Friday, July 2, 2010

Artfire - small business or artisan business - pricing stuff...

The point:

My supplies are inexpensive (not cheap -which implies less then stellar quality) because most folks don't really seem to know where things come from anymore. I can pick them up and sometimes even charge folks to have me take it away. Wood come from trees - but folks leave them laying all over the place.

Meat comes from animals - I have never seen a field of nicely wrapped pork chops in Styrofoam plates..but let the supper market disappear and I'll show you a mess of folks that will be looking for 'em.

I think folks are spoiled by the availability of things produced in the "lowest cost supply chain" and don't really plan on having heirloom items, or worry much about actual quality. Thinking instead about the fact that they can simply throw it out when they are done or bored with it, and get a new one at next to nothing in cost. They don't realize how much it actually costs - I.E> them buying items over and over again, the extra load on resources and places to put all the throw aways.

I shop at wally world. I can get consumable items (food, trash bags, etc) there for cheap. I have also purchased tools from high-end wood working tool stores.

Here's the deal... I can get a plane that works -OK, for a little while but requires a lot of tuning and re-sharpening, from the big box store for 32.99. I have also seen planes at the high end store (and as soon as I can afford one I'll buy it) that are made from much higher grade materials to really tight tolerances and they will last forever,and work hard with less maintenance, and they cost 320.00 (a price factor of ten). The high-end plane is desired because I can get more done over time with a tool I can keep forever and get very used to the feel of, that works better. That is value and worth the 10x greater price.

Relating that to Artfire:

     My items are made from what some think is junk - but the truth is most trees that are taken down around here are older then the trees in the commercial forest and have a much more interesting tale in the grain then the stuff (that is still too expensive) that they call fine wood at the big box stores.  I turn, plane, and mess with the wood. I cut it not for the best profit margin, but for the showy grain. It is the production vs. crafted difference that makes these items have more value to the people who own them.

I think there are thousands of other Artfire sellers that think the same way about whatever it is they make/assemble/print/throw/turn/embellish/sew/knit/ .... insert your thing here...........and need to price accordingly without a fear of having to compete w/cheap supply chain stores.

Then there are folks that just do stuff they like with whatever they do ... and they sell at cost or below only to support doing more and not have stacks of 'em all over the house... OK - but my guess is they will not have the investment in machines and else that I do, and unless they are buying the wood from me (or specialty wood stores) - they won't see the same grain cuts etc. So I actually don't compete with them either...

Neither equates to "garage sale" - and neither should price that way.


  1. I think you have made a very valid point, You also have to consider the artistic value in what you do. Not every one can make something beautiful.