Gary's Third Pottery Blog

When the going gets tough, dragons gonna get going....

Gary's third pottery blog

WRITE TO ME! Come see me! Open studio HERE! November 25-26 (11-4 each day); Aurora Art and Design, daily until 12/24; Cooperstown Art Assoc. daily until 12/24; Ellis Hollow Community Fair, 12/10; December 10, Little Red Wagon at the Space at Greenstar. All material on this blog unless stated otherwise is copyright Gary Edward Rith 2016

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"much too expensive" vs. "you don't charge enough"

I don't wholesale often.  The idea is, a store asks for a stack of 50 identical brown bowls, 100 garlic keepers and you give them a break on price and they write you a check.  (consignment pays more money, but only once your item has sold in the store, and usually you get to control what you put on the shelf and then switch it easily if it does not sell--I prefer that freedom)
When I wholesale, I usually say "why don't I bring you some stuff, choose what you want for the store, I'll tell you suggested retail price that I would sell it for, and I'll give you a break on price".

I am not a factory in China, and I am not a penniless pottery machine.  Generally, if I make it, it sells!  I am very fortunate about how my life and my business works out. And I am sure as heck not desperate to make piles of quick sellers.

A month ago I was contacted by a stranger in Connecticut who said she had a store and wanted 10 identical frog mugs wholesale by the next week.  She said she would pay a little for shipping. I got the feeling she wanted them DEAD CHEAP.  And I make something different everyday and did not have ten of those mugs (and was not in the mood to make them...that is ME:  I make what I am in the mood to make).
I responded with a fair discount price and a fair shipping price and said they could be ready in 2 weeks, and never heard back.  Lesson number one in retail:  lay out the pricing  and timing right away so nobody is surprised.

I thought that was stinkin' RUDE.  She contacts me out of the blue, I respond politely and NEVER get a reply.  I figured she wasn't interested, but followed up a month later with a polite "hope you got my message and thanks for writing!".  She tells me "Oh, I got your message.  MUCH TOO EXPENSIVE".  That was it, she heaped rude on rude!  I was tempted to write back explaining my prices and terms were reasonable, and what does she expect?  And that she is a stinking witch.  Of course I did not do that, instead  I decided to blog it! Of course.

OK, but here is the kicker.  I charge 19-20 bucks retail for a mug.  As a shopper, I think that is PLENTY of money for a mug.  People ask how long it takes to make a mug.  I have added it all up, from throwing to finishing, to schlepping clay home, going to the post office and the craft fair...whatever.  Let's call it about a half hour to 2 hours make and sell a mug. (the throwing part?  1.5 minutes---I am fast with that part, but that is just one part of the process)

SO, the same exact morning I get that stinker "MUCH TOO EXPENSIVE" I am selling a mug online to a potter who lives near that shop.  By coincidence.  And they do not know each other or about my conversations.  And this potter, what does she tell me?
"You don't charge enough for your pottery".  She is a sweetiepie, and that message came at exactly the right moment.

Hey, go on over and find some  not expensive enough pottery at my etsy shoppe, with many new items!
red doggy mughoney pot with a bear


Barbara Rogers said...

That's a great story of the balance of things in life. Needed to hear that this morning!

bartster said...

I was lamenting as a hobbyist. "I love to make stuff, but don't have room for the finished pots in the basement any more." After reading your post, I've decided I don't have it so bad.
You are right to be compensated for your work, expertise, and creativity and am sure plenty of people find having your pottery in their homes is very worthwhile (I certainly do).

Michèle Hastings said...

What kills me is that this woman wanted only 10 mugs at the wholesale price!

Hilary said...

It's a good thing when you know how to marry art and business. Not everyone does. The woman who wanted ten mugs knows business. The person who lived nearby, respects art. You seem to have a handle on both aspects which is why you can make a decent living at doing what you love. More power to you.

Cassi said...

That first woman sounds like an idiot. And someone who has never actually bought OR sold anything handmade! Our society is getting way too used to buying only mass-produced junk.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

In such circumstances, a taser is handy.

JB said...

I agree with Michele, 10 mugs is hardly a wholesale sized order. As a retailer she wants her 100% plus profit margin and has no empathy for the human machine pumping them out. Clearly you do not need her trade.

Lori Buff said...

I'm with Michèle, 10 mugs is not a wholesale order, that's just buying gifts.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather pay more for less stuff of better quality. Most people don't get that at all. I don't get them at all.

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I am a full-time studio potter, sculptor, and dog walker, married to superhawt Missus Tastycake.