Determining worth

What is something really worth?

This is sort of a hard question for me right now on a practical level with the business… but of course that triggers metaphorical connections.


How much is a windchime or a whirligig worth?

I know for each one roughly how much I paid for the material that is used in it.

But just setting the value as a formula based on that (for example, the cost of parts times 3 that seems to be a common one tossed out for craft fairs)… completely fails to take into account that windchimes are actually pretty cheap, but right now the hardest thing for me to actually make on effort.

Going the other direction and pricing on effort… means that of my two small sized pvc spinners that have different shapes, the ones that are a twisted diamond would be very cheap while the same thing in a star shape would be one of the most expensive products. (You have no clue how many times I’ve just had to burst out laughing as I’ve gotten a point of the star wrong and found myself staring at this random jumble of pipes hanging in the air.)

But, using either of those also totally takes out the factor of the purchaser.

Looking online, several of the websites that sell birds fairly similar to my whilibirds (but on a stake rather than hanging), sell them for $35-$45 bucks.

But, there’s a huge part of me that goes "there is no way in heck I would pay $45 for a painted wood bird with spinners for wings!"

But, then, I’m not to person buying their birds. The person buying their birds is someone who wants a whirligig so much that they are willing to go online and hunt one down and have it shipped to them.

But, really, I’m not the person buying my birds either.

I’m expecting the primary location for sales to be the local farm and art market that is held in the trendy part of town… a bit more of an affluent crowd who are paying extra for local fresh foods… and expecting them to pretty much just be an impulse purchase.

"Oh cool, a windchime in my team’s colors…" "My grandma used to have a whirligig like that…" "I bet my mom would like a windspinner for her patio for mothers day.."

There’s also another farmers market in town, partially sponsored by the county.. that tends to draw more of the smaller places and more of the average consumer.

If I decide to set up out there some weeks.. the price that they are likely to pay is probably a bit less than they would pay at the more serious market (the main market is so serious about things being locally sourced and hand made that they actually do inspections and its in the rules that you will allow them to check out your workshop or farm to verify that the products really are being made by you).

The idea has even been floated around a bit to try and market a bit towards the outdoor wedding crowd as well for outdoor decorations that could be custom made to match wedding colors. The wedding stuff at the bridal shows is astronomically priced!

On the opposite end… even though the local flea market is huge, and I could get a lot of exposure there… generally the crowd is people who are hunting for things cheap and looking for the deal more than they are concerned with the fact that its made by hand locally or has artistic value. So prices would pretty much have to be super low to sell well, and might not really even be worth the effort.

So.. do I flex prices?

Does worth change?

If you buy a chime in the artsy area of town, is it worth more than the same chime on the west side just because of the surroundings?

How in the heck do you even figure how to weigh cost vs effort vs customer price expectations?

It’s hard for me to value the worth of something I’ve made. I’m too critical. But, I also know that as someone who tends more towards practical purchases, I’m probably also a lot more of a cheap shopper than my customers.

But it sort of feels like what something is worth is a concept that is all over the charts!

Looking on etsy and such just makes matters worse. There are wood wind spinners that I see on there, and know that unless they have a much cheaper source of materials than I do, they are likely only making about 5 bucks for several hours of work.

But on the other hand, I see people with chimes on there that are going for about 4 times what I would have thought they were worth looking at materials and likely amount of work.

I’ve chosen not to go the etsy direction right now primarily due to shipping. It’s hard to get the packaging right to make sure theres no risk of damage without also adding quite a bit of costs to the expense category for the larger boxes and gobs of packing peanuts before you even get it out the door. (Shipping may end up happening on custom orders or gifts, but I’m not really ready to fuss with it enough yet to be dealing with regular etsy sales, etc)

But.. if I do decide to expand that direction, does that change everything? If I’m selling something for x dollars at the craft fairs, is it going to make a stir if I price it lower online to compete with other crafters from far away places?

The more and more I get into trying to figure out fair and reasonable yet profitable prices, the more and more I feel like my head just sort of enters this foggy area of wondering what worth really means on anything.

Obviously, in business its a very critical concept. It’s a huge part of staying afloat to get it nailed down.

But man… it gets murky so fast.

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