BOO! Closing in on Halloween, there’s lots of scary stuff around. Especially if you’re a Bull.
Lately it seems like I’m getting red flags waved in my face at every turn.
As a small business in a heavily regulated industry in a country struggling with a manufacturing-hostile economy, it’s easy to see red. Add to that the joys of Making a Living in the Visual Arts and it’s not hard to feel under constant siege.
• “Give us free glass, or we’ll use another brand”.
• “If you sell direct, we’ll drop your product line [that we barely carry anyway]”.
• “We don’t care if you say it’s inaccurate to call Bullseye “90 COE”, it makes it easier for us to sell.”
I haven’t heard the “corporate” or “elitist” charges yet this week, but it’s only Tuesday.
Strangely, the red flag at the top of this post is pretty far down on my list of Rantable Topics. But I saw it raised over on the Warm Glass board a few days ago, so I’ll throw my two cents in over here (I try more and more not to rant in other people’s living rooms).
Apparently the Chinese are coming in with cheap product. I think we’re supposed to be worried about our business.
Which business is that? The one of providing endless technical support? The one of holding millions of dollars in inventory so we can guarantee speedy delivery? The one of running a department of 9 full-time technicians who test and teach seven days a week? The one of working directly with hundreds of artists so that we can stay on top of new methods and demands?
Cheap glass? We’ve been threatened with that for over a decade.
First it was coming in from Eastern Europe, then Western Europe, then there was someone in Australia making float compatible color. Once upon a time a major US distributor told us he’d found a “glass bridge” that could be painted onto any glass to make it compatible with any other glass. The heaviest bombardment came from our friends up north with cheap glass served up with a lot of pseudo-scientific advertising claims that we had to take to court to beat.
GLASSTEC. Rhymes with trainwreck. If you ever want to get run over by every wild-eyed concoction in the world of glass, go to Duesseldorf, Germany for the biennial trade fare.
Chinese glass? Are we wary? Of course. We’re not paranoid without good cause. But we aren’t alone.
A year ago we visited the Dutch booth at Glasstec that was showing this new fusible Chinese glass – amidst a lot of images of works by a Famous European Glass Artist who was present in the booth, a celebrity figure who had supposedly tested the glass and was satisfied with it. A “friend” for decades (I know, friendship in the commercial world is sometimes barely decipherable) he hastened to point out to us that none of the objects in his most recent book (also being touted in the booth) were made with the Chinese glass. With one exception, all the colored works were Bullseye, a material he’d used for over 20 years.
So why hadn’t he used this new wonderful cheap glass in his own work?
“Why would I take the RISK?” He looked at Dan and me like we were crazy to even ask the question.
Are we naïve? Aren’t we afraid of China? Of course we are, but for reasons that are lots bigger than cheap glass. Paul T. raised some of them in his typically astute set of questions in the WG thread. Lauri L. countered with others that are equally valid.
There are more than enough red flags to go around. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this one.