(brief) Return of Waxed Cotton

I deleted a comment today. It’s been in moderation for a long time. I decided I’d write a post in response but without the comment being present.

The comment was made in response to my post summarizing what I learned from Fred Gold at Original Wax.

Basically, the respondent objected to the fact that if you wanted waxed cotton from Original Wax you had to purchase several yards, and if you kept it to the minimum (10 or so yards) you had to pay special cutting fees. Except the commenter had a lot of F*** you statements to Fred, the Martins, the company…

I’ve got two responses for that person.

First, at the time of the post the company was a WHOLESALER. Their systems of production and distribution were designed to deliver multiple bolts; yardages in the hundreds. There are spacing issues between rollers that are optimal for large batches which make running very small batches impossible. (If the “lead” has to be five yards, you can’t run less than that. It’s a fixed cost.)

It’s similar to trying to purchase a slice of bread from the bakery. You’re offended because they charge almost what they charge for a loaf. They still have to pay for wrapping, they have to pay for slicing, and unless they’ve set up a ‘by the slice’ program they have to throw away the rest of the loaf.

Wholesale is not retail. If you want them to accomodate retail, persuade them (best by helping them find a market) instead of berating. Berating just makes you sound like a petulant, ignorant, spoiled child.

Enter part two.

Way back up there I used the word the word “Was” with wholesaler. And they still do wholesale. But someone, possibly within their system, possibly external from a number of small batch requests, but someone persuaded them there was enough of a market to do a little retail. Martexin created an online fabric store, Fairfield, from which you can purchase retail batches of waxed cotton.

If you want a special color or unlisted weight you’re going back to the special order issues and extra costs. But if you’re just wanting a little, they’ve put a lot of weights and colors up for you.

Are they still expensive? A bit, but not that much more than other special treatment fabrics from online fabric stores. It’s a LOT cheaper than it used to be for someone only wanting a couple of yards.

Have I purchased from them? Not yet. I decided making the things I was considering wasn’t something I could do profitably and went another direction. I probably will, however. I’ve got a few things I want for myself for which waxed cotton is the preferred cloth. I just need to dig myself out of a personal hole first.

For those of you who want to get waxed cotton for yourself, there’s the link. Enjoy. And if you do use it, feel free to tell me. If you can refrain from making personal attacks I’ll share even your bad experiences, though I hope (as, I’m sure, everyone at that company) your experience is actually quite pleasant.

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2 thoughts on “(brief) Return of Waxed Cotton

  1. Kirk,
    It is a real shame how rude and thoughtless some people can be. I have had quite a bit of experience with Fred Gold, Judy Martin, Martin Dying and Finishing, and Fairfield. They deserve no bad words from anyone, in fact they are to be commended for helping small startup companies like mine get access to high quality materials. It is kind of hard to compare their pricing to retail, mostly because it is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT, if not impossible, to find the quality and selection of fabrics that they sell in any US retail outlet (online or otherwise) at any price. Perhaps if you live in NYC or SF or LA, or some other garment manufacturing center you could find something, but I have searched for quite a long time in the course of starting up my new manufacturing business, and Fairfield is the best out there. There are a lot of products that ‘look’ like the same thing Fairfield sells, but in reality, if you do actually find something equal, the retail price will be double or more for the privilege of buying 1 or 2 yards, so paying Fairfield’s ‘small order processing fee’ is well worth it for a high quality product. This, of course, if you can justify 5 yards or more.

    I have been doing business with Fred/Judy/Fairfield for about 18 months now. I started searching for waxed canvas and cotton fabrics to begin a new business (48North, http://www.48-north.com) […] to manufacture natural fabric messenger bags, backpacks, duffles, and other products. Most folks in my position know just how difficult it is to find quality suppliers to work with small-fry like me. Either they don’t have any resources for you to even know what products they offer, or won’t give you the time of day without a proper introduction, or have minimum quantity requirements in the thousands of pieces/yards. And if the materials you want aren’t available retail, you are up a creek.

    So when I first contacted Fred (this was before Martin started selling through their Fairfield business), I was very pleased that he was willing to talk with me, and in fact was extremely helpful and supportive, giving me tips and helpful information. I was honest with him that I was new to the industry and trying to figure out how to navigate the wholesale textile world. Fred had me contact Judy directly, and she spent quite a bit of time with me looking up what they had available in ‘small’ rolls (between 5 and 50 yards). Without the kind help and support of the Martins and Fred (and a few other suppliers that are supportive of startup companies like mine) I could not have made the progress that I have, and it would have been very discouraging. Many wholesale fabric suppliers have minimums between 200 and 1000 yards of a single color.

    So a big THANK YOU goes out to Fred and Judy Martin, and I encourage your readers to give them their business if they are in the market for the highest quality waxed and unwaxed canvas products.

    Coincidentally, I originally found your blog on one of my ‘waxed canvas’ searches well over a year ago.

    [edited by Kirk.]

  2. One more comment on Fairfield, they occasionally offer ‘seconds’ in which the defects are very minor, and have never been an issue for me in maintaining the highest quality standards for my products while keeping fabric waste to a minimum. These seconds offer incredible value.

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