Pete and Kim with one of our Batik Textile Designers in Bali, Indonesia.
As the world gets smaller and our story gets longer, customers sometimes ask why an item in our store costs what it does. And that’s a great question! When you are importing handmade, one-of-a-kind objects from all over the world, pricing can get complicated. So we do our best to keep everything super-simple.
We set our prices to always give the best value, and those prices always reflect our values.
We’re committed to supporting the craftsmanship, culture, and communities of the countries we buy from while providing our patrons with fabulous handcrafted fashion and accessories at the most competitive price.
That means we may not always have the cheapest price. The thing is, the cheapest price is almost always extremely unfair to someone down the line.
We have four rules for fair pricing:
1. Pay Artists and Artisans Well for Their Work
“When I’m on a buying trip abroad, I never try to bargain down a price,” Pete explains. “Not ever. This shocks vendors at first; they expect western buyers to bargain aggressively. When you ask someone for their price and you respect their answer, you build a real relationship based on trust and, in my experience, you get a better deal in the end. We have built a reputation as fair buyers and everyone brings us their best price right from the start.”
“One of the fastest ways to cut an item’s price is to lower the wages of the workers producing it– or their ages,” adds Kim. “We will never sell anything made with child labor. We insist that all of our makers pay and earn a fair living wage. The artisans we support are keeping their communities—and their national economies—healthy. That’s worth paying for.”
2. Only Buy the Best
“We shop hard when we travel!” Kim says. “We’re not going to trade shows, because we want to see how the things we buy are made. We’re going into all the shops in the local markets and we’re visiting our maker’s shops and studios. We want to be sure our goods are unique, authentic, sustainable, ethical, and durable. When you see for yourself how much work, skill, tradition, and inspiration go into a hand-stamped batik, you know what you are paying for, and why.”
“Every once in a while a customer will say they have seen the same item cheaper somewhere else,” adds Kim. “But when you look closely, they’ve seen a similar item—but it wasn’t Fair Trade Certified, or sustainable, or handmade like so many of our products are.”
“If something is cheap but it falls apart quickly, did you really save any money?” Pete asks. “Knock-offs and imitations will always cost less. We only sell the real deal. That’s how you keep a beautiful and ancient cultural tradition like batik alive—you don’t accept cheaper substitutes. You can see and feel the difference in thread counts, materials, weaves, and finishes when you are holding the real thing. That feeling—and the objects that inspire it—will last. And I think that’s worth paying for.”
3. Share Our Profits with Our People
“We don’t just pay the people we buy from well,” Pete continues. “We give the whole Mexicali Blues team great wages and benefits, too—with perks like flexible time off for travel that you don’t often see in a retail job. The customer service experience everyone raves about in our stores and online is at the heart of Mexicali Blues. We price our products to support that happy, healthy work environment.”
4. Give 1% of Our Proceeds Back
“We donate a full one percent of our sales, not just our profits, to good causes in our own communities and in the countries we source from,” Pete adds. “Every single year we give tens of thousands of dollars to organizations doing good work here and abroad. [In years past] we supported earthquake relief in Nepal through prayer flag sales, protected young girls in Thailand from traffickers, invested in our local schools, contributed to conservation areas, sponsored arts organizations, and much, much more.”
“The World of Goods program really keeps the good vibes going,” Kim agrees. “We support affordable housing in Guatemala by donating the sales of beautiful beaded bracelets, and I’m really excited to see how our generous customers respond.”
How else do we keep prices fair? We fill our stores with a mix of products in a range of price points so that everyone who comes in can find something awesome that they can afford. And we have fantastic sales! You might have gotten lucky with our Labor Day sale, but if you missed that one, keep an eye out for the Early Bird discounts for the holidays! That will start soon, so you can get a jump on holiday shopping! If you’re not signed up to receive our emails, that’s truly the best way to know when the deals start.
That vibe in our stores that everyone can’t get enough of? That’s the fair price feeling. Shopping is a lot more fun when you know that everyone is getting a good deal!