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underselling and price-fixing

updated tue 25 jun 02


Tommy Humphries on sun 23 jun 02

Many thoughts going through my head about this subject...I chimed in last
time it was discussed on Clayart, and still think it is a valid subject for

Perhaps, if the potters that will be displaying wares at a particular show
could meet a week or so before hand to discuss set up a bare
minimum, this would relieve much of the stress amongst themselves. Those
potters who, having many years of experience, have no trouble making stock
for the show in the month prior, would make out like gang-busters...could
possibly boost his hourly income figures up into the stratosphere...all the
while letting the newer, less proficient amongst them at least get by on
minimum wage.

Of course if word of this got out to the buying public then the show would
be dead in the one wants to play if the fix is in...Of course you
could also do like the big soda companies do..."OK, we will run our specials
in stores X,Y this can run specials in W,Z...then we will switch
out next week, and no one will be the wiser"

No, I don't think those Ideas would fly...They just ain't honest...If I
want to set MY prices so as not to undersell anybody it is MY decision. BUT
nobody has any right to ask, or DEMAND that I raise my prices, If I have the
skills and the product to be able to sell for half what others do, SO BE IT!
If you can't keep up go back to the studio and practice a bit more.

If I can make a run of 50 mugs a day...nice plain carving or
nothing...simple foot...easy to glaze and fire with no problems, am I to be
expected to keep my prices up with the potter who can only make 10 of a
similar mug in a days production? We are talking similar products
here...apples to apples and oranges to oranges. I wouldn't dream of
stacking my plain old mugs up against anyone's Chawan...but competition
between similar product lines is survival of the fittest...potter VS potter
or potter VS Chinese importer. If you want to compete with the Chinese
imports, by God you better be able to get your costs down to where you have
practically Zero overhead...the same applies to competing with other

Competing is a harsh word, especially when you talk about craft fairs and
such, BUT all those people only have X amount of bucks to spend...they will
go home with products that give them the most use for their dollars. Of
course there are those impulse items that folks will buy no matter what, but
those are the exception to the rules.

Is there an easy answer to this question? NO.

I think we should all work for our own good, and leave others to their own
devices. If they are maliciously underselling without the skills to back up
their pricing, then they will not be around long...Period.


Lee Love on mon 24 jun 02

----- Original Message -----
From: "Tommy Humphries"

> I think we should all work for our own good, and leave others to their own
> devices. If they are maliciously underselling without the skills to back up
> their pricing, then they will not be around long...Period.

Hey, how about this wild & wacky idea?: 50% of what is taken in by each
potter (what a gallery or sales shop would keep) is in put in a kitty and then
divided evenly between all the potter's in the sale.

This would eliminate any advantage from underpricing and would tend to draw
equal "peers" into the sale. It would help keep the quality consistent in a

Of course, it is probably human nature to be critical of an other's
"advantage" while not being willing to do anything that would take our own
possible "advantage" out of the picture. :^)

Lee In Mashiko, Japan

"Nothing says more about the creator than the work itself."

- Akira Kurosawa

Tom's E-mail on mon 24 jun 02

I understand why "professional potters" get aggravated by "amateurs" who
place low prices on their wares; I also understand why "amatuers" place low
prices on their wares. As a "wanna be potter", I make a lot of Sh..... and
some really nice pieces. The few shows that I've done I've got more Sh...
than good stuff to sell. So I put low prices on my pots and hope people buy
the not so good stuff with some better things. In the final analysis amateur
or professional, we [amateurs] need to get rid of our production; I'll bet
you "professionals" did the same when you started. What are you gonna do -
have all the potters walk around and determine what should be charged before
the show starts? Maybe we should select professional pricers. That will be
ok if I'm a pricer because I'll vote that all the professionals raise their
price so I won't have to compete price wise with the professionals. You see
where I'm going? This is silly stuff. Not many folks can stay in business if
what their selling is at a financial loss - at least not for long. I'm
breaking about half of what I make and I still produce more than I can
comfortably sell at "fair market prices". So I price low to get rid of the
stuff. True, I don't have to sell pottery to live BUT why does that
translate into pricing to support the so called "professional". If the
"professional" really makes good pots they are not in the least concerned
how I price. I like to think that I can market the pottery so that I break
even or even make a small profit to go to meetings and buy equipment and
supplies etc. AMEN
Tom Sawyer