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How Not To Treat Prospective Buyers


In fashion in the Charleston arts scene (a fashion which I hope disappears) is to answer the question, "How much would you charge..." with "You can't afford me". What's so ironic is that you hear it most from artists who have to think hard about which bill they'll have to float to afford a night out with friends. Let me tell you about one such scenario.

I accompanied a fellow artist to the studio of a woodworker. My acquaintance's beach boho style made her appear younger than she actually was. Gritty and natural, hair rolled into curls and something like starter dreads. So she asked this craftsman how much he would charge for a custom bed. His answer of course was, "You can't afford me." She pressed him, and his answer remained. Looking at the condition of his shop and tools, not to mention the low rent section of uptown where for safety's sake, one had to move quickly from the car to the shop door, he couldn't have been pulling in the big bucks. Yet he treated this woman with such arrogance that she dropped the matter and left. Would you believe she took the initiative to email him again? Would you believe his answer didn't change?

What he didn't know was that in spite of appearances, she was a trust fund girl, went to the prestigious girls' school, was educated abroad with an impressive international CV. She had just purchased a condo by means of the family trust, and was now crafting it to her custom specs. And I mean she did EVERYTHING to her custom specs. Did I mention that she spent money with reckless abandon? Switch this, add that, hold was a way of life. Even her "special" quesidillas at Taco Bell would come to $8. She did eventually acquire not only her custom bed, but a custom kitchen, bathroom, and doors - with wood playing the starring role in each. I don't know what she paid for it. And she ended up doing a lot of the work herself. We discussed money once, and she told me that she never kept a budget, never worried about her balance. Further, she was quite comfortable posting her life on social media, which would have meant exposure to her accomplished friends. All this to say, one carpenter in Charleston missed a stellar opportunity all because he wasn't as good as he thought he was about sizing people up.

So note to self. It's difficult to assess a prospective buyer. Looks are deceiving. Think about it, can't you remeber getting push-back on price from a diamond-bedazzeled beauty at least once in your career? So I think the best lesson is to treat all inquiries with respect. If they ask for a quote, put it out there and let them decide. Who buys just might surprise you.

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