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Thread: Perceptions on pricing

  1. #1
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    Perceptions on pricing

    Here is a somewhat funny story:

    My wife's family was over at my house for my daughters Birthday party. Of course I have turnings sitting everywhere. Most of the really fragile stuff is either in the china hutch or on top of it, while the little kids where visiting. After some of the stuff was getting noticed, I was asked to get down some things so the relatives could look at it. The "Elder Flower" was popular and the topic of a lot of questions. Of course there were the usual non-woodturner type questions like, "How did you do that?" and "How long did that take to make?". So all the information was given out. 15+ hours, 9 different turnings, boiling and bending the different stuff, blah blah blah.

    Fast forward to a week or so later. My SIL emails my wife and ask, "How much would Scott charge to make me one of those flower things? I have _________ name (her SIL) for the Christmas gift exchange and it would look so nice in her kitchen." Now my SIL is a person who 1) doesn't have a lot of money and 2) isn't likely to spend more than $50 on her sister in law's present. I didnt know what to say. She obviously thought that this work was well within her price range.

    So in a very descriptive reply to my wife, to be forwarded to her sister, I meantioned AGAIN the hours, skill and processes involved and said, " I really don't want to sell it, but because of the above menationed reasons... The first $1500 can take it home!"

    This was replied to by the SIL with, "Oh, its worth that for sure." lol

    It is a little reminicent of showing a non art appreciator a HF or cup on a pedestal and getting the comment, "What do you use it for?" I always reply, "Its used as a bobble on a shelf or in a display case, so the visitors to your home they will know your appreciate good art."
    Last edited by Scott Hackler; 12-02-2010 at 11:50 AM.
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    No, it's not thin enough yet.
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  2. #2
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    I think people generally appreciate and respect the effort and time we put into these things.

    I have never had anyone question the prices I put my pieces, just their ability to pay. Curiously, no one has ever tried to talk me down in price.
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  3. #3
    Scott, so funny...and, so true! There seem to be several different categories of folks, including -

    Woodturners, all of which can certainly appreciate the work involved, but none of which will pay for YOUR turnings - they have their own!

    SIL type folks that don't really have a clue!

    Folks that truly do appreciate the art, and the value, but have just satisfied their need by looking at it - and, have no need to own it!

    True art lovers that have the appreciation, and want to look at it tomorrow, and the day after, etc. - and, have the money. Few, and far between in these times, I am afraid!

    And, I am sure there are many other "stereotypical groups" as well.

  4. #4
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    Scott - good story and one we can all relate too! I am amazed at how many times friends and/or relatives will ask 'How much?' and tell me how much they really want a particular piece.... Course, they have to think about it and that's the last you ever hear of it!
    Steve

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  5. #5
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    Scott, I can't agree with you and everyone else more!! It never ceases to amaze me how some people think that they can get something for next to nothing. Quite often, I get people asking for something for $$___ and are surprised how small or insignificant it is. The same people might mention that I only turn salvaged (i.e. free to me) wood, and why is it so expensive?! I tell them, well, there's the gas, insurance, time, maintenance on the vehicle to get me to the wood and back home (old Ford truck--15mpg), the $1000's in chainsaws, chains, grinder, protective equipment, the $3K for lathe, $__ in turning tools, electricity, firewood (cutting, splitting, stacking, & Advil for afterwards..) the learning curve time, medical bills for dumb !#$t mistakes made in aforementioned learning curve time............

  6. #6
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    That is so true!! I, and am sure guys/gals do to, hear all the time "I wouldn't pay that much for something like that" and 5 minutes later "Oh! I'd pay more for something like that". As soon as I start taking money all the time for every piece, it's a job and I have 3 already .
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  7. #7
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    Brings to mind another time where I showed a friend one of my more recent Christmas ornaments. He said, "wow that's pretty nice. I bet you could probably sell these easily for $10!" Lol for $10 I wouldn't even get it off the display for someone to hold. He asked what I would sell them for and I said a plain one (1 - 1.5 hours work) would be marked $35-40 and the super deluxe ones (2 - 2.5 hours work), I would ask around $60-70. People will either pay for the skill, labor, materials and art or I'll hang them on my tree!

    He said that seemed aweful high to him and I invited him to use my lathe and tools and exotic (expensive) wood and try to replicate those ornaments! Then the light bulb went off.

    That being said, I still give away plenty of pretty decent turnings. Just not the fancy stuff....except to my wife!
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    No, it's not thin enough yet.
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  8. #8
    I got a call from the gallery the other day about the piece that I won our SMC hollow form contest with. I had it priced at $800 they ask if there was any room on the price. I talked with the guy that wanted to buy it, I told him I would take $750 for it. He said he would think about it. If he never buys it that is OK I have to set my prices to what I think its worth and if they buy it great, if not I am still happy. I did mention to him that there was about 35 hours in the piece and he seemed to understand. I recently entered the hollow form in another jurorod art competition which it won. (Stealth Gloat) so I have had good profit between the winning of the SMC prize and the cash prize from the other competition, so a little discount doesn't hurt.

    Alan

  9. #9
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    Alan, pricing that contest winning HF at $750 seems like a darn good price for what they would get. Frankly I would have thought a bit more. I have joked with my wife that my winning ornament is my $500+ ornament because of the value of the prizes I won with it! But I wouldn't sell this one, just for the momento reason.
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    No, it's not thin enough yet.
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  10. #10
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    Exactly!!! Until folks understand what goes into it...they don't understand why it cost more than $4.99. I had a guy offer to make a website for me...at $100 an hour. I told him I run life support on trauma patients and didn't make half that, and wondered which had more value? He offered to do it for a lot less .
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  11. #11

    My experience

    I gave my mom a nice segmented piece for a gift and a neighbor really liked it. I made a second piece very similar and walked over to offer to sell it to them. The first question they asked was would it hold water. I told them I suppose it would hold water, but when I mentioned the price they didn’t want to buy it, lol.

    Ron

  12. #12
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    I'm afraid that I have trouble not lowering prices. If I get back the cost of the wood and a few bucks for my trouble, I'm usually a pretty happy camper. I fully support(and envy) those who can set the bar high and move a few pieces. I enjoy the smile people give you when they feel like they got a deal on something they really enjoy.

    This year at a Christmas sale where I mostly sell pens and stoppers, I saw a woman that bought several buckeye burl pens from me last year as gifts. She kept coming back over and fondling a little maple burl HF that I brought to this year's show. She never asked the price, and I could tell that she likely wouldn't/couldn't indulge herself... As she walked away, I secretly gave the piece to one of her kids and told them to give it to her for Christmas this year. I smile everytime I think about her potential reaction this Christmas.

  13. #13
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    Scott I have the same problem with a family of 6 brothers and sisters. One sister understands and she won't take anything unless it is a gift. In fact she buys a lot of stuff and pays full price. She is in Arts and Crafts. She knows what goes into making these things. I don't give any of them my best stuff. If I have a bunch of lidded boxes, mini birdhouses, ornaments, etc I will sell them for $10 to family to get my wood money back or with my one sister who is out of work I just give it to her. When they come and they want something and it is my better stuff it has a price. I may lower it some since it is family but not much. Stick to your guns Scott because if you make a concession once you are done because they expect it every time or they get PO'd.
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  14. #14
    I did a craft show this fall..

    And I was amazed at the number of folks who came by, their kids playing with my spin tops the whole time they were there, and had to drag them off... But wouldn't shell out a measly $5 for the top.

    Now, it's a great top, spins well, and looks wonderful.

    I had several people pick one up, look at the price and mouth "Five Dollars!" to their friend and walk away....

    I only sold a handful of these things, which was quite a surprise to me. This is the festival that's known for sales in the $5-$20 range, and has 50K visitors running through it.


    What puzzled me the most was the sales of a penturner at the same show. He's selling out of his high dollar pens (start point $35, to over $100) to the same crowd that won't shell out $5 for the kid who obviously loves the top!

    People are funny.
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  15. #15
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    Scott, even when you tell them the number of hours into a piece,it still doesn't sink in... and I believe that's because they simply cannot comprehend what you do during those hours unless they see it from beginning to end. In their mind, you throw a piece of wood on a spinny machine, rub tools on it for 15 minutes, and out pops a masterpiece. Do you really want those people owning it anyway? They're the ones who put a gallon Ziplok bag in a spunky, NE HF so they can shove some carnations in it at the dinner table.



    Jim, maybe you should put a sign next to the tops titled "$5 for a top?!" and give a very brief overview of the steps (with times) required to turn such a simple item. For those who read it, it may make a convert of a few... of course, those folks may end up never giving it to their kids, instead displaying it on their shelves... and that's okay.
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