I have a good story for a Friday.
Earlier this week, I had a gentleman call me from Florida. It seems he received the latest issue of Creative Woodworks and Crafts and really liked the “Welcome to the Nuthouse” segmenation plaque that was in there. He talked to me for a few minutes about it, and then asked me “what do you sell?”
I didn’t quite know what he meant. I asked him what he meant. He repeated the questions and I figured that he didn’t quite understand what the magazine was for. I told him that I sold patterns and he didn’t get it. “Don’t you sell the picture?” he asked, and I said “No. Just the design.”
He explained that because of arthritis he had very little use of his hands. He asked me if I could make him one. I really wanted to help him, but I shy away from that because I am kept pretty busy in the designing department and it wouldn’t be possible for me to find time to make extras on top of things. I told him that I had the original plaque here, as it was already shipped back, but one of the leaves needed to be repaired because it wasn’t packed properly and broke in transit. I explained the ouchee on the design (which really wasn’t visible, but I needed to tell him about it anyway) and he asked what I would charge.
Now this is an area that I find very difficult – pricing my work. Somehow I knew he wouldn’t understand the thirty plus hours that went into this plaque. I wanted to help him, but I really didn’t want to just give this away to someone I don’t know at all. So I told him it would be $100.
“HOLY MOLEY!” he said (or something similar). “That’s a bit more than I want to spend. And then I would have to pay transit?” I felt bad and tried to explain. He was really nice and said he understood it was work, but he and his wife were on a fixed income and he couldn’t really work because of his hands etc. etc. He wasn’t being a jerk, I just don’t think he had any idea whatsoever what making this involved. I don’t think he was a woodworker and I wondered why he bought the magazine in the first place.
He then asked if I knew anyone in the Florida area who would want to make one. I got the idea to post it on my scroll sawing list and see if anyone was up to the task. It wasn’t as if he was offensive or anything. I felt like he was a nice older gentleman who really liked something and didn’t really understand what it entailed to make. But I still wanted to help.
My partner thought that I was in the Nuthouse. He said that no one would work for under $3 per hour. I told him that I know lots of people on the list and participate often and there ARE people who make things because they love to make them and not for a living that may want to do this. At least it was worth a try.
So I posted the request to the scroll saw list. I didn’t want to say that this gentleman was cheap or anything like that because I wanted to be respectful, but I also wanted anyone who offered to help to know that this wasn’t going to be a good-paying job. I worded my request as carefully as I could.
Initially, I got several “I want to help but I can’t” replies on the list. After a day or so I did re-post a reply that I understood they were busy and that I wouldn’t be able to do it either because I really got the feeling that people wanted to help but couldn’t. These are really giving people.
I then got a message from someone who said he was really busy, but would do it. He sent me a personal message. I was just about to write him back with the information and my phone rang. It was a customer from of all places Nova Scotia. He had ordered a moose segmentation plaque that I offer earlier in the day and had a question about it and wanted to say hi. I put a personal message when I fill each order and I had said something like “hi neighbor!” to him and he just wanted to talk a minute.
In our conversation, he talked about how he loved to do segmentation and how I should do more wildlife animal ones such as the moose. He then said he loved the Nut House plaque that was just in the magazine. He said he had just finished cutting FOUR of them out and was in the process of sanding them.
Hummm . . .
The light bulb went on. “Four?” I asked.
“Yes” he said. “I really love them!”
“Do you sell them?” I asked anxiously (you know where I am going on this)
“Yes, I do” he said. “I have to charge $60 though” he said “because there is over 30 hours of work in them.”
“How can you charge so little?” I asked.
“Because I love to make them!” he replied.
Well, you can imagine where the conversation went from there. I told him about my customer in Florida and asked permission to give his phone number to him. I then called the man in Florida and told him about my Nova Scotia man. Match Made!
They were both grateful and happy and it was a win/win all around. My customer in Florida got his plaque, my customer in Nova Scotia got a sale, and I had the satisfaction of helping both out. All while the frog was singing down the river. It’s funny how things work out sometimes, isn’t it?
I really love woodworkers! :)
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"