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  • Selling "Made In America" Wood Products...

    (I hope this is the correct forum for this subject.)

    Here in the Southwest, we find difficulty in getting a good price for our wood products. People just seem to get cheap when it comes to hand made wood items. For example, one of our products would sell for $60 up North (Taos-Santa Fe area) but that same product goes for under $30 in the El Paso area. It could be that we are too close to the border...many Mexican products to choose from.

    At times, we wonder if people cannot afford "Made In America." We say this because it's such a "WalMart" economy today.

    And here's another clue: We took a wood product to one of the local galleries to be juried (everything in this gallery is approved by jury process) and one of the jurors said we'd have to lower the asking price to meet the demands of the economy. Hmmm...we went away shaking our heads.

    Do you gentlemen fight for good pricing in your area of the country. Maybe you agree that hand made wood products are a tuff sell?
    Last edited by dzblack; 08-27-2007, 10:59 AM.

  • #2
    Re: Selling "Made In America" Wood Products...

    The average person has no clue when it comes to the amount of labor and the material costs that go into any handmade product. That is true no matter if it's wood or anything else for that matter. I know that I didn't before I got into woodworking and started making things for myself.

    I think that there are two schools of thought where woodworking is concerned. One being those who do it for enjoyment only and the other for those who do it for the enjoyment and also to make money. For those who try to make money, they are pretty much subject to local competition and the laws of supply and demand.

    I doubt if there are but a few hundred individual woodworkers out there who demand and receive sufficient compensation for their work when compared to what they feel the product is worth.
    ================================================== ====
    ~~Don't worry about old age; it doesn't last that long.

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    • #3
      Re: Selling "Made In America" Wood Products...

      MY opinion, you can not compete, again you can not compete, on regular items,

      First: your wood and raw components, many times cost as much or more than a manufactured product.

      Two: if your competing against imported products, your competing against slave or nearly slave labor prices.

      The only way I think one can compete, is to provide a product that is extraordinary, and exceptional.

      CUSTOM products, either ones that have been commissioned to be built,
      (I have done some good on this avenue.)

      or some thing that is not found any where else, and then I think you have change the mentally from wood worker to artist,

      If an artist tries to paint pictures for just competing with the market place he will starve, but if he makes some thing that stands out above the others, he can command most any asking price, ALSO it helps once he gets a name.

      I see some prices on odd items in some high end wood magazines, a chest or some item going for $12,000 where If I would have made it may be $300, would be my asking price, and if I would have asked $300 for it in my area, I would have been laughed at. may be offered $125 for so for it.

      why because I live where most have in as you say "the walmart mentally". and they can go to walmart and get a like item, for $75 or even a plastic item for $25.

      but there are those who are willing to pay for the special and unique items, I think some times the price is part of what is unique on some items.

      now how one breaks into that market I really do not know, I see stories in the paper from time to time on some one who has done it, with drift wood furniture, or scrap iron sculptures, or similar.

      I know some of it is being in the right place at the right time with right product,

      Depending on the type of item it is see if you can put it in the waiting room of a high end office with lots of traffic with a small tag on it and either your name and price, or other location where it would attract the attention of the type of customers that would be willing to pay for the special work you can provide, Some times booths at fairs or art displays, my be a different area you need to find a gallery with more up end customers, and see if you can get some items in on consignment. may be calling your shop a studio would help.

      I know of a office with photographs on the wall and even our local bank has art drawings of a local artist up and a small placard under them with the name and price on them.
      Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
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      • #4
        Re: Selling "Made In America" Wood Products...

        dzblack,

        I pretty much agree with the previous answers. But let me add this, and please understand that not knowing what the product is, handicaps my point of view a bit.

        A lot to selling your product depends on the market you're seeking. You've got to find your niche, so to speak; and it may not be the kind of work that you like to do.

        Here in the twin tiers of NY and PA, it is a rather rich market of tourists and for relatively high end home owners, what we used to call "Yuppies". We're a big tourist area with the Corning Glass Museum, Finger Lakes Winery, and general Mark Twain Country interests that attract people from around the world. Every single day, there are at least a half dozen tourist buses in the area, filled with Europeans and Asians.

        This tourism, is great for the trinket market or little keepsakes, but for the most part whatever they buy needs to either fit in the pocketbook or somehow be allowed back on the bus. Not exactly the kind of market for any kind of furniture.

        Likewise the motoring tourists need to either fit it back in the trunk of the car or you need to emphasize that safe and reliable shipping is available to them. That kind of trustfulness doesn't usually exist at craft fairs. Of high importance with this kind of market, is your product needs to reflect the region. For instance, wine racks sell well in the Finger Lakes, but not so well in the Art Glass oriented area of Corning.

        So, in our area, you need to get larger product in one of the many stores that line Corning's market street. But that's a tough market as you need to have something unique and with quality high enough that the merchant will find it an attractive addition to the inventory and will make them a profit quickly. Obviously they're going to mark the price up. Most often that kind of product is sold on consignment to minimize the risk to the merchant.

        With the many craft fairs thru-out the area, there are all kinds of products. But again, it needs to reflect the things that the region is known for. People like to look at objects in their home and remember that particular vacation or visit. For example, I had a friend who was a pretty decent watercolorist. Loved doing nature stuff. He couldn't sell crap in the Binghamton area... simply too many artists. On a vacation up into northern Ontario, they stayed at a quaint little hotel. He arranged a deal for his paintings there and every year every thing he provided was sold. Touring Americans bought his art like crazy, thinking it was one of the locals.

        There are a couple of other markets around here that have done well, but as is too often the case, they get saturated with competition. For example, you may do okay in furniture repair or refinishing, but it's not going to make you a living right away, as there are at least three furniture repair places within thirty miles. Keeps all the deep-pocket Corning scientists and management happy.

        Similarly the local Mennonite population has done quite well with lawn furniture and sheds, custom and otherwise. But it would be almost impossible to compete in that arena, simply because they have their own material supply and a reputation that is years in the making.

        About the biggest thing in our area is the market for custom work. It usually hinges off the home building and rennovation needs of local executives, scientist, etc. That's an area where reputation takes time to build, and/or you need a "connection" with a reputable contractor who will send work your way. Again, it's a viable avenue to explore, but it's wrought with risk and can be very competitive.

        The point is, you need to find your own area's market. What attracts the tourists, what is the home market like, what is the population turned-on by? And, none of that may be the area that you're expertise fits and if so, you need to recognize that you may have to adapt somewhat.

        We all see the guys that gain tremendous reputation in our hobby, and they are in an enviable position for a lot of us. But the thing to recognize perhaps, is that not only are they outstanding craftsman, they are also good marketeers. It does take time and one can starve before they gain enough popularity to make a living. It is certainly worth a try though... just keep looking for that niche.

        I hope this helps,

        CWS

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        • #5
          Re: Selling "Made In America" Wood Products...

          My "Norm Abram" friend suggesting getting out of the wood product business altogether. He now makes bowls on his lathe and sells them for $500. He will not make furniture anymore because "people don't appreciate good wood and quality workmanship." According to him, "they have no clue what good wood is so why bother."

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          • #6
            Re: Selling "Made In America" Wood Products...

            Originally posted by dzblack View Post
            ( For example, one of our products would sell for $60 up North (Taos-Santa Fe area) but that same product goes for under $30 in the El Paso area. It could be that we are too close to the border...many Mexican products to choose from.
            dz - I'm in Santa Fe and I see many retailers that specialize in 'Made in Mexico' furniture. I have to tell you that I remember visiting one store that had a fairly nice Armoire(sp?) But they used decking screws to attach the blasted hinges and pulls!!! And again, all this is constructed with pine thats going to split over time.

            Then there are the local storefront craftsmen that have established a snob appeal (but they do make fine furniture using cheap green card labor) and can get top dollar.. I also remember a "This Old House" series where Norm and crew were working with one of SFe's most respected Home Builders. And I remember Norm saying something to the effect that 'this wouldn't be tolerated in Boston". Referring to the fit and finish.

            I'm a novice wannabe but I have many friends and such actully in the business; either wood sculpturers sellering for thousands - really - to a brother of a neighbor that has a small furniture factory in Mexico.

            I agree with CW - you should try to get a booth at the State Fair or one of the many local craft fairs here in NM.

            I'll stop ranting now...
            You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocketship underpants don't help.

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            • #7
              Re: Selling "Made In America" Wood Products...

              Norm's comment, "this wouldn't be tolerated in Boston," is yet another clue. We agree with him. We've been all over arts and crafts landscape here in New Mexico and Arizona and in our opinion, Norm hit the nail on the head.

              Gentlemen, the above comments are all great. Thanks.

              We are only trying to see which way the wind is blowing, if that makes sense.

              P.s. One art gallery owner told us in passing, "Oh just take a piece of junk out of the trash and then run it through your paint department, give it an OLD look and feel, then triple the price and watch how people will fight over it."

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Selling "Made In America" Wood Products...

                Originally posted by dzblack View Post
                My "Norm Abram" friend suggesting getting out of the wood product business altogether. He now makes bowls on his lathe and sells them for $500. He will not make furniture anymore because "people don't appreciate good wood and quality workmanship." According to him, "they have no clue what good wood is so why bother."

                This could not be further from the truth. People travel all over the MD/PA/NJ area to buy "American" made furniture produced and sold in Lancaster County PA. All pieces are made by Mennonites and Amish and their work is near impeccable. My dinning room furniture (expensive for sure) is solid cherry through and through. There is not a piece of wood in the table, china closet, chairs, corner cabinet etc. that isn't cherry. I was so impressed with the workmanship that we have ordered furniture for our living room and soon our bed rooms as well.


                Here is one of the manufacturers:
                http://www.keystonecollection.com/index.asp
                Last edited by SteveA(MD); 09-07-2007, 06:39 PM.
                “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace” - Thomas Paine

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                • #9
                  Re: Selling "Made In America" Wood Products...

                  Yes...it can be different around our country. Here in the Southwest, people pay big bucks for Mexican made furniture built with 2x4 lumber and put together with sheet rock screws. Junk furniture, for sure. Santa Fe is full of galleries that deal with nothing but Mexican made furniture. Local wood workers who make truly good furniture, must be pulling their hair out.

                  We made a trip through Kansas last week and found that same Mexican furniture in a gallery in Dodge City. The local wood worker's stuff was in the back corner, high priced and not selling very well.

                  Makes one wonder if we should move to Mexico, take our saws with us.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Selling "Made In America" Wood Products...

                    Originally posted by dzblack View Post
                    Yes...it can be different around our country. Here in the Southwest, people pay big bucks for Mexican made furniture built with 2x4 lumber and put together with sheet rock screws. Junk furniture, for sure. Santa Fe is full of galleries that deal with nothing but Mexican made furniture. Local wood workers who make truly good furniture, must be pulling their hair out.

                    We made a trip through Kansas last week and found that same Mexican furniture in a gallery in Dodge City. The local wood worker's stuff was in the back corner, high priced and not selling very well.

                    Makes one wonder if we should move to Mexico, take our saws with us.
                    You could always put "Made in New Mexico" on it. It has already be proven that most people don't know the difference and don't even know it's a state.
                    “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace” - Thomas Paine

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Selling "Made In America" Wood Products...

                      Hey a big thanks to all f you guys on this page im doing a senior project on wood works and all the information that you provided me was very helpful. in my school we have a wood shop class were we can make pretty much any thing to an extent. im the top off my class i have made tons of differnt stuff and i know my way around a shop, But you guys inspierd me so thanx a lot and good luck selling in this "Wal-Mart" economy

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