Monday, March 7, 2016

Why the EBAY store?

Good Afternoon,

I feel an earthquake coming, so let me try to explain this as best I can.  But in order to do so, I need to rewind the tape a little, so please bear with me.

When I first discovered hairsticks, many of you will recall Beatnik (sp?) and the clear Master, Gray Dog.  Since I didn't have a clue what a hairstick was in the beginning, why not study the best?  And by the way, I have never looked at another hairstick makers sticks since Gray Dog, as I don't want to be influenced by anyone other than him, and my lousy memory.  Gray Dog had both an ETSY shop and an EBAY store, or whatever it was back in the day.  We all saw it, he was a master at his craft, the best to this day, at least in my opinion.  Well, he moved on in life as did I, and I haven't even thought about EBAY ever since, up until now.

Obviously the 5,000th stick was the motivator, as I had zero desire to otherwise even consider EBAY as an additional platform.  Any artist that works and prices their art based upon their desired hourly wage is a fool.  My typical stick takes anywhere from 3 to 7 hours to create, barring a single problem, and I've yet to meet that stick.  Our  prices have always been based on the stick's complexity and material only, not because I think I can get away with something.   So here comes the 5,000th stick that took over 40 hours to create, and my problem was, how do I possibly price something like this in a fixed price system?  The simple answer is that it's impossible, someone is going to come out on the short end of the stick, either you or us.  Again, only a fool bases pricing on time spent, it's only worth what it's worth, not a penny more.

Well, I haven't been shy about the difficulties I've had trying to set all of the EBAY stuff up, and it was just for one lousy stick.  I didn't have a choice once I decided to go forward with the 5k stick, and I had no clue how to price it, thus the reason I did the Sammi stick to artificially set the value.

So all of that was my motivation, but I'll be darned if I didn't start doing some thinking along the way.  Kherome and I have been chatting about it, and I understand the push back, it's a pain, I get it.  I don't like new things any more than any of you, but here's my thought process, and it seems to make sense to me, at least to me.

I'm going to preface this with, and  I'm stating fact, not fiction, but a great number of our sales occur within the 1st 5 minutes of a stick being posted on ETSY, and while I don't get it, it's apparently true.  Don't get me wrong, we love it when Erin's phone goes cha-ching, as we've got to eat and pay the bills all at the same time.

This is where my age comes in, because I have to believe that in many of these instances, the purchase was an impulse buy on the buyers part, and again, we've got to eat, so it's worked out handily over the years.  There's that, and then there's the fact that whenever we post a stick, half of the world is asleep.  Ladies, I work 18 hours a day and I suspect that all of you are asleep at least a couple of these hours, and if not, you're probably not clicking refresh every 15 minutes just in an effort to snag a stick in your spare time.

Regarding EBAY, irrespective of design, the opening price on any stick will be set at $100, which is less than we've sold anything for on ETSY  in quite some time, excluding Friday Night Sales of course.

So, by my way of thinking, I've leveled the playing field to some degree.  The auctions are going to be for 3 days, so time zones are no longer an issue.  They are all at a set price of $100, and if they don't sell by day 3 we'll just re-list it at a lower price, thus eliminating Friday Night Sales, again, they're only worth whatever they're worth, we'll find the bottom eventually.  And finally, going back to my age reference again, there's really nothing wrong about thinking about a purchase prior to actually making it, it gives you time to think about whether you really want it or not.  I want you to purchase my sticks because you want them, not because of the rationale that 'If I don't buy it this very second, someone else will".  That doesn't give my heart the warm fuzzies.

I recognize that irrespective of my rationale, you probably still don't like it, and that's fine.  We're not closing the ETSY shop, nor are we cutting off customs, nor are we adding the fees back into the price (Kherome said that and I was shocked).  Nothing about the way we do business is changing, other than adding an additional platform, shipping will be the same as it always has been, with the possible exception of the commemorative stick, it just depends on where the final bid ends up.  If, after all of this, you're still vehemently opposed to the idea, just send me a note, and I'll put you on the custom list and  the problem is solved.  You do after all, have 5,000 previous designs to choose from :)  (sorry, I couldn't resist).

At the end of the day, we've been on ETSY now since 2009.  As of this writing, we've sold 5,007 sticks and have had 2,954 reviews, all of which were 100% positive.  We've gotten to know you, and quite a few of you have gotten to know us on a personal level as well.  Do any of you actually think that I'm trying to take advantage of anyone, or trying to falsely capitalize on this?  I know the naysayers are out there, and there's likely nothing that I can say that will change your mind or your heart, there never has been.  But for our friends (customers) that know us, and that we've come to love over the years, I hope you understand, we're just trying to do the right thing.  I may be completely misguided on this, but I have it on a higher authority that I'm correct... so with that let's just say... 'nuff said.

Have a good night.

13 comments:

  1. I just want to say in all of the few months that I have known your work, followed your blog and even collected your art, never have I felt taken advantage of.

    Never have I seen hairs sticks as beautifully crafted as yours. The work you do is very unique and is something you have taken years to master. People who are not artists and craftsmen will never understand this.

    I appreciate the time that you have put into the sticks you have crafted for me and will always cherish them. I hope you pass your craftsmanship on to another person who is as passionate as you are.

    Some people might complain about fluctuating prices and "fees" but you don't offer a product that can be concretely defined in price. You give of yourself with each piece you make.

    So, I think it is only right that you determine the price of your art because you know what it meant to you to make it.

    It's not pretentious or capatalistic, it's the reality of being a very talented artist who like other humans is of limited time and resources.

    On another note, (not trying to be critical) How do you advertise for your art? In looking at your blog you seem to have a small number of devoted fans who all seem to have their own extensive collections of your work...do you have any other avenues of getting your work out there?

    Sorry for the long post, I just felt bad because you seem so defeated in this post, and I wanted to be encouraging...not sure if I was sucessful.

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  2. I think you provide a good rationale for using eBay. That said, I prefer Etsy, even if it results in some impulse buying (guilty as charged). But no matter what, you've got me as a fan and as a friend.

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  3. Actually, I was surprised you didn't list on ebay. Simply put, I found ebay more economical than Etsy. Etsy's listings you have to pay for. Ebay's are free. I'm sure each has their own percentage they take, but I'm cheap. I go with the free listings ;)

    Your work? I've never seen any like it and I am proud to own 3 of your sticks, one custom made for me that I love and cherish. You should never, ever have to explain or justify your costs. I can't imagine how much work you put into these sticks---the craftsmanship speaks for itself. What I found amazing is, these sticks are amazing to use. Many hair accessories are ...pretty, but not always comfortable/functional. In fact, I bought many a trend of hair items on LHC and the flexis, the ficcarres didn't work for me. That's why it took me this long to try a TT. All I can say is thank you Shawnah for sending me one to try. Now I'm an addict and wish I could add more colors to my collection, but as of now, 2 sick kitties are going to need some assistance in the financial department.... :D

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  4. I love this idea, because your sticks do sell so fast and because I work 13 hour (sometimes 14 hour) shifts, so I rarely see them for sale. Also because I have a hard time with allowing myself to impulse buy.

    So I will definitely follow you on eBay as well as Etsy.

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    1. Hello to a fellow equestrian :) Have you seen Doug's awesome equestrian hair sticks?

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  5. That rationale makes sense! I have an app set up to notify me when you post a new stick, but sometimes they go so fast I don't get notified! I like to see the things posted even if they're not my style and not one I'd buy. That said, I'm not a patient person, and hate waiting for the auctions to end. I can appreciate both platforms. How do you determine which is an eBay stick, and which is an Etsy stick?

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  6. If understood the discussion on LHC, it is a bit of a pain that Ebay items needs to be shipped with the correct value which will hit us over the pond quite badly.

    I has been meaning to ask: Is it not possible to schedule postings on Etsy? That would otherwise be a handy feature!

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  7. I am usually one of those quick grabbers. I will admit to it. As long as there is the ability to ask for a duplicate custom stick on etsy I see no downside. Of course, you know I am a fan and an avid lover of your art so wouldn't matter where it is sold I would follow.

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  8. OK, let me see if I can hit all the points, their all good.

    Burps - Thank you for your kind words. Actually, I didn't feel deflated at all, I think the words needed to be said, before the inevitable train wreck. Fortunately, we've never had to advertise, LHC brought us here... the good, the bad and the ugly.

    Willowyn - I understand, I'm not that wild about the platform either, and yes, we know you've been there with us through thick and thin.

    Darkhorse - You're partially correct. Yes, ETSY charges $.20 to list and takes their cut on the back. EBAY doesn't charge the $.20, but we have to pay a monthly fee for the privilege of having a "store". Plus, their cut on the backend is 3 times higher than ETSY, and with ETSY, the shop is free. The bottom line for us, is that we're going to list spec sticks on both platforms and determine which one makes the most sense. Remember folks, we're the one's taking the risk, not you. EBAY's fees at the end of the day are roughly 5 times those of ETSY's. I'm not the smartest guy, but I'm also not the dumbest. If we end up losing money on EBAY, it goes away, I promise. And again, no, I am not passing the fee's on to you.

    Annaleah - Erin shares your same concern, she's freaked out about the wait, and while I've thrown every rational argument that I can think of at her, it doesn't make one bit of difference in her mind. I just have to fall back on "You're just going to have to trust me on this one". Regarding which one's go to which, I don't know, which way is the wind blowing?

    Rider - Thank you, you get it.

    Ida - ETSY has the same requirements as EBAY in terms of reporting the values. Obviously we have never declared the retail value when using ETSY. Why does anyone think that we're going to do it any differently with EBAY. EBAY doesn't have an inspector living in our house overseeing Erin printing shipping labels.

    And finally Slynr - yes ma'am you are a quick grabber at times. I agree, I don't understand all of the angst, there is no downside. Simply put, if you don't like EBAY, don't go there, I'm certainly not making you. That said however, try to understand that we have to earn a living. 2 years ago, I gave up a $42 per hour banking job to pursue my passion, I had all of the bene's, 4 weeks paid vacation, and the office was 1 mile from our house. Since then, I haven't taken a single day off, I work 18 hours a day, to earn about $4 per hour. It was clearly the worst financial decision I ever made, and you know, I don't care, because I love what I do.

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  9. One final thought. Regarding the Commemorative stick's declared value, how exactly does one go about declaring the value at $11 on international shipments, which is what we do, and then turn around and try to insure it for $301, the most recent bid. I'll do whatever the winning bidder wants us to do. Ship it as we always do and get that $11 declared value, but if it's lost, it's lost, I'm never making that stick again. Or, it can be insured, sorry, you can't have it both ways.

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  10. Thank you for clearing that up! It is too long ago I bought anything of value on ebay so I'm clearly a bit in the dark.

    I don't think it is a bad idea at all to try both places. It will indeed level the playing field somewhat.

    I'm going to try sometime to grab a custom spot from you but due to timezone differences it has been proven difficult :D

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  11. P.S Greydogs have nothing on you. D.S

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  12. I just had another thought... OK, I'm not particularly quick on the uptake sometimes, but I usually get there eventually.

    In the event that any of your minds have gone to a very dark place, let me clarify something. Let's say for example I list a stick on EBAY, that would ordinarily sell for $125 in our ETSY shop. And let's further the example, and say the stick at the end of the auction sells for $175. Please, don't worry, I'm not going to gig you an extra $50 on a similar custom piece. If I'm fortunate enough to actually net more income off of EBAY, you're darn right, I'll do it, I have to. That said though, it's still a $125 stick to me, and I have no intention of basing ETSY prices on EBAY results, as doing so would just be wrong on any number of levels.

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