Tallbald

Justifying your pricing to customers in a Big Box Store world

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Tallbald   

I craft primarily custom laminated belts, rugged unadorned holsters for black powder revolvers and single actions, and belt bags. A few muzzle loading accessory leather items too. There's a world of lower cost similar items available online, much from other areas of the world where wage costs and material expenses are lower than here in the USA, and there's no way I know of that I can compete with such low pricing. I use top notch materials, have a beautiful Cowboy 3500 I've nearly paid for with sales, and I spend a great deal of time and attention to detail and quality construction in my crafts. This is a hobby I want to be self-supporting.

A well made full flap holster from me earns about $100. And although I receive many complements on the quality, design and execution of my leather art I feel I should be selling more. Online auctions and sales sites routinely offer what looks like the same holster I make for maybe $35. I'm making a little less than minimum wage as it is, and wonder now after several years if there's any future for me in emphasizing the differences in construction of my works from other lower priced Big Box Store inventory. I will not lower myself to disparage others works, and won't belittle other crafters efforts to try to elevate my own status.

I used to believe that quality speaks for itself and would bring in a modest string of orders to me but the dry spells make me question my thoughts. And when many people spend $25 for a single meal that goes down the drain the next day, it's frustrating that they may be reluctant to spend the equivalent of four single meals to purchase an item that will last them maybe 30 years!

How does one communicate to potential customers the value of the extra effort and material quality they receive ordering from me and other crafters like me over the crowds of mass production suppliers? Thanks for any thoughts. Don.

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Hi Don,

the short answer is you don't. Like you, I make items that have a niche market. Those that in the know can tell the difference in quality & will seek you out, not the other way around. If you try to convince someone who does not appreciate or understand the quality difference you will only give yourself an ulcer, high blood pressure, or worse. As people get more & more into a hobby they usually learn on their own that quality costs more. You cannot force that light bulb to turn on in their brain... 

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I know I don't charge enough for my things, most of my customers tell me so.  :-)    Thing is, I consider myself as still an amateur, and price accordingly, but I cover my costs, and make enough money to be happy about it.

I have also had the irritation of a customer complaining about the price.   Apparently, he could have bought the same item, and saved more than half the price by buying from China.   A load of tosh, I know that (and he knows that), but there are some people in this world who would complain about the price, even if it was free.

Get a few reviews from happy customers to do your advertising, and don't pander to the meanies out there.    If a dry spell happens, use it to work on a new idea/item, it might be the thing that carries you over the next dry spell.

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If you're not getting a push back on price from about 25% of your customers, you're not charging enough.

I make specialty gun parts and I have a very specific client targeted - the un-tactical.  Well, one of my dealer friends said I should lower my price, increasing my sales and thus making more money in volume: the Walmart model.   Another well-meaning friend tried getting me a contract deal with a major manufacturer to license the design and get a royalty off their massive sales volume potential.  Lets examine those two approaches for a minute.

The Walmart model sounds great, right?  Sell zillions of do-dads for a slim profit but in the end you get a pile of money.  Except if you're investing a lot of time in your production and quality control, lowering your price means you make less money the more you sell.  If you sell 10 items a month at $40, you get $400.  If you sell 1000 items a month at $40 you get $40,000, and you have a LOT of time tied up in handling all those extra sales, you have logistics issues, you have capital tied up in inventory and supply streams, and likely employees.  But the Walmart way says we need to be Cheap Cheap Cheap to move that much product, so we need to knock that $40 down to $5 to hit our sales volume.  That $40K just turned into $5K and you had $4,500 in labor to make it happen. You did 100 times more work for 25% more money and you haven't seen your kids other than in passing in 27 days.  Walmart only works when you can make money at the $5 margin, and then you can make it up in volume.

Then there's the licensing approach.  You come up with the design, they pay you a royalty of about 3-5%, and you collect the money while they do all the work.  Woo Hoo, I'm rich!  Right?  No, because if you're in a tiny little market and they sell your stuff for what you did, but they sell 1000x more of it, you're only getting 5% off the top.  $50 per 1K units sold doesn't buy too much, and you'd be better off selling 10 of them at full price.

This is a lesson that a sales manager friend of mine taught me when I was 19.  "Work less, make more."  Not "work more, make more" as is so often the mantra.  If you can carve out a premium spot for yourself, you'll be able to charge higher prices and people will be willing to pay them, even if 25% are grumbling when they get the bill.  There's still people out there who think the price tag dictates the quality, so add on a few bucks for good measure and send out the calling card for those people.  Don't go chasing the bottom feeders, you'll only end up broke with them.

Lastly, it's easy to discount an item if it doesn't sell at a higher price.  Once you've established a cheaper price as the item's value, it's really hard to increase it without losing customers.

Edited by JimTimber

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Just to add, I've had a couple of opportunities to sell to a dealer/shop, but only did it once, never again.    You sell at a discount so they can get their cut, and end up assembly line making an item for them.

 

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You need to add that mark-up into your pricing.  Considering they're going to have to deal with the customer, you have less work involved in those sales and that's where their margins come in.  Wholesale is usually somewhere between 50% and 75% of retail.  You've gotta be some hot stuff to command more than that and get dealers who want to sell your stuff to make less than 25% of the sale for their investment.

Lets say you sell an item direct for $50.  We know you have $10 in material, and you spent some time on it so you need to get paid for that too.  Our total cost is $25 for the sake of argument (took 30 minutes and we like making $30/hr so that's where our $15 came from), and we retail them direct to consumer for a handsome 100% mark-up (not bad, but not a "Shark Tank, we're headed for Billionaire" margin either).  Figuring it takes you about 10 minutes to talk to the customer, get their payment situated, and package the item for shipping or what have you, there's another $5 they just burned up, and then the credit card people are going to take their 3%, and the Fleabay people are going to take their 15%, boxes and stuffing aren't free either, then there's the keying up the postage...  See where I'm going here?  You can wholesale a box of 10 for $35 and make more money than selling direct, plus you just got $350 in cash in one shot.  Boo ya!  Dealer is making $15 on every $35 investment for a tidy 33% and they're happy too.

Dealers also expose people to you and add value in marketing your brand.  Don't look at them as just another mouth to feed off your labor - if they're making money, you're making money too (or you shouldn't be in business).

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I'm still simple (really -- just ask anyone).  I don't pay $100 for a belt.  Somebody can tell me stories about how it's 'real' leather, it's laminated, it's hand stitched, uphill both ways.. and that just isn't going to sway me.   If there's a guy selling grade A Hermann Oak leather  belts, double layer and double stitched, for $70 -- then what will you tell me to suggest that I pay more?

If I pay more for something, it's because either it's something I can't get somewhere else, or it's BETTER.

  • Because something is 'handmade' does not make it better.
  • Putting a higher price tag on it does not make it better.
  • Taking longer to do it does not make it better.
  • Adding a video and a blog about it does not make it better.

I could go on, but in the end it's simple. If you hope to charge me more, then tell me how it's BETTER.

Oh, and I might just walk away from someone who started about how many hours they have in it.  Who cares, anyway?  Example:

Guy1 and Guy 2 both use A-grade leather, the same dyes/glue/thread, all the same materials.  The belts look very much alike.  Both guys want $30 per hour.

Guy1 cut his leather with a 7' straight edge, then used a strap cutter to cut the belt strips, then marked out the tip and buckle ends with a stylus, trimmed and punched with tools and a mallet.  This portion of one belt took an hour.

Guy2 ran a back through a strap cutter, making 18 strips.  Then he clicked the ends of the straps.  This portion took an hour.  For 9 belts.

Both belts are the same materials, had the same things done to them.  WHY would I pay more because Guy1 took longer?  I've actually seen videos where guys show how SLOW they can go with their sewing machine.  Seriously.. anybody ever try that at a job interview?  

  • 'Why should we pay you $30 per hour?'
  • "Well, cuz I'm really, really slow!'
  • :rofl:

 

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2 hours ago, JLSleather said:

I'm still simple (really -- just ask anyone).  I don't pay $100 for a belt.  Somebody can tell me stories about how it's 'real' leather, it's laminated, it's hand stitched, uphill both ways.. and that just isn't going to sway me.   If there's a guy selling grade A Hermann Oak leather  belts, double layer and double stitched, for $70 -- then what will you tell me to suggest that I pay more?

If I pay more for something, it's because either it's something I can't get somewhere else, or it's BETTER.

  • Because something is 'handmade' does not make it better.
  • Putting a higher price tag on it does not make it better.
  • Taking longer to do it does not make it better.
  • Adding a video and a blog about it does not make it better.

I could go on, but in the end it's simple. If you hope to charge me more, then tell me how it's BETTER.

Oh, and I might just walk away from someone who started about how many hours they have in it.  Who cares, anyway?  Example:

Guy1 and Guy 2 both use A-grade leather, the same dyes/glue/thread, all the same materials.  The belts look very much alike.  Both guys want $30 per hour.

Guy1 cut his leather with a 7' straight edge, then used a strap cutter to cut the belt strips, then marked out the tip and buckle ends with a stylus, trimmed and punched with tools and a mallet.  This portion of one belt took an hour.

Guy2 ran a back through a strap cutter, making 18 strips.  Then he clicked the ends of the straps.  This portion took an hour.  For 9 belts.

Both belts are the same materials, had the same things done to them.  WHY would I pay more because Guy1 took longer?  I've actually seen videos where guys show how SLOW they can go with their sewing machine.  Seriously.. anybody ever try that at a job interview?  

  • 'Why should we pay you $30 per hour?'
  • "Well, cuz I'm really, really slow!'
  • :rofl:

 

Agree 100% with this.  For my own experience, there are only two ways to make good money on holsters: Make real ART or Mass Produce.  Anything in the middle is just playing around.  

For ART, you need to be pushing the limits of your abilities, and doing it in a way that appeals to others.  You have to think like an ARTIST, and not a Leatherworker.  When you do enough of them, and you do it well enough, you'll have a line of guys waiting to pay $500 for a tooled holster to put their $3K weapon in.  

For Mass Production, this is where you drop all pretense of artistry and focus on throughput and acceptable quality.  If you get the right machines (sewing, clicker, molding press, etc) your throughput will skyrocket, and you can start selling good quality holsters at a competitive price.  BUT THATS NOT ENOUGH.  In order to differentiate yourself from the 10,000 competitors in BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) & Mexico, you'll need to add MASS CUSTOMIZATION.  That is, add simple designs and artwork that is easy to do,  looks good, and makes a premium. With a press and an engraving stamp, you can do this for another 15 minutes work.  Example: make a simple brown holster?  meh.  Maybe $80.  Take that same brown holster, airbrush the edges with "fade to black", stamp a "Come & Take It" logo on it, fill in the logo with green paint?  $160.  for about 15 min extra work.  (3 min in press, 30 secs airbrush, 10 min paint, 1 min saddle lac, 30 secs sipping bourbon).  

There are several companies doing this now for lots of different products.  Welders aprons, welders collars, chaps, holsters, sheaths, etc.  If you'll look around, you'll see exactly what I'm saying.  
 

 

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2 hours ago, JLSleather said:

I'm still simple (really -- just ask anyone).  I don't pay $100 for a belt.  Somebody can tell me stories about how it's 'real' leather, it's laminated, it's hand stitched, uphill both ways.. and that just isn't going to sway me.   If there's a guy selling grade A Hermann Oak leather  belts, double layer and double stitched, for $70 -- then what will you tell me to suggest that I pay more?

If I pay more for something, it's because either it's something I can't get somewhere else, or it's BETTER.

  • Because something is 'handmade' does not make it better.
  • Putting a higher price tag on it does not make it better.
  • Taking longer to do it does not make it better.
  • Adding a video and a blog about it does not make it better.

I could go on, but in the end it's simple. If you hope to charge me more, then tell me how it's BETTER.

Oh, and I might just walk away from someone who started about how many hours they have in it.  Who cares, anyway?  Example:

Guy1 and Guy 2 both use A-grade leather, the same dyes/glue/thread, all the same materials.  The belts look very much alike.  Both guys want $30 per hour.

Guy1 cut his leather with a 7' straight edge, then used a strap cutter to cut the belt strips, then marked out the tip and buckle ends with a stylus, trimmed and punched with tools and a mallet.  This portion of one belt took an hour.

Guy2 ran a back through a strap cutter, making 18 strips.  Then he clicked the ends of the straps.  This portion took an hour.  For 9 belts.

Both belts are the same materials, had the same things done to them.  WHY would I pay more because Guy1 took longer?  I've actually seen videos where guys show how SLOW they can go with their sewing machine.  Seriously.. anybody ever try that at a job interview?  

  • 'Why should we pay you $30 per hour?'
  • "Well, cuz I'm really, really slow!'
  • :rofl:

 

I would respectfully disagree with a portion of what you said, not that you aren't right to an extent. To me, it depends what it is you are making & how the other mass-produced items compare. Is your tooling nicer or more historically accurate? Is your stitching better (more stitches per inch or just nicer-looking)?

Or you could look at it as a piece of art- looking at two paintings, both are painted on canvas & both used oil-based inks, but which one do you like better? As I said, don't try to justify yourself because someone will always try to justify why your price isn't worth it to them. Those are customers you do not need, because the aggravation isn't worth the money. 

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1 minute ago, VMTinajero said:

how the other mass-produced items compare.

that's what I said ;)

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cjartist   
3 hours ago, JLSleather said:

I'm still simple (really -- just ask anyone).  I don't pay $100 for a belt.  Somebody can tell me stories about how it's 'real' leather, it's laminated, it's hand stitched, uphill both ways.. and that just isn't going to sway me.   If there's a guy selling grade A Hermann Oak leather  belts, double layer and double stitched, for $70 -- then what will you tell me to suggest that I pay more?

If I pay more for something, it's because either it's something I can't get somewhere else, or it's BETTER.

  • Because something is 'handmade' does not make it better.
  • Putting a higher price tag on it does not make it better.
  • Taking longer to do it does not make it better.
  • Adding a video and a blog about it does not make it better.

I could go on, but in the end it's simple. If you hope to charge me more, then tell me how it's BETTER.

Oh, and I might just walk away from someone who started about how many hours they have in it.  Who cares, anyway?  Example:

Guy1 and Guy 2 both use A-grade leather, the same dyes/glue/thread, all the same materials.  The belts look very much alike.  Both guys want $30 per hour.

Guy1 cut his leather with a 7' straight edge, then used a strap cutter to cut the belt strips, then marked out the tip and buckle ends with a stylus, trimmed and punched with tools and a mallet.  This portion of one belt took an hour.

Guy2 ran a back through a strap cutter, making 18 strips.  Then he clicked the ends of the straps.  This portion took an hour.  For 9 belts.

Both belts are the same materials, had the same things done to them.  WHY would I pay more because Guy1 took longer?  I've actually seen videos where guys show how SLOW they can go with their sewing machine.  Seriously.. anybody ever try that at a job interview?  

  • 'Why should we pay you $30 per hour?'
  • "Well, cuz I'm really, really slow!'
  • :rofl:

 

I would think the two items, as you described should be priced equally.  How else do you pay for a strap cutter and clicker die? 

Obviously the guy charging less has either been doing it for a very long time and his equipment is paid for and depreciated. OR, it is just bad business and they feel they need o undercut their prices to get customers.

I think the best advice is to make it truly unique to make it worthy of more $$$

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27 minutes ago, cjartist said:

I would think the two items, as you described should be priced equally

I agree that equal items have equal value.  That is my point.  But the question was -- how to justify DIFFERENT pricing than someone else's.  ANd my point is, if you want a different price, then you need to have a different value.  That's because I don't pay more for equal value.  And better value is either better materials, or better workmanship, or both.

Well, I have never asked anyone in this thread (or others, for that matter) how much they charge or why.  Simply put - that's none of my business.  

One guy charge $10, next guy charge $100 for the same thing.  No matter to me.  I am always surprised by people who will pay $50 and up for a piece of leather folded over, sewn, and called a wallet.  But, long as they aren't spending my money, still not my business :dunno:

When I shop, I compare the ITEM in question.  If it isn't better, then I'm not paying more.  If it is better, I might pay a bit more.

One more example for clarification:  Two guys make a holster for the same model, ..

  • from teh same materials, and they are comparable in function and look.  I would pay the same for either.
  • from the same materials, but one better work.  I'd buy the "nicer" one - even if it was priced a bit higher.
  • 1 guy from leather not as nice, but they both do quality work, I'd buy the "nicer" one - even if it was priced a bit higher.
  • Both same leather, both same okay-ish work, I would pay the same for either.
  • Both same leather, both okay-ish work, both come with a pretty story about how the maker is a disabled / transexual / single parent / ex-cop / veteran / etc...(this is not the whole list, just some of teh more common "lines" I hear). I'll assume there's something about your product you want to distract from.. and I'll buy from some third person who is selling me leather instead of selling me a story.

 

 

 

Edited by JLSleather

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19 minutes ago, JLSleather said:

I agree that equal items have equal value.  That is my point.  But the question was -- how to justify DIFFERENT pricing than someone else's.  ANd my point is, if you want a different price, then you need to have a different value.  That's because I don't pay more for equal value.  And better value is either better materials, or better workmanship, or both.

Well, I have never asked anyone in this thread (or others, for that matter) how much they charge or why.  Simply put - that's none of my business.  

One guy charge $10, next guy charge $100 for the same thing.  No matter to me.  I am always surprised by people who will pay $50 and up for a piece of leather folded over, sewn, and called a wallet.  But, long as they aren't spending my money, still not my business :dunno:

When I shop, I compare the ITEM in question.  If it isn't better, then I'm not paying more.  If it is better, I might pay a bit more.

One more example for clarification:  Two guys make a holster for the same model, ..

  • from teh same materials, and they are comparable in function and look.  I would pay the same for either.
  • from the same materials, but one better work.  I'd buy the "nicer" one - even if it was priced a bit higher.
  • 1 guy from leather not as nice, but they both do quality work, I'd buy the "nicer" one - even if it was priced a bit higher.
  • Both same leather, both same okay-ish work, I would pay the same for either.
  • Both same leather, both okay-ish work, both come with a pretty story about how the maker is a disabled / transexual / single parent / ex-cop / veteran / etc...(this is not the whole list, just some of teh more common "lines" I hear). I'll assume there's something about your product you want to distract from.. and I'll buy from some third person who is selling me leather instead of selling me a story.

 

 

 

Although a bit harsh sounding on the surface, it is in fact how I evaluate a purchase as well.  I'm not going to pay more if I can't see why in the quality of the product.  Although I don't sell leather work, if someone asked to buy something from me it isn't going be spendy....   the quality just isn't there yet and I could not in good conscience charge what they'd pay for something I know would be far superior.    

The one thing I would add to the above, I do tend to pay for experience.  If I see two equal products and one is done by someone with 30 years experience and the other by someone with 1 year under their belt I'm going with experience even though the quality appears to be the same. 

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Veteran status isn't meant to differentiate quality.  We had each other's backs in the service and we have each other's backs as civilians.  It's a calling card letting other vets know we're on the same team.

I've had people say I should put more emphasis on the fact I'm a service connected disabled vet (I got hurt, its not something I'm proud of).  Enlisting is something I did for my own reasons (wasn't drafted, wasn't even alive when there was a draft), and it's part of who I am, but it's not why you should buy my stuff.  You should buy my stuff because it's competitively priced and it's way better than the competition. :) 

Hipsters and old ladies like stories.  Some of those people have $$$$ to spend on the guy who took the longest to make their belt.  They gloat about it at afternoon tea with the other old bags they hang out with.  Because you don't fall for the craftsman's shtick doesn't mean it isn't working for them and producing sales.  The slow people's stuff is exclusive - they don't work fast enough to make a bunch of them. :lol:

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27 minutes ago, JimTimber said:

Veteran status isn't meant to differentiate quality.  We had each other's backs in the service and we have each other's backs as civilians.  It's a calling card letting other vets know we're on the same team.

I've had people say I should put more emphasis on the fact I'm a service connected disabled vet (I got hurt, its not something I'm proud of).  Enlisting is something I did for my own reasons (wasn't drafted, wasn't even alive when there was a draft), and it's part of who I am, but it's not why you should buy my stuff.  You should buy my stuff because it's competitively priced and it's way better than the competition. :) 

Hipsters and old ladies like stories.  Some of those people have $$$$ to spend on the guy who took the longest to make their belt.  They gloat about it at afternoon tea with the other old bags they hang out with.  Because you don't fall for the craftsman's shtick doesn't mean it isn't working for them and producing sales.  The slow people's stuff is exclusive - they don't work fast enough to make a bunch of them. :lol:

Exactly.  I've often heard from customers "I get a veteran's discount, right?"  Well, I'm a veteran, too, (Marines) does that mean I get to RAISE the price?   

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Oh, I always ask about veterans discounts.  I'm not opposed to them, but there's also a bunch of sleazy people who abuse it and lie to get the benefit which is why I've never offered one myself.

In reality, we should just be tax exempt.  Now that'd be a kick-azz veteran's discount!

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Boriqua   
14 hours ago, Tallbald said:

and wonder now after several years if there's any future for me in emphasizing the differences in construction of my works from other lower priced Big Box Store inventory. I will not lower myself to disparage others works, and won't belittle other crafters efforts to try to elevate my own status

I dont know that you need to make a direct comparison between your work and what you consider inferior work in order to help people make a more informed decision. Its called marketing for a reason. I dont know how it happened but the larger bulk of what I make and sell has been holsters. I DO try and educate people on what a proper holster is and what they should look for sometimes in the body of my Ad's. I participate in a few gun forums because I like to shoot and I cant tell you how many holsters I see that people are paying good money for that have stitch lines 3/4 to 1 inch from the mold. That is just unacceptable and I dont have a problem telling people that it is something they should look at when purchasing a holster. Now .. perhaps like you .. I am not comfortable saying maker X's holsters suck because of this or that and mine are great because of the other but I think many people just dont know what they should be looking for. I swear so long as you can master boning and make your stuff from 6/7oz leather so you get some really awesome detail you can put that damn sew line 50 miles away and people will buy it. But I wont make something I don't believe in. Extolling the virtues of your product is never a bad thing. That is marketing. Why is your belt $100. If there is a compelling reason then I am reaching in my pocket.

I have a few pair of boots from Local boot guys .. Probably paid an extra $100 over buying something similar at Boot Barn but I like things made by a single craftsman that I can talk to and visit. Im willing to pay more for that.

On the other hand I will say what I used to say to guys that came to me for a raise and their reasons were often self centered ie: I just had a baby, I need a car .... I would reply .. how is that my or the companies problem? If your not making what you need then it may indeed be time to give it up.

Now having said all of that .. I am not in business. I am a hobby guy that makes some play money. I gave up on custom orders .... I was getting all sorts of emails requesting custom work, some of it involved as hell and I would quote it and never hear from them again. I still spent an hour going back and forth though and looking at pix and what have you. Now I just make what I feel like and put it up for sale at what I consider a reasonable price. I cant make enough fast enough! I only take on jobs now that I feel like taking and I quote a price and let it sit.

One last bit of perhaps useless advice. If indeed your product is the shizz but you are not finding the clientele you may be fishing in the wrong pond. Once upon a time I had nice luxury items. Wore a Panerai and it was one of a few watches I had at any given time. I wouldnt look for a watch strap for my $5000.00 watch on ebay. Look at some of the stuff you see YinTx post. Man oh man .. just exudes money and quality but .. CEO's and the people that can and will pay for something like that arent shopping ebay. Look harder at your market and where they are. Old motorcycle guys LOVE my stuff. Usually its because they remember saddlebags from yesteryear when you bought a set and it died with the bike or was passed on. I still get a good deal of them and love doing business with them. They grumble at the price sometimes on principle while they are reaching for their wallet!! Last guy threw me $150.00 tip on top of my price. The new cyclist that run out and buy the damn sportster at age 50 .. if it doesn't come from the Harley boutique they wont buy it. Cool .. I go to motorcycle events where there are some guys .. a bit rougher around the edges ... and they eat my stuff up. I know the guy with the Harley patches on his boots isnt my client.

Its marketing .. it takes some work. Its a new world order and if you arent the only blacksmith in town then you have to market and ... you may have to bite the bullet and price more competitively so long as you are competing with like quality items.

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Dwight   

One thing I have found that helps, . . . "Made in America, by Americans".  

While I do not post that phrase on my website, . . . the ol' Red, White, and Blue is prominently displayed on each page, . . . implying it without saying it.

I do my best to buy American when I can, . . . and there are a lot of others who do the same.

But again . . . it is marketing, . . . and you just have to learn how to market your product.  After a while, . . . if you are doing it right, . . . it'll work.

May God bless,

Dwight

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Sceaden   

I am still a newbie at leather, though I have sold about everything I have made to happy family and friends, but as a pricing manager for a 65+ year old hardware store I do believe that the story is important. Brand loyalty is worth a fortune so focus on excellent customer service and what makes you unique. There are a ton of people making products out there but if you want to command a good profit in today's growing hipster market, a godsend for leather workers, tell them why your product is awesome, or more accurately show them, beautiful photographs, presentation, website, etc, get them drooling over it, explain why you happen to also be awesome, traditional is becoming huge, and make sure you get as many reviews in plain sight as possible. 

The valuable retail market is swinging back to small brick and mortar and away from the big box and internet giants. Companies like Gerber are doing a full overhaul of their marketing, pricing, and packaging to place the emphasis on the small local guys and reaping huge profits.


The account manager for all of Gerber USA explained it this way: The millennial consumer today depends on the following to make his purchase. 

Product recognition, often in the form of a video, movie, favorite blogger, extra.

Online reviews, is it worth it, do other people like it, is it the best for the money, how was it made, where is it from, is it eco friendly, sustainable, etc. 

Purchase in person at a local dealer, preferably family owned, etc, he wants to see it on the shelf, handle it, talk to a knowledgeable salesman and complete the purchase journey by walking away with a quality product without buyer's remorse. 

My brother makes more than most the people I know and he recently told me that price is one of the last considerations when he is making a purchase that is meant to last. Relationship with the seller and confidence in the manufacturer are the biggest factors for him. 

And no, most of us don't sell via brick and mortar but places like Etsy, other higher end handmade places, or a really well built website are about as close as we can get. 

But at the end of the day. KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER. 

And never be afraid to charge what the product is worth, but make sure you explain why it is worth that. And let's be honest, a lot of customers will walk away, but if you want to make the whole handmade thing work out for you then don't race to the bottom of the barrel, the big guys will crush you. 

Edited by Sceaden

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Wulfing   

In the advert, after the description put a 'points of quality' list. with the words 'points of quality' at the top.  Bullet points like . 2 lines of hand stitching, leather washer between the leather & the snap to stop the snap biting into the leather and tearing over time, Hand dyed, Number of hours worked on it, How the edges are finished, Solid copper hardware, type of thread used & why, Link to a basic video (shorter the better 1 minute just looking at the product from different angles in good light with a nice background), How long the leather could last with proper care, Pro oil dyes rather than cheaper spirit dyes, How the leather is finished & why. etc etc

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Not everyone is going to be your customer. 99.9% of the world will never know the difference between a crap piece of leather and good piece of leather, or the difference between machine stitched and hand stitched. Premium pricing does not come from "hand made".

So what are they buying?

It has been my experience that those that are buying a thing simply to hold their gun (or money, knife, etc.) mostly could care less about what kind of leather, burnished edges, hand stitching, etc. They just want to get the thing out of their hands and into something to hold it and don't care about what others think about it. They will most likely talk about what a "great deal" they got, not how great it looks, the quality, etc. Most likely not your customer unless you can (and want to) provide it.

I believe that people buy hand worked leather not because of what it does, but because of how it makes them feel when they are using it and wearing it and, more importantly, what other people say about when they see it. That is the value you need to need to deliver to the customer to command premium, hand worked, pricing. A Colt Peacemaker is like any other Peacemaker unless you put a fancy handle on it, chrome it or put it in a really nice holster.

One of the great questions I have had asked of me by a sales trainer years ago was "Why, given all the options available to me today, would I want to buy from you"?

There will always be something made cheaper by somebody, somewhere. Don't sell a $100 holster. Deliver a $100 feeling that will last your customer a lifetime. Those that understand that, will pay for it.

 

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cjartist   
5 minutes ago, WRLC said:

People buy hand worked leather not because of what it does, but because of how it makes them feel when they are using it and wearing it and, more importantly, what other people say about when they see it. That is the value you need to need to deliver to the customer to command premium, hand worked, pricing. A Colt Peacemaker is like any other Peacemaker unless you put a fancy handle on it, chrome it or put it in a really nice holster.

This right here is the secret to crack.  Pure gold. Every great marketer teaches this.  Putting it into practice is the difficult part.

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I have a pair of winter socks I bought off ebay.    Apoarently, they were hand knitted by a grannie in Moscow, in pure Yack wool.   I bought them because they looked lovely and warm (and the grannie story tickled my liking of the slightly unusual).

If telling your 'service' history, or where the item is made floats your customer's boat, then fair enough, go for it.   But the thing that gets my money is (1) how the thing looks,  (2) quality for price  (3) What do other customers say. ( 4) can I justify to myself (or the hubby) the price asked.

Everything else is just advertising, and unless it is pertinant to the item (ie, leather used, advantage of that style/stitching/etc, or possibly the historic relevance of design), then it is just that, an attempt to convince the buyer that there is a 'justification' to the purchase other than the item itself.

Confidence in your product means telling the story of the item you have made, and after that, it's up to the customer.   If they like it, they will come back, and usually bring another customer with them.

I think what I'm trying to say here is, that you should stand by your product, your product shouldn't have to stand (or be supported) by you. 

 

 

 

Edited by LumpenDoodle2

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Tallbald   

I want to thank everyone here for the time they've invested in responding to my questions. I've read and re-read the comments and will digest them to see how I can utilize the strong points.

Below is a one-off belt bag project recently completed. A great deal of time was spent on this project to make it just as I envisioned. I priced it at $150, slightly above one of my holsters because of the additional time needed to craft it with the methods I chose. Target customer is the same category of person who willingly spends $75 on a well crafted billfold or small purse knowing that the purchase will last many years, develop a patina through time and should only need replacement due to loss or damage. It's not a Big Box Store item nor was it crafted to be such.

I am not a professional photographer. I must use a small digital camera and the best settings available to me. You see my description of this belt bag is lengthy, but the details are what I believe make my work worthwhile and set it apart from mass-made items. As an aside, my belts sell nicely at $75 for a two row stitched plain laminated one in the customers choice of color, thread and buckle, and my flap holsters have enjoyed a small following with significant praise given to the construction and execution.

"This is a roomy and versatile belt possibles bag made of 7-8 ounce Hermann Oak USA vegetable tanned, single layer cow hide. The leather is dip dyed mahogany both inside and outside, with black dyed mouth stiffener and closure tab. I used the wet forming method to craft the front panel, and as I do with my belts and holsters, it's double row stitched with heavy rot resistant nylon thread. Stitching is brown. Tabs at each side of the bag body fold in as the cover flap comes down over the body to close, and the center bar buckle is solid brass of quite heavy construction. Solid copper rivets secure the buckle to the body, and a copper rivet supplements the flap tab stitching. The single piece belt loop is double row sewn to the bag back panel, and accepts up to a 1 1/2 wide, thick belt.
The leather is finished with conditioner, two coats inside and outside of acrylic leather sealant, and a hand rubbed coat of carnuba creme wax.
Dimensions inside are approximately 1 1/2 inch front to back, 5 1/4 inch wide and 5 1/2 inches deep. The leather is stiff with a bit of flexibility.
A good deal of time in this bag, but it was time well spent I believe. $150.00 plus Priority Mail.
Thank you for looking. Don ".

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Tallbald   
21 hours ago, JLSleather said:

Both same leather, both okay-ish work, both come with a pretty story about how the maker is a disabled / transexual / single parent / ex-cop / veteran / etc...(this is not the whole list, just some of teh more common "lines" I hear). I'll assume there's something about your product you want to distract from.. and I'll buy from some third person who is selling me leather instead of selling me a story.

JLS I understand your comment here. I am reminded though of the J. Peterman Company in the Seinfeld series long ago. The focus of  marketing for the company was the intriguing back story that accompanied each cataloged product. Hugely funny premise to me and a true classic!

Often I see marketing of specialty items offering story details meant to set the tone for an item. A visual description will talk about how the item shall accompany the buyer in high adventure endeavors, and is I think geared toward armchair adventurers hoping to buy potential excitement and glamour. Yeah I'm medically disabled with a spinal injury that limits me a lot. But I don't use this as a part of my limited advertising. It's simply what I have to deal with and so be it.

Thanks for the comments and thought. Don.

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