I have the privilege of knowing and befriending quite a few entrepreneurs since I relocated last year. Talking with one of them, whom I will call “Keisha,” I was reminded about how little value some of us place on quality and supporting Black-owned businesses who produce quality.
Keisha makes and sells her own jewelry line, and it is affordable. However, she has told me numerous times about her customers that frequently question her prices and are always looking for a discount.
I’ve got a problem with people who always walk into a situation (a purchase or something personal) thinking about how much they can get away with, or how they can “get over” on someone. Now I don’t knock anyone for wanting to save money. I am a self-proclaimed coupon princess, heir to the throne… but it’s my feeling that when it comes to certain brands–brands of quality and customer service– you can’t expect a “hook-up.” If you get one, great… but don’t come around always expecting it.
How many folks do you know would go into a store like Tiffany’s or Coach and haggle over the price of a ring or a handbag? Exactly my point. Quality brands know their value, and they treat their brand and inventory as such. And people are willing to pay a little more for that perceived value. Think about it– most of us have at least one category of spending where we will not pick a generic brand as our first choice (and for some us, we wouldn’t ever choose it). The moment you start to regularly throw out coupons and discounts to every Tom, Dick and Harry, you begin to dilute your brand.
What I’m saying does not apply to all brands of all products– there is quality to be had even at lower price points. But you don’t want people to associate your business with the Family Dollar category unless that’s what it really is. That’s all I’m saying. I even mentioned this concept recently in a post about dating. So you can apply the issue of discounting yourself to this as well. No one will treat you better than you require them to. And if that person doesn’t stick around, good riddance–you don’t need them.
My advice to Keisha was that she raise her prices and stop arguing with folks. her jewelry is very nice and reasonably priced–maybe a little too well. But if she would raise her prices a little, she may be able to remove those negative, constant “gimme”-type customers and gain more clientele who will respect her hustle. She can reward repeat customers with discounts every now and then if she wants to, but people shouldn’t always expect it.
By all means, be an informed consumer, but please people, don’t argue and haggle over quality products by small business owners and entrepreneurs who serve you well. If you have a real issue, by all means address it, but check your budget and your expectations before you demand or complain about an item’s cost. Or shop with a competitor. But don’t shop with a bigger appetite than you can afford. Our economy is hanging by a thread and we need to support “the little guys” (what have big corporations done for you lately?).
So when it comes to your business, your job, your friends, or your love life, know your worth. Because if you don’t, it’s highly unlikely that you will be treated as such.