We pay for cheap merchandise in so many ways other than the purchase price. Quality of materials is the first to go. And it's no secret that the workers in these far away factories are not paid living wages or given benefits (I know, I used to work in the apparel industry). The the environment pays for the cheap prices by being over-harvested and polluted in the production process before the stuff gets shipped across the globe using fossil fuel. And finally, with fewer jobs to go around in our own country because labor is cheaper elsewhere, we go into debt as a nation to support the resulting jobless and bail out companies that make stupid decisions so we won't lose even more jobs. So we pay for all this cheap merchandise on the backs the downtrodden, our environment, and indirectly our own selves.
One thing, among others, that I will never buy is Chinese cashmere. The environmental devastation caused by the overgrazing of China's grasslands is just mind boggling. This article from the Seattle Times was published 8 years ago. It's a miracle that this resource hasn't been completely gobbled up yet (literally, the goats are eating each other because the grass is gone). There will be a point sometime soon when it won't be possible to make a lot of things.
Call me a curmudgeon, but this is what I think about when I see all the ads and sale signs. I'm sad to see my Etsy friends succumbing to the pressure to get buyers' attention by putting on sales that they can't really afford to do. I'm disappointed that the Etsy powers that be are encouraging this mentality in our handmade community. I feel this undermines artisans by cheapening the product in the eyes of the buyer rather than promoting what's wonderful about handmade items and why they are worth more than something mass-produced.
Sooooooo, this is why I have not done a Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale or any other promotion except for a modest coupon for members of my Facebook page celebration my 100th Etsy sale. I'm not willing to use cheaper materials. I will continue to use my American Apparel onesies and tees which are made in the USA and are soft and thick. I can't compete on price, so I'm not going to try. If something costs me $10 in materials takes me 3 hours to make like my bird purses or my appliqued onesies, it's going to have to cost over $30. I hope my original designs have value to people, but if I can't sell the stuff for that, lowering the price won't help me in the long run. I'll give it all away to loved ones who will enjoy it if it comes to that.
It's impossible now to get through modern life without buying some mass produced things (although some brave souls have tried it). I just ask that you consider buying some portion of your holiday shopping from a small independent merchant (like me!) this season. There is plenty of cool stuff to be found if you're willing to browse on Etsy or one of the other handmade sites and your money will go to a person. The Etsy Kids Team blog has 10 reasons why you should buy handmade if I haven't already convinced you. And if you're still here at the end of this paragraph, thanks for listening to my rant!