Saturday , 19 August 2017
A subject on the lips of many artisans is the big box mentality that has gripped many buyers. Often a prospective seller will pick up an item and say “but it’s so expensive”. These words are like fingernails on a chalkboard to handmade sellers.

A Buyers Guide To Handmade

A subject on the lips of many artisans is the big box mentality that has gripped many buyers.  Often a prospective buyer will pick up an item and say “but it’s so expensive”.  These words are like fingernails on a chalkboard to handmade sellers.  In many cases they aren’t charging enough.  Is the item REALLY expensive or are you comparing it to something you would buy at a big box store?

Why do prices vary so much and what am I paying for?  There is SO much more to handmade selling then what many realize.  First and foremost you are paying for the supply of the item, then the artists rate for the time they spent making the item, as well as the quality of the item.  More successful sellers can afford to buy in bulk wholesale but this takes hundreds of dollars, on occasion a seller will come across items for a good price at an estate sale, flea market or other sellers destashing items they no longer want.  This is more the exception than the rule.  For the most part supplies are NOT at deeply discounted prices.  Sterling silver for one is at an all time high and many sellers have had to drastically raise prices to account for it.

Smoky Quartz and Swarovksi Necklace by Bellina Creations

Some sellers are hobbyists or new to selling and if they were to sit down and actually figure out how much they are making they would find that they are actually paying buyers to buy their items.  Sellers have fees they must pay both to the site they sell on but also to Paypal, Google etc.  There are advertising fees, photography, models. business cards, brochures, websites, blogs, gas, tutorials, classes, show fees and so on.

More successful shops may have many sales in a single day, but many shops may have only a handful or sometimes no sales at all in an entire month!  When you sell handmade you get paid for your item and then have to deduct the cost of your supply, the cost of shipping, your sellers fees, your packaging, sales tax and income tax.  What is left over is your income.  Many shops put much more then 40 hours into making their craft successful but there is no check at the end of the week for all the hours worked.

Gwynnda’s Gems Australian Jasper Earrings

Big box shops have warped the mentality of many buyers.  All they see is the dollar amount.  Big box shops are run by corporations that use the cheapest supply possible and hire the cheapest workers.  Many items are made by machine or assembly line.  While these workers need these jobs to survive the conditions are deplorable at best.  Your money is essentially going into the pockets of the already filthy rich.  Then the product doesn’t last.  It simply falls apart sometimes in a matter of weeks.  Mass production is polluting our planet.  Huge corporate entities like this continue to ignore our environment causing the continuous deterioration of our air, land and water.  Is it really worth what you saved?

Hempkitty’s Beaded Blue Picture Frame
Resellers have also broken into the handmade market claiming their items are handmade.  Look closely at shops.  Is there a bio telling you about the artist?  Do they have a website?  A face book page?  If a shop opens and immediately has a large amount of hard to make items it’s unlikely they are truly handmade.  These items take time!

When you buy true handmade you are supporting a person.  Read about them in their bios.  Find out who they are.  What went into making that item?  It was made with their own two hands and if you are buying a quality item it should last.  You might even consider handing it down to a friend or family member.  Really look at the intricacies in the work.  You may not realize the amount of time that goes into making your item.  Buy handmade, it’s good for the soul!
Check out Bellina at:

Check out Gwynnda at:

Check out Hempkitty at:


Guest post by: Bellina Creations


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  1. I agree, I am one of those people who puts a lot of time and effort (and money) into creating a restyled piece of furniture for it to just sit in my store. Granted, I have sold 2 pieces, since APRIL! And the last one I sold I took a huge hit on from fees and shipping. It’s frustrating and I keep asking myself… is my stuff too expensive? Should I lower the price, again??? If I do it’s like I’m giving it away. It’s really an obsessive type of mentality because I desperately need sales and I have to figure out how to move my product(s). I’m a newbie, I will admit, so hopefully this gets better over time! Thanks for the article! :)

  2. Great article…I have been seeing this mentality for a while now in the handmade area but it is getting worse.
    And I even see it in my other part-time small business (non-handmade items)…I have to charge more because I can’t afford to buy in huge quantities and/or don’t own the factory where the items are made.
    I get tired of hearing ‘I can buy that same thing in megamart for $5′ Even though they can’t buy the same thing there and my items are made much better, it’s almost like they are programmed to think that way.
    But I think, at some point, consumers will get tired of buying junk and the handmade and quality items will be more appreciated again….IMO

  3. Thank you, I needed that!!!!!! :)

  4. Thanks for this article!

    One little note: a couple times it says “sellers” where it’s supposed to say “buyers” or “shoppers”. Even the second sentence of the whole thing.

  5. Talk about throw-away economy…. in the last 6 months alone:
    - I’ve purchased a $5 dustpan that cracked completely in half within 24 hours;
    - my $15 toaster fizzled and died within a week after I bought it;
    - and a $25 weight scale had a broken needle straight from the box.

    If we (myself included) could teach ourselves to pay MORE money now for a quality dustpan/toaster/scale that would last 10-20 years… we wouldn’t have this obstacle towards purchasing handmade goods. :P

  6. In the long run, a seemingly cheap manufactured item is generally more, not less expensive, when you take in to account how long it lasts, how many uses it gets & how often it needs to be replaced. Prices need to reflect quality of supplies & time spent in carefully crafting a quality item. There is no real point in lowering prices to attract bargain hunters. Your business won’t be sustainable & customers will come to expect the lower prices. It makes more sense to point out the quality differences & let your buyers know that they are getting a quality that will outlast the poorly manufactured bargains. Thank you for this article for buyers! I hope that articles like this continue to appear & more buyers (& sellers) see the true value in handmade.

  7. Thank you so much for the responses. Susan I think this is something we all grapple with. And you are completely right about it becoming something of an obsession. This was a topic of conversation on my Etsy Team and a friend of mine had some words of wisdom on this. This really helped a lot of us. She is an incredibly motivational person.

  8. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You took every thought or word right out of my mouth.
    I have sung this tune til I was blue in the face. I use to wonder if I was good enough. Are my prices too high? One day I sat down and figured it out to the nickel and guess what, you are correct, I wasn’t charging enough. My prices maybe too high, I’m not
    selling much. Actually, I have only had 3 sales in 3 years of selling on Etsy, but you know what, my pieces are still worth more than I am asking.
    Sorry, I got carried away, issues came up and I let it out.
    My comment to you is simply kudos for a well written blog. peace, elizabeth

  9. Fantastic article and so true!

  10. Michele/Vanilla Extinction

    Great article, as usual. My husband and I, after years of being frugal, have finally come to the conclusion that “You get what you pay for.” For instance,years ago we splurged and bought one of those little Bose Wave radios. It was a couple of hunderd dollars, and to a couple with small kids, it was a splurge back then. We still have that radio. It looks as good as the day we bought it. We have never had a moments trouble with it. It still works perfectly and the sound is still unbelievable. (I sound like I am doing a comercial for Bose.) But, in a nutshell, you get what you pay for.
    Buy cheap, get cheap. Pay a little more and you will be happy you did.

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