Now, when I started sewing 17 years ago, if you told me that I would spend my 28th birthday embroidering shirts for old men at a convention for United States Submarine Veterans, I’m pretty sure I would have asked you if you were on crack. If, indeed, I had any sort of understanding of what being on crack meant. And to be honest, I’m not sure sure I believe it still. And yet, here I am, experiencing something that can only be described as surreal.
I have had a very, very bad day, which the entire world of Facebook and Twitter already know about, but I shant dwell on that now. What I shall dwell on is a conversation I somewhat overheard during the last hour before the vendor room closed down for the night.
You see, the planners of this Convention probably didn’t really do much “planning”. A lot of stuff seems haphazard, but I still give them props because it’s just not something I would ever be interested in doing. Regardless, those of us in the vendor room found ourselves with essentially no customers because a bunch of the old codgers were bused off to Branson to have a rocking good time eating over-priced food and watching an over-priced country and/or western show.
I have not liked the table across from me since the moment I met them. The guy reminds me of a car salesman. A pushy car salesman. And tonight, after the customers dispersed, Pushy McJackwagon and his daughter and daughter-in-law spent a good hour or so talking about the other vendors in a less than flattering fashion.
Now, I know I should eavesdrop. I also shouldn’t assume. I couldn’t hear everything they were saying, and at times I wasn’t 100% certain about which vendors they were talking. But the main gist of their conversation was “How can we take away their business by doing what they’re doing?”
Listen: I get it. You’re a business, and businesses are out to make money. Even if you are a not-for-profit business, you still need income. But I don’t believe that your source of income should come from taking other people’s ideas. I believe if you can’t come up with your own, you shouldn’t be running your own business. You may be a great salesperson, and that’s okay, but if you don’t have your own vision, then you should sell someone else’s vision for that someone else.
It’s entirely possible to have your own idea and have it be identical to someone else’s. For instance, I’m not the only person at this convention with an embroidery machine. As it turns out, we aren’t doing exactly the same thing, but if I’d had any inclination that there would be as many people with embroidered goods as there are, I probably would have sat this out. When I arrived I felt like I was honing in on someone’s territory, and it was an uncomfortable feeling.
However, I find it shady and underhanded to look at someone’s business and decide to do what they do (more than likely for cheaper so you can take their business away). It’s fine to have inspiration, but you should have the decency to find a way to make it your own. Or at least have the courtesy to not vend where they vend (or at the very least not do that particular thing while they’re there).