Behind the Price Tag

​Hey friends! I want to talk about something, but I need you to hear me loud and clear when I say this is NOT A COMPLAINT – so if you PROMISE we can agree on that, here goes. I want to tell you about my weekend. My husband put in a full work week by Thursday, so he had off on Friday. By 9:30 that morning, he and I (in between major rainclouds) were loading up the van with a large hutch and a dresser to bring to Graced. To make room for that meant putting the car seats in the other vehicle and rearranging the seats, a nice little workout all on its own. Then we loaded up the 2 year old and the 4 month old (and our puppy!), and drove to my parents’ in two separate vehicles to drop off the 2 year old and puppy, and continued to Graced, which is an hour from our house. The two of us unloaded the furniture there, made a quick stop at St. Vinnie’s for some “essentials,” and then continued on for another 40 minutes to pick up a dresser – only to find out she had the day mixed up and wasn’t home. Keep in mind we had the 4 month old along this whole time. On the way back, we stopped by my aunt and uncle’s to borrow their trailer to pick up a dining set later in the weekend. By the time we got back to my parents’, my contacts were really bothering me and I was having trouble seeing and didn’t feel comfortable driving anymore. So we left one vehicle and the trailer at my parents’, moved the car seats (again), loaded everybody up, and headed home. Including the drive home, that was approximately a 7 1/2 hour day. 

On Saturday morning, I spent about 45 minutes tinkering with some odds and ends in my workshop while my husband hung out with the kids. At 10:30, a lovely couple who are clients came to pick up their custom order. At 11:00 I unloaded the car seats from the van, rearranged the seats ( AGAIN – can you tell how much I love doing that?), and drove over an hour roundtrip to get two (amazing) matching dressers. When I got back, my husband quickly unloaded them, got the car seats BACK in the van, and we piled in the van once again so he could pick up the other vehicle and trailer at my parents’ and I could go back and get the dresser that the lady mixed up the day before. It was POURING by the time we got to my parents’, where my husband moved the car seats from the van to the other vehicle, switched the kids over, and headed back home (over an hour roundtrip for him) and I went on to get the dresser. After a two and a half hour roundtrip drive in an awful, scary, torrential downpour for me, and after loading and unloading a heavy dresser, Saturday was over after 6 1/2 hours of work. Are you guys tired yet? πŸ˜‰ 

This morning at 11, we switched the car seats YET AGAIN to the vehicle with the trailer, loaded everybody up, and drove 45 minutes to get the dining set, which included a very large hutch and heavy table, neither of which were a picnic to get loaded and secured. By this time, the kids were totally over being in the car, especially the baby, so we listened to him scream all the way home. After coming home and unloading everything, and a late lunch, my husband and 2 year old left to return the trailer, another hour plus trip for them. By the time they get home, this will have been close to a six hour day of work. 
Ok. So. Why am I telling you this if not to complain? I’m telling you this so when you see someone selling a piece of furniture for $250, or even $600, you have a glimpse of what that amount means. My entire family just worked for 3 days without anybody paying us. And I haven’t even touched the HOURS of time finding furniture every week, the cost of the furniture itself, gas, vehicle maintenance, paint, brushes, wood filler, tools, price tags, knobs, pretty drawer liner, childcare one day a week so I can paint, booth rental fees, commission…I think you get the picture! Guys, I do this because I love it. Genuinely, truly, love it. I’m so blessed to have a family that supports this dream I have, because as you can see, this is not a one woman show. But in the few years I have been doing this I have yet to actually make any money. Nearly every cent I’ve made goes right back into the business, which is something I need to work on. I value what I do, and my prices are starting to reflect that. It’s a tough balance, trying to be reasonable in my prices without going broke. When I first started out I practically gave a few things away before I realized how much time and money was truly being invested. That wasn’t fair to my family or myself. But in case this is starting to sound like a complaint, understand that I’m honestly not trying to make this all about me. Chances are, wherever you live, you have local artisans like me who are trying to do something that they love while also supporting their family. While many of us wouldn’t question the prices for mass produced goods at the furniture store, or even at Target or Home Goods (regardless of whether we would actually pay those prices) we may find ourselves wondering “$400 for a dresser?” or “$40 for a wooden sign?” or “$30 for a scarf?” when Suzy down the street makes them. Whatever that handcrafted item may be, understand that the price tag goes far beyond that one item in front of you. Please know that the overwhelming majority of artisans are not trying to be greedy, and are not over inflating their prices by any stretch of the imagination. More likely, they’re just trying to make ends meet. And if you are one of those artisans, value yourself and show that in your prices. Because if you don’t, who will? 

So again, please don’t think I’m complaining. I’m tired, but I’m grateful. This was a heck of a weekend, but I got some amazing things, met some great people, and overall, I feel really good about it. But after three days of putting my family through the circus that is my life, I just felt like I needed to say something. Thanks to all of you who have supported me so far, it truly means the world to me. I haven’t had anybody complain about my prices (at least not to my face πŸ˜‰ ) and haven’t had too many people try to barter a lower price. This is not coming from a place of defensiveness, I just want to be transparent. 

I hope you don’t mind me sharing this with you. It’s a lot more fun to talk about pretty furniture and paint, but sometimes you just gotta “go there!” I hope you all had a great weekend. Now, is it bedtime yet?! πŸ˜‰

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24 thoughts on “Behind the Price Tag

  1. Preach!!! I have to bring my 3 everywhere with me to continue my dreams of refinishing furniture & our booth is over an hour away too. Couldn’t agree more with your “you wouldn’t think twice about a mass produced item,” but when someone handpainted a piece they expect it for free. Most people just have no idea!!!

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  2. Thank you for putting all this in words because that is what is in my head and just couldn’t put it so nicely on paper. I, at times, feel the need to justify my price and I shouldn’t feel guilty of the ‘price tag’. Thank you again.

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  3. Glad you are living your dream. Some of us jist have to work the 8-95 schedule and would love trying to do what you do each day. Glad you found something but remember those of us figuring oit how do we leave a job to live our dream. Your pieces look beautiful.

    Keeping on doing what you love and your children will respect you later for all the car rides.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Shelley! As I stated, this was definitely not a complaint. I’m very grateful to do what I do! Before I did this I was an urban special education teacher, dreaming just like you. I was working crazy hours every week and still trying to get a piece done every now and then. We moved for my husband’s job right after my first son was born and with the cost of childcare, I couldn’t justify going back to work. This business was started out of necessity to bring in a few dollars here and there, and I’m JUST starting to find some success. So I definitely understand the struggle. Keep dreaming and working hard – thank you for reading!

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  4. (Just found you through Back Porch Gatherings)
    Really appreciated your post- your take on what goes into a project and pricing. It’s great when people love an incredibly well executed and creative project–but drives me crazy that they only want to pay like “$20” for it. Arggggggh!
    Or are so thoughtless with their words, like– a couple commented about how “clever it was” that the dealer “draped a blanket over the dresser to cover up the poor condition of their dresser.” Say WHAT?? Here’s the link to see a picture of my project. https://freddyandpetunia.wordpress.com/2016/07/13/on-second-thought/
    Do you think the Judge will understand when I kill them–??
    Catherine

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  5. Oh I absolutely love this!!! I hope you dint mind I shared it, I just couldn’t resist! I love how you really capture what we all go thru that people tend to forget. You are a wonderful writer and I so look forward to reading more of your posts!!

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  6. I’m sharing this!! Thanks for being willing to be transparent and say the things most of us would never be brave enough to say. People ask me all the time for a “deal” or discount. It can be tough to stick to your price and hold out for the right buyer who will appreciate the piece fully.

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  7. I’m right there with you girl. I am a vintage event producer…I host two big events each year that have an admission fee of $5. Notoriously shoppers at the gate will give a perplexed look to the ticket taker (who happens to be a boy scout whose troop I donate a huge amount of the proceeds to)…and say in a whiny voice…”$5!!!!!! What is THAT for?”. First, the fact that they are holding a $4.99 cup of Starbucks coffee is enough to put me over the edge…(cuz 8 oz. of coffee is worth $5, but shopping some of the best vintage around from 55 vendors, all day live music and food trucks isn’t)…we politely have to tell them that there are expenses involved!!! Like the ad you saw in your newspaper this morning that got you here…or the port-o-lets you plan to use…or the musicians we hire…or the land I rent to hold the show on…or the golf cart rental…or the “junk hunks” I hire to carry furniture out to your car…or the police I have to hire for traffic control…the list goes on and on. For some reason they think that these events just pop up and appear all by themselves…and that I don’t have a right to make a living by charging $5 to get in. Oh yeah, but the country fair is worth $5, and the movie theatre is worth $8, and the play they attended is worth $37.50, and Great America is worth $27.00 per kid…but some how a cool vintage show with incredible talent is not worth it. I don’t get these people!!!

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  8. Wow. Sounds like complaining to me. People always complain about prices, always try to get more for less. Is it fun being in the position to have to say no? No. There are hidden expenses in every line of business. Please don’t try to tell me you haven’t ever thought your insurance rates were too high, or cost of groceries went up too much. Imagine the costs associated making that sweater that we all want for just $25. I understand the point you’re making, but I find it bitter and condescending.

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      1. Boy, is that right! Some people will never understand. I get it; I was also a teacher, and a librarian. After selling antiques for 17 years, which I have loved doing, I am so glad to read your “explanation” …. something with which so many of us can identify. πŸ‘

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  9. Very well said. I don’t see your message as condescending. I see it as a learning tool for individuals that don’t understand the efforts taken to create that peice of art. I encourage you to continue doing what you Love to do. I have learned once it becomes a finacial burden , I have stepped away and learn from my errors. Your work is amazing have a creative and blessed day.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Educational…Thank you for sharing. I find a similar sentiment in the Estate Sale business. Unless you have been involved with setting one up, you don’t have a clue how much work is involved to have a clean, properly displayed, well flowing sale.

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  11. Deep sigh. It’s not a popular position to be sure but it’s my belief that spirit gives us lessons and if we talk about what is going on then spirit sends us teachers. I used to do exactly what you just vented about and then it occurred to me. I needed a bigger trailer and a bigger vehicle to haul it if I was to limit my tripping back and forth and streamline my travels. So I went to a member of our family who is an accountant and asked her what I do to write that off my next tax year. Did that. Wrote the whole cost of the trailer and new vehicle off. It’s an investment in your business and it allows you to continue to grow. Your work is great and so you deserve the potential for growth.

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