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yappystudent

Thoughts on Pricing

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So it's time to break into the retail market in my area. On the member gallery at the bottom of the forums page is a photo of some of my smoking wares. If you or someone you know were intending to peddle something similar in their local touristy stores, assuming it's one of the approx 15 states where somesuch is maybe legal, what would you, or your friend, ask in exchange monetarily?

Obviously I'd rather the owner just bought them from me outright but I suspect I'll end up being offered consignment situations instead until they see if they'll sell. I've sold both my oil paintings in the past  retail and upcycled women's clothing online, and bartered various services, mural painting, drawings, and yardwork, etc. I have yet to sell either pipes or incense burner/ashtrays to store owners. I am neither desperate for sales nor too proud to adjust my prices and work to fit the local market. Local comps on similar work are hard to find; there are some local and non-local artists stocking glassware for these stores, and their stuff is disappointingly cheap, at least to my eyes. Etsy is pretty damn cheap also and I'm sure at least some of that "handmade/US only" search results were made in small factory situations if not straight from Mexico.  Anyway I can't help that I guess. I've seen no ceramic yet but I haven't been to all the stores, there are quite a few even in my home town. I'm culling all except my best stuff, some is porcelain and looks it.

Any thoughts, advice? 

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Given that we’re about 2 months away from national legalization, information here is a lot easier to come by. Keep in mind prices are in Canadian dollars.

A quick search of the websites of the local head shops show ashtrays running for $10-20, and pipes that are a similar shape to yours for $40-50. Most of those are glass, though. I don’t get the sense that these are considered luxury items. They’re pretty enough if you like tie dye, but utility seems to be the primary consideration. 

Katie Marks sells pipes for a lot of money, but that’s more because of her name. 

 

If it were me, I’d treat items like this as kiln filler: make them efficiently and quickly, and sell them wholesale. At that price point and at that volume, I don’t think I’d want to mess around with consignment.  

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There are clay pipes on Amazon as well, some this sort of shape and some a traditional tobacco pipe shape. 

These run no more than half the price of the glass versions Callie is seeing locally. I think Canada may be more expensive.

Are people using a lot of pipes? 

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or just go high-end. Plenty of competition on the crank it out stuff but there will be plenty of well heeled buyers that will pop for something unique and of high quality at the top of the market. 

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Keep in mind, I'm writing this from a Canadian point of view:  Cannabis is 2 months away from being legal for recreational use nationally, and medical dispensaries have been open for years. Smoking a joint here is akin to having a beer. If it isn't legal for you to make or sell pipes where you are, then my advice is DON'T.

The CDN/USD exchange rate is (functionally) 36 cents on the dollar currently. ($1USD=$1.36 CDN). So take that into account when you're comparing prices.

Having made some observations about the emerging legal cannabis industry, I can say that there is definitely a LOT of room on the market for accessories that look like they would be used by a mature adult as opposed to the attendees of a 60's college bush party.

What I've been able to observe about the emerging legitimate market here is that the new dispensaries are a good deal more sophisticated than that place in the sketchy back alley that reeks of nag champa.  A lot of the new storefronts resemble a cross between a craft brewery or fancy tea shop and zen spa: very clean, modern and welcoming with nary a mushroom or rainbow in sight. Think of a fancy juice bar, but with jars of weed behind the counter. The focus of the staff is on educating the public on the differences and benefits of all the different strains, differentiating the kinds of high and which balance of chemicals a user might enjoy or benefit from most. They're acting like someliers, writing a weekly feature in the  papers and offering reviews. Organic growing practices and agricultural techniques to maximize active ingredient content are widely touted, and there are links and analogies to any kind of support local/artisinal/handmade/craft movement you could think of.  It can be a good fit for ceramics.

The entrepreneurs getting into the legalized cannabis industry right now are all intelligent, savvy business people who are passionate about what they're doing, and making sure that their customers have the best possible experience. My suggestion to you is to do what you would if you were trying to enter into any sort of specialty market, and sit down with the owner of a shop you wish to try and sell at. Ask them what they want in a ceramic pipe, what their customers are after that is missing in the market, and what a reasonable price point for that item would be. Then see if you can design something that fits that bill. If the shop owner has some input like that, convincing them to place a wholesale order as opposed to testing with consignment will be much easier, and you'll both be happier with the price. They also might have insights on what other accessories they'd like to see (pipe rests, bud jars etc), or things they'd rather buy from a local supplier such as yourself. They'll also be able to advise you on functional considerations in a way that a non-smoker wouldn't.

 

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I live at ground zero in the dope business-that being Humboldt county. That said I am in the pottery business and have kept out of the other pot business. I'm zero help on pricing pipes but will add that many threads have been from pipe makers over the past years-pricing was never covered.The fed cracked down here a few years ago before legalization and fined many pipe maker/shops.Put them out of business. My suggestion is look whats out there -heck in Oregon there is a shop selling this stuff every mile. Should be easy to see price points. I would work the high end as the low end is most likely covered well by low hanging fruits.

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Some points I should ask, add or clear up: 

Yep it's true I'm not going to make $6 dollar pipes, or for that matter mugs and bowls. My stuff is always going to be higher end or it's not worth my time as an artist. Also I have a lot of time to twiddle my thumbs and can price it at whatever I want. I just need store owners to agree. 

Weed is legal in Oregon with a few restrictions about buying and growing. Personally I think it's great and have no more qualms about it than I would making a wine cup, in fact probably less. However I have concerns about work with my stamp on it being sold to states where it's not,  just another legal complication and I'll probably never sell on the internet. I don't make enough stuff to justify the hassle, if I can sell locally it's not worth shipping. I've used the internet to try to find comps but the prices are all over the map, just as they are locally from shop to shop.

Q: Does the term  wholesale cover lots of half a dozen items or less? Is this the potter's code word for buying instead of consignment? 

There are a lot of shops in my area that are in the process of currently 'weeding' themselves out, probably due to the market being over saturated with availability. Businesses on the rocks don't buy handmade accessories in my experience. 

 

 

Edited by yappystudent

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1 hour ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

A lot of the new storefronts resemble a cross between a craft brewery or fancy tea shop and zen spa: very clean, modern and welcoming with nary a mushroom or rainbow in sight.

You mean to say you've ruined the whole thing?

 

1 hour ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

The entrepreneurs getting into the legalized cannabis industry right now are all intelligent, savvy business people

...yes, you really do mean you've ruined the whole thing. Oh, dear.

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Adding a wrinkle to the conversation which would be applicable to any Canadians or non US countries thinking of selling pipes etc. to US customers. Apparently you can be banned from crossing into the US if you hold US cannabis stocks in your financial portfolio. Can be in anything from marijuana starts ups to mutual funds or even REITS if one of the properties has a dispensary in one of their properties.  I would hazard a guess that making pipes and selling to the US would definitely fall into this jurisdiction.  https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/why-investing-in-pot-could-pose-problems-at-the-u-s-border-1.4011813 

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1 hour ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

craft brewery or fancy tea shop and zen spa: very clean, modern and welcoming with nary a mushroom or rainbow in sight. Think of a fancy juice bar, but with jars of weed behind the counter. The focus of the staff is on educating the public on the differences and benefits of all the different strains, differentiating the kinds of high and which balance of chemicals a user might enjoy or benefit from most.

This gave me a good chuckle. I wish this were the case. Weed shops here identify as medical dispensaries, even though you don't need a prescription to buy anything, you'll get a discount if you do. I'm sure it has something to do with laws or recent laws and covering their arses if the laws change, etc. They're all basically small get in, get out stores with everything behind the counters and the selection is overwhelming, to a ludicrous extent some with dozens and dozens of varieties. The only thing they try to sell you is the most expensive stuff they stock w/e that happens to be. the stores are usually clean, well lit, well armed, but friendly? err, not exactly hostile I guess once you get past the overly loud door buzzers and cameras pointed at you.  

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Q: Does the term  wholesale cover lots of half a dozen items or less? Is this the potter's code word for buying instead of consignment

It usually means they are buying your product outright-not consignment-as to quantity that will be up to you and the buyer.Usually you set a minimum amount of goods-entirely up to you.

Selling them outright or wholesale is better than consignment especially in the small amount your are talking about.They will double the buying price most likely.You could off to buy them back in say 6 months if they do not sell-that way its a no brainer  for them.Better than keeping track of any sales every month.

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The couple of shops I have been in here in Colorado are more in line with Callie's description.  Clean, well run, helpful staff.  Many people over 50 are looking for some help with sleep issues, pain, anxiety, etc.  Shops are aware that is part of their customer base.   What Callie said about having a conversation with the owner is what I did with yarn bowls.  I met with several knitting groups and asked what they would like in a yarn bowl.  I got lots of great feedback and designed my bowls accordingly.  It's a strategy that worked for me.

 

Roberta

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@yappystudent If you’re selling wholesale anything, it’s a good idea to have some kind of minimum first order size or dollar amount  that will allow a store owner to make an appealing display of the product, and to make it worth your while to fire the kiln. Subsequent reorder amounts can be smaller, as the assumption is that they’re rebuilding the display, not starting from scratch. Sitting down with a store owner to do some market research to ensure maximum mutual benefit is a tactic that works for any product you’d like to try selling. Usually I have a $150 minimum order for mugs and yarn jars, as a for instance. 

 

@Sputty

Oh, don't worry too much. The radio told me just today that Bongs and Such has three locations in Calgary to serve me better! They’re usually in questionable strip malls, have lots of Rastafarian flags and pot leaves everywhere and everything there still smells like patchouli. The old was still live on. 

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4 hours ago, Mark C. said:

Q: Does the term  wholesale cover lots of half a dozen items or less? Is this the potter's code word for buying instead of consignment

It usually means they are buying your product outright-not consignment-as to quantity that will be up to you and the buyer.Usually you set a minimum amount of goods-entirely up to you.

Selling them outright or wholesale is better than consignment especially in the small amount your are talking about.They will double the buying price most likely.You could off to buy them back in say 6 months if they do not sell-that way its a no brainer  for them.Better than keeping track of any sales every month.

I like this notion, ty

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22 hours ago, Mark C. said:

Callies point on have enough stock for good display is a key point-so make sure that happens.

If I did I'd be the only crafter in the store with over 3-4 of the same thing. Most of the stock in these places tends to be one of's. 

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1 hour ago, yappystudent said:

If I did I'd be the only crafter in the store with over 3-4 of the same thing. Most of the stock in these places tends to be one of's. 

Then I think you’d be best off to make them buy them outright, and charge them your regular retail price. One-offs at that price point are not a consignment or a wholesale arrangement.  

If this is common practice in your area, I’m not surprised those shops are going out of business. It’s not a model that works long term for anyone, and it’s unprofessional. 

I am a firm believer that even if making is a part time gig  or a hobby for someone, behaving professionally (pricing appropriately, having some basic policies regarding returns and order placing) protects you from being taken advantage of. Most professional behaviour involves deciding ahead of time how you want to deal with certain situations, and communicating clearly with the people you work with and sell to.  It’s about clarifying how you want to be treated, sometimes even if it’s just to yourself, and setting healthy boundaries. 

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22 hours ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

Then I think you’d be best off to make them buy them outright, and charge them your regular retail price. One-offs at that price point are not a consignment or a wholesale arrangement.  

If this is common practice in your area, I’m not surprised those shops are going out of business. It’s not a model that works long term for anyone, and it’s unprofessional. 

I am a firm believer that even if making is a part time gig  or a hobby for someone, behaving professionally (pricing appropriately, having some basic policies regarding returns and order placing) protects you from being taken advantage of. Most professional behaviour involves deciding ahead of time how you want to deal with certain situations, and communicating clearly with the people you work with and sell to.  It’s about clarifying how you want to be treated, sometimes even if it’s just to yourself, and setting healthy boundaries. 

Agreed Callie I'd definitely like to work out where I stand ahead of time. 

As far as the shops go, they seem to have figured out they sell one thing and sell it pretty good. The challenge is convincing them my stuff is worth bothering with as a secondary product. Also, there is a lot of down and out here. I'm going to be the devil's advocate and say they probably have a lot of street folks walking in trying to sell them junk out of their pockets.  

 

 

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Personally I would avoid consignment like the plague. They don't stock their stores by renting out shelf space-they pay for the products they resell as retail, and your product should be no different. Make sure it works smoothly and superbly.  A pretty/handsome/interesting  pipe that is a clunker for functionality won't fly.  You may be interested in this (old) site-   http://headyclay.com/  A simple large porcelain (not an effigy pipe) would run roughly $80.  Ray used to post here about his pipes, and the business of marketing/selling them. It might be worth a search of the forums-I remember him posting about what he could and could not sell online, vs. on the ground, and various laws in different locations.

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Yappy, I’m a little late to the party and have only a little information from a conversation with shop owner who carries a large inventory of glass pipes and other paraphernalia in my area. He was interested in having some ceramic related products in his shop, he told me most of the pipe makers are working in glass and one off custom ceramic work was less available. I wasn’t interested at the time and never looked into any of it.

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