Thursday, September 17, 2009

Why Buy Handmade? It's Way Too Expensive!

I have seen many forum posts on etsy with questions about PRICES. Yep, Oh yes I did! I said the P word. LOL. Now before you grimace and immediately jump to another page just hear me out. If you visit the etsy forums at all you have seen these same posts. You know the ones I am talking about. The ever popular ones asking how to determine prices for your items and then the ones that discuss comments like " I can get that same thing at xxx for half that price" or the terribly uncomfortable debates between shop x who is upset because shop y is "underselling real artists who are trying to run a business" (someone elses' words not mine). Well, for some reason this topic has been stuck in my head lately. I'm not sure why, maybe its the low views or non-existent sales but something about them has been kinda bothering me. So I decided to blog about it.

Now, don't change the channel just yet. This isn't going to be a big poor me pity rant or anything like it. Rather, I decided to do a little compare and contrast, completely unscientific, research. I am not even going to address the how do I price my items question because I can't tell you how to do that. You have to figure that out for yourself. And I won't go near the shop x and shop y debate with a ten foot pole. Nope, no way. What I do want to talk to you about is the " I can get the same thing at xxx for half the price" kind of comments.

As a handmade artist (I use that term very loosely in my case), comments like these really hurt my feelings. First of all, they are completely false. You may be able to find a similar item but I guarantee you it is not the same thing. The items that you see at xxx are made by a large company with many employees who are often working in substandard conditions. Also, they are often made in a cookie cutter way meaning every one is exactly alike without any personalization or unique character. Whereas with my items and with many of the artists items on etsy each item is made with a great deal of thought and design time invested. Each one is unique in some way simply because the human body cannot reproduce the same exact item over and over again, it just isn't possible. I can make 100 bead links and will never make a single one that is exactly like another no matter how hard I try IF I am truly doing everything by hand.

Secondly, the majority of the items that you will see offered on etsy are made with the highest quality materials possible. I know that in my category, jewelry, most artists like myself choose to use precious metals, precious stones, or semi-precious stones. These materials are not inexpensive to acquire for us as designers so please keep that in mind before you make split second judgments about our prices. And remember also that by using these materials we as the artists are ensuring that you as the consumer are getting a better quality product that will last longer and give you a lifetime of enjoyment if treated and cared for properly. Also consider the craftsmanship that goes into the majority of the handmade items that you find on etsy. As independent artists, most of us put a great deal of effort into our work to make sure that it is of the best craftsmanship possible. We are proud of our pieces and want quality associated with our business name. It doesn't benefit us in the least if our items fall apart the second you take them out of the package. Rather, if this happens it reflects very poorly on us, however, the items that you can get for half the price at xxx may not be made to the same quality control standards because no one's name is directly associated with them. I hope that made sense.

So hopefully you've read this far and I ask that you stick with me for just a little longer. Here comes the compare and contrast portion of our show. I did some searches of big box, big name retailers and looked specifically at their jewelry offers. Now I want to show you what I found out there and some of the similar items that I found on etsy.

Let's start with these. They really kill me cause folks will buy them up without thinking twice about it. I found these online at a site for a big retail chain store that everyone knows but I won't mention here. Notice two things: 1) they are advertised as silvertone which means they may or may not be silver plated over a base metal or they may just be a silver colored metal i.e. aluminum, tin, etc. 2) they are selling for $18!

Now check out these examples that I found on etsy. They are all Sterling silver handmade.

Sterling Silver Teardrops
By Lazydayz $15

Sterling Silver Textured Teardrops
by Silverchic $21

Sterling Silver Double Leaf
by SandraPenn $17

I don't know about you but I really don't see the great savings. To me its better quality at a relatively comparable price.

Here are just a few more examples:

Chain store double strand fresh water pearl bracelet $40

Double strand freshwater pearl bracelet by nevermorecreations $20

Double Strand Freshwater Pearl bracelet in Olive by LauraMia $19

These are only a very few of the many many examples of equivalent pricing on etsy as compared to big box chain stores. So please before you automatically associate handmade with super expensive/overpriced, take a moment to look around etsy. Do like I did and check the prices of the items you want by going to the chain store website then use keywords from their item description to do a search in the same category on etsy. I think in most cases you will find that you are pleasantly surprised.

Well thanks for listening. I really appreciate it. Thanks to all of the wonderful etsy artists out there. Keep your chins up and keep on keeping on. Good Luck To You All!


Linda said...

Right on! How do we "educate" the typical consumer? I think some buyers don't read the details on how something is created, just whether the look or the price is right. I used to get similar comments when a quilter - "can you make me one just like yours?" but when I quoted a price, got "no, thanks... I can get one less expensive at XXX..."

mistyridge said...

Yep, unfortunately I think we have all heard the same thing. You pose a very good question about how do we educate the typical consumer. I am not real sure about that one yet. I hope that maybe some will stumble upon this blog post. I think one way would be for etsy to put something similar to my blog post somewhere on the front page for new subscribers to read and learn about handmade items.

SassyBelle said...

Since I discovered Etsy I have bought almost all gifts from Etsy shops and so many things for myself. I love giving my money to the "little guy" instead of the "big box" chains-especially in this crazy economy. I also love that my new purchase is unique. WooHoo for handmade:)

Anonymous said...

Right on!

Erica said...

I really enjoyed reading this. I have a hard time with priceing because people tell me that my hubands knives and my art are SO EXPENSIVE, but I can sell my art for as much in person, and his knives take far more work than he can pay himself for.

Thanks for a great post.

Louise said...

Yeah! Yeeaaah! Well said. If only everyone could look at it with your measured and coherent consideration. Well done you!

button said...

Great article.

mistyridge said...

Thanks everyone for your kind words. I am glad that you liked the post. I think one of the first steps in getting our work understood better is to inform and educate the general public so please pass this post along to as many other people as you can think of. Help me to spread the word about why handmade is so GRRREAT!

HRT said...

Excellent article Misty and so true. Very good idea about Etsy putting something on the front page for new subscribers.

Rockfern said...

Fabulous post! I love the compare and contrast you did with Etsy and chain stores - all the more reason to buy handmade!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post.I think all of the etsy artists need to get away from pricing too cheaply and try to get this message across to the buyers. I do feel though that there are many people out there that feel this way, we just need to lead them to etsy somehow. Thanks for this post. I hope many more people see it. I am going to put a link on my blog to it.
Georgia xx

Handmade Highway said...

Great post! Tattie Tats rec'd this on Twitter. Love the comparison shopping!


Designs By Mikel said...

I loved the direct comparasons. If that doesnt challenge someone to really understand and look at what they are purchasing... I am not sure what will.

Another thing I want to stress, is that often, you can be very direct with the type of person you are supporting. ****mart might beat on price but they could never beat on integrity and morals.

I think handmade is causing people to be aware they have a choice and they can be concious!

Gail said...

I find it extremely refreshing that someone would take time out to write a piece so brilliantly put in support of all us Designers who handmake and DO NOT mass produce!! Well said and THANK YOU!!!