There are bazillions of needlepoint canvases out there and even the most well-stocked shop will only be able to carry a few. As shopowners they need to balance a ton of things (and not just the tastes of their clients) to stock their shop. Many of them, thanks to the Internet and catalogs, can extend that inventory virtually and allow customers to order through them.
But for many stitchers even visiting a shop in person is a rare occurrence. And this brings me to my point. Has eBay become the default LNS for many stitchers?
Awhile ago I spent an entire afternoon looking through listings for needlepoint on eBay. For canavases there were over 13,000 listings. While in some areas, such as thread, finishing supplies, and needles, eBay can’t come close to your local shop or to shops with an Internet storefront, for canvases they far exceed what you can buy at your LNS. I would say canvases fall into three categories:
- new, currently available canvases selling at or near retail prices – These are not people destashing but new product, presumably immediately available, from people who are functioning as canvas shops (more about this below) This was close to 3/4’s of the canvases I saw
- new canvases from artists who sell primarily on eBay or on eBay as one of their channels – Here the artist sells to you directly. Many artists got started this way and it’s a great channel. This is probably another 10% or so of what’s there.
- canvases sold by individuals – This type of item predominated on eBay a few years ago. It’s an eclectic mixture of destashing, vintage, shop closeouts, etc.
There are designers whose work is found in the first category and designers whose work is not. And I’m not making any judgements one way or the other. But the whole thing got me thinking and I have lots of questions and would love you to add your own thoughts and answers (mine are after each question).
Is the presence of new canvases at retail driving up the price of older canvases? I think it is. Starting prices seemed higher across the board and not just on new pieces, often out of line with past prices for similar items.
Do you, as a stitcher find this an effective way to shop? I would think it has the advantage of immediate delivery, possibly no sales tax, and bigger selection. Let me know if you use it and why.
As a designer or shopowner how do you feel about it? Is it unfair competition? Do they really have the canvases in stock? I’m thinking this is a hard model to make work. eBay wants you to ship quickly and buying and keeping theses canvases is a considerable outlay, is it equal to a shop’s overhead or significantly less? If close is it really “unfair” to the shops? If less, is it “unfair” to the shoppers?
I have no stake in this race, but I know it generates lost of emotion and I’d like to hear what you have to say.
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