I have had the opportunity the last week or so to ponder how home-based businesses fit into the scrapbook industry. When I started ScrapBiz, many manufacturers were VERY wary of the proverbial "Kitchen Table Discounter" who was sure to sell stuff WAY below retail. It happened then and it STILL happens (although I see less of it now). But, there are also lots of former store owners who are buying wholesale for all their friends - I have known several myself. They keep their accounts open and buy for the universe. There are always going to be dishonest people - you can't blame one group or another.
One manufacturer's rep, in commenting on home-based businesses (HBB), even went so far as to say that home-based businesses were all run out of trailer parks by women who wore bathrobes all day. I spent days laughing about her ignorance. This from a rep who WORKED OUT OF HER HOUSE! She wasn't wearing a bathrobe when I spoke to her and neither was I...
As I have mentioned here before, several large companies such as Mrs. Grossmans Stickers were started at home. Home is an EXCELLENT place to start an empire!
Many manufacturers have lightened up on home-based businesses in the last 5 years. I think it's because the industry is a lot tougher now and they have to think of other possible sales channels. Stores have closed in droves and many of the home-based businesses who started 5 years ago are still in business. A HBB will often out-live a local scrapbook store and vendors are starting to realize that "slow and steady wins the race". A HBB won't buy as much as a store most of the time, but they will often buy LONGER than a store because they don't close when their lease is up. The lifetime value of a HBB MAY be higher in the end.
That being said, there are STILL companies who refuse to believe that a HBB is REALLY a business. What they don't stop to think about is WHERE those online stores they will work with are based? Many, many of them are out of a home. The same goes for many, many kit clubs. Very few are packaged up anywhere but someone's house. They are buying thousands and thousands of dollars of products each month - from home. Yet, they don't fit the stereotypical "Kitchen Table Discounter" model many manufacturers have built into their heads. And, let's not forget where many of the product designers work from - HOME.
So, I believe that it's time that the industry start embracing and recognizing the contributions that home-based businesses have made to it. We have gotten past (in most cases) the ignorant idea that a HBB will sell stuff below wholesale from a trailer park. Maybe now it's time to start offering support and recognition to HBB's. The industry needs to bring them out of the shadows and start providing information in magazines and at shows that cater specifically to their unique needs.