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pricing , er... ouch

updated sat 18 aug 01


Michael Wendt on mon 13 aug 01

Whoa, hold on there group, I didn't mean to be condescending or =
smart-alecky. I am a strong advocate of proper pricing. By this I mean =
pricing that covers all of your costs including production, potter =
wages, dental, medical and retirement. Only when potters start to =
reckon all of their costs, NOT JUST MATERIALS AND FIRING, will we see =
more people make a living wage at this business. Is that condescending =
to say that? Sure, there are lots of other considerations, and they have =
been dealt with well and at length in previous discussions on clayart, =
but cost accounting rarely is mentioned as a pricing strategy. How do =
you think the first potters arrived at the cost of things they made in =
the first place? Everyone wants a good return on investment, don't they? =

For the record, I already do earn a living wage working as a full =
time production potter, pay my own dental and medical and set aside =
money for retirement and have since the mid seventies. When I said:
Who cares what the other potters charge?=20
I meant and wrote in my post was, why base the price of your mugs on the =
price of someone who is selling theirs 2 for $5.00?=20
In 1975, Luke Lindoe, the founder of Plainsman Clays, visited my =
studio in Lewiston and he opened my eyes. He pointed out that potters =
were selling coffee mugs for $5.00 when he started making pottery in the =
early 50s. I was selling mine for $4.50 in 1975. That prompted me to =
begin the careful analysis of what it really costs to make pots and it =
is a lot more than most people think if you want to make a living =
comparable to other professions.=20
Fine if you want to compare prices with others and match them, but be =
careful, they may be losing money on every piece and if you match them, =
you may too.

I got a barrage of responses, mostly scathing, about how =
stupid,condescending and simplistic my approach to pricing is. So be =
it, but I promise you, I will continue to price at a level that assures =
I make a decent profit, not just enough to live hand to mouth.=20
Where I live, Lewiston, Idaho, there are mostly farmers, mill workers =
and loggers.=20
They are among the finest people you could ever hope to meet, honest, =
hard working and no nonsense. These are my customers. They are my =
quality control lab. They bring work back if it is no good. They expect =
more than a pretty pot, they expect value and they deserve it. They work =
hard for their money and they see that I work hard for mine. I make good =
on a pot even 20 or 25 years old if it shows a defect. Why? Quality is =
not an obvious thing. How can anyone tell if something is of high =
quality? Only people who buy the Nelson 2000 Qualitometer from =
Cole-Parmer Instrument Company can say for sure that their work reaches =
quality standards needed for ISO 9002 certification. One touch of the =
Qualitometer probe and you know in either metric, English or the =
absolute scale, the quality of any object placed under the probe. Want a =
good watermelon? This will tell you instantly. Want a top quality car, =
not a lemon? One touch from the probe tells the whole story. Take it to =
craft fairs and check out the quality and price of all the competition. =
Know objectively how the pots you make rate... ;-) =20
ha ha, had you going, didn't I? no?=20
My point? Quality is an attitude, an ongoing process, a never-ending =
search for better, stronger, more durable and safer products. It is open =
ended and difficult to judge. People here in a small town have long =
memories and if you ever cheat them, they remember and they won't do =
business with you again. I stongly agree with them in that. I am not in =
pottery for the fast buck. I want my work to stand the true test of =
quality, the test of time. I want people to come to me in awe because =
the dinnerware set I made 25 years ago still looks new and has held up =
through countless dishwashings and three wild kids, so that they =
finally realize why my plates are worth $17.00 each when they can get a =
whole set for four at K-Mart for only $20.00.
One of the posts I got is below, read if you choose to:

Michael Wendt,

Hi Wendy,
Thanks , but you must not have read the whole post. I was addressing =
that issue by saying that most people never figure the real cost of the =
things they make, but try to compete in the price arena. My point is =
that people sell their work too cheaply because they base their prices =
on what others sell their work for, not on the true cost of production.=20
I am a strong advocate of realistic pricing based on the real cost of =
production. If more people did this, we would all be better off because =
there are so many potters out there still selling mugs 2 for $5.00 when =
I charge $9.00 each. I charge that much because that's what it costs to =
pay all the bills, have dental, have medical, have retirement... etc.=20
Wendy wrote:
..Who cares what others charge?
Only those who are TRYING to make a living at this, of course!
Too many people in all types of businesses small and large never KNOW
what their cost of sale REALLY is!=20

I've watched complete industries fold because everyone is trying to
underprice each other... the problem in this community is that there
are too many people who don't NEED to make a living... and their
underpricing puts professionals out of business.

This is KILLING the ceramic community!!! I see ceramics at most
retail fairs marked at wholesale prices... why? Because the artist
isn't calculating lost studio production while =
and recovering from the show. People forget to include all their =

It's all fun and games until someone loses their career!!! It's all =
raising values and prices ...and everyone's standard of living! It's =
more than flush toilets .... it's about private schools for our kids!!!
Wendy Rosen
President, The Rosen Group

3000 Chestnut Ave #304 Baltimore, Maryland 21211
410.889-3093 phone 410.243.7089 fax

AmericanStyle Magazine.....

Niche Magazine and Awards.....

Career Services & Mentors.....
The Buyers Markets of American Craft
Craft Business Institute

Market Insider Newsletter (FREE)=20
Michael Wendt


Terrance Lazaroff on wed 15 aug 01


I am on your side.

I did the analysis and I am earning my desired salary from the sale of my
mugs. I get depressed when I see some one selling for less than cost. They
don't understand why they are working so hard, selling everything they make,
and yet having trouble paying their bills. It is a sin.


ASHPOTS@AOL.COM on wed 15 aug 01

Hey i do a show called Ketners Mill in Tenn. near Chattanooga. It seems most
of us potters dont do will till Sunday because there is one potter who sells
her stuff too cheap. When she sells out we sell.
She told me she does it for FUN and her husband pays for the materials. What
can you say to some one like that.

Aint that special

Capt Mark at the Lookout Mountain Pottery
Rising Fawn Ga

Terrance Lazaroff on thu 16 aug 01

Don't say anything. She will get tired of the act.

Keep your pricing strategy and the public will respect you for it.