By March 19, 2015 7 Comments Read More →

Can’t You Do It Cheaper?

10987709_860632073982978_3851125106414799678_nIf you are an artist or a crafter then I’m sure this has happened to you….a customer inquires about your treasures whether online or in person at a craft fair; you spend time explaining materials and design then the question comes, “Can you do this any cheaper?”  or “I can get this at WalMart/Target/the Dollar Store.”  Your heart skips a beat, maybe you begin to doubt your own prices, maybe someone is selling them cheaper, you freeze?

Unfortunately, we live in a large box store world where much of what we purchase daily comes from another country where wages are pennies an hour.  As customers, we have gotten used to that instant gratification for next to nothing mentality and have come to expect it.  So, how do we as artists handle and change this mentality?

hissy fit sign handmadeFirst is going to be your response.  There are plenty of snarky ways to answer that same pricing question but if you are really interested in changing someones attitude about what handmade is worth, are you sure you want to be combative with a looker?

Instead, could you possibly explain how many hours, including design time, creation, photographs, and listing, is each each and every piece you display?  Let them do the math and realize that you are working for poverty wages as an artist as it is and when you take out cost of materials (not only price but sourcing) you are working for love and not for riches?  While this may make them stop and think, they may still not buy, but at the very least you’ve gotten them thinking about what they are looking at!  Maybe point out the quality difference or even the fact that each of your pieces are made with love instead of by an underpaid and overworked employee that just doesn’t care.

woman pendant handmadeHow about the “I/Aunt Mabel/my neighbor can make that for me” when you are standing right there?  Again, you can be sarcastic (and don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it many times!) if you choose.  The truth is that when customers are shopping at fairs, the artist standing in the booth often becomes invisible.  People are used to shopping in stores where employees are part of the background and they can say what they want….maybe they don’t realize that comments like that can be degrading to the artist implying that anyone can do the work you do.  Take a deep breath and smile.  My favorite reply to this is “Yes, I’m sure you/Aunt Mabel can make this, but will you take the time to find and buy the materials and the time to put it together?  Look at how much work I’m saving you by having it all done!”

sugar and spice word blocks baby decor handmadeCustomers don’t always think about what they are saying and how it will be heard by the artist.  Not giving them a pass to be rude, but really, how many times have you made a comment that if you thought about it, may have been taken wrong purely because you didn’t think before speaking?

What comment have you heard from customers either online or in person and what was your response?  Share your experience and maybe help a new artist handle those awkward moments with grace and class.



About the Author:

A life long crafter, I found my passion in painting on glass, especially toasting glasses for brides, as well as chainmaille jewelry in between chasing my two boys to various sports events and clubs. This passion for handmade led my husband and I to start the and our passion for getting other handmade artists seen no matter where they sell led to acquiring It's Better Handmade! My hope is that by working with other creative people more buyers will come to understand the true value of handmade.

7 Comments on "Can’t You Do It Cheaper?"

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  1. Julie says:

    The one comment that stands out for me the most was at a fair last year. A mother and her young daughter were shopping at my booth. The daughter had spotted a bracelet that I had priced at $10. I was standing at the other side of the table when she said,”It’s too expensive. Let’s go see if we can find something else for a dollar.” and walked away. I was speechless at the time. They were at an arts & crafts fair so I knew they weren’t going to find anything for a dollar. Surprisingly, they came back to purchase the bracelet, but I was both shocked and upset that she said that with me standing right there!

  2. I have been dealing with these types of people for a while. A former customer wanted a custom queen size quilt with the faces of her and her fiance. I gave her the price and she agreed but never sent the money. I of course did not start the project, however, I told her after almost 6 months that I need her to decide if she really wants the quilt or not so I can clear it off my books. She wrote back and said she had recently lost her job. I wrote her back after she old me to cancel her order, wished her well and luck in finding a new job. I also told her that perhaps when she is stable she will reconsider. I left the option open for her and she was not angry when we finished. For others, I simply log my hours and send weekly progress reports to them that way they know exactly how much time I spend on their project.

  3. Teresa Teresa says:

    I have come across this a few times. One instance stands out from a few years back. When asked this very question, I stayed calm and told her about the piece in question, how much time it took to make, general costs for materials, tool investment, etc. And yes, sometimes I can make it cheaper. That means lesser quality materials, less intricate designs, and pretty much ending up with a whole new piece. Her response was “then it’s not the same piece” to which I replied “Exactly. I can make it cheaper, but it won’t be exactly like this one.” That generally will end that conversation.

  4. Lily Lily says:

    I have run into this when people ask for custom orders. My friend was nice enough to say when I get more money I will do the bigger order. One of my friends said “you should try this” and she does not attempt any creativity so I was hurt and flabbergasted at her thoughtlessness.

    I agree with Kim in staying calm and explaining you cant give them same item. I have done that at a fair, which I stopped doing them, I had to explain to one customer in a large group over and over – that my accountant expected me to make money or stop the jewelry business altogether. She got the message and left.
    I am not worried since many people love handmade, and creativity. There are more than enough customers for everyone and there is no competition in the spiritual /Law of Attraction sense. I trust the best will come forward and know they exist for others too.

  5. Chainmaille says:

    Great article, well said!

  6. I had a customer come into my booth to look at a pair of earrings. She looked and handled them, etc. and then quoted me a price that was 40 to 50% less than what I was asking for the earrings. I explained that the earrings were genuine red sea coral. The customer raised her voice slightly to advised that she knew what kind of beads they were. So. . . I just smiled and didn’t say another word. She eventually moved on and I sold the earrings a couple of days later online.

    It’s like this: say you work a regular job for 8 hours and your boss asks if can they get a 40 to 50% discount on your salary after you have put in a full day. Most people would let that employer know that they do not work for nothing — cannot afford to work for nothing. And, neither can I.

  7. cobaltlane says:

    My Grandma & I were browsing at a local outdoors/garden type show and I was considering purchasing a $10 item made of “hypertufa” a class my Grandma & I had both taken several years prior. My Grandma said (in front of the vendor), “oh well we could easily make that.” As I pulled out my money I said to my Grandma, “But will we? It is definitely worth my $10 to support this artist and not have to add one more project to my plate.” I’m sure the vendor was very happy to not have to silently smile to that comment at least once that day.

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