you are paying for:

💵 The base cost of the product
💵 💵 The cost to have these items shipped from wherever they were manufactured, which could include customs fees, international shipping, etc.
💵 The storage space at the company warehouse
💵 Shipping fees for items to be moved from warehouse to distributors
💵 💵 💵 The brand name of the retailer
💵 The packaging (most items are not shipped from the manufacturer in their final packaging).
💵 Any alterations that retailer makes to the items to make them "on brand".

We can eliminate a lot of these fees simply by purchasing directly from the warehouse, distributor, or even the manufacturer. Many of our customers aren't concerned with the packaging as long as the quality is there. If you're going to take it out of the box, and throw the box away, why pay for the box?

We check everything BEFORE we order and before we ship it to you. If it isn't exactly what you're looking for, all you pay us for is our time - which is a simple, low, flat-rate and not hourly. And if it's your first time ordering through us, we offer a FULL refund if you're not satisfied with the savings.

Just drop us a note, and let us know what you're looking for! Let us prove how much time and money we can save you!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

PSA: Little things we've learned by doing what we do.

Do you get those random advertisements in your Facebook feed for
clothes 👗,
makeup 💄,
household items 🏺,
or discount shopping apps 📱?

Of course you do.

We all do.

Well, in case you haven't already figured this out - the reason these places can sell things to you so cheap are because they can get them even cheaper. So that FLASH SALE! for 75% off means that whoever you're buying from is still making a profit and you have no idea what sort of quality you're going to get.

In addition some (not all) of these companies buy what they sell you for peanuts, change the packaging, and charge a 500% mark-up or more! I stopped playing that game a decade ago and never looked back.

On occasion, we check out places like these just to see where the products are coming from, what quality they provide, and what the better deals are. We are in the business of finding the best prices for our clients, so we've got to check the competition, right? So, we ordered makeup from a company that offers FREE makeup, a dress from a company that constantly offers 50% off sales, and a waist cincher from another company at a "HUGE DISCOUNT".

And then we went to work.

When we received the shipping notifications, all of the products were being shipped from overseas, not from inside the US like their websites seem to be. Some of them had no shipping estimate, and the tracking numbers didn't register. - Uncool. I've dealt with this a number of times, because I use overseas suppliers as well. It's always annoying, but at least we respond to emails and offer some sort of guarantee...

Anyway -

Most of these places ask you to pay shipping for "free" items, and the shipping costs are outrageous. That's because they don't have the shipping costs we have in the US, so they're actually charging you for the product - not the shipping. Paying $12.50 in shipping for a "Free" tube of lipstick suddenly doesn't sound as tempting.

So I went to OUR suppliers and looked for comparable products. For the same or better quality products, we spent less than 1/3 as much and shipping to us was free. Returning the products we'd received from these other companies was almost impossible, and one actually wanted us to pay to return the products - which would have cost more than the refunded amount (so they *still* made money, and you're still out a product).

One of the reasons we do this is because we're tired of seeing people ripped off like that. They're in it to rip consumers off - we're in it because we love what we do. Everything we find for our clients, we inspect first, and if it isn't up to the quality you expected, we don't charge you for it. Period. No hassle. No returns. And you decide whether we continue the search for you.