The Grandin Road Boycott - Kings of Overpriced Unoriginality

It's that time of year once more, the time we've all been greatly anticipating. Sorry, I shouldn't assume we all love Halloween, but I sure do, and if you're following this blog you should at least be aware, by now, of my infatuation with the holiday. It's August, and now is the time that Gemmy reveals it's latest products, the Dollar Tree lines it's shelves with plastic treasures, Michaels Arts & Crafts unloads it's amazing, yet terribly overpriced Halloween goods, and Grandin Road unleashes a crazy three-minute long Youtube promotional video of their 2013 Halloween catalog.

After taking a class about IT and marketing, I understand the value of social networking. The time and effort Grandin's marketing team put into making this video is remarkable. They wanted to pack a punch this year, and although I believe it could have been two minutes shorter (focusing on the dining scene alone), I feel it certainly has accomplished its goal. It accosts you with CG effects, hoards of product, and edgy industrial like music. It is visually enticing. But what does Grandin Road really have to offer us, the eager consumer?

I first discovered Grandin Road in the last Martha Stewart magazine I purchased. I can't even recall which magazine that was, but it was the Halloween after her "Good Things/Bad Things" issue. I remember it was full of re-hashed projects from the year prior, and that a large portion involved advertisements for Grandin Road products. I hate magazines that advertise "tons of great projects!" on the cover, but inside it's a load of bull; nothing but product suggestions. As a crafter, I want to make things, not buy them. It takes the fun out of it. Not only that, but Grandin Road is atrociously overpriced. I thought Michaels Arts & Crafts was terribly expensive (they've never even matched the Canadian dollar, we're still paying  up the ass), but Grandin Road wants $64 for a resin cast crow, that literally looks no better than their plastic counterparts (now available at Dollarama). $173 for a Ouija Board  serving tray, which is NOT FOOD SAFE. (What is it made of?! Rat poison-soaked lead?) And don't even get me started on their animated props... a $600 headless horseman, who plays a brutally blown out soundtrack. You're better off paying a guy to stand around in costume for a $100 for the night, at least he'd do more than the same thing over and over, and over again. But it's not the insane prices and poor quality that have brought about this post today. No, instead it's something that hits closer to home.

I was browsing the Grandin Road online 2013 catalog when I noticed something particularly off-putting... Now I know I plug my Pinterest page a lot, this is not a networking thing for me, especially since I haven't even begun to utilize it, but I like to give credit to the copious amounts of crafters I pin from. I'm a true believer in promoting good talent. I have been eagerly awaiting to try one of those craft projects for months now. It's Ameroonie's Batty Felt Pillow Tutorial. A cute tutorial turning a simple pillow into an awesome decoration. Look at this thing. It's adorable. Forget Halloween, it's like the ultimate Goth throw cushion! And it's not terribly difficult to do. So why am I bringing this up? Well, because Grandin Road features a pillow that is undoubtedly the same.
A Grandin Road exclusive.... I haven't had any confirmation yet from Ameroonie that she has any dealings with Grandin. I don't like to jump to conclusions, it's quite possible she could have worked as a product designer there, but she is Canadian, and Grandin is American (based in Ohio), so I kind of get the feeling they just copied her idea. What I've come to discover is that this is not unheard of when it comes to Grandin Road's designs, they've copied from other artists in the past. Here's a blog entry on Pumpkinrot describing a few other knock-offs. They too call for a boycott of Grandin Road's products, and I fully support this idea. Why not boycott them? I mean, why buy their products anyways? Not only do they overprice poor quality goods, but they steal artists ideas. Some ideas that are freely available to the public, provided the original designer is at the very least credited.

This really is just sad. So many of us are passionate about art and crafting, we publish tutorials and sell our products on Etsy or Ebay, because we are artists. It's what we live to do. Now, just because it's online, and we don't always outwardly share our identities, does that mean that what we do is meaningless? That our projects can just be copied, mass produced, and sold (for a ridiculous profit). Firstly, the design interns at Grandin should be fired, not only for their incredibly crappy design skills, but for flat out stealing this woman's idea and calling it "exclusive." Secondly, I support the idea of a boycott. Not just a boycott, but more than that. I say we flat out copy their other products and show the world that we can create their stupid over priced crap for a fraction of the cost, and then litter the internet with the how-to tutorials. I say we ultimately screw them over. They deserve it.

Pass the word on, it's time to boycott Grandin Road.



Insomniac’s Attic said...

This is definitely not the first time I've heard of large companies stealing independent artists' ideas and passing them off as their own. It's terrible - as if it isn't hard enough for an artist to make any kind of a living already, without some large company profiting off their creative ideas!

And like you, I always look at things and think I could make something that looks so much better for half the price. But I somehow never getting around to the actual making part. :P

my house is cuter than yours said...

Grandin is selling the pillow for 39 bucks...each!!!!
Shame on them!
btw, fiy Burger King is going to have Simpson's Kid's meal toys soon! Fingers crossed, they will be Halloween/Tree House of Horror inspired!


Little Miss Phantasm said...

I know! That's pretty expensive for a throw cushion, anyways.

Thanks for the heads up! I'll keep my eyes out for them. :)