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Thread: I need some help on Pricing

  1. #1
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    I need some help on Pricing

    Ok...here's my first plea for advice on pricing for the Creekers Store. This is a Malie Burl twist pen that I just posted in the Turners forum. I've never tried to sell a pen but it seems like the prices are well above standard materials+labor calculations. When you get right down to it...I don't have a clue. I've put about $10 into the materials and worked on it for maybe 1 1/2 hours..and a lot of that time was goofing around. Any ideas what a pen like this should be listed for? I'd like to put it in the Creekers store as the first addition.

    My most humble thank you

    ~john
    "There's nothing wrong with Quiet" ` Jeremiah Johnson

  2. #2
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    Simple

    Ask as much as you can get! Start out at the highe3st price you've ever heard of a pen selling for, and if it doesn't sell right away, knock off 10%.

    By the way, I've never sold a pen. This may be why.
    18th century nut --- Carl

  3. #3
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    I'm STILL laughing Carl!! Thanks a lot!!!
    ~john
    "There's nothing wrong with Quiet" ` Jeremiah Johnson

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Hart
    Ok...here's my first plea for advice on pricing for the Creekers Store. This is a Malie Burl twist pen that I just posted in the Turners forum. I've never tried to sell a pen but it seems like the prices are well above standard materials+labor calculations. When you get right down to it...I don't have a clue. I've put about $10 into the materials and worked on it for maybe 1 1/2 hours..and a lot of that time was goofing around. Any ideas what a pen like this should be listed for? I'd like to put it in the Creekers store as the first addition.
    I would sell that particular combo for 40-50$ or so .. The burl is awesome but the kit is a fairly generic one. Is it 10k/24k or Titanium gold... the kit drives price for me almost more than the wood. I wouldn't use anything but Titanium or Platinum for a nice piece of wood like that. You had another message about this, using Berea Kits, Flat Top American? If it's upgrade gold the finish doesn't hold up as well on the kits so it's hard to charge a premium price for it in my mind. If it's Titanium then I would go 50$.

    I would suggest you go with Platinum or maybe even a bigger pen like a Penn State Polaris or Little Havanna (Crafts Supply) to really show the wood off. Then it's a 75-80$ pen. I really like Arizona Shilloutte's Baron Rollerball for hi-end class pens ... Another nice kit is Craft Supply's Jr. Gentlemens... awesome looking kit in Platinum... Most of these are available in Titanium Gold too -- even Silver. That means you are looking at a kit price between 9-12$, blank is probably 5-6$ so you are looking at 15$+ for the materials plus 1.5 hrs labor @ 25$/hour (I'm cheap) .. total cost of 52$ plus profit -- so 75$ is only about a 30% mark up -- real cheap and not going to make you rich.


    That combo would also look good in Black Titanium (sorta gunmetal).. anyway I feel if you are going to charge a premium price with such a fine wood -- then you need a good kit that isn't going to wear.
    Last edited by Michael Cody; 08-09-2005 at 1:25 AM.
    Mike-in-Michigan (Richland that is) <br> "We never lack opportunity, the trouble is many don't recognize an opportunity when they see it, mostly because it usually comes dressed in work clothes...."

  5. #5
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    Thanks Mike...that gives me what I need to chew on. First off, you're right, this is the cheaper Upgrade Gold from Berea (I didn't want to get an expensive kit on my first attempt).
    So, if I'm understanding you correctly, this is probably a $25 pen and that I should start getting the better kits. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk about all the other sources and kit types too. I'm still in my learning curve so that was a lot of help!
    ~john
    "There's nothing wrong with Quiet" ` Jeremiah Johnson

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Hart
    Thanks Mike...that gives me what I need to chew on. First off, you're right, this is the cheaper Upgrade Gold from Berea (I didn't want to get an expensive kit on my first attempt).
    So, if I'm understanding you correctly, this is probably a $25 pen and that I should start getting the better kits. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk about all the other sources and kit types too. I'm still in my learning curve so that was a lot of help!
    Naw it's still a 30-35$ pen in upgrade gold .. but you take a chance in getting it back in a year or so with the metal finish degraded. A lot will also depend on the customer. I have one guy who's used a 10K pen I made him (slimline) for 3-4 years and finish is fine, others I've seen the metal gone in 6 months. It's skin chemistry. Some folks are harder on them which is why I also do mostly CA finishes for upscale pens though I like lacquer too.

    Kit quality can vary some too, though Berea is one of my favorites. You avoid that with Titanium Gold (not really gold but gold color), Chrome and Platinum - they last pretty much forever.

    The only glitch with the better kits is they can be more difficult -- in some cases -- to turn & assemble. The Berea Perfect Fit comes to mind. Awesome pen, nice kit but very picky on assembly and turning dimensions. I personally do a lot of Platinum Europeans (easy kits).. with normal woods they sell from 30-35$, exotic or rare 40-50$, and with really rare or stabilized blanks they go for 70-80$. I find Women like smaller pens and Comfort Pens (ones with rubber boot) sell well though cheaply(20-25$) to women. Most men seem to like bigger pens maybe some kind of complex.

    I don't sell hundreds or anything but mostly by word-of-mouth and family/work contacts. I spend 15-20 minutes prep,turning,sanding and about an hour finishing ... so our times are about the same. If I was the production machine some guys are I could probably get that down 45 minutes total. One thing I do that slows me down is that I turn the pen, then replace my steel bushings with wooden spacers of a similar color -- so when I sand I don't get stains on lighter woods. You will pick up metal from the bushings and can mess up a good piece quickly. Takes a few minutes but it's the details when you are asking 70$ for writing instrument.

    Anyway it's fun to turn pens, they pay for a lot of my toy fund, and I enjoy doing different woods & kits -- I like non-wood stuff too.. I will post a pic of my first .308 cartridge pen sometime in the next week or so. Other guys have done them, look really cool, so I had to give them a try. Already got 5 sold at the gun club for 50$ each (shoulda charged more), plus I hope to donate a couple for a fundraiser for Pheasants Forever Kid's shoot..
    Mike-in-Michigan (Richland that is) <br> "We never lack opportunity, the trouble is many don't recognize an opportunity when they see it, mostly because it usually comes dressed in work clothes...."

  7. #7
    If you are going to sell a product, you must discipline yourself to focus on the task at hand- people are not interested in paying you to "fool around" or entertain yourself. $35.00/hr is a fair rate(that's about 58 cents a minute). Double time and materials to get the wholesale price; double that to get the retail price. The end game is to be proficient and efficient enough to present a quality product at a resonable price.

  8. #8
    Materials
    Time. Say 25.00 per hour.
    + 20-30% markup.
    Profit is in markup.
    Pay yourself for your time. Thats the paycheck. The markup is profit, to be able to purchase new tools, etc.


  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Cody
    Naw it's still a 30-35$ pen in upgrade gold .....
    Mike: I think you were right the first time. Many people get $20-25 and more for a plain Jane slimline. John's kit is not top of the line but that is a wonderful piece of wood.

    Two things to consider here. If he starts it at $50 and it doesn't sell, John can cut it down to $40. If he starts it at $30 and it sells, he will never know if he could have gotten $50.

    Secondly, the market is everything. John may have no trouble, whatsoever, getting $50 for his pen when showing it to his city friends out at the country club; but may not even get an offer of $25 from a bunch of farmers sitting around the table at the country cafe. Got to understand your market!!!

    And here is something for you to think about, John. That is a wonderful piece of wood and it would be a shame to have that pen come back in 6 months because the plating didn't hold up. Why not disassemble that pen and buy another kit with one of the top line platings.....I think the Ti Gold would be fine; but Platinum if you prefer. Reassemble the pen using that beautiful blank and the higher quality fittings.

    You could then make up another pen with the UG Gold hardware and a lesser blank and save it for one of those "obligation" gifts that we all face from time to time or you could give it to a kid who would surely loose it before ever coming close to wearing it out!!! Randy
    Last edited by Randy Meijer; 04-09-2006 at 6:05 AM.

  10. #10
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    I sell slimlines routinely in the $60.00 range with high end wood and titanium or rhodium. A pen like yours with titanium will bring $80.00-$125.00. Some of my pens go in the five to six hundred dollar range. I dont do business in flea markets or craft shows. 90% of my sales are to professionals. They know the price of a good quality custom pen. Personally I wouldn't pay $50.00 for a sack of pens, but then I;m not selling to me. Your pens are worth the market place you find yourself in. Copy this and place it in your desk. In six mos take it out and read it again. It will make more sense after a hundred or so pens. My best to you Jim

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