It seems that being the "little guy" in the mind-blowingly giant world of sales (especially when you sell your own hand-made products!), often means that people think prices are negotiable. If I had ten cents for every time someone used a phrase like, "And if I buy more than one?", "Is there a discount if...?", and "Is that your best price?"...
I have to bite my tongue before I let slip, "When you go out to dinner with the whole family, do you insist on paying less because there's more than one of you?".
"Do you think the time and money I spent on making each of these products becomes less when you buy a set?"
"When your first bill arrives at the end of the month, do you ask for a discount because you have more bills coming?"
Of course, the unfortunate reality is that many entrepreneurs feel the pressure of securing a sale and are therefore susceptible to giving into a pushy customer. I've been there many, many times. I remember a particularly scarring experience a few years ago, where a gentleman (I use the term very lightly indeed!) had selected a collection of my hand-painted succulents on pallet wood. He held the paintings close to his chest and announced that he will be paying X-amount for them. It was far, far below my asking price. I giggled nervously until I realised he wasn't joking, shook my head and mumbled my disagreement. Without blinking, he whipped out his wallet, stuffed the amount he mentioned in my hand, smirked, turned on his heel and left.
I was devastated. Violated. There was no celebrating that sale, even though it was a lot of money. It wasn't what my work - and myself as extension - was worth. And there should be no celebration in undervaluing something that is valuable. What's more, I'm sure that my lacklustre attempt at standing up to that bully would only encourage the same bad behaviour from him in the future. After all, if you reward a dog with a bone every time he lifts his leg against your couch, you can't expect him to stop doing it (and yes, I'm calling the aforementioned "gentleman" a dog!).
These days, I'm practising the art of saying NO. I'm working on ignoring the need to explain myself, justifying my firm but courteous answer and feeling guilty about it. "No." is a full sentence. This certainly doesn't always go down well, and I get many dirty looks, indignant cries of "Why not?!", and furious stomp-offs. Luckily, for every outraged, disappointed bargainer, there are ten customers who understand the value of something that is locally hand-crafted. Something that you cannot buy at a chain-store-on-every-corner. Something that is a little guy's bread and butter. Something with a story; a soul. And I would much, MUCH rather my hand-made-with-love products go home with someone like that.
So here's to my fellow entrepreneurs that heroically stand by the value of their time, workmanship, talent, originality and soul. And here's to the customer that recognises and respects that it exists.
In closing, the only response to, "Is that your best price?", should be, "That's my only price".