When I returned to America, I decided it was time to sell my mother’s things. Boxes of dishes, clothes, books, art supplies, papers, and odds and ends were piled and crammed in my bedroom in my father’s house.
The boxes had once gone from floor to ceiling with only a path to my bed kept clear. Over the years I’d rummaged through them, each time taking away a few things and a later a few more things. With each visit it got easier to remove another layer.
Now I was back after two years away and about to get married. What I couldn’t take with me to Texas would be sold.
Sitting on the floor, I struggled with what to sell things for. I made wild guesses. Fifty cents for a coffee mug and five dollars for a set of oil paints. Every few minutes I repeated what my mother often said, “Do you own it or does it own you?”
Among her things was a hunting knife in a leather sheath. I guessed her ex-boyfriend had given it to her. What do I know or care about knives?
One man who showed up to the yard sale was my dad’s mechanic and the husband of my step-mom’s friend. This man liked to lean in too close to any woman and he didn’t bath every day. Nor did he wear anything under his shorts. He liked to make excuses to visit my step-mother when my dad wasn’t home. She never let him in the house, and one day she suspected him of slashing her tire because she’d turned him away.
He bought the knife.
The night after my yard sale he called me. “Yes?” I said, making a point of saying neither hello nor how are you.
“That knife you sold me,” he said.
“Well, I went and took it down to…”
I stopped listening. I wondered what I could say that my dad, if he overheard, wouldn’t think rude. Then I heard the man say, “$200.”
“What?” I asked.
“I sold it,” he said, “for $200. and made myself some money. What do you think of that?”
I thought he was an ass and I was an idiot. “That’s great,” I said. He began to talk again.
“I’ve really got to go,” I said, and hung up.
I’m still not good at putting prices on things. several people have told me how to figure out prices, and what they say makes perfect sense. Think about materials and labor and the marketplace.
The formula isn’t hard. Feeling I have a right to use the formula is another matter all together. I’m going to sell my art work at an art festival in April and I’m going to have to have prices. I’m going to have to sit there as if I expect it reasonable for someone to give me money for my art.
Why is dealing with money hard?
How do you deal with money and your art? How do you feel asking a price? If it doesn’t bother you, why not?