I spent several hours over the last two days corresponding with a person who wanted to know exactly what she (I think?) was getting with one of Shawn's hand carved Laffing Horse crochet hooks. I could sense from the tone of her written messages that she was frustrated.
I took pictures, (these and then they wouldn't e-mail!) but you can only tell so much from pictures. This hook is one of Shawn's Laffing Horse crochet hooks. Shawn's are beautiful to look at and feel wonderful. They also work well, because I test each one. But each hook is a natural wood, hand carved individual. So, I tried with words to describe the hook.
At the end of all this correspondence, I think we were both feeling somewhat put-out and she still didn't have a crochet hook. I think Lena's analogy was best - Even in catalogs that specialize in handcrafted, one-of-a-kind items, like Deva Lifewear - they show a picture of ONE of those items. The others will be similar, but they are all made by hand. You order on faith, or you go to a craft show or local store and buy something you can touch.
I can understand the frustration of shopping. A friend and I ventured into the metropolis of Little Rock this week. It is a big, beautiful, modern city. I was pleasantly surprised. We found the East Indian grocery store and got rice and tea and curry. We found the craft store I needed. And then we went shopping. Horrors! Neither one of us shop, so it was definitely the blind leading the blind. She wanted a cotton cardigan with pockets, I wanted a yarn basket. As many stores as either of us could tolerate (I think it was 4) she settled for the right weight cotton cardigan in a sort of ok color and without pockets. I still don't have a basket.
Online shopping is a bit better - but still frustrating. You are in your own house and can drink your own coffee. You can be comfortable and there aren't other people around. But you can't touch the product, or try it on, or talk to the merchant or see how well it is constructed.
We understand the limits of our online stores Common Threads on ebay, our Google store, and our Auctiva store. We try to work around them by communicating with our customers, working to word our descriptions carefully, keeping an open mind with inquiries and if all else fails, having a fair return policy.
We enjoy what we do. We want to share our love of fiber arts and farming with anyone who is interested. We are passionate about teaching skills.
But when it comes down to it, we are just three people in very rural Arkansas working very hard to make a living by trying to make our world a better place.
We iz whut we iz.