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Trimbat

Appropriate pricing question

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Hi all! So, I made my mother a rainbow-colored byz chain to wear her ID cards on at work. It's about 41" long, 20g 1/8" AA and BA, and very pretty if I do say so myself. ;)

Almost as soon as she started wearing it, her coworkers started asking about getting one for themselves. One lady offered $25 and I took it, mostly to get the practice and to have my first commissioned piece.

Now I'm starting to hear from others about making them, and I'm getting faster at it, so I thought about making several to have on hand and sell. I'm wondering if I should stick with that price, which seems a little low to me for such a long chain, even if it is aluminum. Can anyone tell me what an appropriate price for a piece that size is, and how the price would change if I used different materials? (I've been working in alum. a while now while I get over the newbie mistakes, but I think I'm about ready to buy niftier wire!) Also, if it matters, I'm selling these to nurses and librarians and such, mostly.

Thanks very much all!

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Whew... I always get nervous when I see someone posting a pricing link from MAIL... there's a HORRIFIC on there as well... While I don't necessarily agree with all the numbers, the one posted does give a good guideline...

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With most people I have found when they ask for a price on something, the smartass response is: "less than its worth, but more than you are willing to pay"

Sadly thats too true, even on cheaply priced stuff.

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Thanks, everyone -- the article looks like a good start, at least. I'm hesitant to charge based on "time spent", because then I'm charging more for being worse at it, and less as I get better!

-tb

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Au contraire... you are just earning a higher hourly rate as you get better - as befits a skilled artisan improving their craft :)

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Au contraire... you are just earning a higher hourly rate as you get better - as befits a skilled artisan improving their craft :)

That is the problem I have with the cost-based pricing formulas for picking a price.

Cost-based pricing formulas should just tell you, once you have an established wage, what you *would* have to charge, to keep roughly consistent and preserve the value of your time.

They don't at all address value.

You can't demand to a customer than they should value your work more because you want X wage. So picking "a wage you want" is silly. If you could, then why pick a low wage? Why not pick something astronomical? What you want, and what a customer wants, are independent or opposed.

Value is what gets you a price. Costs don't make an item any more or less valuable to anyone. Value is there regardless of your costs. If you can minimize your costs, you don't have to change your price, because your customers are still getting the same.

The only point where you have to to lower your prices if you lower your costs, is if you're directly competing with someone, and you are going to lose a customer to them because they have lower prices. Then it becomes whoever can produce the cheapest, and lower their prices accordingly, will get the business. But this has little to no weight when applied to the customer jewelry/art/etc market.

First, figure out what you can get away with charging. This will depend entirely on how well you sell yourself. The spread in the chainmaille community is so vast in this regard that almost any specific advice is useless. There are some members who make 100x as much per hour as others here. Not much of a working ballpark. You will find if you sell the wrong items to people who do not want to buy them, the best price you can get will be low. Marketing is key.

Once you've sold yourself, and you've figured out what your best customers will pay, *then* work backwards and figure out what that gives you for a wage.

*After* that, you'll know what to charge by saying that you should generally earn the same wage as you're making on other items.

Cost and value have some relation. People do seem to think that more detailed and intricate work is more beautiful and rare, and therefore worth more.

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I am in the process of making a chainmail shirt out of split rings. The rings are uncoined and equivilant to 18g 3/16 ID rings. I don't know exactly what metal they are made out of, but my best guess is that they are nickel plated steel. The shirt size will probably be between Large and X-Large. I'm looking to sell this shirt once I complete it and would like to know what a reasonable price for it would be and if anyone would like to buy it. If necessary I will handle shipping charges. If anyone has any comments, replies, or info please email me at alfordj@sabine.k12.la.us. I won't be able to visit the forum regularly to monitor replies there.

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I am in the process of making a chainmail shirt out of split rings. The rings are uncoined and equivilant to 18g 3/16 ID rings. I don't know exactly what metal they are made out of, but my best guess is that they are nickel plated steel. The shirt size will probably be between Large and X-Large. I'm looking to sell this shirt once I complete it and would like to know what a reasonable price for it would be and if anyone would like to buy it. If necessary I will handle shipping charges. If anyone has any comments, replies, or info please email me at alfordj@sabine.k12.la.us. I won't be able to visit the forum regularly to monitor replies there.

I don't want to be mean but, you just hijacked this thread. It might be a good Idea to start a thread of your own dedicated to your shirt and how much is a reasonable price.

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Value is what gets you a price. Costs don't make an item any more or less valuable to anyone. Value is there regardless of your costs. If you can minimize your costs, you don't have to change your price, because your customers are still getting the same.

First, figure out what you can get away with charging. This will depend entirely on how well you sell yourself. The spread in the chainmaille community is so vast in this regard that almost any specific advice is useless. There are some members who make 100x as much per hour as others here. Not much of a working ballpark. You will find if you sell the wrong items to people who do not want to buy them, the best price you can get will be low. Marketing is key.

Once you've sold yourself, and you've figured out what your best customers will pay, *then* work backwards and figure out what that gives you for a wage.

*After* that, you'll know what to charge by saying that you should generally earn the same wage as you're making on other items.

Cost and value have some relation. People do seem to think that more detailed and intricate work is more beautiful and rare, and therefore worth more.

I really don't think this applies to Trimbat's situation at all. Someone who is trying to sell handcrafted goods that they are still relatively new to cannot always address value in meaningful ways, and if the market for maille is still in its infancy you can't expect to create a reliable price structure based on your own sales in any kind of reasonable time. I agree with Cynake that trying to establish prices from other maillers is futile (for now), but that doesn't mean you have to fly blind. Go to trade shows that feature things like bead and metal work - anywhere you can pick up a sense for the value of craftsmanship will help you price your work.

Because taste and value are subjective the market for art doesn't always follow established patterns, but craftsmanship transcends the barriers of a new market and you're much more likely to find a useful and reliable pricing system with this in mind.

I really don't think that you should price your work based on your marketing skills and notoriety. The quality of your work should speak for itself, and the better your pieces the more people will take note. While you can do a little advertising there is a fine line between getting your name out and wasting your time and money whoring yourself out for a few extra sales. One thing you should do as soon as possible however is make or have business cards made (printsmadeeasy.com does very high quality printing and charges reasonably for any quantity).

Rather than thinking of multiple ways to advertise your work (something that is extremely expensive for a small, start-up business), use your pieces and customers as walking advertisements themselves. Give them a good discount in exchange for carrying around some cards. Maille doesn't need to be marketed and sold so much because it already captures peoples' gaze as soon as they see it, and it makes an impression. I have complete strangers approach me about the simplest chain I happen to be wearing, and they tell their friends. They find it as fascinating as we do, it's just that they choose not to make it themselves.

I also think that taking the attitude of "what can I get away with" in the context of profit is a mistake, largely because it is the mindset of a salesman and not a craftsman. If you ultimately end up making maille a serious venture, your work, sales and desirability will be much greater if you treat each piece as a work of art, and not "product".

In time maille will become very popular in the mainstream I believe, and when that time comes it will be very easy for people to decide how to price their pieces. For now though you have to be a bit of a pioneer. Do whatever allows you to spend more time making maille, and go from there. Don't sell anything you wouldn't be proud to wear yourself (gender roles aside) and don't try to squeeze every feasible dollar out of a sale. Price your work as if you appreciate your customer spending their hard-earned money on your stuff (remember that we sell art which is a luxury good and not needed for survival).

While it's important to give customers a fair price, it's equally important to do the same for the maille community as a whole. You don't want to establish a price in customers' minds that is so low other maillers must undercharge for their work in order to remain competitive.

Once you've made lots of pieces you'll naturally find a way to incorporate skill, time and uniqueness into your price structure.

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I really don't think this applies to Trimbat's situation at all. Someone who is trying to sell handcrafted goods that they are still relatively new to cannot always address value in meaningful ways, and if the market for maille is still in its infancy you can't expect to create a reliable price structure based on your own sales in any kind of reasonable time.

I didn't claim it would be quick. I claimed that you won't really know until you try, because almost every other metric will be misleading. You can pretend that's not true, or you can plan your pricing strategy around it as best you can.

I realize it's not that useful of advice, in terms of giving them an answer they can use right away to calculate. But then you didn't give them any advice they could use either, you reiterated some of the same things I said, and gave some similar advice.

You said:

- Price should be based on quality of your work, which will speak for itself.

- Get some business cards.

- Wear your maille, and give people discounts if they'll hand out some cards.

- You will get a higher price if you treat your work as art, not a product.

- Do (in terms of price), whatever lets you make more maille.

- Don't sell for the highest price you can (?)

- Think of yourself like a consumer, and charge them less (?)

- For the benefit of other maillers, don't set your prices low (?)

... most of which I agree with, to an extent.

... but none of which actually helps anyone set a specific price. Same as my advice.

Go to trade shows that feature things like bead and metal work - anywhere you can pick up a sense for the value of craftsmanship will help you price your work.

Sure. And through all this observation you will discover something I can tell you right now. Products up for sale (unless they're failed products), are products that have a higher value to the buyer than they had a cost (to make) for the seller. And, that the seller is making a wage worth their time.

If this was not true, buyers wouldn't buy those products (not pretty enough for how much they cost), and/or sellers wouldn't sell those products (can't earn enough selling them to be worth their time making them). Further, you could extrapolate a bit, and say that if a buyer was making a killing on an item (representing a huge gap between value and cost), other sellers would start to take notice, and would copy that idea.

Ex) If I am a business that sells bracelets make out of large gauge 1-1 stainless chain, that take me about 6 minutes each to make, for $200, I would be making $2000/hour for my work. The fact that I'm selling them for $200 means that it is a fair price. It means that my buyers say "I like that so much, it is worth $200 to me to pay you for it, so I can have it." Everyone is happy.

However, a competitor might come along and say "Wait a minute, that look like about 6 minutes of work. Crazy. I can do that. I am going to get in on this market! And I'm going to sell for $190."

And then my customers might start to look at my competitor, who is $10 cheaper, and if my reputation or quality or customer loyalty doesn't have $10 value, they will buy from him instead. So.. I will have to lower my price to, say, $180.

And back and forth. Him: $170. Me: $160. Him: $150. Me: $140. .... Him: $5. Me: $4. Him: $3. Me: $2. Him..... $2.

$2/bracelet (6 minutes) puts us both at about $20/hour. (Material costs excluded, for simplicity. It would probably stop a bit higher than $2).

But if everyone was happy before, when the price was $200.. what about now? Where has all that value gone?

To the consumer. They were *willing* to pay $200, and *happy* to pay $200, but they don't *have* to pay $200 anymore. So they get $198 of bonus value back in their pockets.

(Off-topic for simplicity's sake, that's presuming the number of customers stays the same, but of course it wouldn't. The lower the price, the higher the number of people who'd like to buy the item. Reality is more complicated, but the point remains).

What does this all mean for a mailler? That with just about any amount of competition at all, the amount that artists/craftsmen/etc are selling for is somewhere around their reserve wage/opportunity cost. It's right at the point where if they had to make any less per hour, they'd say "No thanks, I'd rather do/make something else, or do something else with my time."

So, you don't really need to go out to craft shows to find all this out. By all means go ahead, but, what you'll find out is that everyone is making a generic wage.

There are some lessons to be learned from this:

- You will have more competitors the easier your items are to make. Supply and demand, if few people can supply products with the craftsmanship you possess, you will be able to charge more. A brain surgeon working at MacDonalds is wasting his time, because he is doing work that unskilled people can perform. To earn a high wage, be like the brain surgeon, have skills that many people do not possess and *use them.*

- If you have no competitors, or if your customers can't see them, you can be the person who charge $200 for a 6-minute bracelet. It is a fair price because your buyers are happy to pay it. If they think it should cost them less, they should find someone else willing to make it. If there isn't anyone around, good for you. The only reason any of us are in business, is because of the failure of the chainmaille market. Maille is a rather low-skill manual labor job that anyone can do. The opportunity cost to someone in India is 1% of what it is to you, be glad the maille market fails.

- The only way you will be able to determine what a customer *would pay*, is to see what they *are paying*, or to try. But (more on this later), what they *are paying* is across the map. So you'll just have to try.

- The only way you will be able to determined what your customers *have to pay*, is to see, again, what they *are paying*. If there's no competition, this doesn't exist.

I really don't think that you should price your work based on your marketing skills and notoriety. The quality of your work should speak for itself, and the better your pieces the more people will take note.

*shrugs*. "Should" is a lovely, vague, insubstantial word. Customers "should" come knocking on my door and offer me ridiculously high wages. They don't. From a customer's perspective, I should hunt them down and sell my work for pennies. I don't. That's reality.

If you want your quality to speak for itself, it will often be silent. If you won't even put in the effort to say why your products are better, and expect people to figure it out on their own, you are throwing money away. If you want to do that, go ahead.

My opinion is that the difference between Narrina making $2/hour and Legba (at times) making $100/hour ... has very little to do with the quality of Legba's work "speaking for itself".

It has a little bit to do with Narrina not being able to afford precious metals, a little bit to do with her work not being saw cut, and a little bit to do with Legba's closures being better because she's been in the business for a decade and a half. But that explains only a small portion of the wage differential, in my opinion.

Most of it comes right down to marketing. Business 101... Marketing 4 P's: Product, Price, Promotion, Place.

Product includes things like, if people value silver and gold higher than aluminum and copper, make items from silver and gold. If people find intricate designs more valuable, make more intricate designs. If people find the higher cost of intricate designs does not incur a higher feeling of value, make less intricate designs. (The sweet spot appears to be around 20-22G for most markets). If people think shaggy loops is pretty despite it being easy to make, make it. If people do not think that fused or welded rings are more valuable than plain ole' butted rings, don't waste your time making them.

Price is, if you see there is not a lot of supply and very high prices, set your prices lower, competitively. Combined with product, if you spot a hole in the market (high-end jewelry, low-cost costume jewelry, nothing mid-range), make mid-range items for mid-price.

Promotion is everything to do with how you sell yourself. How you advertise. Your reputation. Your salesmanship. How you attract and how you retain customers.

Place/Distribution is where you want to be located. Many of you don't have a choice, since you're not opening a store or moving to a new city. But, the types of shows you go to can help. If you open a booth at a ren faire or craft fair, you'll earn a low wage. If you open a booth at a high-end jewelry show, you'll earn a high wage. If you sell in Flint, Michigan, you'll earn a low wage (and risk getting shot), if you sell in New York, Paris, Vegas, or San Fransisco, you'll earn a high wage. If you work in a mail room and try to sell your wares at lunch to other low-wage workers, you'll earn a low wage. If you contact local jewelry stores and art galleries where high-end customers go looking to spend lots of money, you'll earn a high wage. If people around campus can't afford silver or gold, go find people who can. If you can't compete with the prices on the Internet, (Ebay, etsy, etc), don't tap that market at those prices (if at all).

...

All of the above is marketing. And since the chainmaille market is so dispersed (very rarely will a customer even know what a competitive price for your items is), looking at what other maillers charge isn't of too too much of use. Nor necessarily, is looking at what they make. Your approach to marketing, including all of the aspects of all of the 4 Ps, is going to work best if you tailor it to your unique skills, location, personality, ambition, etc.

Maille doesn't need to be marketed and sold so much because it already captures peoples' gaze as soon as they see it, and it makes an impression.

Sure. That is one tiny aspect to the promotion and place aspects of marketing. One tiny technique from a huge field of many possibilities. One tiny thing that you have found success with and applies to you. But that's a very broadly sweeping, and very bold claim the way you made it. It may or may not be true depending on your definition of "need". If what you mean is "The best way to market maille is to only wear it, because people will love it as soon as they see it and it will justify whatever price you set for it", then I disagree strongly. I do not think it is the best way. It's a drop in the bucket.

I think that is one good idea, like having one oar in a boat. There are many other ways to move yourself. You can add other oars, you can add a propellor, a sail, a paddle, an engine.. you can change the size and shape of the boat. You can be a one-man operation or many.

What if you never leave the house? What if you're shy and anti-social? What if you're ugly? What impact will wearing your maille out have then, and will it still be the best (only?) option?

What if you can get a contract to make pieces for a gallery? Is that not worth pursuing, because "maille doesn't need to be marketed or so because it already captures people's gaze"?

I also think that taking the attitude of "what can I get away with" in the context of profit is a mistake, largely because it is the mindset of a salesman and not a craftsman. If you ultimately end up making maille a serious venture, your work, sales and desirability will be much greater if you treat each piece as a work of art, and not "product".

Where did I say to not treat each piece as a work of art? I think that is a great idea. To make every customer feel like they are really and truly buying a hand-crafted, limited-production (if not unique and custom) piece of art, will surely result in them valuing your work more.

I find your criticism odd, and, a bit insubstantial.

What is your alternate/prefered method of pricing?

A customer values a pair of earings for up to $50. What do you charge them? $50, or $5, or anything in between? What makes them worth doing to you at all, for $50?

What is the value of your labor, and how do you figure that out?

My method, is to figure out what you can charge, and to charge it. To use the highest wage you can earn, to predict what you should charge for other items.

Every single mailler right now could be busy 100% of the time. They'd just have to make equisite high-labor products, and sell them for practically nothing. So, the reason you don't sell earings for $1, is because you can make more than that. How else can you decide how much is enough, and how much is too low, other than to charge the highest you can that keeps you busy?

Any other method seems absurd to me.

Price your work as if you appreciate your customer spending their hard-earned money on your stuff (remember that we sell art which is a luxury good and not needed for survival).

This doesn't make any sense to me.

I agree with *treating* your customers properly and with respect, because they're spending their hard-earned money on your items.

I don't understand how you could use "as if you appreciate your customer spending their hard-earned money" as a method of finding a good price.

I think what you mean by this is simply "Don't charge them very much"? ... which I find perplexing. Let value be up to your customers, let quality and product selection be up to you. You'll know your price is appropriate when your customers buy it. It's a luxury good, you're not holding a gun to their heads or depriving them of food during a famine. They'll buy it or they won't.

If I'm thinking like a customer, I'm thinking "How little can I possible pay for this item? How can I get it for cheaper?". That's directly opposed to how a seller should think. If you want to play both roles, what possible methodology could you have for saying a price should be higher or lower? It should be both, according to that claim.

While it's important to give customers a fair price, it's equally important to do the same for the maille community as a whole. You don't want to establish a price in customers' minds that is so low other maillers must undercharge for their work in order to remain competitive.

This is something I wholeheartedly disagree with and think is nonsensical.

You are claiming that, if I could sell a bracelet for $10 but not $15, that I should throw away that sale and that $10. This for the sake of charity, to a bunch of ethereal "maillers" out there who may or may not exist or be impacted by my actions? For the great coming of the chainmaille popularity, when finally real markets will exist?

You are arguing that if there *is* competition locally, that if my competitor sets the price of earings at $50, and I could have some of his customers come to me if I sold them (but my own design) for $20... that nope... I shouldn't do that. Gotta set the price high?

That's: 1) Unethical. 2) Illegal (if it works). 3) Inconsistent. 4) Throwing money out the window. 5) Ineffective.

A higher price is it's own motivation to a mailler. You want to sell for a higher price. The only time you're selling for a lower price is if you have to. Meaning, you can't make the sale without a lower price. And you're suggesting, no, do not do that, do not sell for a lower price.

What makes your wage so perfect that everyone else should, if they can't sell for that much, drop out of the market?

I can see how that benefits you. I can see that you'd love to not have anyone able to compete with you. If you want to charge $50/hour for average work, to be able to tell someone else who comes along and has lower opportunity cost than you "Nope. Don't charge less. Don't compete with me."

... But that's *exactly* the kind of thing competition is for. If you are worried about people making same-quality maille as you, for less, it's *you* who doesn't belong in business and them that does. *You* are overcharging for your skill.

There is no magical "fair" price. Price is the result of combination of supply and demand, and whatever mechanisms have them even out. If you're on the high end, too bad.

What you're describing is price-fixing. Monopolistic/Oligopolistic practices. Where you artificially restrict supply to keep profits high.

Know what will help bring chainmaille out to the public more? Lower prices. More people wearing it.

Know what will keep it under the radar? High prices and exclusivity.

Your point is moot though. You seem to think that when maille suddenly becomes popular, that supply and demand will magically remain preserved forever according to what was set in the "old days". This is a ridiculous fantasy. Like every other industry on the planet, wherever a market is visible it responds to changes.

Maille's time has come and gone, may come again. Unless you plan on price-fixing with every single competitor (every kid in his garage) in North America, if not the world, your price-fixing will fail, and competition will rule. Pray that maille never becomes popular. Every factory in India and China can hire out for $0.07/hour.

It's not like many other forms of art that require much talent. Other than practicing good closures, anyone can maille.

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angry much? Comparing the desire to not undercut your co-artist to a cartel is pushing it a bit. I think it's very important that artist pay attention to what other artists are doing both artisticly and price wise. I think it's more important that people who do it as a hobby price on a similar scale to what someone who does it as a profession does. It's courtesy. But I'm not suggesting everyone sell a 20-1/8th byz bracelet for 100 bucks. Price it as you see fit, but within reason. if You can get 100 for it, more power to you, but selling it for 20 just because that's cost+ a few bucks is not only undercutting other artists but a total waste of your own time.

I think It's very important that We as the mailing community support each other, getting angry over someone suggesting that prices should be with in reason seems just a bit over the top. Pay yourself a living wage, it doesn't matter if you have a full time job that pays the bills already. Pay yourself for your time. (20 bucks an hour imo)

I would also argue that there is a fine line between low prices and the perception of "junk" I've been selling art for most of the last 10 years. when something is priced too low it doesn't sell, it's percieved to be junk. and yet when the only change made is to the pricetag things can sell.

From a jewelry point of view we need to not look at each other as compeditors, there just isn't that many of us. Our competition is beaders...Price to beat/match them.

my 2 cents

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angry much?

No? It's a disagreement. It's where two people state contrary things and then attempt to resolve them. Can you disagree with what someone said without being upset with them? .. I can.

Comparing the desire to not undercut your co-artist to a cartel is pushing it a bit.

I don't think so. I think it's exactly that. It's just a less organized, lazier way of pushing the same agenda. He's saying "Don't outbid me, come on, stick together, keep prices high, give up sales." He is advocating anti-competitive practices quite directly.

He said: "You don't want to establish a price in customers' minds that is so low other maillers must undercharge for their work in order to remain competitive."

... which is nonsensical for a variety of reasons. "Undercharge" doesn't mean anything, it presumes there is an "ideal" price that is higher. In a competitive market, the price you have to charge to stay in business is equilibrium price. In his sense, "undercharge" just means "less than I want".

There is nothing that says that a high wage is any more "fair" or "natural" or "appropriate" than a low wage. All that matters is that they are free to compete in a market. The price the results is the fair one.

If there are lots of people willing to make chainmaille of comparable quality for less money, and one person who wants to charge more.. too bad for the person who wants more. Their prices aren't competitive, they don't deserve the business.

This isn't some special case, this is the case with ever product and service. It's capitalism.

I think it's very important that artist pay attention to what other artists are doing both artisticly and price wise.

Sure, if you can compare apples to apples. But you will find that the chainmaille market doesn't really exist. There isn't really much competition. It's not like the price of gas which you see directly every day up on a sign, to know what is competitive and what is not. You can look at prices, but.. once again.. you will find people making $2/hr and $100/hr. It completely depends on their situation, and there's so many factors involved it will be hard to figure out your situation and what to charge. By the time you figure it out, you'll just have figured it out by experimentation anyway.

I think it's more important that people who do it as a hobby price on a similar scale to what someone who does it as a profession does. It's courtesy.

*nod*. Your opinion. I don't think it's a courtesy, I think it's a charity. I think it's that other person depriving you of business and your livelihood if they try to fix prices.

If I'm a hobby artist, I'm going to charge as much for my goods as I can. If a professional is making comparable quality maille and earning $30/hour... why would I charge $10/hour? It's throwing away money. I'd charge what I can get. If I can get as much as him, yay. I'll certainly try.

But if I have the opportunity to earn extra customers because many aren't willing to pay $30/hour, or, those that are I can convince to buy from me, if I charge $10/hour to undercut a professional charging $30/hour... sorry, but I'm not going to turn that down for the benefit of the guy "overcharging". It's called competition, and it's called supply equaling demand.

If there's not a lot of demand for maille at high costs, too bad for you if you want to charge them and I can get a bunch of new customers if I'm willing to work for less. If a "professional" can't compete with me, tough luck. Nothing entitles him or me to any wage. We get what we can earn, and we earn what we can get.

I think It's very important that We as the mailing community support each other, getting angry over someone suggesting that prices should be with in reason seems just a bit over the top.

He didn't say within reason. He said to keep prices high so that "everyone" can benefit. But it presumes for the benefit of the people already doing it. When price drops, quantity sold increases. Artificially high prices incur what is called "Deadweight Loss", it makes society worse off.

I'm not making this up, it's a fundamental principle of capitalism.

when something is priced too low it doesn't sell, it's percieved to be junk. and yet when the only change made is to the pricetag things can sell.

This is true. Jewelry can be a Veblen good. Which is why I say "Charge what you can get."

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I'm asking if your angry becasue your entire post, and reply to my post comes off as Very aggressive.

I think you're being VERY short sighted. You're looking at is as a chainmaile market. A major mistake. Many of us make jewelry, we just happen to use chainmail styles. there is VERY much a jewelry market.

I Don't sell chainmail, I make a living doing this by the way, I sell jewelry. I just happen to use some chainmail styles.

if you've decided you sell chainmail you've already cut your own throat, because, as you say, there isn't really a market for it.

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I'm asking if your angry becasue your entire post, and reply to my post comes off as Very aggressive.

I could say the same of yours or WaistedSpace's reply, but I presume it's not. I agreed with a bunch of what he said, just not the angle he went at it. Thorough doesn't mean aggressive, and even then, aggressive doesn't mean angry.

if you've decided you sell chainmail you've already cut your own throat, because, as you say, there isn't really a market for it.

Hrm. Well, I didn't actually mean that and I disagree. Those are different uses of the term "market", I was vague. There is a way to make money selling chainmaille. Lots of money. You're wrong, plenty of people are successful by it, and haven't cut their won throats confining themselves to it. That's not what I meant.

When I said there wasn't really a market, what I meant was a functional/efficient/effective market, one that establishes a standard (but dynamic) price. I meant that it's not like the market for cars, gasoline, groceries, clothing, lumber, TVs, or anything else that consumers are relatively informed about and where they understand the industry and their alternatives.. and where prices are rather standardized with low variation.

That doesn't happen with chainmaille. Most people who see it are seeing it for the first time. Most people aren't saying "Well, that's overprice/underpriced", they don't have a clue what a competitive price is, they just know how much they like or dislike it. No surprise, when you shop around, you can find people making chainmaille for $2/hour, and $100/hour. That much variation is basically a market failure.

Markets work well (in terms of supply equaling demand and prices standardizing) the:

1 - Better the buyers are informed.

2 - Easier it is for buyers to get more information

3 - Easier it is for buyers to understand that information.

4 - Lower the costs of the consumer choosing poorly

5 - More varied consumer tastes.

With chainmaille, buyers are clueless, buyers don't know how to be better informed or where competitors are, figuring out what makes one item worth more than another is complicated, and costs of choosing poorly can vary. About the only thing going for chainmaille is that consumer tastes are varied... and that really only says that unique items don't really fit a market structure that well, so any price can be good.

Anyone wanting to price their labor could look at similar markets, sure. What will they find? They'll find people who's students and hobbyists charging a few dollars an hour for their time, some people with a side-business making a fair wage, some people making a very high wage, and some famous people making a fortune. Great. How is that at all useful? Further, why is there such variation?

Marketing. Product, price, promotion, and place.

So, whatever wage you want, go out and do what it takes to get it. Less of an issue to "What should I charge?", is "What is the best way for me to be able to charge the most that I can for my time?"

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and I still think you've compleatly missed the point. The reason people are uninformed about what we make is because we insist on selling something named like a suit of armor.

Stop selling chainmail (assuming your not dealing exclusively in armor)

Sell Jewelry

Customers DO NOT need more information then they ask for. In 15 years of retail experiance i've found that 95% of customers are always clueless. When dealing in jewelry the questions are usually just 2. One I answer, one they answer for themselves.

1. is it pretty? (customers can decided on their own, i don't need to tell them)

2 what is it made out of?(so they can know it won't hurt them, i.e. nickle)

I compleatly disagree that an well informed buyer is important for this kinda market. This is not a technical product. The more you flood a customer with information the more overwhelmed they get and the less likely to buy. Sales classes in every field tell you that you don't tell the customer any more then they need to know

They will ask other questions, fill in answers as needed.

The market for jewerly is perfectly well defined, both at a storefront level and a show level. We are compeating with beaders and other jewelers, NOT with each other. When I tell people to price their time at at least 20 bucks an hour, I'm talking to the hobby people. Why should I give them advise to underprice me? And more importantly Why should they price to compleatly devalue their labor contributions? I think this is very much a skilled craft and it's worth getting paid like a skilled craft.

Cynake, do you have an engineering background? I'm gonna guess yes. It colors the entire way you look at things. And I'm not trying to be insulting about that, but it is the wrong way to look at this.

Selling jewelry is selling pretty. Nothing more.

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The reason people are uninformed about what we make is because we insist on selling something named like a suit of armor. Stop selling chainmail (assuming your not dealing exclusively in armor) Sell Jewelry

Ahh. Well yes, I agree. I cringe when people have "chainmaille" in their business name, and they're trying to sell something that's not armor.

One of my biggest eyerolling moments was when wearing a maille ring, someone sneared and said "What, do you expect to get stabbed in the finger?" :rolleyes: No, I'm wearing it because I think it looks cool, not as armor. Idiots.

Customers DO NOT need more information then they ask for.

Where did I say "It is good to barrage your customers with details they don't need and didn't want to know"?

I spoke of a market being efficient when buyers are informed. In an efficient market, the most efficient business (that which can produce a given level of quality for the lowest price) gets the customers. I specifically said that maillers artists should be glad that there isn't an efficient market, or they'd all be out of business.

And, an informed buyer doesn't mean a buyer who has more technical info. It means a buyer who can easily judge whether a price is competitive or not because they roughly understand things that effect price (materials, complexity, labor). This helps them make good choices.

It wasn't sales advice. Sales advice is often contrary to that.

If you have a customer who is clueless and thinks your item is worth $200, price it accordingly, even if you know some competing maillers would make it for $50.

If you have a customer who is clueless the other way, and thinks the same item is worth $5 to them, big deal. Telling them that it's not worth your or anyone's time to make it for that, and don't sell it. It doesn't matter whether the market worked or didn't, that customer was never going to buy anyway.

I compleatly disagree that an well informed buyer is important for this kinda market. This is not a technical product. The more you flood a customer with information the more overwhelmed they get and the less likely to buy. Sales classes in every field tell you that you don't tell the customer any more then they need to know

Sure, I didn't say you should do that. One of the things I've often suggested to people is to remove the technical details from their listings on their website because no one cares and it makes customers feel stupid when they don't know what 20G 1/8" Byzantine is. If people want it, they will decide this by simply looking at it and valuing what it is worth to them to take it home with them.

Your words are a bit vague or you missed my point about what a market's purpose is. A market is a tool for society, it solves a problem. It says how much of anything should be made and for what price. The more informed a buyer, the better a market works. And by "works", I mean is effective in letting all buyers and sellers mingle and compete, and work out who is efficient and then standardizing a price. Like you see with any other product.

When a buyer goes to purchase a TV, they have a pretty good idea what they are getting, what factors comprise quality and price (bigger, brighter, flatter, better resolution all cost more). They know what the TV costs other places. If they wanted to know more, they know where they can read reviews, or even technical information. The price of a given TV does not fluctuate much from store to store or manufacturer to manufacturer. It varies maybe by as much as 100%, no more, and usually within 10-15%. None of those things are true of the maille market... and that is why the market has not yet yielded a standardized anything, and variation is huge, as large as 5000% with 300-500% being perfectly normal.

When I tell people to price their time at at least 20 bucks an hour, I'm talking to the hobby people. Why should I give them advise to underprice me? And more importantly Why should they price to compleatly devalue their labor contributions? I think this is very much a skilled craft and it's worth getting paid like a skilled craft.

This is all fine and dandy, I never said anything contrary.

But there's nothing magical about your numbers. Suppose that someone can earn more money by selling for a lower wage than $20/hour? They're not going to voluntarily sell for less and throw away money.. so if they're charging less, it's because they can't find anyone who's willing to pay that much. Should they not do that? Should they give up sales at $15/hour to preserve some $20/hour number you invented as being right?

You are giving very specific and rigid advice that may apply well to your situation and poorly to others. Same as WaistedSpace saying that maille sells itself just wear it. Sure, go ahead. It's one thing out of many things you can do, one thing out of many things you should consider.

Wishes and wants and dreams are great, but useless for pricing. It doesn't matter what you *want* your work to be worth, or what you think you "deserve" to be paid because of how hard you worked. It matters what it *is* worth and what you *can* be paid. Threshing wheat by hand is a skilled craft, you don't see anyone doing it. Making buggy whips is a skilled craft, almost no one does that. What you are worth depends on what people think of the *value* of what you make, not what you want it to be.

Go the other way, why not say $50/hour is a good place to start, because many craftsmen make that much? Why pick $20/hour? I say pick what makes sense to *your* situation and allows you to be most successful. I say, the difference between $2/hour and $100/hour is in your marketing approach, what you make, who you sell it to and how.

Cynake, do you have an engineering background? I'm gonna guess yes. It colors the entire way you look at things.

Yes and no? I hopped around a lot over the years. Electrical engineering, Entrepreneuring and Innovation, Neural Networks, International Relations, and History, but, I settled on, and have a degree in Economics. Which.. is perhaps why I'm coming off as a bit blunt on some topics. This isn't stuff you need a degree to understand, these are gradeschool principles.

I think you're taking what I say to be far more technical than it is. Look at some of the advice I've given people on their websites. Or, look at some of my advice on selling. None of it includes "feed your customers as much technical info as you can". I'm saying that being an artist who is also has successful business involves a lot of decisions and the result of those decisions are the difference between making $2/hour and $100/hour, so they're important. If you try to oversimplify things and cherrypick one item out of hundreds and ignore the others, you are not likely to be as successful.

Everyone likes to think the wage they're earning is perfect, and are quite bitter about people making both more and less than them. People hate on imported maille for less than they'd have to charge, and hobbyists "undercutting" what they think they're entitled to make. They don't see that there's people in the world who charge more, and that their own "perfect" wage is undercutting those others. People hate on successful jewelry designers who sell products for more than they could ever dream, accusing them of ripping people off. They don't see that their elevated wages are a ripoff compared to those who charge less than their "perfect" wage. People try to play both ends against the middle, and I think come out looking foolish for it.

I say it's all fair game, and up to the individual to choose their own success level.

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I think we are arguing many of the same points acutally...just from very diffrent points of view, but I do think you're missing a point still

The market is defined, and the customers do know what they are looking for and at what price they think it's worth. But it's not defined by chainmailers. it's defined by the jewelry market.

I'm not sure how you sell chainmail (or if you do) but I sell in 3 places, In my retail store, at shows and online. I have to price accordingly to match what is going on in all those markets.

I have jewelry stores in my retail development. I price a bit higher because all mine in hand made rather then made in india, People understand this. So my products sell.

At shows I have to be in the same price range as the Beaders and the traditional jewelers and offers something that is both pretty and diffrent. Which i do, so my product sells.

Online is where the problems really show up. It doesn't matter what I price things at, there will be someone doing it cheeper, So I ignore them and price it as I would for anything else. It works out that my pices are pretty much the same at all levels. They are only partially defined by me, The market tells me what I can get away with to make my turn over goals.

The customer base is informed and I think you're making FAR too big a deal about the "informed consumer" jewelry is about pretty. You hardly need to read much to know what is pretty. They don't need to know how it's made, or how hard it was to build or how long it takes to make something. They just need to know that they think it's pretty.

I got bitched out by a customer once because I have barstools in my store for 850 bucks each. I laughed at him and he went away. There isn't anything I could do to make him think my prices were reasonable. No matter what modern marketing wants to tell us, The customer is rarely right. it's my job to sell to them, not educate them. If they are happy with the product (i.e. it's still pretty!) they'll come back and buy more.

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The customer is rarely right.

I agree with that 100%, I used to work in telemarketing, (selling cell phones, home phone, direcTV etc...) and rarely was the customer right. I can only remember one time when the customer was right.

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Gyahhh! That's far too much for me to read much of right now, let alone respond to, so sorry if I'm re-hashing stuff that's been addressed. It seems like you and I are always butting heads, Cynake - not that this is necessarily a bad thing though. More that it simply shows that we have very different outlooks on the world. I'm sure Trimbat has plenty to consider now when choosing jewelry prices, lol.

I don't really see why we should take such an antagonistic and self-protectionist attitude toward pricing our work. Maybe it's because I see the market of chainmaille jewelry as vast, rich and untapped. There is room for all of us, and there really isn't a need to approach things as if we are a market in perfect competition. In fact, at this stage competition is a degradation of the spirit of our art because there is room for all. What I'm saying is that we should encourage everyone who is inclined to sell their work and bring it to the public. In doing so however, we need to acknowledge that we must be considerate of everyone in the community and price as if we're sensitive to that notion. Yes it is quite idealistic to think in this manner, but I think without that idealism present (even if it's unrealistic) we would become unbearably cynical.

Yes, I charge very high prices for my work. I have spent the last 3 years of my life doing almost nothing but maille, and have begun to master my speed, closure and design skills. I can crank out some pieces (like my keychains) with such speed now that to charge an "average" hourly wage would make my work far cheaper to the public than is truly fair to other maillers. Personally I have gone to great lengths to develop a personal style and I'm not particularly worried about people stealing business away from me. Rather than furiously protecting my investment through secrecy I choose to share what I have learned and even divulge what could be considered trade secrets (though not if it could hurt others' businesses). I don't have a big head about my business, thinking that I have achieved something great that cannot be repeated. More so that I acknowledge that where I am today is a direct result of the generosity and effort of those before me to make maille more accessible to everyone.

Why do I do this and take a woo-woo hippie attitude toward my work? If I try to enrich the community as a whole with what I've learned, offering up information and strategies that took me a lot of effort to acquire then the entire community will be elevated and that much closer to becoming a real force in the art communities around the world. Sure there will be some people who take advantage of that and may even directly take a bite out of my own business, but I think there is plenty to go around.

I take objection because sometimes your posts, while not necessarily incorrect, detract from a thread's positive and helpful attitude. For example, you may remember the thread about creating a guild. You almost single-handedly killed the thread by poopooing the whole notion, slamming the brakes on a train that was beginning to speed up. While reality checks are important, it's also important to know when they are appropriate because they can cause more harm than good.

We shouldn't be seeing each other as competition but individual conduits for public awareness. The more great maillers there are, the more fantastic maille there is for people to see and ultimately desire. In the end, if we take an attitude of all of us winning together, rather than trying to beat each other to the punch we will all prosper. It's important that we establish a pattern of helpfulness and encouragement. We have the advantage of positioning ourselves to make a lot of money and exposure when the market does eventually (and I fully believe it will) explode into a public chainmaille frenzy.

Please understand that while some of this is a response to your statements, old and new, it's not entirely so. I write it more as a commentary on where I think the maille industry should go in general, and while I strongly disagree with your statements and attitudes, it doesn't mean I don't respect and consider them.

One thing you mentioned does ring a bit of a bell: I don't feel like finding it right now but you said something along the lines of being "scatterbrained" in my posts. I wholeheartedly agree! Anything I say should be taken with a grain of salt because I'm just typing up stuff in a forum and it's not particularly well-thought out. None of it is designed as attacks, though I'm sure it could be construed that way. I'm just speaking my mind, as are you (sorry to make such a personally-directed post in a public forum) and we should all probably take internet forums a little less seriously. We're going to misinterpret each other continuously (all of us) and that just goes with the territory. No need to read too much into it or get hung up on semantic details. :)

I feel if we focus on the "community" more than the "market" we will all be better off.

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The market is defined, and the customers do know what they are looking for and at what price they think it's worth. But it's not defined by chainmailers. it's defined by the jewelry market.

Perhaps loosely, sure. But that's what I said, you don't need to go out to shows to figure this stuff out, you will find that wherever you go people will be making a decent wage. High end jewelers will make a high wage, low end craft shows will have people making a low wage.

So, to me, far more important than what to price, is "how to get the highest price", because by observation, you will see it's all over the map. How do you be one of the people who makes a lot, versus little?

At shows I have to be in the same price range as the Beaders and the traditional jewelers and offers something that is both pretty and diffrent. Which i do, so my product sells.

Why do you sell at shows if you earn a higher wage in retail?

It's like, why, if selling earings earns you $50/hour, would you make armor that earns you $5/hour? Why not focus on the area that makes you the most?

Your problem must be volume then, if you're accepting lower wages some of the time.

They are only partially defined by me, The market tells me what I can get away with to make my turn over goals.

Yep. We agree on that. Charge what you can, where you can. And abandon the places and products that aren't worth your time (luckily the internet doesn't require a lot of effort, and having a web presence is good anyway).

The customer base is informed and I think you're making FAR too big a deal about the "informed consumer" jewelry is about pretty. You hardly need to read much to know what is pretty. They don't need to know how it's made, or how hard it was to build or how long it takes to make something. They just need to know that they think it's pretty.

Ahh, that's exactly my point. Customers *are* uninformed, and that's what lets you get away with this.

There is a difference between what a customer *would* pay, and what a customer *must pay* in a (any) competitive market. A huge difference.

I *would* pay $100/meal for food if I had to. My valuation of food is practically infinite because if I don't have it, I'll die. Luckily, I don't *have to pay* $100/meal. I can get away with $3. If my knowledge of supermarkets was vague, I would have no way of knowing if $100/meal or $3/meal was a competitive price, and I might pay anything up to my valuation.

In the 70s, computers less powerful than a pocket calculator today, sold for $100,000, because the *value* they brought to organizations, the removal of doing calculations and bookkeeping by pen and paper, was tremendous. The businesses that paid that for a computer back then, would still pay that today. But.. they don't have to. They can pay $500 for cheap piece of junk that does 10,000x as much. If those businesses didn't *know* they they didn't have to pay up near their actual valuation, they might end up doing it.

It's a concept called "consumer surplus". Every dollar every person would have paid but didn't have to. On the flip side is "producer surplus", every dollar you sold something for, above what you would have sold it for if you had to.

By there being a failure in the market for maille, this allows you to cherrypick the type of customers you want and charge them higher than what they might have to pay if they were informed and the market was competitive (but you don't really know, since, it isn't).

If a customer looks at a silver elfweave bracelet you've made and thinks "Oh my, that is just the prettiest bracelet I've ever seen. So unique. I'd pay $300 for that, it's.. only $100? A steal! I'll buy it!"... and they walk away happy, good for you and good for them. If they knew that that bracelet only cost $20 in silver and only took you 1 hour to make, and that most chainmaillers would charge a lot less than $80/hour for their goods... they would not have had to pay that. But, whatever, they don't. They still bought it, and there's nothing that says that was fair or unfair.

Value based on "prettiness" is ethereal. A customer might find a 2000-ring bracelet equally pretty as a 200-ring bracelet with the same quantity of silver. Those have hugely different costs to you. So, trial and error will tell you where the sweet spot is, what to make, what people like, how people value things, and what you can get away with.

I got bitched out by a customer once because I have barstools in my store for 850 bucks each.

$850 for a stool is ridiculous. I'd never pay that. But you're not an idiot and it's in your store for a reason, so I presume someone would. The question would be, "Can I buy an equivalent stool somewhere else for less"? Maybe that applies to me if the answer is yes. More likely, it's no. I don't own a Porche either.

----

If I try to enrich the community as a whole with what I've learned, offering up information and strategies that took me a lot of effort to acquire then the entire community will be elevated and that much closer to becoming a real force in the art communities around the world.

That's my take on it too, from the information side. Any of us would not know but a fraction of what we do, or be able to do what we do, unless others had shared and documented what they did and how. I think it is very petty to have taken full advantage of the sharing of information that's happened in the past, and then turn and be protectionist to anything new you discover.

But, my philanthropy doesn't extend to the business side of things. I won't throw away a sale just because my price is lower than yours, and I don't want to outbid you. On the flip side, if I set a high price, it's not because I'm helping all the rest of you by setting in people's heads that maille is valuable... it's because a high price on my goods makes me money.

Your earlier opinion on prices being magically fixed and held static if the community can just get enough momentum behind itself, is still quite false. Things just don't work that way.

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Hi all! So, I made my mother a rainbow-colored byz chain to wear her ID cards on at work. It's about 41" long, 20g 1/8" AA and BA, and very pretty if I do say so myself. ;)

Almost as soon as she started wearing it, her coworkers started asking about getting one for themselves. One lady offered $25 and I took it, mostly to get the practice and to have my first commissioned piece.

Now I'm starting to hear from others about making them, and I'm getting faster at it, so I thought about making several to have on hand and sell. I'm wondering if I should stick with that price, which seems a little low to me for such a long chain, even if it is aluminum. Can anyone tell me what an appropriate price for a piece that size is, and how the price would change if I used different materials? (I've been working in alum. a while now while I get over the newbie mistakes, but I think I'm about ready to buy niftier wire!) Also, if it matters, I'm selling these to nurses and librarians and such, mostly.

Thanks very much all!

So, to answer the original question a bit more directly, which was about one specific item, with stats and the audience listed, here's my two rings. I've worked with 20 G 1/8" as Byz before, and wow, a 41" chain is very long in that size. If it were me, I would ask $40 plus materials for it, since a chain of that length would take me about 3 1/2 - 4 hours (granted, Byz is not one of my better practiced weaves, perhaps you're faster or slower than I) and I prefer to charge around $10 per hour on items of this complexity. (Personally, I charge $10 per hour for anything that takes more than 2 hours, and $20 per hours for anything I can do quickly, such as a stretchy HP 3-1 bracelet, a pair of earrings, etc but as I'm sure you've noticed, everyone has their own strategy).

Something for you to consider. If these chains were really successful, and you recieved 10 requests for these chains, would you be happy making 10 of them for $250? Is that price worth the labor involved to you? If not, change the price. If you're going to be unhappy and resentful making these lanyards at the prices that you're able to sell them, then you should not sell them at that price. How much you should raise the price, if at all, is equally up to you. It's YOUR jewelry.

(Off topic but related suggestion, why don't you make a pair of matching earrings for the lanyards and see if the ladies would be interested in those? :))

As far as the debate going on about art vs merchandise, I know a few professional artists who sell their paintings and prints as a second source of income. While their art is absolutely amazing, and is ART and not merchandise no matter how you look at it, they charge based on the amount of time (and when applicable the cost of materials) spent on their ART. They don't look at their beautiful oil paintings as merchandise, and every single piece is unique (unless buying duplicate prints, of course). However, that doesn't mean the artist is stupid enough to charge $2 or $3 per hour of work. When a painting takes them five hours, they charge for their labor. While this doesn't contribute to the entire issue being discussed, it does have a good deal to do with the "art vs merchandise" argument. Just because your jewelery is art, that is very irrelevant to the pricing discussion. I can definitely see how calling the jewelery "art" rather than "merchandise" could be used as good marketing and advertisement, and is a great way to present your work. However, the "art" vs "merchandise" issue shouldn't have any sort of effect on the price, in my opinion.

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I think Cynake and I come from VERY diffrent points of view on the world.

Cynake, I acutally sell for the same price at shows as I do in my store, but even if i cut the price in half shows for me are not about sales. They are advertising.

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