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I don't recall ever seeing these prints in a poll, yet here they are in a drop. Why? And I bet we will see this drop many times over the next year until whatever quantity was purchased by Massdrop is sold. Isn't that how it works?
Items show up on the site that are not in polls because the buying team researches and finds products they think the community may like. We have found that the majority of the items are popular but not always. In the case of notions and non-fabric items, if the drop is unsuccessful it won't appear again unless there's enough requests.
Fabric is a bit different and you're correct in that we purchase it prior to the drop. We do this for two reasons. First reason being that we need to make sure that what we're offering is available at the end of the drop. If a certain print is out of stock with the manufacturer there's a good chance it may not be printed again and that would mean we photographed and sold something that isn't available. Second reason is that we cut the fabric into fat quarter bundles at our warehouse and that could take a fair amount of time based on the teams workload. We don't want to put a drop up and then have the community wait for 2 months to receive it. We also purchase enough with the intent that it's going to be successful and want to make sure that there's enough for the drop. If it doesn't sell through we will put the drop up again. If the first drop was unsuccessful, we may try again at a later date but if it still doesn't sell, we look to donate the fabric.
Hope that long winded answer explains our process a bit!