Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pricing is a Big Deal

How would you price this?
Dream Baby  and assemblage art doll by Angie Nelson 
Who is to say what "Dream Baby" up there is worth? Can you put a price on art? She was made very inexpensively from mostly junk I had saved from other projects...I had a blast making her and it only took me a few hours...and I've only made a few assemblage dolls..does this mean I should start out low until I make a few sales?....

These are all statements and questions that I hear all the time. Artists, trying to justify NOT charging for their art or vintage dealers not taking the time to correctly value their wares for the current market.

I will just jump right in here and get to the point...Pricing things to sell is not rocket science but it's terribly important to do it right. My pet peeve for the last few years is the issue of under pricing.

Whether you are an artist, craftsman, shopkeeper or booth HAVE to be fair to yourself first and then the rest will fall into place. Good and fair pricing reflects not only a respect for yourself but for your peers who do the same work as you do.

I know some people believe that if they are fortunate enough to get a really good deal on something vintage they want to pass along the savings to the buyer by pricing low...really low. It's a nice gesture but it causes problems for other sellers and sometimes too for the antique or craft mall, or collectibles shop.

Auction Items
Some of the pieces in the photo above are highly collectible. Although they are not my particular taste, I purchased them at an auction because I know that mid century collectors are looking for these pieces and as a dealer it's my JOB to find them. I spent my morning, my diesel fuel, my money and my elbow grease on day one. I then spent more time researching makers and dates and price comps for our area before I put them into my shop and hauled the rest to my antique booth. Expertise, time and money were all invested before I set my prices.

Sometimes an artist may work for weeks designing and making their craft but feel like they can only get X amount of dollars for it because that's what a a similar mass marketed piece at Home Goods sells for....

The Guardians
Printed Coasters from original art by Angie Nelson
To produce this set of coasters, I first designed them, painted them, printed them on my archival ink art printer, sealed them with polyurethane, applied them to painted canvas and cork backed them. Here again, talent, time and money are all invested before I priced them to sell.

I'm not selling my work to people looking for mass produced, coasters just to set glasses on. I'm selling to people that appreciate and enjoy my art, appreciate that it is functional and want to buy it from me. Rather than price low to try to sell to those looking to just buy coasters, I price them with the formula at the bottom of this post and I show my appreciation to my returning customers by giving them small samples of my work such as an art card or maybe one of my hand poured candles. 

In both of these situations, it is all well and good on a personal level to give a friend a deal, but it's a poor business practice to sell for a lot less than your peers. You may take the stand that it's your stuff and you will price it the way you want to. I've even heard people say that they just want to get rid of their things at any cost...then I say DONATE IT!

If you sell in an antique or craft mall, either a brick and mortar or online such as Etsy, pricing much lower than other vendors is considered under cutting and is frowned upon by seasoned artists, craftspeople and antique & collectible dealers...Remember, that a lot of people make their living selling their wares and even though it may be your hobby you should still keep your prices comparable. It's a win win!

Lower than value prices drive sales down for everyone and I've seen several local antique stores turn into low end emporiums because they didn't manage their vendors properly and make this a priority among sellers.

I was happy to sell one of the vintage furniture pieces to another dealer for her personal use and we agreed on a price that was about half it's resell value, so that if and when she got ready to sell it she could still make a little something. This is good business. She jokingly said as we made the deal..."you probably got this for $5."...and she wasn't far off but she was happy with her end and I was happy with mine...and I didn't feel like I should have sold it to her for $10 or $15. 

To price your art fairly use this formula:
Materials + Labor + Expenses + Profit = Wholesale x 2 = Retail

To price vintage or collectible pieces it's easy to see what things are selling for by using Ebay's advanced search in completed sales. You can also see IF there is a market for what you have in mind to sell.

Remember, the right prices reflect your respect for your own time and talents as well as those of others. 

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