Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday's Discussion

Good Morning,

The "create it from scratch" custom is now underway, and I'm hopeful that it will be finished today sometime.  The result will be an empty board, and what fun is that.  So, I feel a game or two just might be in the wind.

Before I announce any new games however, I want to have an uncomfortable conversation.  While it's uncomfortable now, I assure you that it's 10 times more uncomfortable when your custom order is completed.  It's happened twice now in the last 30-60 days, and I would like to get it on the table, talk about it, and then hopefully try to avoid it from happening again.  It's an awkward and uncomfortable conversation for both of us, but we all need to be on the same page to avoid misunderstanding, I'm referring of course to the sensitive subject of pricing.

Have our prices gone up since 2009 when we started... Yes.  Are the prices of sticks sold today guaranteed to be the same price 6 years from now, or for that matter 1 year from now... No.  (It's likely a moot issue, as I don't think I have 6 more years of sticks in these fingers anyway... but I digress). 

While I have always just assumed it to be intuitive, apparently that's not the case.  Any custom orders placed today will be priced in accordance to the degree of difficulty and will be in line with any other sticks that are made on a custom basis or for general inventory.  Other than the occasional sale, I promise you that nothing will be priced based upon what it originally sold for, as there is absolutely no correlation between the two.

Forget the fact that the quality has gone up dramatically, which it has, I see it every time you send me an older link.  There is also the mere fact that for us, everything has gone up.  Just pick something... electricity.  Six years ago our average monthly electric bill was $167.  Today, I'm running machines 18 hours a day, and that $167 is now closer to $500 per month... and that is just one example.   I have to ventilate the shop, or I die.  Guess what happens in the winter... I'm ventilating all of dust, gasses and heat out of the house, resulting in a gas bill for heating that is nothing short of absurd.  Aside from the utilities, if I went to any of my suppliers and demanded the same price I paid 6 years ago, they would laugh me right out the door.

So, the long and short of it is, if you want a custom order, great.  If you're price sensitive, or just simply don't agree with the reality, PLEASE don't place a custom order, you're only setting us both up for failure.

Finally, the links you send me.  Believe it or not, I have never gone back and looked at our "sold" section of the shop.  When you send me a link to a stick I made years ago, I may or may not like it.  While I can appreciate the angst over the comments such as "I wish he'd make the old style of XYZ stick", the fact of the matter is that often, I don't like today what I made yesterday.  I suppose it's part of gaining more experience, and finding what works for me... it's been a 6 year learning curve.  So, with that said, I reserve the right not to re-create a stick that disturbs my sensibilities.  The fact that I recently had to move the laptop and place it directly in front of the lathe so I could continually see the requested stick in order to intentionally "Ugly it up", didn't work for me, and I'm not doing it again.

So there you have it, my cards are on the table.  While TT couldn't exist without everything that Erin does above ground, the fact of the matter is that the rubber meets the road below ground.  I'm sorry if this seems rude or gruff or whatever synonym pop's into your head, but it is what it is and I just want to make sure there are no misunderstandings in the future, as it's simply not worth it.



  1. I totally agree with the price going up,,everything you say is true... Luckily what you sell are not necessities of life but little luxuries. ( and no, I don't agree that the prices for food, electricity and everything else basic, that anybody should afford, have gone up as well, that is an effect of a worldwide ever rising greed and poor efconomical decisions, but I am getting off the road here, sorry....

    However I don't agree with " ugly-Ing " a stick, while I can relate to how you feel. I used to paint, and feel that something I made is unsuccessful and ugly, and then it would get well received by others , to my surprise..... I would also be embarrassed to show some some of my " beginner" paintings, and yet they would be loved by others....

    So just keep in mind that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.... And try to ciope with the idea that something not so " pretty " to you might just look gorgeous to another...

    1. I Forgot to say that I never had a " custom" per se, ( I did have something resembling a custom, but if was a replacement stick) .

      In the event that I ever win a custom, I think that a general estimation of the price ( say : in the $150 range, or in the $200 range or such) upfront and before the commencing of the work, would be helpful..... ( just to avoid final surprise or worse, impossibility to pay )

  2. I've never had a problem with pricing or your decision of what to make. I figure you're an artist - you do your thing, I'll pay your prices.
    This is not something I can do myself. I think your prices are absolutely fair. They only time I'd be concerned would be if after the fact you were like, "btw, that's gonna be $500." Granted, I only have 2 customs, but you were upfront about pricing each time. Do what you gotta do. :)

  3. When you made my custom I was actually surprised that the price was so low! :-) I've been prepared to pay a higher price since its been a custom (and sooo lovely!). But maybe you can just tell your customers before you make a stick in what price range it will be. They can then pick a simpler design or are prepared for the price.