After having been in the biz (the online craft-selling biz, that is) for a while now, I’ve had my fare share of people haggling with me.

It usually goes along the lines of an e-mail or convo that says lovely things about my work (no complaint there!) and then enquires as to whether I:

  • have any sales or discounts going
  • would give a discount for multiple purchases
  • would like to trade

The latter – would I like to trade – is cool, I have done so in the past, and I’m happy as long as both parties feel they’ve gotten a fair deal. I have said no to as many trades as I have said yes to – because I’ll only trade for something I really want. In my mind, trading is just another form of payment – instead of us giving each other money for the stuff we like, we just swap the stuff, which is worth basically the same value – simple.

But the first two, well, they make me a bit uncomfortable.

Yes, I have sales and discounts occasionally – usually because I want to reward loyal customers and say thank you, or because I want to promote a new product – or, if sales just happen to be down and I’d like to pick them up again. But, truthfully? I won’t be doing much of that, because for me and my work, sales just don’t tend to have much of an effect – and they don’t really make sense for my way of working, either. Why?

Well, the point of a sale is for stores to clear out stock that they have paid for (or already made in the case of those of us who sell direct). In the case of a B&M, they need to both recoup the money they’ve already spent on the item (which is usually half or less of what it was originally priced at) and clear space for new stock.

For me, and those like me, who make our products to order, sales don’t make a heck of a lot of sense, really. Because when I run the sale, I then have to make those pieces – I’m not selling things I’ve already made.

So – that is why sales don’t really benefit me, and why I have them so rarely.

But you’re probably wondering why I’m harping on about sales when this post is all about haggling. Well, I’m trying to set the scene – because haggling is a lot like a sale. Haggling works for a shop-keeper when they have stock they need to move.

So, they’re happy to haggle with a customer and sell it to them for a little less than the marked price, because they still win out.

But, for those of us who make to order – well – that’s a different story. By asking us for a discount, you’re asking us to work for less.

Most of us are on small margins already, and honestly, a great number of us are already undercharging for our work.

So, when we are contacted and asked for a discount, it can almost feel like you are devaluing our work, and our time.

This is why, personally, I would never dream of haggling for a handmade item. Personally, I extend this to everyone who makes handmade goods – even if they don’t make to order. I trust the seller to have put a fair price on their work and their time, and I am very happy to pay that price – because I know the money I am paying is going straight to them.

Sure, there might be a little cut taken by Etsy and Paypal – but buying direct from the maker of the goods is something special – something that we should cherish.

Does that mean I won’t take advantage of a sale if someone has one? No, it doesn’t. Because if they’re having a sale, then they’ve decided that it works for them at that point in time to charge less for their work, so I’m happy to buy. Although, to be honest, I usually still feel a little guilty!

And maybe it’s just my culture – in Australia, haggling is not a general part of the buying/selling process – but I feel it’s a little disrespectful to ask artists and crafters to give me their work for less than they’ve decided it’s worth.

And that is why I, personally, don’t haggle for handmade. What are your thoughts on the issue?