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pricing paradox(story)

updated sat 26 mar 05


mel jacobson on fri 25 mar 05

many of us were raised in minnesota with the
tradition started by warren mackenzie of pricing
low, selling to the masses. it was his song and
dance forever. it was the leach model. it worked
great for warren. it was always a kick to go to
a show of warren and former students...there was a
great warren platter...50 bucks, next to it was a tiny
soypot/caddy. 1200 bucks. former student pricing.
made me smile. i never got into the debate much.
i used to say...`hell, warren can give his pots away,
it is his business.` plus of course, he was a full time
professor at the university of minnesota...retirement, health
care, salary. the model i have spoken to many times.
it is not the tony clennell model. i lived the warren model,
i had retirement, health care, salary. i priced almost the same
as warren. you sell a mountain of pots that way.

later the art fairs came along, and we saw potters
from michigan selling pots for fifty bucks...wowowowo.
that was really something.

then we saw magazines with pots in new york selling
for a hundred bucks.

we never knew what to do. for potters raised in minnesota,
well, it was like...wowowowowo.

remember, you train customers. you train them to
spend a certain amount. when they come to your
space, they have a mental set amount that they are going to
pay. it is up to you to change that.

i have to change that.

there are many ways to do pricing. you just have to pick
one of the sales/promotion techniques that fit you.
if you do not do that....out of business.
cost of production is more than profit. just like k/mart.
out of business.

now we have the iron saga pots. they belong to joe and me.
what to do with them? enter david armstrong. california.
new pricing. new ideas. high end.
all new to me. all very different. but, if we want those pots
to have value, we are the ones that will make it happen.
i can sell them from an apple box stand on highway 7, or take them
to AMOCA and let david handle it.
we all have choices.

at seventy i have earned the choice of Los Angeles.
so, i am going there.
luck is prepaid. or, the dues have been paid. same for joe.
he has paid his dues 700 times.

but, we go with very open eyes. commissions are steep, split profit,
shipping, i just bought 7 tickets to l.a. on frontier airlines. big opening.
the entire family is going. so, we will see how the bottom line
shakes out.

i wonder if warren will win this debate again. we will see. time
will tell, as my dad would say.

it is all paradox.
we make it by hand, sell it ourselves in many cases....we are
old time pioneers in merchandising. we are the primalmommies of
chicken production. eggs or meat? or do we sell those eggs
at `kroger's`.

as with the iron saga and the firing, glazing etc, i will let you know
what shakes in l.a. it is all a learning curve.
remember, it is easy to hide and lie. i won't do that.
never have. i have shared this saga with friends so that we all
learn together. joe and i have sat down and talked at length about
ego, sharing, teaching and learning. we want folks to take what
we have given, work it. learn from the work. it is not easy.
but, it can be accomplished. it is just like when i published those
32 shino recipes. are you going to get the same results? hell no.
you have to work it. and the suffering and anger over bad pots should
lead you to better pots.

it is the thing than makes many adults tired and angry. spoon feed
everyone. make them feel better. don't let folks suffer, tell themthe answer to the test before they take it...make them `feel good`.
bullshit times 300.
the only time a potter feels really good is when they accomplish
the task at hand...they did it all themselves. they get all the
credit for what they did. same for students. my students gained
tremendous confidence as they learned the steps of ceramics.
all the steps. it belonged to them. like my swim teams. the
medal went around their neck. not mine. they did the million laps
to be in shape and touch out that kid from edina. now that is `feeling good`.
make that happen in your studio, you and the clay and the problem.
solve it yourself. it can be done. same for selling. it is a paradox.
solve the problem for you. or starve. that is what our fathers, mothers
and grandparents did in 1934. work or starve. make do or starve.
it is still with us....however, many think that suffering in 2005 is having
to settle for a honda rather than the lexus.
mel jacobson/minnetonka/minnesota/usa

Lee Love on sat 26 mar 05

mel jacobson wrote:

> made me smile. i never got into the debate much.
> i used to say...`hell, warren can give his pots away,
> it is his business.`

Hey, it ain't no big deal what you or I think about his
prices. What IS the big deal, is that he never tells his students
how to price their work. At the show in Nikko, the 12 people he
invited all priced higher than he. It is the same as in his show room.

What I most respect about his pricing is his $2.00 shelf.
He has a low shelf of his pots marked at $2.00 in his show room and only
kids are allowed to buy them. I try to have loss leaders like this
too. When I was a poor kid growing up in the country, I could
always skip lunch and buy a paperback book. I think it is important
to have some low priced work available so that some kid can buy it, if
they skip lunch, take it home, and maybe be inspired to try their hand
at making their own things.

You might be surprised at the prices on MacKenzie's pots
at the show last fall at Mitsukoshi. You can see a an overview of
the photos here:

Lee in Mashiko, Japan WEB LOG Photos!