Stealing from a small business

Stealing from a small business? You’re literally the worst.

I realized as I was packing up orders this morning that I was missing a bunch of skeins in varying shades. I ransacked the shop stash – nowhere to be found. I checked the car, my personal stash, and nothing. After some detective work checking over the last stock take I did, it’s become clear they were stolen from the last event we were at. (Yes, I realized that I should have taken a better inventory after the last event – when several events are clustered together, things can get missed when you’re the only one running a business.)

It’s not a ton of money, no. But it means I have to disappoint people and refund their orders, telling them their yarn was nicked by someone else. It means someone who messaged me personally saying they were SO EXCITED about that yarn isn’t going to get it now.

I know I’m not the only one to be hit by this – several indie dyer friends have been slammed with huge thefts at shows. In comparison, mine looks small and insignificant. I can only imagine how upset and angry they were upon realizing the theft, given how hurt and frustrated I’m feeling over £70 worth of yarn when they had loads more stolen from them.

Here’s the thing: small businesses don’t have big margins of error. Huge corporations can account for a 2% “shrink rate,” or theft, when counting inventory, because they make big margins on their products. But when you steal from a small business, that’s money out of our own personal pocket. It’s personal, and it hurts – both financially and emotionally.

This isn’t an issue of stealing bread because your family is hungry, or medicine because your kid is sick. This is someone stealing a handmade “fun” item because they wanted it, but didn’t want to pay for it.

I’m still not sure how it happened – probably within the 90 seconds I dared to duck behind a crate to scarf a sandwich.

Yes, I’m angry – it’s unfair to a small business to steal from them, whether it’s me, another indie dyer, or a farmer’s market stand. If you’re stealing from a small business, you’re the worst.

6 Replies to “Stealing from a small business? You’re literally the worst.”

  1. I’m in the USA and we see a similar issue at some of the shows we attend. While we bin our yarn (which makes it relatively easy to take if we’re distracted) other producers use everything from zip-ties (which have to be cut and replaced with each sale) to locking metal rings (which make an alerting sound if they’re being handled). It’s increasingly common to bring a helper to a show, so there’s more than one of you on hand to keep and eye on things.

    But yarn isn’t the thing that gets taken the most often… it’s finished goods. Shawls, hand woven items, even entire pelts. One enterprising gentleman displayed a lace shawl sample by suspending it above his booth stretched across a massive wooden frame. Everyone who’d had something taken in previous years eyed that arrangement with more than a little envy, and I’m seriously considering something similar for upcoming years. Either that, or tying bells onto the hang tags, which I’ll remove on sale, but which will alert me if someone is handling a piece.

  2. This is unforgivable, and I do empathise with you.
    My niece (Jane Hunter) is a fabric artist and in her latest blog post she will be telling of how after hours and hours of work, involving travel, meetings, etc as well as the actual hours of crafting, on a piece commissioned by another business, and having journeyed to deliver the work, the “buyers” have ignored her invoice and subsequent requests for payment. She has at least managed to retrieve the work, but as it was specially commissioned to specific requirements, it is unlikely to sell to another customer.
    She has felt this acutely – she too has a small one-woman business.
    She’d had previous dealings with the company, so hadn’t had a contract, and on this occasion, as she trusted them, she hadn’t asked for a deposit as she normally would.
    Beware these thieves and fraudsters, they are despicable!

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