Saturday, February 23, 2013

Price for work...

A retired physician asked:
What to do with the boxes I make? My home is already replete with decorative table items and I've given other woodworking items to neighbors and friends who may not want boxes. Ignoring the differences in skill levels, the diverse complexity of boxes, and the geographic and economic differences between Arkansas and California, what is the approximate range prices a relative novice box maker should charge for boxes being sold at craft and street fairs, etc.?
There are so many variables as to price, I just can't begin to give advice. It depends on how they are made, how well they are made, where they are being sold, how they are regarded by the customer,and how dear they are regarded by the maker. I wouldn't even begin to suggest what another might attempt to sell his work for. A review of boxes on Etsy can show what other craftsmen are attempting to sell their work for. Box making is no get rich quick endeavor. Craft shows are a gruesome way to make a living. If you don't need the money, look for opportunities to give your boxes to charity fund raising events. Even there, the response can be disappointing. For example a friend of mine gave a hand-cut shaker reproduction box to a charity auction and the buyer paid $20.00. She loved it so much she asked my friend if he could please make another for the same price. Folks who have little or no experience making things have no sense of value, and that seems to be a problem when anyone wants to see work for a reasonable price.
On the other hand, boxes do make wonderful gifts for weddings or graduations. They are extremely satisfying to make, allow the maker to use and develop nearly every woodworking technique, and learn fundamentals of design, while using few raw materials. Making something beautiful and useful is never a mistake.


Dean said...

The market, especially on Etsy, is pretty saturated.

Additionally, it gets one worse than that; since some folks aren't trying to *make* any money on this work, they're able to sell at-cost; you'll see boxes listed on Etsy that are effectively around the cost of the wood it would take to build them.

Same thing happens with Bed and Breakfast joints; if you open one, you need to be price-competitive with retirees living on fixed incomes who aren't running their Bed and Breakfast for money, but living on a fixed income and running the business for company.


Which all makes me a bit sad about woodworking, from time to time. I'd much rather do it for money than any other job, but the money? It ain't there, unless you're already really, really well known.

Doug Stowe said...

Dean, another point is that folks these days have very little understanding or appreciation of what it takes to make a beautiful and useful object of any kind. We are so used to shopping for what we want, and stuff is cheap. We expect that. But when a real person makes a thing based on acquired skill, how can it be cheap?

ausworkshop said...

Yep. Its been a constant struggle of mine, trying to get people to see the value in my woodwork. If I had a dollar for every quote I've done only to be turned down because the price has shocked the customer I'd be rich by now. Luckily ther are still some people out ther who appreciate the hard work and are willing to pay. I just hope these people dont discover etsy or I'll have no customers left.