As many of you know already, I’ve been vending dolls over at Granville Island for the past few months. It’s been an interesting venture. I really love meeting and seeing my customers (I dislike that word so much – it’s honest to God like visiting friends when you guys come here!). There are literally hundreds of people coming through here every day – Granville Island is a place almost every visitor to Vancouver comes to. We get lots of locals but also LOTS of tourists come through. When I used to vend my dolls, all those years ago, I would sell at Farmers Markets and Craft shows – where it was a different kind of ‘customer’ – people who came to support local and handcrafted goodness. Here, at GI, it’s a tad different… there is definitely the people that appreciate what we do but then there’s another kind of person ….
You ladies know when someone on the Facebook wall comments on how expensive and how crazy it is that dolls cost SO much?!! They just don’t get that these dolls take hours to make and that the materials are of the best quality aka expensive. They also don’t know of our labour practices – that my sewing mamas are all local and are paid well and fairly for their work. It seems like sometimes people like to talk about wanting ‘Made in Canada’ or ‘Made in the USA’ but do not understand the costs involved with doing so. Anyhow, when someone makes these comments online, usually a whole bunch of you will jump in and talk about all these things and Brooke will go and try to explain things as well. It actually makes me ill to read the mean comments so I usually just leave them alone (remember the one ,not so long ago, where the lady said the dolls should be filled with cocaine!! for the price they are?)
Well, here, I’m getting those kinds of comments to my face by some people who are obviously offended that my dolls cost what they do.
Man, yesterday ‘These dolls cost $220??! What!! It’s a DOLL!’
Myself ‘Ahh, yeah Sir, they take about 10 hours and are stuffed with wool and made with natural materials.’
Man (and I am NOT exaggerating here) looks me up and down and says ‘YOU make $22 an HOUR??’
Myself , super flustered and all red faced with shock ‘Ah, no, I wish! – the materials are very expensive , blah, blah’
Man just walks away .. not even listening
or this gem..
Lady ‘I’ll give you $5 for this’ (I was selling some pocket dolls for $10 a piece)
Myself (a little taken a back) – ‘They are $10″
Lady ‘These are not worth $10 – do you really think you can charge that much for this?’
Myself – I actually sort of burst into tears and ran to the bathroom.
Then there are the hourly ‘AH! for a doll?!?’ looks and comments. It’s bizarre – it’s like getting talked about behind your back but right in front of your face! It’s like you do not exist. And you have to understand, these are people who have no experience or understanding or even want to know about what goes into these – they are coming in usually from cruise ships from port to port – I am no different to some of them then the person downtown selling 4 tshirts for $20 (not that I am a better person or anything like that – it’s just that they are selling an imported item, different sort of thing) . I try to keep this in mind but DANG, it’s hard to keep positive sometimes. It’s like you can get 100 great comments but you cling to that ugly bad one for dear life. I think that the ugly comment is a reflection of any sort of negative thought you have about yourself.
On Thursday I had had enough – I was done. I’m here for 10 hours at one time in an intense retail situation – talking and talking all day. I do well, we sell dolls, but I know if I put them on the site they’d sell too. I wanted to do GI to meet people, get out of the studio and be inspired amongst other artisans. I got talking to Michelle (fellow artisan) about this and she said that in this market you either develop a thicker skin or it wears you down raw. Then I talked to Helen who is an incredible photographer and salesperson. She actually made me roleplay out scenarios pretending she was the customer. So, instead getting all defensive when people questioned the pricing she gave me the advice on agreeing with them. So now it goes a little like this ..
‘Whoa! $240 for a DOLL?!”Yes, it can seem expensive for some – we aren’t used to seeing dolls for that price. However, these dolls are all one of a kind creations that take 10 hours to create. I believe strongly in using only the best and safe materials for children – which is expensive!’ I have more if someone looks interested, but that’s my ‘line’ now. Joelle, who makes soap, get’s these comments too (everyone in here does) and simply looks people in the eye and says ‘It’s not for everyone’ – I can’t do that one because it comes off a bit to snarky for me – but it’s a goodie!
Since this ‘revelation’ I’ve had the BEST time here (like even when I don’t have my friends coming for a visit!)- something had clicked and those comments roll off my back. I don’t think it’s that I’m going to develop a ‘thicker skin’ but I’m certainly not going to let this wear me down raw.