Recently “The Knot” published an article about how bride’s should negotiate “flea market style” for bridal services. It was brought to my attention through the Etsy Wedding Team in a discussion on this article and how it was hurting the market for Bridal Vendors. I looked at the reference given on a photographer’s Blog, Bobby Earle, and read it through.
I wanted to add another perspective that of the handmade vendor. While it is perfectly understandable why Brides’ would want the best price for the items that they purchase, who wouldn’t and comparison shopping is inevitable, let me explain why I don’t negotiate.
My products are all handmade, by one individual (me) in its entirety. Whether I make 1 item or 100 I still invest the same amount of time in each. I fold and cut the paper, I sew the centers together, I cut board and I design and assemble the covers. Buyers should look at this as a worthy investment to support this type of effort and the individual entrepreneur, instead of trying to compare it to buying and selling at a flea market where most of the people are reselling something that someone else pre-owned and made.
While some people buy pre-made centers, and just cover a cover and call it a handmade book, other’s may buy pre-made books with blank covers and just add embellishments. I look at that as a deceptive practice. I actually do everything. Because of this I invest a fair bit of time in my books, I can only make about 5-8 a week and I work full-time as a freelance entrepreneur. So here’s the deal, let’s try looking at this from a perspective of something that you may have created. You’ve bought the yarn, and the knitting needles and now you’ve spent a week perhaps two making the perfect baby sweater and you put a price of $165 on it. Someone comes in to your shop and ask you to halve the price. Don’t you think that the time that you spent making that sweater is worth something? Are you going to do a deep discount? How are you going to replace that sweater if someone expects you to sell it for material cost not even counting the fact that this buyer took up of hours of your time making that decision? You’d have to go out and buy more yarn and spend another week making it wouldn’t you? And what are you going to have left over for yourself when you sell it for materials cost alone? Nothing. No money to buy a little something for yourself. Perhaps the sweater isn’t the best example cause I don’t think anyone could live off $165/ week much less a discounted price, with gas, electric and mortgages could they? People like myself, and there are alot of us, trying to make a living using their skills, their time and their online businesses should not expected to discount like someone who buys pre-made or sells something that you could buy at Wal-Mart. You wouldn’t expect to go to a work and work 40 hours a week and get nothing for yourself to live off would you? Why Work? It would be more productive to close up shop. The Brides lose because you are no longer making handmade items for them and they are stuck with the mass manufacturers. So I ask, why would you expect the handmade vendor to discount? It isn’t good for either the market or future brides.
The Knot Article has since been revised. It now is related more to the type of vendor that has a contract, but the residual of the original article, which didn’t really specify the type of business one should expect negotiate has deeply affected the handmade marketplace and we are just beginning to recover with just half the time left for this year’s market.