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wholesale pricing (was re: shipping fees)(longish)

updated fri 23 oct 98


Jonathan Kaplan on sun 18 oct 98

>----------------------------Original message----------------------------
>----------------------------Original message----------------------------
>Is wholesale considered to be 50% off your retail?
>Is the going consignment rate 60/40? Or does this vary from area to area?
>We set wholesale price by considering what we think the piece will sell
>for in a
>retail store, and then taking 50% off that. HOWEVER, most stores are
>marking up
>more than 100% (50% margin) and then adding shipping on top of that. Packing,
>as I posted before, is in the wholesale price and gets marked up too. We
>haven't adjusted our wholesale price for the consideration that markup might be
>120%. I specifically noted the price is based on the retail STORE environment.
>What a piece will command in a store MAY be different than what it will
>bring at
>a street fair.

I'd like to add some other points toTom's thoughtswhich are to the point
and quite revelent.

One area that is quite important, even perhaps more important than "what
the price will command," than "setting the retail price first and taking
half of that for your wholesale price" is what it costs you to make the
piece. Funny isn't it? We are so involved with other issues in ceramics
that the one of "what does it cost you to make it" seems to go un-noticed,
until tax time and you may realize that you worked at a loss all year
because you just didn't care to figure it out. ANd IMHO there is a thread
that runs thoughout potter's lives that" figuring this out is too
complicated," or "I'm financially challenged," whatever.

The point being is that yes, we need to be aware of what the market is
willing to bear, we need to understand that indeed stores do take more than
a 100% markup, and there are georgraphic concerns or the store environment
that will also impact a final retail price, and that prices at street fairs
may be remarkably different than those in the shop around the corner.

I''m willing to posit that most potters are clueless about what their
costs are to produce a mug. In fact, I'd like to encourage those on the
list to post to the list what it costs them to make a mug. And I'll do the
same to start it off when I get to the shop this afternoon or tomorrow.

While our situtation may be a bit different than others, we hand make pots
as well as use a jigger, a RAM press, and slip cast. The vocabulary is the
same. The means to achive the final piece is different.
We have developed a spread sheet (Excel) that we use to bid each project as
well as cost out our own. It factors in everything from clay and glaze, %
of anticipated seconds, labor, the cost of payroll, prep of
materials, loading and unloading the kiln, etc. etc.... and a really big
one, what percentage of each hour of labor is chargable, in that no
employee can be expected to really work at the same speed or intensity for
a full hour. So the spread sheet calculates any percentage we wish to
include. We can also enter the desired percentage of profit needed for each
project. The spreadsheet also is set up so that we can enter the timing for
each step of making a piece from slip or plastic clay prep to pressing,
jiggering, hand throwing, and many more. The spreadsheet also factors in
overhead and depreciation. All cells in the spreadsheet are able to be
changed, so that as we see a part of the overhead that is increasing or
decreasing, we can change it at any time. (And no I really can't share the
spreadsheet with the list. It was developed specifically for our business
at a substantial cost.)

Is this overkill? Maybe for some, but not for our type of business. I think
the obvious things potters do is look at the clay cost, look at the glaze
cost, figure out that a hour's worth of time costs so much, and it takes so
many minutes to produce a mug, and this is where it stops. This is fine,
but only the beginning. Everyone has some sort of overhead, even if your
place is debt free and you own your vehicle. Or for that matter, you're a
trust fund potter, and all the above doesn't matter. Anyone know some of
these folks?

In closing, there is an unlimited an uncodifiable enjoyment factor, a
spiritual side, for some, and a host of other reasons why we make pots. The
one that is so easily dismissed is being paid the correct amount for our
hard work. While the pile of charge cards slips, checks and cash in our
pocket from the weekend art fair or monthly check from galleries may look
and feel good, the other side of this equation is that we could be grossly
underpaid for our labors.


Jonathan Kaplan, president
Ceramic Design Group LTD/Production Services
PO Box 775112
Steamboat Springs CO 80477

plant location

1280 13th Street Unit 13
Steamboat Springs CO 80487

(970) 879-9139 voice and fax

Vicki Ferris on mon 19 oct 98


Enjoyed your post on pricing pottery. Since I am new at selling my pottery, it
is always hard to price my pieces. When I see other pottery for sale, prices
vary so much from potter to potter. I am anxious for you to do the test about
hard costs and labor costs of the potter making certain items. I hope you will
expand on this discussion for me and others that might be finding it difficult
to price things. I am selling in 6 gallaries right now but decided to try
street faires. Just finished my third one yesterday. After investing in a nice
canopy and display, it seems like an awful lot of work to sell only 15 to 20
pieces. These have been "harvest festivals" in my area (small population).
Other vendors did not seem to be selling much either. I have 4 more shows
booked before Christmas which might change my mind but right now my husband
complains about having to help me set up and tear down. I really enjoy talking
with the people and they are very complimentary. I guess I need to find a
partner to do this with. Maybe I need to find better shows with people who
have extra money to spend. I am sure a lot of you have gone through something
similar. Your helpful suggestions would be greatly appreciated! How many
pieces should I be expecting to sell in a one day show? The money isn't as
important to me as having people take my work home and enjoy it. I quite my
high stress, well paying career to make pottery full time, which I love, but
have to learn how to find homes for them, as they are accumulating. Thanks so
much. You all are so great! I learn so much every day from you.

Vicki Ferris
Cool, Calif.

Sue Hintz on thu 22 oct 98

I'm in the same boat as you. I just started doing shows-have done about 5.
I'm happy to share what I have learned as a new comer if you are interested.
I'm in Western NC-a good place for selling but lots of competition. I
also have some galleries. I talk to the potters as much as possible
at these shows to see what they are making, what to expect from the show, and
what shows they do best in. I don't do a show unless I've been told it is
a good one by more than one person. I stay local-no expense for hotels. I
set up and break down by myself. I fit it all in one trip of my mini van.

You are right--its hard work! I've gotten in every show I've applied to so
far. I made my own slides and always include a professional looking letter
with every application. I look for well established shows. I did one
that had great material and was described as an upcoming winner. I sold
at that one but it wasn't great. I won't do it again. It isn't worth me
doing if it isn't a good show. As a beginner I don't sell as well as many
of the seasoned folks but I do well for a beginner.

I've compared my earnings to others. In the last two shows the same potter
was there--he sells like hotcakes!!! Triple what I do. His prices are
very reasonable! He mass merchandises. For example. 20 - 30 mugs displayed
all together in different colors, 30 oil lamps all together, 30 candle holders
all together, etc. At the last show I did some of this mass merchandising. Usu
I put only a few of each piece out and not together. Guess what? People notice
them and bought them better when they were all together--same price.

If you want more details--like what I make at a show. I'll be happy to
share just e-mail directly

I'd be interested in what the rest of you think about mass merchandising.