Late last year Westminster/Rowan/FreeSpirit announced they would be adopting a Minimum Advertised Pricing (MAP) policy. Read more about it, and commenters’ reactions, in this previous post. The policy would have required all shops as of Feb. 1, 2009 to advertise Westminster fabrics for no less than $9.50/yard, though retailers would still be free to sell the fabric at any price they wished, as well as advertise volume discounts.
Last week, Westminster notified customers that they would be suspending implementation of the policy pending further review. It looks like it might still happen in the future, but it’s off for now. The notification said that it would be impossible to enforce the policy in fairly and consistently.
On a related note … in the original post I wrote the following:
In the internet age, MAP policies effectively level the playing field between brick-and-mortar and online shops, the latter of which can afford a lower markup due to lower overhead costs. In the fabric world, there is also a third player — Etsy- and eBay-based shops, which have even lower overhead costs than stand-alone online shops and tend to offer the lowest prices on fabric.
My fabric-selling friends corrected me on this. It might be true some of the time, but it’s clear to me now that overhead is highly dependent on the scale and location of your shop, number of employees, as well as other factors. Ebay and Etsy fees can add up, often making it far cheaper to run a stand-alone shop. And an online-only shop still needs to pay rent to store inventory and do business — this could easily cost more than running a traditional brick-and-mortar store, depending on geography, scale, etc. My sincere apologies for the misinformation!