Friday, 10 July 2009

In a Quandary

Lazy Morning Write

I am disappointed with the way the artisans' centre is unfolding. They expect a year's commitment of $50 per month towards the rent plus a 20% commission for selling each item. If (as I think would be reasonable) I were to get $75 for one of my chairs that would mean that I would have to make and sell 10 chairs before I made a cent ... and that does not take into consideration the cost of the chair, the materials needed to clean, sand and paint the thing or the value of my time. And ... the shop does not intend to open till September 1 ... almost the end of the season for tourists, cottagers and train customers. So even optimistically, I would be making no money at all in the first year; in fact I would be subsidizing each sale with my time and the materials needed to create the chair.

One option would be to increase the price but we have been advised not to do that; that "our increased sales would more than make up for the lower return on each item." Bull roar, I say. I can only produce a pair of socks or a chair at a certain rate. I cannot increase production. I don't have a Chinese crew living in my house being paid in rice.

Mud Mama has told me that it is most unusual to have to pay both rent and a commission, and she thinks the commission should be about 15%. Even if 20% were reasonable, though, I don't like the idea of rent as well.

Another option is to rent a stall at the Wakefield market for $20 a pop and sell only on summer Saturday mornings when the train comes in and people come to buy honey, local produce and goodies. It is a much more vibrant place this year with music and way more vendors than in the past. I could sell socks and small pieces and have a piece or two of furniture available for sale or just to show the kind of work I am doing ... and give potential customers the necessary contact information if they wanted to buy larger pieces from home.

And another option is to try to sell on-line at Etsy.

And I haven't given up on the idea of a weekend open house with Tamarack and Carrie.

Any ideas would be welcome.

One of the chairs I got from Erin's barn is defeating my efforts to clean it up. Her mom must have started to strip it and the stripper and paint layers have become solid ... so stripping it might be the only way to go, and I am not sure I want to bother if I am just going to paint it ... but we will see.

A second one has lovely graceful legs, and needs not only painting but also an upholstered seat. I am envisioning this one painted black with sexy bits of scarlet and a velvet and silk seat. I have some wonderful silk scraps that I brought home from Mongolia ... but ... when I was rummaging around looking for them I found another possibility ... a pieced square I made years ago using silk and flocked velvet ... done in purple, pink and burgundy with bits of green and ivory ... so my black lady of the night's chair might have to lose its scarlet touches. But first I have get all those damned upholstery nails out!

Today is a glorious day to be outside cutting grass with my little hand mower and washing and sanding chairs. I also have a stool and a child's rocking chair that just need final touches before polyurethaning and a lazy susan with a chalk drawing finished (I think ...) that is ready for the fun part of painting.

Have a great sunny day today!

1 comment:

Mud Mama said...

75.00 is too little to charge for a chair though. A children's chair, sure. A sturdy new unfinished chair costs that much though. What you are offering is much more. Don't under sell yourself or your time.

I think if this was an established business with an established clientele and a proven track record it would be fine to ask you for an annual fee for inclusion in the venture.

They haven't earned that yet.