After sleeping on it, and reading the responses of everyone else, I think I have a better handle on my own feelings about this change.
1. I've never liked the AA blanks that Woot uses, but I don't dislike them either. They were just what Woot shirts came on, and I like the designs.
2. I'm not wild about the outsourcing, but that's tempered somewhat by the knowledge that AA is no worker's paradise.
3. I feel manipulated and lied to. This decision has obviously been in the works for a while. In this thread, there is a staffer saying they've been testing Anvil blanks for years. Yet only 36 days ago, when they announced a price increase a Woot staffer said this:
Jason Toon wrote:The sad fact is, nothing in our business - blank shirts, ink, labor, shipping - is getting any cheaper. A happier fact is that Shirt.Woot has a full roster of cool projects in the works for 2012, which we just couldn't do on the incredible shrinking margins of our old price.
But now it seems like 2 of the 4 things that aren't "getting any cheaper"--blanks and labor--now are getting cheaper. And moreover, you knew that when you made the post.
I make my shirt-buying choices based 3 things:
1. The quality of the design. We have yet to see whether this decision will deter the artists from submitting here.
2. The quality of the product. I guess I'll have to try one and see what I think.
3. The quality of the company. And right now this is the one I can't pin down. In my few experiences with your customer service, you guys have been top-notch. But how your company makes changes like this is part of how your company is viewed. And I don't think that announcing a price change while holding back the knowledge that you're also going to change the quality* of the product is up to the standards I've come to expect from Woot.
* I'm reserving judgement on whether this change is going to lower quality, but I think we can all agree it will change it.
How do I think this will affect my own purchases?
I don't know. Unless I see a design I can't live without I'll probably hold off buying any of the new blanks, until I hear feedback from others. And I'll see if my favorite artists stay here, or if they trickle away to other sites.
I do think, however, that if you're so confident of the quality of the new shirts, that a wonderful gesture would be to pick some of your better artists and customers (artists and customers that are vocal and active on these boards) and send them one or two comps. Let them tell us whether these shirts are as good.