Saturday, 8 March 2014

Well-Priced Authentic, or Expensive Big- Box Imitation? Why It Makes Sense to Support Handmade

I read an article recently that addressed the prices of hand-painted furniture; I was so pleased with what the author had to say about how we need to RAISE our prices and not lower them just because people feel that they can buy the same item and do it themselves. I also reiterate the same point of the original author, that it is not about making a tonne of money at this, it is about making it worth our time! We do it because we love it, and making a decent living is a bonus.

After reading that article and really mulling over my pricing on my own pieces, I started to think about all the painted pieces I have been seeing recently online and in larger box stores....beautiful pieces, with a more factory quality finish - and much more expensive. That made me think even harder about this - are those pieces worth MORE just because they are sold by a large name retailer? Are they worth MORE because they were mass produced in a factory over-seas? Whose time is more valuable? Tough questions!

Realistically, I believe that a piece is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it - a box store could put up a piece of junk TV cabinet for $200 and people will buy it worth $200 to me? Nope! Because I know I can buy a better quality piece for cheaper, but that's just me! The store knows it's worth that much because they know people will pay it, plain and simple.

That being said, I am sometimes baffled by the prices that people will pay for "painted" furniture from large retailers - if someone is purchasing that piece because they like that hand-painted/distressed style, then why not save some money, support a small business, and buy a truly hand painted piece? I am not referring just to my own pieces as I have been very fortunate to have lots of requests for work, but more so from the standpoint of the consumer - it just plain doesn't make sense!

Take this dresser as an example...this dresser is being sold at a larger retailer in Niagara for $1,392. You read that right FOURTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS! I know this is a great quality piece, but this look is achievable for sooooo much less!

Now, I know my product photography is far inferior to this store's shots, but please bear with me! I just finished a similar style of dresser for a client - this particular dresser is selling for under $200! Not to mention all of these sales help to support ME and my own family - it's not going into anyone else's hands. 

And what goes in to these pieces you might wonder? I loved how the author of the article I mentioned above, went through the process a piece goes through before it makes it into the client's hands. 

This particular dresser has had a life cycle somewhat like this...

  • Searching the internet for suitable dressers, and finding this unpainted gem!
  • Email seller, email seller again - email seller to arrange pick up. Email seller to confirm pick up (you get the idea - lots of emails!)
  • Drive 1 hour to pick up said dresser
  • Carry dresser all by my lonesome down the seller's icy front steps and hoist it into my SUV
  • Drive 1 hour home and beg hubby the help me carry it down my basement stairs
  • Stare at dresser for a few weeks until I have time to do anything with it!
  • Take my lovely orbital sander and sand off previous gunk/flaky stain, etc
  • Email buyer to decide on colour choices, discuss options
  • Drive to paint store, mull over different shades of "cream". Purchase paint
  • Remove all the hardware - hand paint 6 pulls and 2 knobs
  • Paint 3 base coats of cream paint to cover dark wood stain
  • Apply antique glaze over entire base
  • Distress hardware
  • Put on one coat of polycrylic on hardware
  • Sand down edges of dresser in all the right spots (by hand) to smooth out surface and create some visual interest
  • Put on another coat of polycryclic on the hardware!
  • Open my can of paste wax and "wax on, wax off" until entire dresser and all drawer faces are covered
  • Buff, buff, buff! *smile* buffing is my favourite part!

Think I'm done yet? Nope!
  • Screw hardware back on trying not to disturb my newly finished surface
  • Correct any imperfections
  • Stage dresser for photos - snap up to 5 different photos and upload to computer to edit
  • Post on Facebook/Kijiji/Craigslist (which takes up a lot of time if I need to write an ad up!)

Then...wait for pick up! DONE!

So, if you wanted to price out your time and gas and everything else that went into this project, do you think that less than $200 is over-priced? Unless you value your time under $5/hour I would hope that you would say no...

In the end, I absolutely adore this work. I am addicted to making over furniture, and I am beyond blessed that I have been able to make money doing this. Thank you to my clients for allowing me to express myself through my "art" and for continuing to buy it! 

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!


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