I like a great deal so much, I get giddy when I find a great deal. This is true whether it's home decor, clothing, craft supplies – all of it.

Today we are going to hit on some touchy subjects, more story time, and cold hard truths.

Story Time With Meg

In several of these de-stashing posts, I shared several times how flat broke I was when I started this non-cheap hobby and how even throwing away scraps had me in tears.

So I was introduced to card making through Stampin' Up! and I placed a $300 order. After I got home, I realized that even though I just spent almost half of my paycheck, I really had just bought nothing.

I now had 5 stamp sets coming, a set of pastels, a Night of Navy ink pad (yes, this was almost 20 years ago and I can still describe my first order!), a VersaMark ink pad, some assorted packages of card stock, and a marker. My plan was to use white printer paper, I didn't buy white card stock for several weeks – big mistake, lol!

But after that large an order, I still really had nothing. No paper trimmer – I used a ruler, pencil, and scissors. Nothing to score the card stock, it simply got folded.

I placed this order and I was sad. I knew my stuff was coming – it took two weeks back then to get the order after the workshop was closed and my boss was closing it a week later.

So here I had found a new hobby, spent a lot of money, and could do nothing.

And off I went to Michaels.

Back then, Michaels had these dollar bins of stamps with all kinds of images. Some flowers, some leaves, some birthday presents, a Christmas tree, all on these 1″ x 1″ blocks. So I grabbed about 20 of them. Now I would have stamps!

They had some clearance ink pads, I grabbed some of those. A set of 10 markers. Some envelopes because I forgot I would need some to mail these cards I was going to make. And Elmer's glue.

All these “bargain” items added up and I left with long receipt and a lot of excitement – until I got home.

Y'all, I knew nothing back then!!!

I didn't think about my 1″ leaf stamp being the same size as my flower image. I didn't have any sentiments, that's what the markers were for and I figured I had a printer, so why would I buy words that I could print and cut out. The ink pads were on clearance because they lasted me about a week. The markers didn't even come close to matching any card stock I had. And Elmer's glue – well, let's just say it's not the best for making cards – it's actually probably the worst. Wait – homemade paste would probably be worse, but neither is good.

So I did the next thing I could think to do,… I went to my local dollar-ish store to see what they had. There I found some punches, a paper trimmer, and some decorative scissors. I left feeling like I was living my best life!

The paper trimmer didn't cut straight. Yep, the lip you put your card stock on was on an angle and I didn't know it. I had all these crooked card bases, yay me. The scissors were a joke, you could cut about 2″ worth of cutting edge and then when the end of the scissors hit the rest of your card stock, it just tore it – so not the look I was going for. And one of the punches broke in my hand and I had to get stitches.

Even though the hospital was my EMS employer, that was a $100 co-pay.

Here I had spent another $200 trying to “find a great deal” and what I had was bins of junk that wouldn't help me accomplish my goals with the exception of a package of envelopes that weren't the right size. And I had an ER bill for stitches.

The moral of this story is, I wasted $300 looking for a great deal.

My Stampin' Up! box arrived and I asked my demonstrator to return it. I was devastated to learn that Stampin' Up! didn't do returns.

So I did what any normal person would do, and I dug my heels in, and decided to make it work. Christmas was coming and I asked my family for money for stamps.

What my supportive family did was go shopping to see what they could find in dollar stores and craft stores – because quantity was better than quality to them. And I don't mean that in a bad way. They didn't know the hobby, I wasn't living there to tell them.

They saw my wish list as having one stamp set for $25 was way worse that a box full of things they found using the same dollar amount. So my mom, my grandmother, my sister, and my brother went in on one box. My Aunt – yeah, she knocked it out of the park by sending me a check!

Here this big box arrived, I opened it, and my heart sank. Here was more random stuff that I would use a few items of. I was appreciative yet sad.

Now the funny thing about all of this story is this… I KEPT IT ALL! Even the crooked paper trimmer and jinky scissors!! Okay, not all… the broken, stitches-inducing, punch went in the trash.

Why?

Because one day, I might *need* these items.

And there it is.

NONE of that was a bargain. It cost me a lot of money, the sum is greater than the parts, right?

All those little bargains took up space in my rolling carts I kept under my kitchen table – it was the only space I had – and I spent money on a cart to hold “bargain” items I wouldn't use!

The day I got rid of ALL of those bargain items, was the day I said I was done with buying cheap products that would give me inferior results.

If I was going to spend money on supplies, they had to be good quality and last. They had to cut straight lines, the ink pads needed to have the option to be re-inked, the card stock needed to be strong enough to stand up. And the markers needed to actually match the card stock.

Oh, and printing sentiments from my computer – yeah…. I just have to laugh that that one.

Quality over quantity, period.

My Advice

If you have these “bargain items” in your craft area, and they aren't what you want, but you feel guilty getting rid of them because you spent real money on them, I get it. But I urge you to stop that today. Go get a box or bag or whatever you can find.

Go through your area and look at what you thought was a great deal but it actually cost you money rather than saving you money.

If you have ink pads that don't really match your card stock, so you don't use them, it's time for them to go. If you have ribbon (and I love me some ribbon) but it sits there, add it to the box. If you have markers that are never the right color, sail those right on into your box!

Own it, embrace the new crafter in you, and promise yourself not to go down that road again.

I don't know why we say things like this, “I know I won't use it, but I got such a great deal on it, I don't think I can get rid of it.”

I was at my neighbor's house and she has this large picture in her living room. This is the room she spends the most amount of time in. She doesn't like the picture anymore. It's a style that was trendy for a hot second, and she scored it on clearance. It was on clearance because the trend was already over!!!

But she is keeping this picture she doesn't like because she got it for a great price.

Have you ever done that? I think we all have!

So we own it, we take out all that “great deal” stuff, that we really don't want.

We put it in a box and we will talk about what to do with it soon.

Then look around your craft room and feel proud of your self for moving forward!

Now We Get Into The Uncomfortable

Let's talk about bargain deals on the internet.

Wait, refill your coffee, and then let's chat.

Warning, I tend to jump onto a pretty tall high horse about this stuff. But if I am going to say it, now's the time.

Picture it, Sicily…

Sorry, I had to say it, and laugh before I dive into this part. And for those of you that are confused, it's a Golden Girls reference.

I went into my local Dollar Tree down the road about two months ago, as you may not know, I do a lot of crafts, and dollar store crafts are some of my favorite. Wood blocks, cute signs, stuff like that.

And there were some stamps there. And I looked at them and I knew I had seen those images before. Yep, in my beloved Dollar Tree, there was their brand of stamps with Stampin' Up! images. I went up to Allen, the manager – yes, I know the manager. And I said, “Allen, these are copyright protected images! I'm so sad!”

And then I pulled out another set, and was even more crushed.

You see… I have several friends that own stamp companies. I see the blood, sweat, tears, and money that goes into creating their product lines and what it takes to get their products to market.

I will share one of the things Shelli, with Stampin' Up!, shared with me one morning the two of us were visiting. And it's the same with my friends that own stamp companies, and it's the same with my friend that has a local print shop here, and it's the same with my friend that's a Urologist and owns his own practice…

They love knowing that their vision and drive to be a owner provides income for someone else. That having employees that count on them, drive them to work even harder towards their goals.

Being able to provide steady income to someone else is amazing! I LOVE my assistant. And I love paying her real money, not in stamps. I LOVE how the work that I do, gives her work to do to help care for her growing family.

I love my contractors that I bring in to help with larger software things. I love earning money to pay Brian to maintain this very blog.

However, when I saw those stamps in Dollar Tree, my heart hurt for Stampin' Up! and for every employee there.

When I saw my friend's stamp images in their packaging, I KNOW she didn't give them the rights to her hand drawn images. My heart sank for her.

You see this happen with stamps and dies from sites like AliExpress, Amazon, and most recently Temu. And these items are at a huge “bargain” price.

There is always a price when some company steals designs from others. The price is huge.

The price is so high, that this, all this right here, single handedly put my one friends out of business. In less than 3 months of this going on, her business closed. Her business that she fought to keep open during Covid when she couldn't have more than two employees at a time at work trying to fill orders. She fought and won through all of that.

She went two months without any income to ensure that her employees got paid.

And her business is now closed, all due to these counterfeit knock-offs.

Those employees lost their jobs. She lost her business, her goals, her dreams. Why would someone buy her adorable stamps at $20/set when they could get them for $1.33 online is what she kept hearing over and over again. She would do Facebook Lives and people were commenting left and right that they bought the items she was showing, but she was the owner, she could see that they didn't buy it from her.

In her Facebook group, these same people would post their projects using those supplies – again, she knew they weren't purchased through her store.

Then, because ladies, let's own it, we get so excited when we find a good bargain we can't wait to tell others, right?

I was so excited when At Home did a special on outdoor cushions a few weeks ago, that I got 6 new cushions for my rocking chairs. My neighbor commented on how cute they looked, and I was excited to tell her they were buy 1, get 1 half off! We LOVE to share our bargain finds!

So what happened next to my friend and her FB group… I think you know. Those ladies that had found her stamps and dies from other places, privately shared with other members how they could get great deals. And then these ladies shared it with other ladies in the group, and so on, and so on.

While she had thousands of dollars in inventory not moving off her shelves, more and more projects are being shared in her own Facebook group.

Stampin' Up! now has a TEAM of people to fight this everyday at work. They have an email address set up where you can report these items. They have to pay people to get these knock offs removed from online sites.

These so called bargains hurt companies, which hurts both the employees, and hurts their customers.

When you buy from these knock-off companies, you are putting a nail in the coffin of every business that owns the original designs. Remember that they pay people to design the stamps and dies that we all love.

So one friend already lost her business, and other one is on the way to losing hers. My third friend, I honestly don't have to the heart to ask her.

If you find something and the price seems too good to be true, it is.

For a while I was looking to start my own line of products. This is the first time I have publicly shared this, but here we go. I reached out the manufacturer to get a rate sheet. The more you buy, the cheaper the price is. We had that entire discussion. I had found some graphic designers, as that is so far out of my wheelhouse, and not a skill I wanted to tackle.

If I ordered 100 stamps sets, that alone would have cost me about $7.50/set for a 4″ x 6″ sheet of photopolymer stamps. Sounds cheap right? Then I worked with one graphic designer who did amazing work. We spent about 20 minutes on the phone with me talking about what I was wanting to start with. Then she sent me the first round and we figured out that we didn't speak the same language. So next round came in much better, then there were minor edits and a $350 bill. So divide that by 100, that's $3.50. We are now at $11/set. Oh wait, there's the shipping cost to get those items to my house. Then there is the selling fees. And do you see how this goes up and up and up? That's why stamp sets cost what they do.

But in the meantime, let's talk about all the people paid along the way. The designer, the sales person at the manufacturing company, the design person at the manufacturing company, the workers that make the actual stamps, the person who packages and ships them to me.

All of those jobs rely on customers ordering quality products!!!

I Will Ask You To Do This

So if you love this craft and hobby like I love it, I am going to ask you to do some very specific things.

First, never buy stamps from knock off sites.

Second, if you ask for stamps as gifts from friends and family, ask them to order directly from the manufacturer's website, not through a third party.

Third, if you have any of these knock off items, please throw them away.

In the previous posts, and even the first part of this post, I have asked you to box up items you won't be using. These, though, these need to go.

If you want to use them for a while, I get it, I'm not thrilled with it, but I get it if you already own them and didn't know all about this, but when you are done with them, throw them in the trash. Don't gift them, don't donate them, please put them exactly where they belong.

You're Turn

Now that I have spent hours writing this up for you, I will ask you again, to share your wins with this post. Share below the items that made it into your box, or share if you've already cleared out those great deals and how that felt. Your comments will inspire others, so keep them coming!

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