Monday, December 16, 2013

In tribal art, what is the value of good service?

Sue and I were talking this morning about the number of really satisfying feedback comments we get. I use the term “satisfying” because that's what they are. When you receive good service from us, not only does it benefit you, it also benefits us. There is something positively rewarding about hearing from people who feel they had a good experience with us.

So, we work very diligently to provide response-worthy service. Sometimes we mess up. After all, unlike the big companies, we are human. Two human beings who select items for resale that we would be happy to own ourselves if no one buys them. (Once, we tried to buy for the “market”. We bought some things we weren't crazy about but thought others would like. We were wrong. And disappointed. It was a lesson re-learned every time we looked at something we were not that fond of. From then on, we vowed to buy only items that pleased us. That way, if they are not sold, we have the pleasure of enjoying them ourselves.)

But I have digressed somewhat from the subject of good service and its value. 

The point is, when we treat people the way we would like to be treated, it has intrinsic value for us. We feel good about doing it. We hope you do too. And when you tell us about it, we are thrilled.

Which brings me to the other component of value, price. We price our items at a level that provides us with a modest amount of income to cover our risk, expense and a few dollars for groceries. Since we buy at wholesale, the price to our buyer is seldom any more than what the buyer would pay directly to the maker – if they could get that opportunity.

Still we get buyers who ask, “Is that they best you can do?” We are not offended. We understand that value is set by the buyer. If the asking price is higher than the buyer thinks the item is worth, we would rather have her ask for a discount that balances the value equation for her than walk away without something that she valued enough to ask about in the first place. If we have any room to bargain, we will.

What bothers us is other re-sellers who are constantly in “sale mode”. They price an item at more than it's worth and then put it “on sale” at a price that is its actual worth. Who are they fooling? Do they think so little of their customers' intelligence that they believe you don't know what they are doing? Incidentally, these people are often the same as those who subtly mislead in their descriptions of the items. On headlined “Native American art”, they include numerous items described as “Southwestern-style” without specifically saying that they are NOT made by indigenous Native American Indians.

All these elements constitute “good service” : quality merchandise, honestly presented, guaranteed authentic with satisfaction guaranteed, properly packed, promptly shipped and willingly tracked in the event of delivery problems.

This becomes even more important at this time of year, when buyers want their purchases delivered in time for the holiday. As of today, the post office assures us that the deadline for shipping with that expectation is five days off. Of course, there are alternatives such as overnight shippers, at higher cost. And, if you are within 25 miles of South Fort Myers, we will personally deliver any purchase of $100 or more to your address, at no extra charge.

If you would like to receive e-alerts of our new items, sales (real one) or other news of tribal art happenings, sign up here.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. And thanks for your attention. 

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