I have joined two local yard sale groups on Facebook. It has not taken me long to regret doing so.
The groups are not just to advertise your stuff, but you can also request items or look for services. It’s very common to see postings of pictures where someone is seeking something like a really cool crocheted hat that will make an infant look like the cutest lumberjack you’ve ever seen. Another post is requesting a seven layer Minnie Mouse birthday cake with all kinds of intricate details that look too pretty to eat. Then comes the magic part of the post that makes my blood boil… CHEAP.
If you proceed to read comments with these posts, it gets even more frustrating. When someone throws out a price, I can almost guarantee you will see one of the following:
1. I can go to Wal-Mart and get it 300% cheaper…
2. I can go to Hobby Lobby and make it myself…
3. Well, I saw this on Pinterest and…. (Just stop there. There’s no arguing with these people…)
If the hat mentioned above costs more than $3, you will be accused of ripping people off. And that cake better not be more than the price of a box mix and a can of icing on Kroger’s shelves!
The cheap goods delivered by big box retail stores will never be able to be beat by individuals with talent making one-off items in their spare bedroom. (I have never figured out what the model looks like to determine they can pay someone a small amount to manufacture, transport to dock, load on a boat, transport across the ocean, unload at a dock, transport to a warehouse, transport to a store, have someone put in on a shelf, pay rent for the store, run giant sales and take coupons… and still make money?)
I’ll be honest… I never really realized what goes into individuals creating art and putting it out there for sale until my wife started doing quilting and other sewing projects. When it came time to put together pricing for items, it wasn’t something where we priced it like a yard sale where you are trying to liquidate your life’s accumulations. There are a lot of factors to consider.
1. Someone has to get the materials. This takes gas, shipping costs, TIME to pick the right material.
2. Oh yeah, I skipped the whole creative process. Yeah, you may have got an idea from a blog, or from Pinterest, but you still have to figure out how you can create a product with a quality result. Often times, I see Cass modifying a pattern or method because she sees a better way.
3. Time to design, time to assemble, time to mess up and fix. (I think anyone could figure out how to make something… one of my favorite things to watch is what do you do when something goes wrong or you make a mistake. How do you fix it? That is where the skill comes in and really differentiates someone in the craft from someone who can “whip something together.”)
4. It’s really a business model. You are putting in initial funding to produce something. You would like to make a certain amount of money. You know there is a market value that you cannot exceed if you expect to make any money. Are your talents good enough to meet the constraints your pricing puts on your potential profit? (In other words- if it takes you 2 hours to make a hair bow and you want to make $10/hour, you aren’t going to sell many hair bows for $20… so how good do you need to get to really make what you want to make?)
You shouldn’t feel bad about wanting to make some money. I do not believe you should count on making any less than minimum wage. In fact, I don’t think you should count on making less than $10/hr. If you are a legitimate craft person, you possess talent well beyond the general population. You should be paid like it.
What bugs me more than people who don’t understand all the stuff above? People who bow to the pressure or don’t know any better and say, “Yeah, I’ll make that hat for $2.50.” Or, “I’ll make that cake for $10.” You can’t even buy a thing of yarn for $2.50! Go to the store, buy the stuff to make a box cake, go home and turn your oven on and tell me you haven’t spent darn near $10!
I will say that I have learned quilting is a totally different animal. You could spend hundreds of dollars easily on a custom quilt. (Trust me. I have proof in my own house for things that will never be sold.) But once again, the fact that you can go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and get a whole sheet and comforter set for $125 and then use a 20% off coupon makes people think you are getting rich off of them by doing one project.
People should not feel bad about making money on their hobbies. There is nothing wrong with getting a new pair of shoes, a new outfit, saving money, paying your electric bill, buying your kid diapers… Remember that next time you see a posting or go to a craft show and immediately look offended because not everything in the world can be sold in a Dollar General store.
Rant over… Thanks for listening. Go support your local crafts people.