Monday, 2 August 2010

Rule Britannia!

Just recently I have noticed that either the Royal Mail is getting wise to the amount of online fabric shopping I do or the folks at Customs are a little more efficient than in the past and I have had a big increase in the number of customs charges I've had to pay.

I don't really object to paying the duty, it's one of life's certainties that we will pay taxes and die, but I do object to the handling charge that comes with it. I don't quite understand how it's worked out or why it even exists and as a result I'm getting really cheesed off.

Sometimes I have to shop overseas because UK sellers just don't have what I'm looking for but for the most part I can find what I want online in this country. So why don't I use the UK shops more often? Part of the excuse (it's not a good enough reason, hence - excuse) is that I have a set of go-to shops in the US and I know what they have, trust the seller, like the shipping speed, blah blah blah. It's quick, it's easy, and it's already bookmarked on my computer. I have to think a bit harder if I want to buy more locally and when the money is burning holes in my paypal account I am too lazy.

I know I'm not alone here, I'm bearing my soul to you now - telling you my deepest secrets, 'fessing up to crimes against my own economy whilst all the time moaning that there's no local quilt shop.

Something has to change and I am taking the first step towards changing my habits. If you are in the UK, or Europe why don't you take the steps with me?

Over the next week or so I'll be featuring a different UK based online fabric shop each day, and getting them to tell you a little bit about themselves.
After you've 'met' everyone I'll set up a page here on the blog with a quick go-to guide of where you can shop 'locally'. Make a note of them, bookmark them, and let's try and support our own economy.

Come back each day this week and see what the featured shop has to offer. We've got giveaways, money off codes and more eye candy than is really acceptable. Maybe you'll find someone you didn't know about before, maybe you have used them and can tell us how wonderful their customer service is.

I hope you'll help me support them and (more importantly) enjoy finding some new places to shop!


Starry said...

Hi, long time reader first time commenter xD.

One of the main reasons I buy fabric from abroad is that finding nice cute prints and designer fabrics is hard! I try and use ebay UK where possible but even then it can end up being really expensive in comparison. I look forward to getting some tips on where to go!

Rachel said...

This is a fab idea & I look forward to seeing which shops you feature. Like you, I buy from a few UK online stores, but the majority of my fabric spending is in the US - I only ever buy a few yards at a time to avoid any customs charges but, even with the shipping costs, it is still so much cheaper than buying the same fabric from the UK, which is somewhat frustrating. As I am trying to be "greener" though, I do feel quite guilty about the number of airmiles my purchases must be racking up, so I will definitely try and join you on this.
R x

Rohaise said...

And there was I thinking the charges were something to do with Italian customs! I've been buying fabric from US shops via Etsy recently because of the price and choice and then I always forget that I'm going to have to pay something hefty to the postman when it arrives. I've tried looking for similar fabric at reasonable prices on Ebay or on UK sites but so far I haven't found anything comparable. So I am very much looking forward to finding out more! Thank you.

Hen said...

Oh I agree! I can handle the duties too but £8 from Royal Mail for sticking a label on, I do very much object to. Despite all this, I still prefer to shop from America, sorry but even with the customs duties it's still nearly always cheaper but in the main, the reason I shop via Etsy etc is that the selection is so much greater. Also, shops here only seem to get fabric ranges ages after they come out in the States. That said, I do buy quite frequently from real life fabric and quilt shops and fairs here in the UK when I find them but I admit, rarely online. SO! I hope your postings this week can help change that...

A Peppermint Penguin said...

Me also, like Starry, long time reader, seldom (if ever!) commenter.

Oh you've struck a nerve with this one! I recently had my order split into 2 parcels (not my idea, theirs) and as a result paying the treasury £4.23 cost me £16 to Royal Mail. Ugh. I do not mind paying the tax it's the fee, plus they delay your parcel til you can pay it (btw, I've started paying mine online, it speeds things up a little bit if I can't go in person).

I was told the £8 is to compensate Royal Mail for "acting as my agent" at customs. Like when you come back at the airport and you stand in line to get your bags/receipts checked. They volunteer to do this for you at their special customs depot and you get to thank them for their kindness by paying £8.

If HMRC make a mistake they will promptly refund your tax, but there is no refund on the fee. Oh no.

Sorry, gone all ranty.

I will await your list of temptation with trepidation. What if you've found really good stuff? Then I'll have to buy something. Oh dear.

(financing the Royal Mail from Glasgow)

Isisjem said...

Until I got into blogging recently and discovered UK bloggers with whole lists of online UK fabric suppliers listed I would regularly moan about the lack of choice in the UK and the demise of high street fabric/haberdashery shops. However, there are some fantastic online suppliers with quick turn around. I think some need to sort out their SEO so they can be found easily by the search engines.

Prices can vary and it does get frustrating when they all seem to stock only part of the range and the same part of the ranges as the other shops.

Any UK blogger that features or lists some great shops for us shoppers this side of the pond has big thumbs up from me!

two hippos said...

brilliant idea! I do shop from etsy, as I just can not find the fabrics here and the prices are great too. Look forward to reading about more wonderful fabric shops!

Dragonfly said...

Great idea! I seem to be getting stung more and more too and when it's only for a couple of pounds, the 'handling charge' is so infuriating. I tend to shop with a couple of US stores/Etsy sellers who I know share my frustration.

I shall look forward to your list. Do you know The Fabric Loft? I just discovered Lizzet and got some great fabrics from her.

trash said...

Oh you political thing you. Will there be a tattoo of Che Guevara next the sewing bobbins soon?

Isa said...

You are so right!
I really don't mind the tax, but get irritated each time I have to pay the handling fee for my overseas shipments.
It would be wonderful to be able to shop more locally. The problem for me is that most shops I can find don't have the fabric I wan't and almost never entire lines of fabric.
Look forward to see what shops you find :-)

Lynne said...

Great idea - I was straight on the blower to my mate Mandy when I read your post but it seems you were a step ahead of me and had already spoken to her - it's so great to see her shop taking off so quickly - although we did both think that a UK Kona solids specialist should be a success. Maybe, little by little, the more we buy over here, the more power the UK shops will have and the more lines they'll be able to stock. good for you though, I think this will be a fun week and I am entering every single giveaway even though I never win!

Locket Pocket said...

Great plan Katy! Lucy x

Kelly said...

sounds good, i've started buying more fabric from the uk after a few of my parcels from the US went missing, & there seem to be more & more great stores on-line to buy from too

Manda said...

Fab idea! I look forward to seeing the different UK shops available!

Louise said...

Well good for you!! US internet sales have made a huge dent in sales in all of our local quilting stores with many of them shutting up shop. We even have people coming in to check out the fabric, getting us to put together some for a quilt only to go home and buy it online from the US!! Unless we support our local quilt stores (and book stores) regularly we won't actually have the shops to go to and lots of us will be without jobs!! I know we all love how cheap the fabric is and the choice might be greater but I think people need to consider the bigger picture. So well done!

bellsjo said...

I mostly buy my fabric from the UK and tend to do swaps via Flickr for hard to get fabric from the US. Even in the last year and a half I have been quilting the number of UK fabric shops has increased. We are slowly getting there!

Emma said...

oo looking forward to your posts on this one. I usually stock up at the Festival of Quilts or Knit and Stitch and supplement with bits from Cloth House in London (up from Libertys) and Decorative Cloth in Leamington Spa... both have fabrics to dye for (te he couldn't resist the pun... argh there was another one... resist! eek!)

Have fun x

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