via Sammy Davis Vintage
Recently encountered an artisan vendor who asked me what she should price her goods for. She admitted pretty freely that she usually sells her goods at cost. Yes, you read that correctly. She usually sells her goods at cost, does not factor in labor, does not make a profit. What?!
I quickly created a draft pricing sheet for her, and it looked something like this:
(Cost of Product)x2 = the minimum you need to make
The minimum you need to make + retailer’s cut (30%-50% of retail price) = retail price
I didn’t even calculate for her what her labor is worth exactly, but I’m sure it would have increased the retail price of her product tremendously.
I know it’s difficult to find a sweet spot between a fair retail price and a reasonable profit margin, but THE GOAL IS TO MAKE MONEY. You may love what you do, but your time and materials cost money, and your sales need to recoup that loss or else it’s just not sustainable.
It’s time we flip the Walmart mentality. Don’t set yourself to compete with cheaply mass-produced imported products, because you will lose. Let your customers know your product has real value, tell them about the quality materials you use and the love and care that goes into each product. You’re in a league of your own, so act like it!
Knowing your consumer base.
Tonight I’m throwing this little shindig to celebrate the approaching one year mark of Sugartown Vintage Boutique. I have A LOT to reflect on, and I hope some of the things I have learned will help others. Here’s a list, because I like lists, of things a person learns when they start a business (in no particular order):
Did I forget anything? Have a question? Shoot!
Retail merchandising #DIY
Don’t have a clip strip? I used a shiny ribbon with some colorful clothes pins, which I think looks way better anyway!
It depends on what you are purchasing, but there are always small business alternatives. Some of the thrift stores in the Kingston area may be a better option for you for many things. You can also save money on groceries if you buy direct from a farm (CSA or community Supported Agriculture farm share is inexpensive and there is a meat and veg. farm in Esopus that participates - I personally buy my vegetables from Sauer farm on Sawkill Rd in Saugerties during the warm months and it is very affordable). Just remember, what you get that is cheap price-wise is often cheap quality-wise. The other thing to remember is that Walmart treats their employees poorly, blocks unions, has a culture of institutional sexism that frequently get’s addressed in class-action law suits, and they always push their vendors to drive prices lower, which means setting up factories overseas and exploiting laborers who will work for peanuts for 12+ hours a day while we lose jobs here. Not to mention the ecological impact of shipping all those final products back into the U.S. Your “savings” are actually indirectly hurting countless people in a long change of action involving a lot of sacrifice. Those savings actually hurt our local economy, and indirectly keep serving the very systems that make it hard for you to afford to shop in some places.
OCCUPY MAIN STREET - Studies have shown that money spent locally is more likely to stay local. Money spent at corporate, big box chain business is money that goes to fat-cat CEO’s; what’s left is distributed across satellite locations all over the country and sometimes all over the world.
Spend ALL of your money at local businesses. This is an entirely possible thing to do, I swear. Big-box stores are convenient, but think of Main Street as one big box. Find your downtown commercial district and be surprised when you can buy everything you need in one place.
Bonus: local businesses owners are passionate and knowledgeable. They are often on-site to serve your needs. This isn’t just a job for them, this is a passion - how often does a big box store employee seem passionate about the products they sell?
Also, local business owners are more accountable as they are more accessible than a CEO working at HQ 5 states away!
By locally hand-crafted. Trade quantity for quality. Buy something made with love, instead of made with a series of automated machines. Buy from your neighbor. Buy from your family. Also, locally made products are easy on the environment and often easier on your wallet because they don’t need to be shipped from far away.
Or be a hand-crafter. How about knitting for the 99%!
Local businesses support local artists and musicians. By supporting a local business, you are a patron of local arts!
Best examples of local businesses:
Pharmacies - benefit: attention to detail, sincere investment in your health
Clothing stores - benefit: personal attention, you will feel pampered (instead of stressed, rushed, and overwhelmed by screaming children, fluorescent lights & bad music)
Consignment stores - benefit -a great example of how you can directly benefit from a local business’ success is to sell your own goods at a cosignment store
Restaurants - benefit - fresh food not from frozen, chefs instead of cooks, slow food instead of fast food, nutrition instead of fillers, community & ambiance instead of corporate-dictated clutter
Credit unions - benefit - It’s a big step, so maybe just set a date to go to your local credit union and ask them some questions about what they offer - you may be surprised they offer most of the same services!
*Bonus tip: Pay with Cash - and avoid debit card fees, big banks getting a piece of your money!
Wine Stores - benefit - an honest, helpful response to “what would go best with…”
Hardware Stores - benefit - they have everything a big box store has - just ask!
Farms - benefit - sustainable, better for environment, healthier/more nutritive, you can ask your farmer just how something was grown, better tasting. You can only legally buy raw milk (which is said to be healthier than pasteurized and easier to digest) on farms in NY State. If you can’t drive to your local farm, buy fruits and veggies that are in-season from farm markets, farm stands, & local independent grocers.
Jeweler - benefit - will buy your old gold, can custom produce unique pieces
Bakery - benefit - more delicious, more fresh, and more healthy - less filler ingredients, less processing (sugars and fats found only in nature and not made in a lab), less preservatives, less food coloring
Antique/Vintage Stores - benefit - one-of-a-kind, unique stuff for your home & your wardrobe, great gifts
Thrift Stores - benefit -Local thrift stores support local non-profit initiatives, and from my experience, smaller thrift stores have better treasures and better prices than their larger counterparts
That was just off the top of my head. For more reasons, go to
UPDATE: Please also check out this great article: