Monday, March 29, 2010

Bargain hunter's paradise - shopkeeper's nightmare

I really had to bite my tongue yesterday. I mean, really hard. I was on the verge of being rude to a customer, because I'd had enough. And now I'm closing the shop and offering 25% off my already well priced jewellery ... well there was an attitude behind a comment that was a bit hard to take.

It was a very quiet Sunday, and I was just filling in time, pondering my ranges for the new online Bella Moon. Two women (I'm guessing they were mother and daughter) came in, ignored me, looked around the jewellery, before the younger of the two asked to try one of my necklaces. It's a long smoky quartz necklace, with hand made brushed sterling silver donuts and a lovely little dangly thing at the front.

Now, I've already had to price my jewellery almost at wholesale in order to sell anything in this part of town. This particular necklace is $190, and considering it took me about 3 hours to design and make, that's about $40 for the materials (probably less than I've paid) and doesn't account for the time or weight in the hand made silver components. With my sale, it has 25% off, taking the price to $142.50.

"Oh no, I don't want to pay that much," was the response. That was when I had to bite my tongue. I was on the verge of snapping something along the lines of: "well there's plenty of $2 shops in the area, I'm sure you could find something plastic ... or try Savers across the road. That'll be more in line with your budget." But I didn't.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing at all wrong with not wanting to spend a certain amount of money on what is technically a luxury item (jewellery). But it's a constant theme in this neighbourhood - "ooooh, that's expensive", or "I love these earrings but I probably can't afford your prices." For the record, my semi precious stone and real freshwater pearl beaded earrings generally range from about $45 - $70. More for chandeliers and intricate designs. They're NOT expensive. They'd be considered cheap in other parts of town.

Something I didn't take into account when I opened Bella Moon was its proximity to Savers - a dominating force in Sydney Road op-shopping - along with two other op-shops in the same block. Then there's the multitude of $2 shops in the next block.

The hype is that Sydney Road is changing, attracting a more stylish and financially stable type of person. I guess it may be, but it's going to take quite a while yet before the strip is ready for a new breed of retailers across the board. And there are some wonderful new boutique-style shops in my part of Sydney Road. I just hope they get the support and custom they deserve to help keep the area growing and moving in a beautiful way.

But as I've mentioned in a previous post: the extended clearways, the lack of any street beautification - trees, flowers, even funky tiled footpath sections (anything green or colourful and attractive would be good), combined with a lack of clearly marked off street parking areas - doesn't attract drivers through Brunswick to stop and shop. Unless it's to go to Savers.

I'm lucky I've been offered the opportunity to move on with my business. I'm entering a new phase of growth and simply can't wait to get the creative juices in action to make and present my new ranges online, to the world, and not be ashamed of charging the prices they're worth.

The shop has been a fabulous experience and even though I have the odd moment of grrrr, I have met some wonderful people and also have some great loyal customers who do appreciate my work. And I thank every one of those people from the bottom of my heart for keeping it real.