If 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?
First 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.
How 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!”
Customers 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.