What's a Second and why are they on sale?

Printing issues happen, and whilst I work with great quality suppliers and actually don’t get many, the odd one still gets through.  And the thing is it’s perfectly useable, and a lot of the time you wouldn’t know there was anything different, but if I know then my conscience won’t let me sell it full price. 

But as a business that wants to keep waste to a minimum it would be wrong to just throw those products out.  Even if they went in to the recycling it’s still a waste, not to mention that item will have still cost me to print and there’s still monetary value in it which I can recoup, albeit just not at full price. 

Top corner of a planner pad where excess glue has meant some backing board has stuck to the top of the pad.


Excess glue on this product as the pad was being manufactured means that a little bit of cardboard backing board as stuck to the top page of the pad. This doesn’t effect the pad’s use, or tearing the page away, but does mean there is a little excess (dried) glue on the spine.


Having just read the paragraph above you’ve likely guessed the answer.  A second is a product that is still fully functional and useable, but isn’t in immaculate condition. And because of that you get a little discount and the joy of using it so it doesn’t go to waste, and I get to recoup some of the cost of it’s production. 

And the bonus is that I’m not the only person that has seconds, of course I’m not! All businesses get seconds, large and small, and although they’ll deal with them differently it means that  if you know where to look and what deficiencies you can accept then there could be a bargain with your name on it.  

For small businesses getting the costs of seconds items back is what means they can still run sustainably - if we couldn’t sell the seconds then the perfect versions would have to be higher priced to cover the costs. And in the cases of small handcrafted or limited run businesses you could be getting a unique work of art. For instance if a Printmaker gets a mystery splodge or the ink doesn’t saturate through the screen, then that print has a small, unique flaw but which doesn’t for one second detract from the enjoyment you could get from seeing it hung on your wall. 


So end of line items are another thing you’ll often see in a sale, and they’re just like end of season sales in high street clothes shops to be honest! There’s often a point when some products reach the end of their retail life, either because the season has passed, they’re not on trend anymore or - as with many small businesses - their product range is evolving and these items don’t quite fit in the new line up.  In order to clear the stock space, and again recoup some of the money invested in their production, they’ll often be put on offer to make them more enticing to shoppers. Unlike seconds they’re usually in perfect condition, but the reduced price reflects the seller’s desire to send them off to new homes rather than them sitting feeling unloved.  Well, that’s certainly the case for me and a few other small businesses I know!


This is a bit tricky to answer as all shops will do it differently.  With small businesses many market/craft stalls at an event will have a sale section where they’ll put their seconds or end of line items.  And some will have sections on their own websites or marketplace sites (like Etsy or And So To Shop) where you can take a peek.  

Another great way is to keep an eye on the Super Seconds Festival, something which I’ve participated in the last few years and will be again next month (April 1st/2nd 2023).  Sophie from Ink and Bear originally set it up during the covid pandemic when makers had seconds but nowhere to easily sell them when in-person events weren’t happening, but since then she’s kept building it into the weekend festival it now is.  


Super Seconds Festival April 2023 Square Marketing Image

The Super Seconds Festival is all online, so you can shop from the comfort of your sofa with a drink by your side, and not only that but there are makers from all over the UK (and further afield sometimes too) all at your fingertips.  The range of artists and makers is incredible, and there’s 250 so there really is something for everyone.  And because all of the participants are small independent businesses the quality and customer service is unrivalled plus anything you spend is really boosting them during a hugely tricky time too. 

Plus, despite the festival only running for two weekends a year (usually spring and autumn) because of the catalogue, the website and the hashtag on social media, you’ll be able to find businesses year round to shop from too. It couldn’t be easier!


This spring (2023) my Super Seconds offering will be mainly the art prints that were part of my product range until earlier this year when I decided to focus more on the stationery.  There will be foiled prints available, as well as foiled cards, and the Alphabet prints which use motifs from my surface pattern design collections. Plus there’ll be a handful of seconds stationery items that I’ve kept in the cupboard especially for the weekend too! 

Listings are live now, so you can see what’s on offer, but they’re all showing as sold out until the festival goes live at 10am on Saturday 1st April. Unless you’re a newsletter subscribers who’ll  get access half an hour early. (You can sign up here if you’d like to be one of those!).  I’ll have a discount running on full priced items that weekend too! 

My biggest tip, especially for the festival weekend, is if you see something and it catches your eye then grab it, especially if it’s from a small business - so many seconds are in limited numbers and the phrase ‘you snooze, you loose’ couldn’t be more accurate! 

Happy Shopping!! 

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