Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I'll Gladly Pay You Tuesday...

In all of my preps for the "really big shoe" this weekend, I'm taking brief minutes to stay in touch with reality via Facebook. How appropos is it that Tamra Gentry posted this fabulous video just this very morning??!! I'm not expecting any of these types of customers, but you never know. It's happened before. :- { 



Years ago at a show in Malibu of all places, a woman came to my booth and fell in love with a necklace. I gave her a price. She asked for a discount. I'd had a lousy day and gave her one. She didn't buy. The next weekend she came back with her husband, showed him the necklace and then wandered off. The husband asked for a discount. I quoted him the original retail price.  He complained that I had offered his wife a discount last week and I explained that that had been a one time offer (which I had told the wife). He absolutely went off! Demanded that discount and I gave in. Then he asked me to absorb the sales tax!!! And he wanted to use a credit card to boot (more fees for me and less money in my pocket). I finally felt a backbone and said that if he wanted no tax - I needed cash. He gave me a very dirty look and grudgingly took out his American Express. I told him I only take Visa and MC. Boy, if looks could kill....

I've finally realized that no sale is worth that kind of abuse. After 10 years I still remember the transaction and still regret the sale. Giving a good customer a discount because you have a relationship, because you can tell they realllly love your work or some other good reason is fine. But for the rude hagglers of the world? I think not.

Some craft artists like to "build" room into the price of the piece to bargain. They mark the retail price up 10% so they can give the discount. That just doesn't sit right with me. I offer fair prices, the economy has hit me just as hard as it's hit my potential buyers, and there's always another booth right "over there". What are your thoughts about discounting? Is it a neccesary evil or a bridge too far?

12 comments:

kait said...

Oh, that video would be sooo funny if it weren't so true! That is a lot of what makes doing retail hard. I tried to stick to my guns and simply say that I couldn't undersell my consignment accounts ( whether there were any or not.) Which is not to say that I didn't round down or absorb some of the tax when a good, repeat customer bought several items or paid cash. But it was MY offer, out of appreciation. That feels a lot different than getting bulldozed by an abusive cheapskate. Stick to your guns!

Kira said...

I... don't really haggle. I don't live in India or NYC where its a fact of life. I haven't really reached a point with my business where I can offer sales yet either, I'm mostly just trying to get a steady set of sales. I'm the starving artist here!! :) So, I don't really offer the discount! Well, with one exception... If you buy sets of earrings and necklaces, it's 5$ off what it would normally cost if you bought them separate. I think that's a nice incentive to encourage a lovely set of jewelry, and a bit of a higher purchase.

Pink Trees and Sunshine said...

Great video!!! When I worked in retail and a customer asked for a discount, I always wanted to say something like "Oh, and if your boss came to you and asked you if you'd discount your salary, you'd agree???", but I never had the nerve :~( Good luck and stand your ground, Lora!!!

Marbella Designs said...

The nerve of some people! I actually haven't had any one ask for a discount, but I would probably offer something like Kira, a discount for a multiple purchase.
that video is too funny!

Angela said...

Oh, Lora ! ROFLHO ! This is so well acted out, what an excellent video ! I'm still laughing.
And your story, wow ! The nerve !!!

I confess that I am married to a wonderful man who unfortunately plays asking for discounts as a hobby. He would NEVER go that far, or be rude, but he'll always jokingly try to have his socks or some little thing added in when he buys a full suit and a shirt, for example. He generally gets it too. And then he goes back often to the same store.

I have luckily never had anyone ask for a discount. I have offered it myself to repeat customers and some who have also sent me clients. They deserve it ! And feel special, which they are.
Have a great one ! And remember to repeat the look on the cook's face if it happens.

Carol said...

Decades ago, I bought one of my all-time-favorite rings (a huge flower of garnets) from a vendor with a sign I still remember (more or less), that said something like:

"I try to offer items at a fair price to everyone who shops here.

Unlike some other vendors, I don't mark things up so that aggressive shoppers can talk me down: I am emotionally unprepared to haggle.

If you cannot respect that in me then, I'm sorry, but I just cannot do business with you."

~ Lora Hart Jewels ~ said...

Oh my Carol! That's a vendor with some cohones! I'm not sure I could be that confrontational. And I'm not sure the sign wouldn't scare away the good ones as well as the greedy ones.

But she definitely got her point across didn't she? Do you still wear the ring?

Zoe Nelson said...

Oh, Lora, I feel for you! Having done shows for almost 20 years I've heard it all. But, thankfully, none like in the video. My response to a request for a discount varies, depending on the person. If they're nice I explain that they're buying right from the manufacturer and that since there's no middle-man, there's no mark up to discount. If they're not nice, then I'm usually not nice, either. "How much if I buy two of them?" I answer "One for $20 and two for $40." (Smarta-- that I am!),or I'll tell them that I'll give a 15% discount if they buy $500 or more.

Anonymous said...

Sticking to a price adds that much more value to your product. For a friend, fellow-artist, or that customer who is especially nice and fun to work with, if you want to knock off a few bucks (and tell them it is special for them for being so nice), they will talk about you in glowing terms! YEA free word of mouth! The best advertising!!!

Carol said...

Yes, Lora, I still wear that great garnet ring, in rotation with others I've acquired over the years and, more recently, ones I've made myself. It's still a favorite for "special" occasions, for sure.

It is the only piece I ever bought from her, and the most expensive one I'd bought at that point in my life. I am glad I did, though I quietly thought about it for maybe two months before doing so (part of the delay was to confirm that she was asking a "fair" price). This was back in, oh, maybe 1980, when I lived several states away from my current home, and didn't yet know much about jewelry.

I've no clue how many "good" customers that sign may have scared away. She was delightful in person, however: cheerful, very well informed, happy to talk about the different pieces in exactly as much detail as a customer seemed to want. But that little sign did make her particularly memorable...

Nicola said...

Oh My Goodness I adore that video - it's soooo funny. People can be so unreal sometimes can't they!

I sometimes have the rare person ask for a discount but thank fully not that often.
Normally it fellas who ask and I politely say my prices are already more then fair and offer to gift wrap it for free.
Nic x

Moushka said...

Speaking as a customer and new designer (I've only sold a few pieces to date) I think you should consider adding in that extra 10%. You would have room to discount to a great customer and still maintain your profit margin. You could also send the rude buyers away confident that you had a bit of a cushion built into your prices. If I really love a piece, 10% more or less isn't going to make a difference. I want to know that the artist is being appropriately paid for her work. Most self-representing artists tend to undervalue what they do; I've noticed very, very few who overprice. JMHO.