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discounts... discount us all

updated sat 16 may 98


Wendy Rosen on fri 15 may 98

David and all,
Of course everyone is FREE to price and sell their work as they
wish... but I believe that if every artist felt a part of a community where
everyone had some responsibility to nuture the VALUE PERCEPTION of your
WORK, your SKILL, your TALENT and your LABOR... then few people would
discount their work... and just maybe we could all build an ARMY (instead
of a small committee) of ceramic art COLLECTORS!!! Isn't it in all of our
best interestes to get our consumers and collectors to identify with our
lifestyle and culture? Personally, I believe that discounting is more a
product of POOR COMMUNICATION and SALES skills. ---and I'm not talking
about "let's all be aloof, snooty and read a book while people are in my
booth... then we'll all make money... I think there has already been enough
blood shed over that strategy.

selling your work for the same price> ... you have a responsibility to
offer your work at a standart retail markup of 100% over the wholesale
cost... if there is a discrepancy (and there usually is) then everyone
should be able to deal with it... customers included. However, if your
galleries are marking your work at more than 2.3 times the wholesale
price... then you have room to raise your prices! Perhaps with higher
prices you'll have more R&D time for new forms and glazes.

I look forward to the day when CERAMICS can compete with GLASS on shelves
of galleries and at even the auction houses of Christies! That day won't
come if we all don't agree to SOME marketplace "ethic and business

.... God I really enjoy ClayArt. I've given up on most of the other
newsgroups for other media!

>----------------------------Original message----------------------------
>I was hoping not to get involved with the 'discounts' discussion,
>but I just have to reply to the cat lady's recent postings.
>My point is that there are no 'rules' here.
>Whatever works for each person is good, but may not be right for everyone.
>Just because you sell your work through galleries and cringe at the
>word 'discount', does not mean (thank goodness) that is the only way
>to do things. If a person enjoys having visitors to their pottery studio and
>wants to encourage even more to come, then a 'discount' for buying
>direct is perfectly logical and appropriate. If a gallery doesn't
>like that, they are free to not accept work from that person.
>Another point: You cannot really know for sure that you and a particular
>gallery are selling your work for the same price. Once you've sold it to
>them, they can price it as they see fit, be it at a discount to clear it
>out, or
>at a premium because high demand lets them command a higher price.
>I suppose you could try to draw up a contract to limit what they could
>sell a piece for, and that may happen with very expensive art pieces,
>but I've never seen such a thing for pottery.
>Then there are the huge differences in different parts of the country, in
>the U. S., anyway. It would be absurd for a potter in rural Alabama to have
>a piece priced the same at his shop and in New York City. The result
>would be an outrageuosly priced piece that would not sell at his shop,
>but would be absurdly under-priced in New York. Or, closer to home,
>in an up-scale shop in Atlanta.
>We all enjoy the 'freedom' of being independent potters who can run
>our businesses as we like. I know it's frustrating to encounter the
>'new' potter who shows up at an art fair with unrealisticlly low prices, or
>the one who cuts prices and makes 'deals' left and right. They'll be
>gone soon. But there are also people who give discounts, run ads with
>promotions, and have 'sales' who have been in business for years and know
>what they are doing and why.
>David Hendley
>Maydelle, Texas
>----------------------------Original message----------------------------
>>What I would tell people who ask for a discount is that the ware IS
>>discounted; they are buying directly from me and there is no middleman. I
>>tell them that the piece would go for more in a gallery.
>>The later is speculative as I only sell from my home at this time.
>>Vestal NY
>>I have a BIG problem with this answer. I make sure that pieces I sell
>>wholesale are sold at the set retail price. It is very bad business
>>to sell at one price in your studio and let the gallery sell for another
>>(unless they're really far away) because you're undercutting the gallery
>>and that's a good way to lose their business.
>>I think you could answer with "this is a very fair price considering
>>all the time and effort put into each piece" and thereby not give the
>>purchasing public the impression that they're better off going to studios
>>and avoiding the gallies. The galleries sell our work and save us the
>>time/aggravation of selling direct. Galleries give those of us who are
>>*really* small (1 or 2 people) a chance to concentrate our energy
>>on creation; rather than splitting our time/energy into marketing.
>>Or give them a copy of "What goes into making a mug".
>>Hope this makes sense to you....had 1 glass of wine, and more to go :)
>>sam - alias the cat lady
>>Melbourne, Ontario
>>SW Ontario CANADA
>At 08:35 AM 5/13/98 EDT, you wrote:
>>----------------------------Original message----------------------------
>>This is NOT a flame, or meant to be an angry response, so please
>>don't read as such. I'm addressing your note in kind of a point
>>form, and :) is implied/meant with all questions/comments.
>>I am addressing this because I obviously wasn't clear - and if
>>you have mis-interpreted what I said, then others did also, and
>>I want to be clear (she said waving her hands wildly in the air!)
>>>----------------------------Original message----------------------------
>>>Sam, I didn't mean to be undermining galleries- but I also wouldn't charge
>>>what a gallery would charge.
>>You say in your 1st note that you don't have work for sale in a gallery,
>>yet say in this note you "wouldn't charge what a gallery would charge".
>>I think if you checked out some galleries that sell the kind of work
>>I sell, their prices and my prices are on a par. Have you indeed checked
>>comparable pieces to your own? Do you think a gallery charges a high
>>mark up? On one-of-a-kinds, yes the pieces are probably high priced...
>>but then again, probably would be at the artist's studio as well.
>>>I understand your point to mean that we
>>>should'nt degrade our work by complying with the "discount" notion.
>>Nope, not what I meant at all. I was _trying_ to say that your
>>comment to the public gives them the (false) notion that by buying
>>directly from the artist, they are paying a lesser price. In MOST
>>cases, the potters *I* know sell at one set retail price. Yes, I
>>know most people automatically expect a discount when they visit
>>the studio, but this ain't necessarily so. The reason I was trying
>>to get you to stop saying this is to end the public perception.
>>Think of it - every time the potter has to stop and talk and sell
>>their work, they are losing time/money. So the pieces should sell
>>at the same rate the retail outlet is selling them at to make up
>>for the interruption in their day. Am I clearer this time?
>>An example. I was doing the guild sale last year, when a customer
>>called me over to my table. She said she wanted 6 mugs. I offered
>>to carry them to the cash. She said no, she wanted directions to
>>my house. I asked her "why" since I had a full selection of work
>>out and there was nothing different or special about the work still
>>left at home - just more of the same. She told me flat out that
>>it would be cheaper to buy from me direct. I stared, and said no,
>>it would be 6 times $14. Then she says "surely they'd be a discount,
>>no tax?" I said no, 6 times $14 plus PST. She got angry at this.
>>Told me she expected that if she was going to drive all the way out
>>to my house, she was *going* to get a discount. She was red! I
>>got pissed, and said "wholesale starts at $1000 minimum order" and
>>turned my back on her before I used nasty language.
>>So this is why I ask you to stop saying it's cheaper than a gallery.
>>I've stopped allowing all but friends to buy from my home. If a person
>>calls and wants a specific item, I'll send it UPS (using their credit
>>card number to cover item/shipping costs). Otherwise, no browsing. I
>>tried it for a year, and people think nothing of taking up an hour or
>>2 looking at the studio, the kiln, the cats, and buying a less than
>>$10 item. In the meanwhile I've lost 2 hours on the wheel!!
>>>Unfortunately, it would take a great deal of time to appropriately
>>>educate someone as to the nature of pottery, and not all customers are
>>>asking for an indepth answer to their questions.
>>You're right there of course. I hand out my "making a mug" sheet to
>>the pushiest ones and stand over them while they read. This accomplishes
>>1 of 2 things. Either they don't want to take the time to read it and
>>walk away (relieving me of their company) or they read it and don't ask
>>again for a discount.
>>"These pieces are discounted, youre buying directly from
>>>me" would be your remark- I'd vary it to something like "I don't
>>>participate in the "sale and discount" thing, I just start off with a fair
>>>price and stick to it."
>>Thank you!!!
>>sam - from broken toe, ontario :(
>>PS my horse thought it would be great fun to stomp on my left foot
>>on Saturday. My 2nd toe snapped!

Wendy Rosen
The Rosen Group
Niche & AmericanStyle Magazines
The Buyers Markets of American Craft
The Business of Craft
3000 Chestnut Ave #304 Baltimore, MD 21211
Voice: 410/889-3093 Fax: 410/243-7089