Black Friday... our 'Black Noir' Hori Hori, and why we don't do discounts...
We write a version of this post every year, sorry if we sound like a broken record – but we think it’s worth saying it repeatedly. We don't 'do' discounting. It's hugely damaging to business and it also creates unhealthy consumer attitudes.
We’re generally positive about American imports - especially those with a V8. We’re also particularly partial to a Crispy Crème donut and two of the brands we stock are American (you can’t get more red, white and blue than Carhartt). However, sitting here in the UK during November we just don’t get the hype around Black Friday. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving and the third Friday in the eleventh month isn’t a national holiday when we historically flock to worship at the altar of retail.
Yet most UK retailers seem to have embraced this discounting frenzy with both hands. When Asda turned American (thanks to Walmart) and sold a handful of super-cheap TVs it resulted in a barrage of publicity and people (albeit bloody nosed) spending money in their store.
We’re sure your inbox is no different to ours and despite opting out of everything, we are repeatedly deleting what seems like an unrelenting stream of Black Friday emails offering never-ending discounts. This year it seems EVEN WORSE - apparently it's not longer a day, but it's Black Friday Month. Really? We can't glance at our phones without being offered 20% off something in a 'special' discount email, social media post or website pop up. Yep we know retail is suffering, that we all want to make our money go further (including us, when we are looking for gifts and presents). We do get it.
But the brutal truth from us at Tinker and Fix is that we don’t ‘do’ discounts. But ‘everyone else is offering discounts’ we hear you say. Yep. You’re absolutely right. Flash sales are happening all the time. Now we aren't comparing ourselves to major companies (we are the smallest of independent retailers - it's just the two of us working on Tinker and Fix) - but when we as consumers think about sales, we get conditioned by the big companies to expect free postage, to expect sales and discounts.
But let's unpack this a little. Perhaps companies can afford to offer discounts becuase they aren't 'good' businesses. 'Good' in ethos terms: one could say that Sports Direct aren't as generous to their workers rights as they are to the discounted sales they run, or that Apple and Amazon haven't got the best track record of paying taxes in full (or finding loopholes) Or 'Good' in terms of a long term business model - this year alone we've seen bike discounter Wiggle go into administration, Joules has had to be 'saved' by Next, and Paperchase by Tesco. And whilst everyone cites the 'success' of John Lewis at Christmas (becuase of their emotionally charged videos) their brutal truth is they made over £77million pretax loss last financial year.
Smaller or independent companies feel the squeeze so they too perhaps succumb to a discounting approach to get sales (at the risk of not actually making any money - which isn't sustainable in the long term).
But the 'sales technique' of offering discount is damaging in the way we, as consumers, consider how we spend our money. We become conditioned to want things to be cheaper the whole time. We find ourselves waiting for sales, searching for discount codes, seeking out offers. Or being woo'd by discounts, perceiving them to be 'a deal' or a 'steal' - moving away from thinking about what we really want, what value it would have in our life. No one really likes to hear it but, essentially, if you want something that is good quality, is built to last, and is made in a way that’s sustainable (be it ethically, environmentally, or commercially), there is a cost. But the benefit is that you’ll have them for life. So when you’re looking for a discount code, think instead how much value you’ll get from the item - its lifetime value - and all of a sudden it becomes discounted without being devalued!
But ‘we want the 20% off offer’ we still hear you say - ‘we’ll wait until one of them come around and order then’. Sorry - you’ll be waiting a long time (and it definitely won’t be this Black Friday!) Or, you might be thinking 'where is the 10% off discount if we sign up to your emails'? Sorry we don't do that either - we only send a couple of emails a year. We don't generate content just to sell you more things - as we can't abide getting a barrage of emails from companies pretending to be our friend when they really just want us to continually open our wallets! If you are adamant that you want a discount then perhaps (sadly) you need to look elsewhere.
Still not convinced and still asking ‘discount?, what discount?’ We do offer postage free over £85 - which costs us from £3.50 to up to £10 depending on the size of what you order. And for those items under £85 we charge a flat rate of £3.95 (or just £1.40 if it’s something small - on a single Fixit or greetings cards.). So on many items this doesn’t even cover our postage cost - so you often are getting a bit of free postage (that’s the issue with us selling wonderfully bulky tools and equipment). But hey - that’s fine - we sell things online, we suck up the cost of postage and all packing - as that’s the norm.
And if all this fails, and you’ve managed to get to the end of this - hell, here’s a discount code - SuckOnThis - you’ll get a discount, of sorts, it’s not worth money, instead you’ll get a free lollypop. Enjoy!