Changing Diapers: the Hip Mom's Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering

Friday, September 7, 2012

The True Cost of a Daily Deal.

As the leader of the DFW Cloth Diaper Group, I have learned a lot about the cloth diaper community.  I love being part of a community that is so close!  It really is like a family.  I have had the honor of meeting two founders of major cloth diaper brands, who were both extremely gracious.  I love how the community comes together at the same moment for the Great Cloth Diaper Change to promote the use of real diapers.  I love how helpful everyone is for those new to cloth, even though they've answered the same questions (what seems like) a thousand times. 

I have had the opportunity to learn about both the consumer and the retailer "side" of this wonderful community.  I even worked in a local shop for a few months.  I have become friends with many of our local retailers, which has allowed me a glimpse of what it is really like for them. 

Before I started the DFWCDG, I thought the same thing as many other cloth diaper enthusiasts:

I could open my own cloth diaper store!  It can't be that hard.  It is something I love to do, talk about, and it would be a great way to help others.  Why not make some money at the same time?  Our family sure could use the extra income.  

When I realized there were 2 cloth diaper stores fairly close to me, I decided not to even try to compete.  I did the next best thing.  I started this Group!  I am so happy I did.  It has become something far beyond what I could have ever imagined.  I have made so many wonderful friends.  It has helped many realize that using cloth diapers is a real choice.  I also LOVE seeing the connections made within the Group. 

I contacted the local shops that I knew of, to see if they would help promote this new little group.  I also wanted to help promote them.  I soon learned of more local shops, and contacted them, too.  One thing I have always done, and will always do with this Group, is promote our local retailers.  For free.  We have them listed on our website, at no cost to them.  Many blogs and websites charge advertising fees.  I will never do that.  The support they have shown this group goes far beyond making a few bucks for the Group.  Sure, that money could come in handy to improve the Group, but it is more important to me to support them.

They work hard, with little return.  They invest a lot of their time and money towards their shops.  I quickly learned that they don't do it for the money.  They do it because they are passionate about cloth diapers and helping others. 

When I started out with cloth diapers, I soon learned about the "daily deal" sites.  These sites feature one product per day (including, but not limited to, cloth diapers) at a fantastic price!  Often 40-50% off.  I was very excited to be able to try new things at such a discount!  When cloth diapering on a budget, it helped to be able to buy a new product at half the cost.

I used to promote these sites with the Group whenever I saw cloth diapers were being featured.  I wanted to pass along the amazing deals!  Then I started talking with some of our local retailers about these daily deal sites, and what they are doing to retailers. I had never thought of it from their perspective before. 

In short, it hurts them.  Greatly.  Often, the products are offered to the daily deal sites for less than they are offered to retailers.  There is no way a retailer can compete with that price.  As a consumer, you want the best deal possible.  But at what cost?

I no longer shop with or promote the daily deal sites.  I would prefer to support a local retailer (or any retailer) than get the best deal possible.  I know that for many on a very tight budget, the daily deal sites are the best way to try and use the "nicer" products.  They may not be able to do so otherwise.  I understand that.  However, there are so many affordable options that it is not necessary to buy from the daily deal sites.  A cloth diaper retailer can help you find the best option for your lifestyle and budget.  You can't get that customer service anywhere else!
Many retailers won't stock certain products because they frequently sell their items on the daily deal sites.  They also won't stock products that allow co-ops.

Co-ops and daily deal sites almost go hand-in-hand to me.  The Cloth Diaper Geek said it best in her post Co-Op's, the GOOD, The BAD, and The UGLY TRUTH!  I couldn't have said it better myself.  She explains how co-op's hurt small businesses, which is also the very same reason the daily deal sites hurt them:

"Small business owners typically have to buy into a brand/company with a minimum order amount, which ties up a lot of their funds, and then they are required to sell the products only at MSRP pricing.  This means they are very limited as to the sales they can have, often even a discount of 10% is against policy and selling at less than the MSRP can result in that business owner losing their account with that company."

You really should go read her post, it explains it all so well.   It is the reason I'm writing this!  I shared the Co-Op post on our Facebook page, with this comment:

"Beware of "un-authorized" and "secret" co-ops. They greatly damage small business, as do the deal-a-day bargain websites (which is why I no longer promote them). Cloth Diaper Geek shares her perspective on co-ops, one I strongly agree with. (ps... I think "authorized" co-ops are great, as long as they are run openly and honestly.)"

I also explained why I think some "authorized co-op's" are okay:

"I do think a co-op run by a wahm (who makes and sells her own product, but not to retailers) is a great idea. It's a good way to get their product out there, especially if first starting out. I know the wahm set the co-op price and is comfortable with it, and that it's not hurting any retailers. But so many don't understand the "other" side to co-ops and deal-a-day sites. I'm glad this post was written, and I hope it sheds light on the subject. "

I was asked why I included the daily deals sites, too.  I explained my reasons, but wanted to share them in a better setting than just a Facebook comment.  Yes, the daily deal sites are legitimate, unlike many co-op's.  But they hurt the retailers.  The very retailers that give so much of their time (and even money) to help you cloth diaper your child(ren). 

I also shared a post about the impact of independent businesses vs. chain stores (read the article HERE).  Their first line sums it up well:

"Choosing a locally owned store generates almost four times as much economic benefit for the surrounding region as shopping at a chain..."

When shopping for cloth diapers, I encourage you to become informed about where you purchase.  Spend wisely.  Think about the true cost of the daily deal sites and co-op's.

disclaimer:  I fully understand there are many on a very tight budget.  We are happy to help you find the best resources!  Everything in this post is the opinion of Brenda, founder of the DFW Cloth Diaper Group.