search  current discussion  categories  business - pricing 

it ain't necessarily so -- low prices vs high

updated fri 14 jul 06


Andi Bauer on thu 13 jul 06

Steve said: < In reality, I do think this is a limited business model, =
because few folks can sell that many mugs -- but for those who can, it's =
an easy path to success. They don't have to chase clients or galleries; =
the work essentially sells itself. Of late I've been making salad =
bowls, bean pots, sugar bowls, mixing bowls, etc. Same idea -- it sells =
quickly at a low price and the buyer is happy and I don't need to drag =
things around forever.>

But is the goal to just get rid of your work at a low price so that you =
can clear out your boxes what you really want to be aiming for? If you =
are making pottery that sells at beginner's prices to recoup the cost of =
materials, then the time you put in to do the work is not being =
recaptured when selling it cheaply. You could never expect to make an =
income that would give the opportunity to improve the business and =
provide fair wage for you as the potter. It would be more helpful to a =
potter's future work to charge a slightly higher price and put that =
extra income into attending workshops and other learning experiences =
that will allow you to significantly increase the value of your work. =20

Two and a half years ago, we moved from San Diego to Sequim, a very =
small town in Washington. We started selling at our local open air =
market and did our first Lavender festival one year ago. At the open =
aire market, we learned that the locals found it difficult to part with =
large sums of money for pottery. During the Lavender Festival, we were =
approached by a woman who has had many years of experience working in =
the arts in Seattle; she told us very directly: "You are not charging =
enough for your work." We had a feeling that this was true from having =
lived in a large city, but in beginning to build our business, we were =
offering the local community the chance to get to know us and our =
pottery by being reasonably priced for the area. =20

Our pottery is sold in two local businesses on a consignment basis as =
well as directly by us at the open aire market. For this year's market =
season and festival, we decided to increase our prices in line with the =
skill and artistry with which the pottery is made. The prices have been =
raised incrementally over the past year and are beginning to reflect =
more of a true market value for the handmade porcelain and stoneware =
pieces that we create. =20

For example, we had started out selling our mugs for $14 and have bumped =
them up to between $18-20. People who want a mug will either a) buy it =
from us because its beautiful form and glaze fits their hand and lip =
well, or b) go to another potter where they can get a mug for less than =
$10. The question comes to mind, do you want to sell one mug for $8-10 =
or would you prefer to get $18-20? It's up to you, but the $8 price =
seems to be an undervaluation of the work done. So, from our =
perspective, the goal should not be to empty your boxes quickly and =
cheaply, but to make better pottery for a better price -- fair market =

Just one more opinion...

Andi in (hopefully sunny) Sequim, where the Lavender Festival kicks off =
tomorrow through Sunday.