So, it seems that the online stationery world has been up in arms a lot as of late over limited editions. While I am not going to comment on the kerfuffle with the Abercrombie & Fitch Field Notes, I am going to speak to the recent decision by Cal Cedar aka Palomino aka Blackwing and their decision to release their 100th Anniversary Edition pencils ONLY to their Blackwing Volumes Subscribers. There is a lot to consider on this because, well, this whole thing rubbed me the wrong way.
I suppose it is only fair, at this point, to mention that I have issues with the whole subscription model and have only grown more so over the past year. I currently do not have any active subscriptions, aside from a couple of magazines, but nothing in the subscription box model. That said, this has nothing to do with them including the limited edition pencil in the subscription boxes. As a true subscriber extra, they would be pretty awesome. And, it may have tipped me to subscribe again.
And, as a tried and true capitalist, I’m all for them doing whatever they want and selling their pencils however they want. However, that also means that I as the consumer can evaluate their product and determine if it is right for me or, in many cases, if I want to support the company making the product, no matter how cool they are. There are many factors that go into that decision for each individual.
All that said … I have issues with this. First, and perhaps foremost, I know that the guys at CalCedar are members of the Erasable Group over on Facebook. In fact, I know that at least one of their higher ups participated in the Secret Santa that I started over there. So, they are aware that the singular most requested item in their lineup is to add a 4th standard edition to the Blackwing lineup with the extra firm core. The cherry on top would be if it was a natural (aka naked) pencil. This has been the request of the community since the 211 and later the 24 came out. So, a limited edition anniversary edition that ticks those boxes? Yeah! Sign us up! Oh, wait … you HAVE to subscribe to make that happen? Well then …. I’ll subscribe. What? Even that isn’t a guarantee that I’d get a box?
Essentially what CalCedar communicated to me, a money paying customer and brand evangelist, is that we care about you only if you are a subscriber and then not even enough to make sure you’d get the limited edition. Never mind the literally hundreds of dollars I have spent on your product over the past two years. Be a subscriber and if you are lucky (and the website doesn’t crash which is another whole issue I won’t get into) you can have the right to purchase these super limited edition pencils that we didn’t even have to dream up – you guys designed for us free of charge.
Some have tried to brush it off by saying “Oh, these are just a test run. They’ll announce the new permanent edition soon enough.” Whether they do or don’t is not the point (and, frankly, if they DO make this a permanent edition, I might be more peeved!). I’m not even peeved if they wanted to give subscribers first crack and they sold out. That’s the price of tea. What I’m mad about is that they decided to celebrate their 100th anniversary by creating a product and saying to many loyal customers “You’re not loyal enough.” That’s what makes me mad. The hundreds upon hundreds I’ve spent with your company over the past 3 years on PENCILS doesn’t make me loyal enough to participate in your 100th Anniversary Party. And is what will give me great pause to ever purchase one of your products ever again.