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elle Ellifolks
Eastern Ma.
Posts: 494
Website

I got a message about a bear in my Etsy shop from someone saying they were interested in one of my bears, but could I sell it for less.  Has anyone else had this happen to them?  What did you do?  I could offer to let them pay in a few payments if money is an issue for them.

Hugs,

Ellen

Us Bears Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,479

The customer certainly has the right to ask you to bargain with him but you are not obliged to sell your merchandise below what you consider to be a fair price.

Don't forget that many other cultures consider bargaining a normal practice.  When I traveled to Europe right after graduating high school I discovered that there are some places where bargaining is not only accepted practice but it is even expected.

It was not uncommon, in my experience, to find goods priced higher than anybody would normally pay because the merchant expected people to bargain with him.  If he was selling apples, for instance, they might be priced at $1.00 each.  That's a crazy price!  But if you made him an offer on a dozen apples he would probably take any reasonable price you offered.  You might walk away with a dozen apples for $6.00 or even less if you bought other things besides apples, too.

The bottom line is that you shouldn't feel insulted because somebody is asking for a lower price.  If you feel like bargaining with a customer it is perfectly all right to do it.  But you should NOT feel obliged to bargain with a customer if you don't want to.

DENBY30 DENBY BEARS
EDISON, NEW JERSEY
Posts: 1,586

:twisted: Tell them if they want a bargain go to a FLEA MARKET!  That drives me crazy when people want to bargain with fine crafts. 
You sell for what you want and do not let customers sway you.  Half the time you never make up the cost or time that goes into a fine bear or other craft.
No, I would not lower the price, that is a pet peeve of mine.
Of course you are welcome to do what you care to do, but thats my opinion,

Carlyle Bear Co. Carlyle Bear Co.
decatur, tn
Posts: 492

Hi Ellen,

I guess whether or not you come down in price would depend on

a.  how much they want you to discount it
b.  how badly you want/need the sale
c.  if you feel they would be repeat customers

That is how I would go about making the decision.  I do think that the potential buyer should remember that he/she is shopping on Etsy, where you have fixed pricing and not EBay where bids are accepted.

Melisa Nichols Melisa's Bears
Hazelton, BC
Posts: 5,811
Website

Hi Ellen,

Personally, I think your prices are more than fair for the amount of time that goes into your work, but like Us Bears said... that's up to you to decide.  This has happened to me too and I usually let them know about my layaway plan.  I'm just wondering if they offered you a price... if they didn't, you could always ask them what price they were willing to offer and see if it is much different than your price.

By the way... I love your Beratrice mommy bird & her chicks.... very artistic & sweet!   bear_wub

elle Ellifolks
Eastern Ma.
Posts: 494
Website

Thank you for everyone's help!    Thank you for the nice words re. Beratrice, Melisa.  bear_original   The person didn't mention a price, just asked if I would consider selling it for less.  I have had people pay in a few installments before, and that worked out well.

Hugs,

Ellen

karenaus Melbourne
Posts: 694
Website

... one thing to keep in mind too is that if you do it once for them, if they did happen to become a repeat customer, they most likely would expect you to again in the future.

Us Bears Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,479

I do need to qualify my example in respect to the goods being exchanged.  There is a difference between apples and an original work of art.

In both examples you consider cost of goods plus labor needed to produce the product but, with artworks you have to consider the artist's premium.

With apples, there is the cost of materials and labor needed to grow them and bring them to market.  The farmer also deserves a fair profit for his time and trouble but it would be rare to charge extra just for the privilege of having an apple from "Farmer Brown."

If you were buying a painting or a photograph, there is also the cost of materials and labor used to create the painting but there is also an extra premium just for the privilege of having a painting created by a given artist.  A painting by a first year art student might have the exact same cost of materials as a painting painted by an old master and they might also spend the exact same amount of time painting it but you would not expect the art student's painting to sell for the same price as the master's.  A Picasso sells for millions of dollars just because it was made by Picasso.

Bears are the same in that respect.  It could cost the exact same amount for me to make a Bear as any one of you master Bearmakers.  We could spend the exact same amount of time to make it and they could be virtually identical in style and quality but I would NOT expect my Bear to bring the same price as an established master.  I just can't demand that kind of premium unless and until I am able to establish myself as a Bearmaker.

So, *IF* you decide to bargain with a buyer it is fair for you to demand a premium just for the privilege of adopting one of your Bears.  It is up to you... and SOLELY up to you... to decide whether to demand a premium and how much that should be.

How much does it cost you in materials to make a Bear?
How many hours does it take?  What do you value your time at?  $10.00 per hour?  $20.00 per hour?
Add on a fair amount of profit.  Then, from there, decide whether to adjust that figure based on whether you think you can demand a premium price for your art.  When you get that figure in mind, decide on whether you are willing to bargain from that price.

Maybe you are not willing to bargain.  That's your right.  There's nothing wrong with that.
But, if you are willing to bargain, come up with a bottom-line price below which you will not accept a deal.  Stick to that price.

It is NOT fair for somebody to expect you to go below your bottom-line price.  If somebody tries to fault you for it, you can just tell them to take a hike!

However, if you ARE willing to bargain, go right ahead and ask the other guy for an offer.  Be prepared to make a counter offer.  Don't be afraid to go back and forth a couple of times until you can agree on a price.  If the two of you can not come to an agreement, don't feel bad if you have to walk away from the deal.  That's just business.  There's nothing personal.

Most people who bargain with merchants or sellers should not be offended if they don't get the low price they wanted.  It's often more about the deal than it is the price.  As long as you bargain fairly and in good faith, nobody should fault you for not making a deal.  That goes both ways.  The buyer should ALSO bargain in good faith.  He shouldn't be upset if he can't make a deal either.

Again, it's all just business.  Nothing personal.  Right?   bear_thumb

Just a suggestion...
You might not be willing to bargain on the adoption fee for your Bear but there is certainly room to do some reasonable bargaining on postage.
If the postage is not too expensive you could offer to pay for the postage if the seller pays your asking price for the Bear.

Assuming the Bear is being adopted to some place where it is not expensive to ship, it is not unreasonable for a person to ask for a discount equal to the shipping.

You are never obliged to discount your adoption fees but these are just some things to think about.

Us Bears Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,479

That's not entirely true.

First off, it is customary to bargain for a better price on big-ticket purchases like cars, furniture and real estate.  It is common to bargain for services rendered such as general contracting or home repairs.  These customs often vary by geographical region.

If you go to a single proprietorship grocery store or restaurant in the southern U.S. you could bargain for a better price *IF* you know the custom for such a thing.  I, personally, have walked out of a small "mom and pop" restaurant in Chatham, Virginia paying $5.00 or $10.00 less than the prices listed on the menu simply because I was a good customer. 

There is a bar I used to frequent in Boston, Massachusetts where I regularly drank beer for free because I knew the custom:  First, always tip the bartender.  Then, second, when you are ready to pay up, put enough money down on the bar to cover your tab and say, "One for the road."  The bartender would pour you one last beer, take your money and charge you for one less beer than you drank.  It was all unspoken.

Yes, I agree with you in one respect.  It is not customary to ask for discounts at retail stores, supermarkets and nationally owned chain retailers.  In that case you will get turned down flat.  Sometimes, it won't be polite.

But, if you are talking about small businesses or proprietorships, it IS possible to bargain for a better price.  Small business owners often like to build goodwill with their customers.  That is often how they compete with other businesses.  They might not be able to compete on the advertised price but they can quietly offer their best customers small discounts in order to build a loyal customer base.

And finally, I have personally witnessed art sales which closed at far less than the posted asking price for the work.  I have seen a painting by Richard Anuskiewicz get sold for several thousand less than the posted asking price ($50,000) simply because the buyer talked to the artist and politely asked for a bargain.

As an artist, you have the right to decide whether you want to bargain on price or not.
You do not have to.  In some cases, it might not be right to offer a discount.  But, in other cases, it might be all right to offer a small discount (maybe 10%) if you think it will build goodwill with your customers.

On the other hand, if the customer is just trying to gyp you out of some money you would be right to turn him down.

Bottom line:  If you like the customer and you think it will build a little goodwill for your business, go ahead and offer a reasonable discount.  If you think the guy is just trying to get something for nothing then turn him down and don't feel bad about it.

FenBeary Folk FenBeary Folk
Pointon Fen, Lincolnshire, UK
Posts: 2,234

This has recently happened to me and I suppose being in the UK (closer to Europe where it is more common) I was not offended.

I look at it like this, I love a bargain................no, not a cheap item but to feel that I have made a good deal, even if it is just the postage off. 

I haven't read the other posts thoroughly but Lisa has a point, if the discount is less than 10-15% then that's ok, I would not entertain anything much higher than that.....................will the collector become a repeat customer?........you just don't know but in my case the lady did. Yes I have continued to show my appreciation by offering her postage free or a discount if she buys 2 or more bears. Do I mind......no, I genuinely appreciate that she loves my bears so much she continues to buy from me.

You have to view this as more in terms of PR and ask yourself does being rigid over pricing give off the image that is me.......................there could be a number of reasons why this collector has asked for a discount, what if he/she is a few dollars short but has fallen in love with a bear of yours....................I myself would rather the bear went to a home to be loved

I am sorry if this contradicts anyone and it is not meant to offend, I am only trying to broaden the perspective of this subject  bear_thumb

Karon Posts: 751

Personally I think it is really cheeky to ask for a reduction on handcrafted pieces.  Most of the time we work at a loss anyway when you take the materials and time factor into account.

I have bartered on old bears but this is because generally speaking the sellers have bought them at bargain prices to start with - a lot of dealers by at auction and many bears go for "bargain prices" in multiple lots.

It really depends on how much you need to sell the bear - if she really wants it she wouldn't hold out just for a few pounds.

Karon

WoozieJu Woozie Ju Bears
North Walsham
Posts: 435
Website

Hi Ellen,
I think it's an awkward subject really as it can tend to make you feel a bit uncomfortable as we all (as artists) know the heart & soul that's poured into our creations! I've never been asked for a reduction by a collector yet but I think I would probably show willing by agreeing to waive the postage to help out & make them feel like they've got a bit of a bargain? I'd have to decide on whether I wanted to actually reduce the price of the bear depending on how much they were offering, how much I needed to sell the bear/how long I'd had it for sale etc? At the end of the day, they're your bears (& they're gorgeous by the way!) & the worst you need to say to the enquirer is "No, thank you"....
Everybody's different but try not to feel offended as it takes all sorts to make a world & a bear collector it would seem! :hug:
Luv & Hugs,
Julia x

Nurse Ratchet Forever Loved
Toronto
Posts: 8

Hi All

I only sell teddy bears at Teddy Bear Shows and I think that internet sales are very different from selling at a show. I have often bartered with a customer for multiple purchases or a repeat customer. I have had clients barter the first time and pay full asking price the next. I have a neighbour who always buys my teds and always barters and I smile and know what a good home they are going to.

The range of pricing is enormous throughout the teddy bear world and you really shouldn't take any offence. My Steve ALWAYS tries to barter for a bear and often he and the artist have a great laugh over the entire transaction. We have about 200 artist teddy bears many of them his choice so I guess most artists didn't mind.

For me I want to sell my teds so I can have new ones for the next show...nothing worse than the same bears on a table show after show. After all if you sell wholesale it is often 25% off. No FAIR price refused, I say!!!!

Hugs
Nurse Ratchet

jenny Three O'clock Bears
warwickshire uk
Posts: 4,413
Website

If you are going to start reducing prices for one customer then you end up reducing for all ..in my experience bear collectors often know each other and word would soon get around that your price is not really your bottom line and that a bit of bartering gets a cheaper price. I work out my price on my overheads, my time, my expenses, tax, accountants fees,  a proportion of advertising....every other expense that goes into my business..then my profit so I have a bit of room for manoeuvre but not much.
I might very occasionally offer a bit of discount for good customers but I can't do it often as it is my living.

elle Ellifolks
Eastern Ma.
Posts: 494
Website

Wow, thank you for all the interesting insights!! 

I don't really feel that I can reduce my prices.  I don't make much money on the bears as it is.  I offered the customer the option of making 2 or 3 payments if money was an issue.  I haven't heard back from them.  I have paid partial shipping for a very good international customer, though. 

hugs,

Ellen

kezjoy KezjoyKritterz
Gippsland Victoria
Posts: 185

For me it would depend on how long the bear had been up for sale..if it had been sitting for months with no interest, id concider offering it cheaper, and have a sale area on my website (i don't have one yet..but when i do..i shall)..if it had pretty much just been put up, i would not offer a discount. I think its fine for people to ask, but they have to be prepared for a no sometimes.

Kerrilyn

Jennskains Posts: 2,203

As a collector,  I have had to do layaway a few times.  I have never asked someone to lower a price as I am aware of how much work it takes.  Some people are not.  I am more likely to be a repeat customer if they will work with me.

SillySu Susie's Bears
California
Posts: 153
Website

One more opinion couldn't hurt I guess...  In this economy, we are all lucky that anyone has any money they are willing to part with for buying something they really don't need, but just want.  I don't mind giving a small discount if I've had the item for a couple of months.  However if it's new, I wouldn't be as willing to give any type of discount.  I just simply say, that I can't give a discount yet, it wouldn't be fair to my customers who consistently buy my things and are willing to pay the full price.  I do like your idea of shipping for a discounted amount or covering it altogether, especially for repeat collectors.

I do like what Jenn said, because I don't mind layaways as I too am a collector and have to do it sometimes if I want to buy something.

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