I stopped at a local fresh produce market a week ago - not just to grab a handful of fresh flowers and a box of berries, but because I was drawn in by an antique yard sale taking place out in front. (You know me, I just can't resist the old peely stuff...) Before I bought my produce, I wandered around for about ten minutes, looking at the large array of items of every kind that the dealer had on display. (I use that term as a generality, really.... this stuff wasn't displayed).
I must have picked up at least half a dozen items that I was interested in: a large old soda bottle, a few rusty tin cans, some old feed bags, and others that caught my eye. In every case, there was no price tag. I had to try to catch the eye of the seller to ask about a price - but he was busily shuffling boxes around and avoiding eye contact with me. Even though I was the only person there, I was ignored. I walked up to him to inquire about the price of the soda bottle, and he stared at it and said "Well, I really like that one, it's unique. So I guess I'd charge five bucks." Being too much for me, I sat it back where I had found it.
Then I picked up two old torn dirty feed sacks that had been tossed across a rocking chair, lifted them up, looked at him, and asked "And these?" He replied, "Ahhhhhh.. well, those are from the forties. My dad had those in his barn. They're really old. So, maybe, ten each." He did this on every single item I expressed interest in. Acted hesitant, as if he really didn't want to part with it, then quoted a ridiculously high price. The high price hit me this way: either he has no idea what it is he has and what it's really worth, he's desperate to make money but doesn't know how to sell, or he is using an old sales tactic that treats customers like hapless idiots who know nothing about what they are buying. He was, in effect, almost ensuring that I wouldn't buy anything at all.
And I didn't.
I just bought my berries and a bunch of daisies and left. I was thinking all the way home that he just blew not only a sale, but also prevented me from ever stopping to look at his wares again. Even if I had found something absolutely amazing there, I would not have bought it...I felt like he had not priced his wares simply so he could 'size up' each customer and charge them accordingly. I hate that attitude, I really do. It irks me! As a customer, I've made the effort to stop and look at your products, so don't jack them up on me just because I drive a decent car and look nice. (I look like I'm far better off than I am, actually, but that's not the point.) The point is that in any business, every product has a value to the seller and the buyer. Sellers/dealers/retailers have to determine that value and price the item. Then the buyer can decide if it's what they value the product at, and either buy it or pass on it. Or, bargain on the price in some cases - but there has to be a starting point.
If you offer products for sale, no matter where or how you sell them, price them clearly. It will go a long way in making your customer see the value in what you are offering them - and the value you place on their business and their time, as well.
Image Credit: http://www.flicker.com/photos/littlepinkstudio
(These price tags were for sale on her site back in March.... what a GREAT way to price your merchandise!)