… in the shopping context, I mean.
We might switch brands because the quality of the product we’re currently using dropped below acceptable standards; because we discovered the same quality for a lower price, or available via a more convenient route; because we discovered that another product contained more desirable qualities (more effective, more durable, more environmentally friendly, more cashmere)…
But if the quality of all competing products was equal, what behaviour on the part of the product distributor/brand owner is enough to make you switch to a competing brand?
It’s easy to envision behaviour that reflects an important opinion you might hold that relates to your life, liberty, or security of the person — you might stop purchasing a company’s products because it donates money to conservatives/liberals/pro-choice groups/pro-life groups/PETA/the Canadian Opera Company, which are groups that directly have an impact, or strive for change to, human and animal rights and health, the preservation of the environment — things that are highly relevant to quality of life. Not quantity of life, like the availability of extra discretionary cash, medical clinics on every corner instead of in every neighbourhood (as long as the health care is accessible), or the ability to enjoy a good night at the opera locally instead of having to travel or watch it on television. (Yes, I was joking about the COC. I also admit that it is very difficult to distinguish where preservation and enhancement of culture stops being a quality of life issue and starts being a question of quantity. But bear with me, because where that dividing line is doesn’t really matter for this question’s particular context.)
What if the company’s behaviour was just “not getting along” with competitors — the stuff that’s “only business” that in the end, doesn’t really affect you, even indirectly? What if the company thought it was protecting its market share and reputation, but you thought the threatened harm to them was exaggerated?
Take Cascade 220. Would you stop buying it just because you decided you didn’t like the distributor’s business behaviour, which had nothing to do with supply/availability to/at retailers, but only with the business of its competitors? Only Cascade has that yarn in those colours; other companies might distribute very similar yarns, but the colours are never quite the same.
Or take KnitPicks Options needles. Would you stop using them because you didn’t like the fact that they allegedly (since I’ve never actually had direct confirmation that yes, it was Crafts Americana, it’s “allegedly”) convinced a smaller business to change its name? Even if the smaller business didn’t seem to be the worse for wear after the expense of the change?
Or take a trademark dispute between yarn shops. How would you feel if your local yarn shop, which had a business name consisting principally of a common knitting word, was trying to stop another yarn shop in another state from using or getting a trademark registration for a name using the same word? Now, what if the two shops were in the same state? What if they were the only shops in the same state? Only two among many?
Or take Alice Starmore. Would you stop using her yarns or patterns strictly because she had been so publicly unpleasant to knitters and competitors, whether her public allegations and Yahoo-group-shutting-down behaviour were justifed or not?
Hypotheticals like that last one are a little trickier; yarn and needles, to a large extent, are fungibles, even though not quite the same colour or not quite the same cable flexibility might be available from a different source. Intellectual property isn’t; the eye for choosing colours in a fair isle design, the ability to compose cables and arrange them side by side in a pleasing manner. Should your perception of purely business matters influence how you feel about somebody’s art or craft? Are all public aspects of an artisan inseparable? Are they only inseparable so long as they exist on separate websites? Can a designer or author publicly write about whatever she wants in what she terms a “personal” journal, and rightfully expect that the public will ignore her ramblings when judging her professionalism?
I don’t think I have complete answers for these hypotheticals. I do have a stop-gap answer for the yarn shop one: if you think your proposed shop name is clever, then it means that someone else has probably thought of it already.