First of all, I want to apologize for not posting for so long. I’ve been quite busy with various projects including preparing for a lace knitting class (six sessions and three projects — all my own designs) that will start early in January. I also have several gifts I’m trying to finish up or have yet to start….
This is the time of year for craft fairs, and that means it’s time for me to wax philosophic on the subject of selling handmade items. Most of you have probably heard me get up on my soapbox when it comes to this topic, but I think it’s important to reiterate.
A customer came into the shop last week with a large crocheted afghan that she wants to sell. She asked me to tell her how much to charge. Well, the first words out of my mouth were along the lines of ”I’m sorry, I’m afraid I can’t do that.” I said that she had to decide how much it was worth based on how much time she spent on it, how much she thinks her time is worth, and the cost of the materials. She said that if she did that, she would have to charge $300, and added that no one would pay that much. My response was that that is the problem we face when we make things to sell. We have to balance what the item is actually worth with how much we think someone will be willing to pay for it.
For a while, I had an article on our shop bulletin board from Sally Melville’s blog. In it, she suggests (and I agree wholeheartedly) that when we sell a handmade item for a pittance, we devalue not only what we do, but what others do as well. I hate to go to a craft fair and see people selling things for just a few dollars. Is that all that they think their time and skills are worth? What does this say to the general public? Not much in our throw-away society is handmade these days, and I think that most people are unaware of how much time and effort go into making things by hand. They have come to think that everything should be priced as if it were made in a third world sweatshop where people work for 50 cents a day.
So…how can we change people’s minds? How about this for starters: if you go to a craft fair and see some item that is obviously priced way below its real value, ask the maker how long it took to make. And then ask, “how can you sell it for only [insert price here] if it took [however many] hours?” Or say something like, “it seems like the yarn alone would cost more than that!” Just get people thinking. And if you are planning to sell your own work, charge a fair price! Fair to you, that is. If anyone questions you about the price or tries to bargain, set them straight. Educate them.
It’s curious that handmade items in certain genres, e.g., woodworking or metalworking, can command pretty high prices (like $45 or so for a cutting board!), and yet the fberarts do not. What’s going on there? I have a good idea, but that discussion is beyond the scope of this post.
Of course, there are many crafters who just like to make and sell things and don’t really care how much they get for them — it’s just a way to pass the time. And that’s fine EXCEPT that it tells others that those products and skills are not worth much — it devalues what we all do.
By the way, we got a new supply of the Interlacements beaded scarf kits — some really gorgeous colors! Start thinking about your gift list — or give one to yourself!