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View Full Version : Make versus Buy: Business 101



RJSamp
12-08-2006, 03:25 PM
One of the ways to lower the costs on authentic merchandise is to hand tailor it. Buy a pattern, correct materials, and with a lot of patience and perserverance learn the art of tailoring and have it. The numbers cited by those who've done this in the past is that it often is cheaper than buying mainstream quality merchandise.....and since it's tailored it will fit better and last longer...

But is it actually cheaper to make it yourself?

If you look at material costs only, the answer is yes. But this approach assumes that your time spent in research, buying the materials, learning how to tailor, and crafting the final product is worth nothing.

Business people face this decision often, and the cost accounting and economic analysis to make the right decision are documented and entrenched in the policies and procedures of Capitalism.

Time is money. Whether you could mow lawns, babysit, work at Home Depot, or analyze personal financial investment portfolios instead of tailoring a sack coat....the point is certain: your time and what you do with it is valuable. Once spent, it's spent (including typing this and other messages RJ!). If it's worth $5 or $10 or $100 an hour....take the time spent in research, procurement, education, and manufacturing and multiply it out.....

Sure you can say that tailoring is a hobby.....I do it for relaxation, enjoyment, etc. like Needle Point, playing Hearts, or computer games we have all of our time off activities..... but the opportunity cost of not working must be taken into account.

We also forget the capital costs....whether it's a pair of fine scissors, needles, heat and lighting in the workspace, and mayhaps access to a Singer or Bernina sewing machine.

Just something to keep in mind the next time you buy.

31stWisconsin
12-08-2006, 03:41 PM
Well my take is that I appreciate things much more if I make it myself and that I have fun doing it. Take for example the pistol I built. With costs of supplies as well as replacement parts for those I broke, the cost was the same as buying one complete. And that doesn't include the time it took me. So, yes those hours I spent could have been much more work time. But I don't care, because I enjoyed myself while I was making the pistol, and I don't at work, so cost is moot.

POF
12-08-2006, 06:10 PM
Isn't going to events/this hobby in general/posting on this forum a waste of precious time/money? I do plenty of things that don't turn my time into coin. I think it's good not think of time as money constantly.
POF
"Won't somebody please think of the oppertunity costs?"

tompritchett
12-09-2006, 11:21 AM
Isn't going to events/this hobby in general/posting on this forum a waste of precious time/money? I do plenty of things that don't turn my time into coin. I think it's good not think of time as money constantly.
POF

I agree totally. Very few of us are workaholic lawyers and consultants who literally charge by the hour and work such hours that such activities who actually interfere with their incomes. For those that are, I doubt that they are logging in here. Plus their income levels are such that they definitely can afford the high end sutler products anyway. Granted there are others for whom the time is money may also be applicable such as owners of certain businesses that rely on skilled, indoor manual labor (e.g. auto repair shops, woodworking shops, etc.). For some of these individuals, RJ's argument may very well have merit, especially if the business is a very small business.

John Legg
12-10-2006, 12:25 AM
My pard Chris figured out, that it is Cheaper buying a complete Progressive kit, rather that a Mainstream kit..

John

MStuart
12-10-2006, 12:41 AM
My pard Chris figured out, that it is Cheaper buying a complete Progressive kit, rather that a Mainstream kit..John

Details?

Mark

Stiggs
12-10-2006, 09:19 AM
"... that it is Cheaper buying a complete Progressive kit, rather that a Mainstream kit... "

No, it isn't. And the sooner we quit lying about this the better.

VaTrooper
12-10-2006, 09:44 AM
No, it isn't. And the sooner we quit lying about this the better.


Your getting way ahead of yourself here. It really depends on what your buying. Sure if its item per item then the Pakistan crap is going to be cheaper. But if you think of it as the average mainstream kit is enormous and may very well cost more than if you bought a basic quality kit.

terry sorchy
12-10-2006, 12:35 PM
The bottom line is this. If you are interested in going to mainstream events, (which is the persons choice) then pick up the kit for that type of event, i.e mainstream kit. Please take into consideration though we are still teaching the public. If you want to go to C/P/H events then research and get or make your kit accordingly. Someone before said there were alot of C/P/H fellows that only stayed by themselves or didnt talk to the public. That person obviously does not know to many of us, or has never been to a C/P/H event. And by the way anyone on here that says they have gone to those types of events but used mainstream kit, guess what, you did'nt. You have never been to a C/P/H event. Our giudlines do not let in mainstream kit,or attitudes. End of story and discussion.
Terry Sorchy

tompritchett
12-10-2006, 12:36 PM
Your getting way ahead of yourself here. It really depends on what your buying. Sure if its item per item then the Pakistan crap is going to be cheaper. But if you think of it as the average mainstream kit is enormous and may very well cost more than if you bought a basic quality kit.

Can we get beyond this argument once and for all. There is not that much difference in the number of items between an entry level mainstreamer and an entry level 5%er - basically a tent and latern. Everything else is optional - just as are the additional uniforms that some 5%ers have from doing very unit specific impressions. Most mainstreamers have only one PEC uniform that they use for all their reenactments and Living Histories. How many campaigners have only one kit, especially if they are Confederate? Probably not many because such a kit would not be authentic at many events where the guidelines are built around the uniforms of the specific units being portrayed at the event. I know that there have been some c/p/h events that I was tempted to register for until I read the guidelines and realized that my kit was too PEC to fit.

However let get past the money issue once and for all. Campaigning has nothing to do with "saving money". As Bill Watson so eloquently stated many months ago, campaigning is all about the experience of being like them.

VaTrooper
12-10-2006, 02:21 PM
Tom,
I agree campaigning has about as much to do with saving money as mainstreaming has to do with lack of money to spend.

JMByrnes
12-10-2006, 03:52 PM
He does have a point if you are going to pay attention to quality. Typically CPH goods are constructed with a higher standard of quality. The goods from Pakistan are mass produced at a lower standard of quality. Therefore, you typically must replace Pakistan goods more frequently and in that regard a mainstream kit is more expensive than a CPH kit.

Now I don't think that is what he meant I think he was just typing something for the sole purpose to just type something that he thought might add to the thread. You can take other perspectives like THP did when it comes to the number of uniforms a CPH reenactor has, and in that regard a CPH kit is more expensive.

I'm of the opinion that making your own uniform is fun. You have a larger variety to pick from if you're going to do it yourself especially when it comes to fabrics. Also, it helps put more unit specific gear out there which adds to an events environment in my opinion. Finally, from an economic sense the more guys who know how to make accurate uniforms the more options guys have when looking to buy something. Because there is no middle man when dealing with a lot of those guys who just make stuff in their spare time it helps keep down cost compared to the sutlers and the quality is still reasonable if not just as good as the stuff found in the top sutlers' tents.

Just my 2 cents

Trooper Graham
12-10-2006, 04:01 PM
correct me if I'm unaware but I thought the only wares made Paki is ironware. I didn't know they were into uniforms and leather gear too.

terry sorchy
12-10-2006, 04:15 PM
YUP, just ask mainstream sutlers to tell you where they buy from. It will surprise you. Many, many either buy from inian or pakistani markets or send stuff (Outsource) goods to other countrys to have them made cheaper, make good money off them, then sell them at events and make it look like they are doing you the favor.Just look for the little white size tag thats sewn in msny mainstream garments, they sew them in when they make them in pakistan. I will not name names of sutlers though. The same goes for leathers, shoes, haversacks, etc...
But, like I said there are very few if any C/P/H folks out there that really care if others buy that stuff. It really does not matter to us. All we know is that we wont buy that stuff.
Terry Sorchy

tompritchett
12-10-2006, 06:51 PM
Tom,
I agree campaigning has about as much to do with saving money as mainstreaming has to do with lack of money to spend.

It may surprise you but I also agree that mainstreaming has nothing to do with saving money or a lack of money to spend. More it is about not being willing to endure the creature discomforts that the soldiers back then did during the times that the public is not around. (I know that was what initially drove me into the Mainstreamer ranks.) It is also about only having to be fully authentic in all parts of your portrayal throughout the full duration of the event. For many it is also about ignorance because they have never seen any other type of reenacting except mainstream reenacting. Some of those who started the hobby in ignorance were then led further down the path of ignorance by company leadership who sometimes actually felt threatened by those wanting to improve their impressions beyond the unit norm. In their ignorance, and sometimes with the prompting of their company leadership, they end up buying the cheapest items around rather than looking for more authentic purchases. I still have nightmares of a company commander encouraging newbies to save money by buying some East German workboots "because at a distance they looked like brogans" and a specific style of light brown, cotton work pants from Cabellas because they had the yoke back and bottom up fly. Once they got everything else they needed they could then upgrade their footwear and pants. The lack of money only applies to their initial choices of items for their kit and, for those deciding to progress beyond their initial impressions, the pace of their material progression.

But, going back to your original point, I would hazard that most reenactors, when making their choice of being a mainstreamer versus a campaigner or vice a versa, "saving money" rarely is the deciding factor in their decision.

Ohioreb1861
12-25-2006, 12:24 AM
I still have nightmares of a company commander encouraging newbies to save money by buying some East German workboots "because at a distance they looked like brogans" and a specific style of light brown, cotton work pants from Cabellas because they had the yoke back and bottom up fly. Once they got everything else they needed they could then upgrade their footwear and pants.

You have got to be kidding!!! Why buy something twice, might as well get the good stuff from the start.

Rob Weaver
12-25-2006, 07:04 AM
Actually, the problem there is that this (hypothetical?) commander is steering his recruits to buy modern clothing assuming that it will pass for period reproduction. That avenue is really a waste of money as they're not even assembling a good costume. Steering recruits toward a reputable mainstream outfit will at least give them a workable starter uniform.
My own experience has been that I have not saved money when I made an item myself. What I got, however, was an item that I couldn't find or that I wanted to make a copy of a single existing example.

tompritchett
12-25-2006, 11:56 AM
(hypothetical?)

Unfortunately no.

54thovi
12-25-2006, 03:29 PM
I am sewing some of my own things for the following reasons and saving money has nothing to do with them.

1. I have learned a lot about materials and methods by sewing my own shirts, drawers, and shelter halves. I would'nt have learned as much having them bought ready-made.

2. I have gained a heck of an appreciation for those women who made the originals and who got paid jack s--- for their work...

3. It is a skill that I am getting better at and a discipline. It also is relaxing for me...

4. It is a challenge for me to get better at this skill and to create more complex things..

5. There is something about making something usefull from scratch...

Now do you save $$$ by sewing... after the pattern, quality materials, etc. Well, yes you do a little, but IMO with the time and research added to the mix, unless you enjoy it and get some other value out of it you really should consider a quality maker as it takes a lot of time...

Now, in terms of money and the hobby... Seeing that you are going to spend money and more importantly time... it is my belief that you should go with quality and authenticity so that you get the most out of your investment. If $180 is too much for a sack coat, you could bite the bullet in terms of time and buy a kit (about $125) from quality sutlers and make your own. You can also buy used but we shouldn't lie to ourselves and say that authenticitiy is cheap because it isn't. In the end... you gotta pay to play and if you are gonna spend to money and the time to play then do it right...

John Feagin

P.S. one thing I have learned by doing this is a great appreciation of those who create quality reproductions...

Rob Weaver
12-26-2006, 08:35 AM
Unfortunately no.
Wow. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is truly the definition of the F*** that we like to abuse so much. Have at him!