Does this IRK anyone else?

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KenB259

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It usually goes like this. Wow those are really cool pens . How do you make them. I say, I buy a hardware kit,choose the blank material, turn it on a lathe and assemble it. They say Oh it’s just a kit. That just irks me to no end. Just a kit, to my mind means they assume there’s no skill or craftsmanship involved. Far from the truth. I always hold my tongue, but it’s getting harder. Does anyone else deal with this?


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magpens

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You're not alone !! ...Yeah ... irks me to ... "Oh, so all you do is assemble !" ... !!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have not yet figured out an appropriate reply ... just bite my tongue and let it go !
 
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dogcatcher

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I never mentioned a kit or the name that is used in the industry. Every style of pen had it's own name, in front of the public, there was no such thing as a Slimline. Too easy for people to Google "Slimline pens" and know exactly what are doing.
 

Terredax

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Honestly, I don't understand all of the secrecy. If anyone cared enough to Google anything about pens, the information is readily available, about kits, components, where to purchase, styles, prices, etc., etc.

In fact, many of the members here, found this place during a search.

The distinction is, that most people that are looking at pens, that are made by someone else, most likely don't have the necessary equipment to make the pens. If they did have the equipment, they would most likely know about making pens.

If I were to see something I'm not familiar with, I may purchase one to have, but I would do research on the subject to get the information. That information would be utilized to determine if I'm able to produce said item, and where to source the materials. Not everyone would care to do research on a pen, but if they did, they will get the information in minutes.

Only the opinion of an old f@^t.
 

jttheclockman

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Same here. Never mention the word kit and never tell them a name of the pen. It is a twist pen or cap pen or click pen. Case closed. I do have some blanks to show what the body looks like unturned.
 

Pierre---

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Irked me too. So I went kitless, and now I say I also buy components to keep the price low, which I think is the raison d'être of a kit.

Most people understand.:biggrin:
 
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I use the word components when people ask how I make a pen. What really irks me is after spending hours making a pen or custom jewelry box or humidor someone says "I could have bought the same thing at Costco for a lot less". Now that really gets me going and there are some "customers" who because of this attitude I won't sell to anymore. Happened with a good friends wife. Cost the friendship and she bad mouthed my work to others so much that it cost me business. This was a solid Claro Walnut box, gold gilded inlet side rail hinges, etched mirror attached to the lid and velvet lining on the inside and tray. Had about 40 hours into it and sold it to my "friends" wife for $350.00. It should have sold for almost $1,000.00. My bad, live and learn.
 

Curly

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John the opinionated old f@^t. :wink:

I was never concerned about someone pulling out their phone to google a pen at an art show but understand why it can be a detriment to sales from a website.

This thread is about customers downplaying the value of the pen in your booth because "kit" has the perception of being bad. I remember that from my youth with reference to a Heathkit (sp?) stereo or radio. Might have had better sound than a named stereo but you wouldn't impress an "audiophile" by telling them that's what you had at home.

So upping your sales pitch by using the better buzzwords when you describe the pens on your table is smart. If you are happy telling the impulse buyer standing in front of you that it is a kit pen and you can get them everywhere then do it. If pitching your meticulously crafted writing instrument is made with the best components you have painstakingly sourced from Europe, South America, Australia, Africa, the far east and here at home sells the pen them that is a good idea. There is ground between the two that you'll need to adjust depending on the customer in front of you.
 

Terredax

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Mr. Christensen... I find it difficult to believe anyone is so ignorant to think that sourcing a piece of wood, or a pen component is painstaking. Especially when there is more than one person selling pens at the same show.

The average person knows that products and materials are easily found on the web.

A salesman is a salesman. It doesn't matter if it's a pen or a car, there is always a spiel; it's up to the consumer to decide as to what to believe.
Instead of emphasizing the materials, and trying to glorify a piece of wood from Africa, spend the time to emphasize the process to make the pen.

It's not at all difficult to make a pen, but explaining what it takes to make the pen, will help someone understand the amount of time involved.
 

magpens

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A salesman is a salesman. It doesn't matter if it's a pen or a car, there is always a spiel; it's up to the consumer to decide as to what to believe.
I didn't get into this because I wanted to be a salesman. . I trust my pens to sell themselves.

And whatever I say, I ensure that it is believable.

The people that I have sold to don't really care about how much time it takes to make a pen and they don't care about the process.

The key, I think, is to offer a product that is not readily available elsewhere. . A Marla feather blank or an abalone blank work pretty well I have found.

That said, I don't sell many, but what I do sell are pretty unique, I feel.
 
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KenB259

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Lots of great ideas. I will emphasize components and not utter the word kit. Also sounds like a good idea to have an unturned blank on hand.


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jttheclockman

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John the opinionated old f@^t. :wink:

I was never concerned about someone pulling out their phone to google a pen at an art show but understand why it can be a detriment to sales from a website.

This thread is about customers downplaying the value of the pen in your booth because "kit" has the perception of being bad. I remember that from my youth with reference to a Heathkit (sp?) stereo or radio. Might have had better sound than a named stereo but you wouldn't impress an "audiophile" by telling them that's what you had at home.

So upping your sales pitch by using the better buzzwords when you describe the pens on your table is smart. If you are happy telling the impulse buyer standing in front of you that it is a kit pen and you can get them everywhere then do it. If pitching your meticulously crafted writing instrument is made with the best components you have painstakingly sourced from Europe, South America, Australia, Africa, the far east and here at home sells the pen them that is a good idea. There is ground between the two that you'll need to adjust depending on the customer in front of you.


I guess I confess, yes I am an old Fart (check) I am opinionated (check)

I have been doing this for over 35 years Selling pens for some 12 years.

I have heard every excuse not to buy that was written in a book. You develop a feel for customers over time. If someone tells me oh its a kit then that tells me he or she is a pen maker or has some knowledge. So you pass right away on that person. They are there to troll you and check your product out. Never tell anyone I use kits, or how hard or easy to spin a pen blank. Never mentioned a kit by name in 12 years. I will spend the time explaining how to change ink refills, how the pen writes. How to operate it and the care that should go into protecting it because it is an investment. If i have a person that takes the tour of my pens and still walks away I usually tell them I have a gift for them and hand them a Bic pen. They can draw their own conclusions from the gesture.

I sell many clocks and scrollwork. I use nothing but hardwoods and finish to a pleasant shine and feel. Have had many compliments on my work. But I have also heard the too high a price, I can buy that in Walmart or on-line or the famous one I can make that, I will engage to a point but then just back off and realize that is not a sale for me. You can tell if there is any hint of a sale. I can tell people all day long I use the best woods and the best this and the best that and in the end it goes in one ear and out the other. Now if a person is truely interested I will pull out all stops and throw the lines of the best of everything at them. But you know.

Learn to become a salesperson. Selling pens is not easy. It is not an item that people have to have. But you can make a go of it.
 

leehljp

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. . . The key, I think, is to offer a product that is not readily available elsewhere. . A Marla feather blank or an abalone blank work pretty well I have found.

That said, I don't sell many, but what I do sell are pretty unique, I feel.
I started using the word "component" several years ago also. However, like Tony, it doesn't bother me "personally" what other's think. (Yes, :biggrin: that might be considered a personality disorder for me - not Tony. :biggrin:)

I don't make pens regularly, but when I do - like Mal, my pens sell themselves. I shoot for fit, finish and unique artistic appeal. I use calipers on each end of each turned blank; I don't often use sandpaper on wood or cast material but rather finish turning to size with very sharp scrapers (Skews work well in some cases). Polish the finished CA.

I have an old friend - my high school physics teacher (now in his 80's). In his retirement he deals in making custom jewelry with precious metals and stones. He knows what fine pens are, and he sees my pens an works of art and often asks me about them. The point is, if time, precision and artistic touches and finish are put into the pen, it is not about the pen name or the components but the value of the whole. These are pens ($75 - $150 - $300+ in the depressed area in N. MS) that you can put beside the $25 - $35 cheap ones at a craft show and people will KNOW the difference . . . and consequently speak of the $25 - $35 as a "kit" - and the more expensive ones in an artistic quality. They may not "buy" the more expensive ones, but they don't compare them in the same terminology.
 
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Gregory Hardy

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Irked me too. So I went kitless, and now I say I also buy components to keep the price low, which I think is the raison d'être of a kit.

Most people understand.:biggrin:
I have gone the same route and I agree - most recognize the work in a kit-based pen and the value savings in purchased parts. I have also learned that people who say, "So it's just a kit," sort of react that way to everything...the only thing they are impressed with is themselves. Look past the person who says that and see the other dozen people who respect what you do. You'll just be a happier person! :good:
 

Rtibbs

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Some people buy Timex and some buy Rolex.
If they don’t want to purchase something they’ll find any reason to justify their decision not to buy.
Ask any small business owner how many times they’ve heard “I can buy that online for a lot less” At that point I’ll show them where the door is.
 
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Some people buy Timex and some buy Rolex.
If they don’t want to purchase something they’ll find any reason to justify their decision not to buy.
Ask any small business owner how many times they’ve heard “I can buy that online for a lot less” At that point I’ll show them where the door is.
As a past small business owner I thought that many times. I used to hear "I can buy that at Walmart for a lot less". To which I told several to go ahead and drive 120 miles round trip to save $3.00. Heck, they spent that in the very first part of the trip on gas. The church I attended at the time was the worst. Nobody shopped at the store. But at Christmas time and other holidays they flocked to the store asking for donations for various church programs. We donated but it didn't take long to figure it out and we quit. Donations that is.
 
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MRDucks2

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If you are going to describe it as a kit then why shouldn’t your customers?


I didnt say It’s just a kit. When I used the word, it wasn’t used in a context that would diminish the creativity nor the craftsmanship involved.


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I don’t believe Jim was indicating you used the word “kit” in a manner to diminish the value. The emphasis of most of the responses is on perception. Regardless of intent, the word “kit” to some folks makes them presume all you do is put it together.

These people have never built anything from Heathkit, never built a drivable kit-car, and will assemble a leather kit project without carving anything into the leather.

Perception is all there is - Tom Peters


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JimB

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If you are going to describe it as a kit then why shouldn’t your customers?


I didnt say It’s just a kit. When I used the word, it wasn’t used in a context that would diminish the creativity nor the craftsmanship involved.


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I don’t believe Jim was indicating you used the word “kit” in a manner to diminish the value. The emphasis of most of the responses is on perception. Regardless of intent, the word “kit” to some folks makes them presume all you do is put it together.

These people have never built anything from Heathkit, never built a drivable kit-car, and will assemble a leather kit project without carving anything into the leather.

Perception is all there is - Tom Peters


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You are exactly right. I didn’t indicate the OP was using the word 'Kit' in a way that would diminish the value of his work. However, Once the word 'Kit' is used in any context it will leave a certain perception, a perception that as custom pen makers we do not want the customers to have.
 

Woodchipper

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Same with building custom fishing rods. Anyone can assemble a rod but it takes a craftsman to make it one-of-a-kind. Not saying I was a craftsman but I only built two rods alike in seven years. One was for one of my granddaughters and didn't bother to check to see what I had done before.
 

pianomanpj

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And in a similar vein, I also don't use the word "hobby" and quickly correct people that do in regards to me. True, this is far from my main source of income, but I run it as a business. When the word hobby is mentioned, you may be considered (by some) as a crafter, and not a craftsman. No offense meant to anyone, but this is how I want my business, my pens and myself to be perceived.
 
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gratz

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I'm used to it... before I started turning pens, I built a cobra kit car.... get it all the time... oh, it's JUST a kit...
Remember, ANYBODY can buy something already done, it takes time, skill and ability to actually make something, whether using a kit or not!
 

Chasper

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It would irk me, but I've never heard it, probably because of the way I answer the question to the thousands of people who have asked. I explain how I make various custom blanks, I don't claim I make everything, but I explain how I make some of them. I haven't used the word "kit" in a very long time, a few year ago I stopped using "components." I don't bring up the metal parts unless asked and then I refer to them as "findings."
 
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I never mention kits!!! My reply to “how’d you do that?”
“I get my materials form sources who supply to independent pen makers, you cannot by these in a store. I build and turn the body to match the hardware, then assemble it. I will customize one for you, how’s that sound?”
 

Pen Joe

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I have only made 60 pens so far and when a person notices the pen in your pocket and comments on it that says a lot about them, separating themselves from the person who buys the low dollar pen that cannot find where they put it last, the pen fits the person, don't even mess with them, they are designed for the person of quality, there likes, hunter, fisherman, classy woman and the color to match the pen of choice, I won't defend my decision to make quality to a person that does not know such a word as quality, I recently gave a retired tank commander a tank pen who was in three tours in the Desert, with his expression and explaining all the details on the pen that were just as a real tank that makes this hobby a rewarding one, you guys who make pens that I have seen here are excellent craftsman, let's deal with excellent people, Quality is long remembered, Joe
 
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