"For Giving" Tuesday: FREE Gift with $100 purchase

"For Giving" Tuesday: FREE Gift with $100 purchase

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." – Maya Angelou

If small businesses "do a happy dance" with every sale, what do we do on Black Friday and Cyber Monday when big businesses flood the market with cheap goods at give-away prices?

We agonise.

We question ourselves and our business model.

We come close to giving in and doing the thing we swore we would never do: try to compete with the big guys.

As an eco-friendly business, we choose to provide the best service and quality for the products you need and to resist the temptation to discount just to sell more stuff.

If we have a sale, discount a price or offer a freebie, it's for one reason only...

we f'd up.

It might be that we ordered too many of a design or type of mat that didn't sell as well as we anticipated. Or we decided to try a new product that we couldn't figure out how or where to sell or market it.

That's what happened with the thousands of reusable bags we gave out free with every mat purchase. A competitor who was going out of business contacted us to see if we'd like to buy her remaining stock. She had almost 17,000 of these great bags. We bought 200 to test them to make sure that they were as good as we'd hoped. They were and they sold well for us at $7.50 per bag. But 17,000 was a HUGE commitment for a little business like ours. Then two things happened: she lowered our buy price; Trudeau announced a "single use bag ban". Our courage was bolstered and we decided to invest in a product that we truly believed folks would both LOVE and USE. It would be good for us to have bags available for customers to buy when they forgot to bring one and for customers to prepare and start using well before the single-use bag ban took effect. Then... two unanticipated things happened: Trudeau postponed the ban's start date indefinitely and sometime after, COVID hit. Shows were cancelled and bag sales dropped and dropped even more. S___ !

When we finished whining, complaining and kicking ourselves for not being more prescient and savvy, we had to find a way to make the most of a situation that we could not change. They were still great bags. They would still keep thousands and thousands of harmful plastic bags from endangering animals and polluting the planet. We just wouldn't be able to sell them easily.

Just because we couldn't get folks to buy them, that didn't mean that we couldn't get folks to use them. What if we gave them away? We could still do some good for the planet. It's estimated that one reusable bag can replace between 100 to 700 single-use bags per year. Over an average lifespan, this could mean as many as 350,000 bags per person!

Since our bags are so small and handy, we figured that folks would find it easier to keep them handy in a pocket, purse or glove box. A convenient bag that holds a lot of stuff would ease the frustration that can come with shopping for bulky items. If people remember who gave them this great bag, maybe... just maybe...  they'd refer our little business to others who are in the market for great mats or bags. It was a long shot, but it was also an opportunity to our values to the test and to make the most of the hand we were dealt.

For the most part, it's worked. Over the past two years, MadMatters has gifted over 2,500 bags. We get thank you notes for these. Folks will raise their bags to show us that they're using them when we see them at the market. The bags are not branded with a MadMatters logo, so that sucks, but for the most part people remember who gave them this great gift.

So this December, we plan to make the most of another one of our F-ups.


Thankfully, we only invested in a few hundred of these. We thought they'd give folks who wanted to support us and our green business something small to buy when they didn't need or couldn't afford an eco-friendly mat. One Swedish Dish cloth can replace several rolls of paper towels. They're super absorbent, bacteria free, 100% compostable and made from all-natural materials. They can be washed in either a dishwasher or a washing machine. What's not to love? These seemed like a perfect fit for our product line. Sadly, no. They're not selling. We just don't have the room at our market booth and our website is pretty crowded too.

So guess what?

We're giving them away. One with each December mat order over $100*. Just because we can't sell these, doesn't mean we can't put them to work replacing thousands and thousands of paper towels in our beautiful country. We've all witnessed the BC mudslides that have been attributed to over-logging and wiped out entire towns, roads, homes and farms.

We know better. Let's do better.

Happy Holidays!

Caroline and Fred

FYI Our oldest son crossed the Coquihala Hwy about 12 hours before entire sections of it washed away. He said that there was no warning that that storm was going to be that devastating. We're so grateful that he was not injured, trapped or worse. Our hearts go out to those who have lost their homes, farms, villages, livestock, livelihoods and more. We stand with you and for you.

*While supplies last.

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1 comment

I enjoyed reading your blog and love the bags and your caring ways to do business in a crazy mixed up world right now. What a miracle to have dear J….. safely out of harms way. Trust that good business ethics will prevail and cheer us on out of all that is not working to reclaim our values and ways that sustain all of us. All success to your good work and fun offerings!


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