Quality or price . . .

There is a phenomena that I have observed with growing frustration over the years.  I first encountered it more than 30 years ago when I started doing leather crafting.  I make wonderful, sturdy, wallets, purses, and belts, and can design several other things without much difficulty.  My wife has a purse I made for her, and almost everyone who sees it croons about how wonderful it is, until she tells them her husband made it, and can make one for them if they want it.

The problem was, nobody wanted to pay what the finished item was worth.  For an example: if I buy a ready-to-assemble blank purse kit from Tandy Leather, it will cost me at least $25 plus shipping.  Then I have to do the tooling of the design on it, which can take more than 10 hours if I work on it steadily.  Then I have to spend 2-4 hours assembling the purse (depends on the difficulty of the purse).  So it is easy to have 12 hours invested in each piece.  If we round off to $8/hr as an unskilled minimum wage (which leather crafting should NOT be counted as – it is a skill that takes a couple of years to reach competency at) I would have to add almost $100 to the price for labor – and that isn’t even looking into anything like a “profit margin” yet.  I’m lucky if I can get $35 for even the most complicated ones.

Instead, what most people who inquire about prices of my work tell me is some variation of “I’d rather spend $5/mo. (for the rest of my life) for cheap ones than spend $160 now for something that will last me the rest of my life.”  These will last, too.  My dad also does leather work, and when he married my step-mother he made her a clutch purse of the same style I made for my wife.  She was still using it up to her death in February – after over 35 years.

I’ve run into that “no profit” problem with my soaps, too.  People think they are getting a bargain when they go to Walmart and buy bar soap at  4/ $1 (or whatever the going rates are).  They don’t realize that the junk they get there isn’t even real soap.  Look at the label – there is no lye or lard in it anywhere.  Those are the two essential ingredients for real soap.  What every department store, or grocery, in the US is really selling is chemically created detergent.

Don’t forget the old folk-wisdom adage, “You get what you pay for.”  What that is supposed to mean is that if you want quality, you have to pay for it.  For the most part, that is true.  I won’t use it to defend the ridiculous prices of a DG purse or Nike running shoe, but you can’t get a purse that will last 30 years for $10 either.

Look at the world around us.  Everyone everywhere is experiencing hardship, contraction, and lack.  Cities are on the verge of bankruptcy, people who are capable and willing to work hard labor jobs are sitting at home on welfare because there aren’t any jobs available.  Factories are shutting down as their jobs rush overseas.  And I think that not only is it all related, but due to ONE common cause.

You can call it the “Law of Attraction” factor.  In case you haven’t heard, the “Law of Attraction” basically states that you get back from the universe what you put into it.  If you focus your attention on hardship, the universe will make sure you have plenty of hardship to focus on.  Oh, and every time you say, “I can’t afford that,” the universe acknowledges you with, “You’re right.”

There is only one way to turn that around, and I’m not talking about being ridiculously “Laissez Faire” with your spending.  Just stop clipping coupons, stop looking for discounts, and stop negotiating.  If you ask someone to mow your yard and they want $40 every time – pay it.  If you do anything else (except for offering more), you are saying “I can’t afford …” PLUS you are also saying that the mower isn’t worth the time he spends doing your work – the factory workers weren’t worth the time they spent making a quality mower . . . .

And we are ALL worth our time.  Yes, even you.  If you want to be paid what you are worth, start by making sure you pay others what they are worth.

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