Another point of view on pricing.

Submitted by The Taxidermologist on 5/3/01. ( )

One aspect that few have addressed is that of the hobbyist/part-timer. Those of you in the full time taxidermy business have a great disadvantage in competing with these people. First, most have a full time job already and thus are covered by a health plan, and more than likely a 401k retirement plan. Also, most probably work out of the basement or garage rarely preparing large habitat groups, but capable of large volume of game heads, fish and birds - the meat and potatoes of the taxidermy trade. When you analyze the situation financially the disparity speaks for itself.

For this exercise I will use Mr. William T. Yox as an example. He must maintain health insurance for his four bundles of joy besides his lovable wife with a good plan, at say a cost of $10,000 a year. (The insurance my institute covers for my family of four is about $9500, and he has two extra bundles). Secondly, retirement should be factored in. He probably should max out his retirement which currently allows about $10,000 into a 401k program, but for this exercise say he only contributes $7,500 which should still allow Mr. Yox to live the good life at age 58 on, assuming placement of money was in a good plan and began at age 25 or earlier. Thirdly, he must maintain a shop/trophy display room. This calculation is a difficult one because of basic costs differ from area to area. The heating bills in Buffalo Saber Land has to be much higher than Pittsburgh Penguin Land, but electricity, water, sewerage, extra phone line, property tax, etc. may be very similar. Just guessing, counting amortization of the building over time, I might estimate a cost of maintenance of a building to be $5,000 for a first rate showroom and studio separate from the house. So, from the start of the year, Mr. Yox must make roughly $22,500 more than the part time taxidermist must.

Hypothetically if Mr. Yox mounted deer heads at the rate of 1 a day (8 hours counting talking to customers, ordering forms, sending for supplies, tanning or packaging up and sending out for tanning, mounting, finishing, and delivering the finished product), and he worked 50 weeks at 5 days a week (two weeks for vacation), he could conceivably mount 250 deer heads a year. Just from the get go, he would need to charge roughly $100 more just to cover costs.

Now consider the hobbyist/part time taxidermist. Not being world famous, he may not get enough work to even keep him busy in his hobby. Many taxidermists are only in it for the love of working with their hands re-creating nature in this most beloved age-old trade. He doesnít HAVE to make a profit. If he wants to mount 20 deer a year for fun, he can afford to do it for just cost of parts, because he already has health care, retirement etc. Think of it as someone who crochets blankets, or makes lace decorations. One can only produce so many afghans before every relative has a trunk full of them. But doing deer heads - every year you get to meet new people, hear more stories, find out new hunting areas, etc. and you get the satisfaction of getting praised for doing a wonderful job of recreating nature ñ especially for the young 12 year old who just shot his first deer. $200 a deer head is a hobby of love ñ certainly there is no profit in it, even using Jeff Lundstrums' calculations for his ear liners. You might say that if the taxidermist wants to mount heads for a hobby, he should simply buy capes, but nothing would substitute for the human contact.

The next quandary that the public must endure is quality. Quality is certainly calculable by some, but the vast majority of the public could not tell a John Doe commercial head from that of Mr. William Yox. And, even though most trained eyes could distinguish the difference, is the $650 price that much better than the $200 John Doe head. In many cases a $200 head may be indistinguishable from the taxidermist charging $350 or $400. Many taxidermists who are part time are better than some full timers.

I certainly do not wish to antagonize anyone on this forum, but pricing is a topic that will forever cause heated discussion. There is little doubt that if 30 hobby taxidermists moved into a small neighborhood with one full time taxidermist there would be some great ramifications for the full timer. Perhaps that is why in the old days taxidermists were secretive in their methods.

I apologize to Mr. William Yox for using him for this exercise, but people obviously love to talk about him, and he keeps a calm head usually (LOL).

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Some very good points made here.

This response submitted by Greg on 5/3/01. ( )

I am one of the "part-timers" and this is absolutely correct. My "day" job provides me with a good income and benefits package, so I don't have to rely on taxiderny to provide this. This might allow me to charge $100 less for a deer head than a "full-timer" and still make the same profit level. I think everyone needs to charge what they feel there labor is worth. I base my pricing on the cost of materials and supplies and an hourly amount based on how long a typical mounts takes me. If anyone asks me why others charge more I simply tell them that it is worth every cent they charge. We just have different circunstances that dictate pricing.

Point taken

This response submitted by Bill Gaither on 5/3/01. ( )

That was a good review of an area of this field that may have been overlooked, and I would be interested to know just what percentage of the total industry business is being done by the part-timers. I am sure it is considerable, to spite what some would like to think. The difference between the part time enthusiast and the full time professional is that when the enthusiasts move on to other areas of interest, or their work doesn't stand the test of time, they are seldom around to face the music. Folks like Bill Yox, myself and others usually start out like all the rest. I know of few artisans who have chosen their careers well in advance. The career usually chooses the individual when the volume allows that quantum leap from the security of the paycheck and perk to the land of the untried and unknown.

The professional, as I mentioned in a previous post, "sucks up" the bottom rung guy by leaving a void under his advancement for lower priced and no overhead folks to fill. The pyramid of any industry has a pinnicle and a base. The base is much broader than the top, and needs to be since many of the beginners drop out or are forced out by the economic squeegee at some point. Some, the very rare and talented individuals, go from the bottom to the top via an elevator, the gears and wheels of which are composed of exposure, competition and other accellerators that cause one individual's work to become emminent for one reason or other.

There is always room in an industry for the apex persons and their followings and the bottom rung beginners. That is the democracy of a consumer driven economic system. The human factor that creates legends and icons such as Chanel perfume, Rolex watches, diamond jewelery and $300,000.00 auction prices for a Tiffany lamp, is that unique desire to acquire what few can have, or that which no one else can have. The finite time given each, in his or her lifetime, allows for just so much direct production from our labor. It is the scramble to acquire what is perceived the best, right or wrong, that drives prices higher in the arts. Name branding extends to all areas of commerce. The "best" perceived by John Q. Public will demand, and should, a higher price. To argue the quality of something lower on the commercial rung is to make a moot point.

I own a Rolex. It was a whimsical purchase made once at a duty-free shop sale. I have had two watchmakers tell me that a Seiko will run longer between cleanings than does the Rolex. My hunting and fishing watch, the junk yard dog of wristware, is a Seiko. I have had it for twenty years and it has not missed a ticking, yet no one ever notices it when I wear it. And that is my point. Awareness and quality perceived drive up the price. The other arguments about who does what to whom and the cheap Joe crap don't amount to a hill of beans in the real world of consumer concepts.

What is quality?

This response submitted by Dan on 5/3/01. ( )

I have been wondering something? If I was going to charge 15.00 an inch for my fish. I say, I am giving them the highest quality. Are all the fish that goes out of the shop finished on both sides with seems scaled? Complete detail in the head and gills? All the scales tipped? In other words if you are charging for the best quality your piece should win the world championships not take a second or third.(John C) You have not given your client the highest quality you could have given him. Why not give them your best work?

Perception is quality Dan

This response submitted by Bill Gaither on 5/3/01. ( )

The fine details in which craftsmen take pride are lost on John Q. Public. Norman Rockwell painted on cheap illustrator board. When a leading individual in the art business pointed out to Rockwell that his work wouldn't last a century, in most cases, Rockwell replied, "let the next generation paint for itself."

The perception of quality is always at two levels: The first being the viewpoint of the craftsman, such as yourself. the fine details you mentioned have nothing to do with the perception of quality your customer has. The second perception of quality is the overall awareness of the consumer. His concept of quality includes name and having that "brand" on his goods is just as important as all the awards and gee gaws another can tack on his or her merchandise.

The public frenzy to acquire what I perceive to be junk art at times amazes me. I have quit trying to figure out if my work is as good as another individual's or not. It don't matter what you charge, or another charges for a work. What does matter is how that work is perceived by the consumer. Remember "Beanie Babies" or the "Cabbage Patch" doll's? Why anyone in their right mind would buy that crap is beyond me, but the sales of each topped a billion dollars a year during their height of fashion. Apples and Oranges and sour grapes don't a price make.


This response submitted by Michael S on 5/3/01. ( )

a part time taxidermist, the work i take in wouldn't even make a dent in the back side of a flea. i am not a threat to any of the full time guys in my area. i do mostly fish. i do not completely finish the non-show side, but i do paint both sides.the wall side has an eye, all the fins and the seam is closed and smoothed over using sculp-all or another suitable product. this side is then painted more or less for continued practice. besides that i hate the way a fish looks with the wall side painted black (unfinished)
i do not charge as much as the full-time guy, but i am not the cheapest guy in the area and my work is of a good quality, it could be improved and will be, i have only entered two fish in competitions, both scored a third place, one amatuer and one professional.
i have all the respect in the world for the full time guys, i know several who work 10 to 14 hour days and even do this seven days a week just to give their customers a good turn around time, you guys are dedicated professionals who are truly deserving of a better understanding by joe sportsman, who feels he shouldnt have to pay our prices. maybe someone out there could write an article on this subject and submit it for publication to outdoor life, sports afield,bowhunter magazine, etc...this would get your point across to joe sportsman and help make a positive impact on the artwork we produce and not just "stuff" anymore.
i could try to write the article if you guys would give me permission to use some of the information here in the "posts" without mentioning names...or would it sound better being written by some one in the industry with a recognizable name..

Ah, Danny boy, I still offer the higher quality also.

This response submitted by John C on 5/3/01. ( )

Since many cannot even mount a critter that will take a award at a state show, I do feel my clients are getting far better grade of work than 99% of the taxidermist in the state can produce. So Do I offer higher quality? Yes, can I do the work yes, do I charge even more for it yes, and yes each fish is detailed out seams are scaled. what say you super sluoth.

John C.....Was that Sleuth or Sloth?

This response submitted by Bill Gaither on 5/3/01. ( )

I am still trying to figure this new language out.

Let Danny boy make the call

This response submitted by john c on 5/3/01. ( )

His disdain toward me seems to keep creeping into the tones of his post here. Pretty easy when you hide under the cloak of anonymity here on the net.

I simply claim that a mount that is of high proffessional quality should be able to take a ribbon. If anf only if I read him correctly it seems that he is claiming does very high quality at cheap prices, so I will not argue the point. I do the pretty fair work that can hold its own with most taxidermist in my state. I do it at a higher price that seems to be fine with the customers we deal with. Yet I am in the depoverished south. Oh well.

It`s about the industry

This response submitted by Travis on 5/3/01. ( )

I was raised in the drywall business from the age of 10 in my fathers
business and I remember quite well loosing many houses due to cut-throats.
Dad always used to tell me they just aren`t hurting themselves but they are hurting the industry.
So when I come on here and read these threads on prices I truly understand what you all
are talking about. I just started taxidermy work 2 years ago--Learned about
everything I know right here on this site...I don`t know how many late night
phone calls to Bill Yox, and countless e-mails we`ve thrown around...Many others
answered my other questions--Kieth Daniels, Bruce Rittle and many where
am I at after 2 years of maounting animals...only picked up 3 deer
heads last year, but have kicked butt on bobcats on ebay...averaging 500
or more per cat..sold over 20 since jan...You do the math. Not bad for a part timmer
who learned it all on a computer---One thing I`ve found is that ya have to
believe in yourself and your work. One thing Yox always told me is to enjoy
my work---I found out real quick I wasn`t enjoying myself when I was
selling my cats for 300 bucks so I kicked things up a notch...Just
because your a part timmer doesn`t mean ya have to do cheap work,,,hell if anything
you should charge more---Ya allready have a full time job paying/ ya really
don`t need the work(or should I say specimens to practice on)..Someday
ya might go full time---so ya may as well charge what the big guys are---Plus
yu`ll ENJOY what your doing 10 fold...Keep the prices up

There is also something to be said...

This response submitted by marty on 5/3/01. ( )

for repetition. "Practice makes better". I feel that if you took two taxidermists with relatively equal talent. One fulltime and the other a part-timer. The fulltime taxidermist's output is going to be much more crisp and consistent. Simply because this person is being exposed to many more specimens and the anotomical reference is there in front of him/her every day.

This repetition philosophy also holds true with "Specializing Taxidermists". How many times have you seen an advertisement for a local taxidermist "specializing" in whitetails, ducks, pheasants, geese, turkeys, fish and every other living thing on this planet? And, of course usually their work stinks. Or, they're pretty good at one or two species but only so-so with the others. They are jacks of many trades but masters of none (maybe that's where the term "Master" taxidermist comes from - lol!)

I also believe that many part-timers put more time into their mounts than full-timers. Simply because they have the time to do so. Some of which is necessary because of the lack of repetition/experience and they just take longer. And some of it is because they CAN put more detail into their mounts as they have other means to put food on the table.

So IMHO, if the customer is fairly educated and can locate a part-timer that's good at what they do then the customer is certainly going to get more bang for their buck than with the fulltime taxidermist (which is fairly obvious by the $22K in the hole scenario above). From a commercial standpoint, to the average customer the differences between the $15/inch guy and the $9/inch guy are probably insignificant.

Bill hit the nail on the head. When a taxidermist becomes "Big Time" (if there is such a thing - lol!), the bulk of their customers are referrals from past clients. Or they've heard that Billy Bob is the best at mounting turkeys. So they MUST have their turkey mounted by Billy Bob!

Lets face it, the general public just doesn't see enough animals to be as critical as taxidermists. How many times have you had a customer complain about the little white/gray dot on the gill of their smallmouth when delivery time comes? They just aren't paying as much attention to details as we are, simply put.

Where am I going with this? Heck if I know! I just thought I'd add my two cents to all the good points made about this topic. Bottom line - P.T. or F.T., cream rises to the top. And there ain't that much cream out there! (in my area). If you're any good at what you do p.t or f.t. there's a market for both...

Oh one more thing (another topic/post maybe?), what's all this about finishing seams on the backside and all this extra work? If we're talking commercial taxidermy, why on earth would you spend time "prettying up" something that's not mean't to be seen? I can see finishing some of the back if the tail's coming out or whatever but spending time on something that only the wall is going to see is a waste of time! Why not spend that time putting more detail into the SHOWSIDE of the fish? On the same note, why spend time setting a backside eye too? Especially on an inward curve where nobody is going to see it. I'll build up epoxy and darken the backside eye and nobody even notices that there's no eye there. Why take the time setting a backside eye when your time can be spent better elsewhere? Oh well, had to get that off my chest - I'm better now....

Marty, we gotta meet!

This response submitted by Bill Gaither on 5/3/01. ( )

I agree with you about all your points, including the backside of the fish that is slapped up on a chunk of wood for a wall mount. That would be like me painting both sides of a canvas just in case someone turned it around someday.

Sloth, John C., I'll make the call.

This response submitted by Bill Gaither on 5/3/01. ( )

Danny seems to think that a forum is about airing out more than ideas and information. Dan sounds like sour grapes to me.......need a paint schedule for a bunch of those? Peckerwoods rap on the big oaks for hundreds of years and never bring one down. I'll just bet you missed a stitch or forgot to card a fin today over those

Nope did not miss a stitch or miss carding a fin today

This response submitted by John C on 5/3/01. ( )

Bet I dont miss any sleep over it either. I do use good epoxy and scale the back, tip the scales, and put two eyes in my fish, But thats just me. I see what others in my state are doing and I try to do better and better work each time. The thing about repetition is true, I see my work getting better and better each time. Sure someone, somewhere can be and is better than me. But you know they have to work harder at being better skill wise. I oftem wonder when I sit back and look at a mount I feel I really pulled off well. Can I get better? Then I go to a show get my butt kicked, and come back and work to better my skills even more. I for one am never satisfied with my work. I will never be a BEST in THE WORLD, or maybe never a BEST in CATAGORY again, but that is ok, I enjoy my work, I am getting paid very well for it. I just wish everyone could find the pleasure I do in taxidermy.

Today I had a client come in, he had heard that we did pretty good work. He saw the ribbons on display in the show room. Then he stated "He never knew there were competitions for taxidermy." After he looked at them he said "This is good enough for me. Those ribbin show me you guys do good work" " He looked at our fish somemore, and ask the price, he never batted a eye. Another happy customer. That has helped pay the bills. Thats all any of us can ask.

Can I ask how many people/taxidermist get $250.00 on a three pound crappie? I know several great taxidermist in the SEA-TAC area do, they are my heros, hell those guys are at $25.00 per inch and over! Gute Nagcht Yawnie

Herr Yawnie

This response submitted by Herr Eh on 5/4/01. ( )

Wo ist das SEA-TAC?

Another Opinion

This response submitted by Elmer on 5/4/01. ( )

Most guys or gals start out as hobbiest,by gaining interest in taxidermy thery don,t look at it as an art until they get into it and go to competitions. I was in the Military and fihured I would need something to do when I grew up. I started out doing mounts for cost of materials just to get specimens to work on. I did my own at first. The people I did mounts for friends relatives. They understood that I was new,they understood that it was not going to be perfect. I learned off of videos without the help of this forum. Then I went to a mini course and competition at Piedmont. That opened my eyes ther is something to this. Those people in the beginning were happy the deer turned out looking like a deer or the fish turned out close to a fish in form and color. I had to go on the fast track to catch up somewhat. I finished school and I had a customer tell me this is truly an art. I went to competition and found that you can learn by competing. I might not ever be a world champion but my mounts are comparable to what I would take to competition. Minus a special habitat unless the customer wants it. When I completed school I was working and doing taxidermy but my prices were set for a fair price equal to if not more than my local taxidermist or competition. I put in extra hours. I couldn,t do that for next to nothing. That was my overtime. I do consider this an art and I love it. I am full time now and don,t plan on returning to another job this is what i want to do since I grew up(Played in the Corps for 23 years)I don,t even finish the backside seam,I paint the backside but cover with felt it looks proffesional, seaming is time. If acustomer wants the seam and backside then they are paying for a 3D mount. I agree with you Bill Dan has some sour grapes somewhere almost every post is filled with it . Nothing personal Dan maybe thats the only way you have or know how to express yourself. But we will listen to you opinion whatever way it comes. I do take on anything, not afraid to, its a matter of reference and study. My instructors taught me that. I go to comps to learn and the association and like a warm fuzzy to show for my time too. Pricing charge what you are worth if you think your time is only worth 4 bucks an inch on a fish or 200 bucks on a deer head go figure.

Big Dogs!

This response submitted by Dan on 5/4/01. ( )

You guys amaze me! If a guy gets on here and tries to make a point in defense of what a big dog has said, You guys get mad and say I am SOUR GRAPES!(BILL) That I am hiding behind anonymity!(John C) I am as open as you are. What do you expect me to do John, put my address and phone number on here, along with my e-mail. Then you and all the others that get all pissed off can send me a virus and harass me with letters and phone calls. You resorted to threats on another post not to long ago! You guys don't seem to like anyone to disagree with what you guys say! You sure complain about a lot of other people though!

Now, that's funny.

This response submitted by George on 5/4/01. ( )

I put my address on ALMOST every posting I make and I never got a virus (but then again, I never open attachments that I'm not sure of who the sender is.) And I've read most of the posts listed here, and I have a tough time recalling any "threats". Name calling, maybe, but no threats. I thought "sour grapes" seemed to be quite mild and appropriate. And PLEASE don't think I'M a "big dog" because I have a lot of mouth on here. I work out of my garage after having moved from my basement like most of you others on here. It's pretty obvious that your idea doesn't have much support form any of us who've been in the business over a week or so, and if YOU want to charge cheap prices, have a ball. That doesn't, however, mean that such practices don't hurt the industry as a whole (no matter what anyone says, it's business sense and perception of such) and it tells prospective customers that your time and efforts aren't worth what ours seem to be to us. I would give you my phone number, but I have Caller ID and don't answer "unavailable" or "anonymous" calls, so that might jeopardize your annonymity. And anyway, since you didn't leave an address, don't take it personal. If we all met face to face we wouldn't so why should here be any different?

I missed the sour grapes

This response submitted by BobB on 5/4/01. ( )

I went back and read these last 3 posts on pricing. I really can not find sour grapes on Dan's part. What I did notice was after it was implied (hopefully in error) that the quality of his work lacked, due only to the price he charges and/or his turnaround time, he did begin to defend himself. Is that not natural?

Others now may be displaying those same sour grapes. But why, because someone questioned their quality?. Now they feel the need to defend themselves by talking about their toys, or even boasting that they are now above the pack so to speak.

Reminds me of a taxidermist I visited a couple years back. This guy had a showroom full of ribbons, to go with his showroom of lower quality mounts. He even bragged to me, that to have such a display of his ribbons, was proof of the quality of his work.

He did not know, I was a taxidermist, and I did not mention it. His ribbons were not from state or national shows, but rather from suppliers. (I am guessing that in the old days, you could send pics of your finished mounts to the supply company and they sent you your green and white ribbons - I can't recall seeing blues in his shop).

Now I insulted this guys work and I regret that, but his noses were either filled with clay and then had a dowel pushed into them, or the noses had no nostril openings at all (a fawn mount displayed this round ball nose method and even showed all the seam sewing, yet beside it sat a nice green supply house ribbon).

To top it off, this guys prices were equal too or higher than the other shop in town (that has brought home many state and world titles and ribbons). So for all our arguing, ribbons and/or prices is no more a sign of high quality "commercial" work than is lower prices a sign that reads "HACK AT WORK".

Last year I brought home 2 ribbons from my state show, for pieces I did in 1997 for my own showroom. BIG A$$ DEAL, the fellow 20 miles south of me, is still a better taxidermist. He has been full-time at the same location since the mid 80's. He has belonged to my state association for 15 years. Not one ribbon, he has never competed.

About 2 years ago, he put on a $250,000 addition onto shop, he is already making plans for another remodeling. His prices are high, his turnaround is set for June delivery of Nov bucks.

So no ribbons, 7 month turnaround, doesn't attend shows, and yet he is making more $$$ as a result of this business, than most of us would ever dream of.

So lets not group lower priced, quick turnaround, non ribbon winning taxidermists into that bunch titled hackidermists simply because some feel qualified to judge the work of others, based only on the way they type their thoughts here, in this forumn.

That type of judging may lead to a sour grape reply !

And Another Thing...

This response submitted by Ken Edwards on 5/4/01. ( )

Dan, you made one point way back (under "What is quality?") that I must take exception with. Receiving a Second or Third place ribbon at the WORLD Show is quite an accomplishment and reflects work of an extremely high calibre. For someone to win ANY ribbon at a World Show with their "standard customer mount" is indeed something to be proud of. If you were charging a customer for the time involved in preparing a Best in World quality fish, you would have to be in the hundreds of dollars per inch range.

Virus? Son, you have a persecution complex.

This response submitted by Bill Gaither on 5/4/01. ( )

I don't know about the other "BIG DAWGS" (Canis majoris), but I do take exception that I would even consider sabotaging your little PC, even if I had the ability to do so. An old man once told me to never throw a skunk at someone. "If you miss, the stink stays on you."

This entire issue is not about you, or your ilk. I personally don't give a damn if you make a dime or a dollar. Whether or not your work is standard or sub-standard or exceptional doesn't matter either. This is about an industry, and business. When some twerp begins to get personal about any matter in this forum, it galls my butt.

And Bob B, if his crying about John C's credentials isn't sour grapes, I would hate to taste the wine in your part of the world.

And one more thing, Daniel, i wouldn't drop a dime to call you for any reason under the sun after those accusitory remarks. Harrassment? Viruses? Email spam? Get real.

Dan, Dan, Dan

This response submitted by marty on 5/4/01. ( )

As far as viruses, etc. go - I think you're being a bit paranoid AND most people have much better things to do with their time. The most you'd ever have to worry about (if you posted your email address) would be having to sift through all those bad jokes Leanna sends - LOL! Just kidding Leanna - keep sending the jokes (but no viruses please!)

It has been said before, reread before typing...

This response submitted by BobB on 5/4/01. ( )

Again I went back and reread Dan's replies to these last 3 posts on pricing. Ken I believe if you take a second look at the 10x's post, you will see that in fact, John C brought up the discussion of taking a mount off the wall and placing 2nd or 3rd. So I don't believe Dan was taking a shot at John for taking a 2nd or 3rd at the world, I think he was replying along the lines that John suggested.

Funny how Dan (who we do not know) begins to defend his work after other regulars on the site questioned his quality, and suddenly he is the guy out of line.

Now Bill G you seem well educated (based on your language skills), yet you took a giant step backwards when you implied Dan to be a twerp. You write too well for that to have been intended any other way.

Again Bill G, I missed Dan questioning John C credentials within these 3 posts on pricing. Ironically if he did, you came to John's side to defend him, yet you didn't lend your ability to communicate so eloquently to Dan, when he was insulted by having the quality of his work questioned based solely on his price or turnaround time.

Even if I missed Dan having questioned John C's credentials, in some other post, so what. Dan's credentials were certainly questioned by George and John, thus getting personal. Should we infer from your last post, that you called these two fellows twerps, as well.


This response submitted by Al on 5/4/01. ( )

I still do not understand your point about hurting the industry? Should we have a taxidermy union and set scale? I respect your opinion and your right to your way of thinking but I do not see it. If this is your way of just getting folks to look at there pricing and to try to get the most for what they are doing... that I understand. But I have to take a stand on the industry part of this and the train of thought that goes with it. Just for info I am a full time taxidermist(16 yrs) , and no my wife does not have a job. Oh and by the way Pittsburgh is going down in six.... Thats from down town Sabre land.

LOL Al, I'm no Jagr fan.

This response submitted by George on 5/4/01. ( )

I still maintain that we hurt ourselves as AN INDUSTRY when we have such variation in prices. Richard Christophoro once told me (he's always telling me something. lol) that we hurt ourselves in the public perception because most of our peers treat the industry as a craft project like you'd find at flea markets instead of pieces of art.

You KNOW I'm not suggesting unions, or govenment intervention in any way. Around here masons, drywall people, and roofers are not union and agressively independant, but you can bet your bottom dollar that there's NEVER more than a dollar or two separating their rates. Why should taxidermists be any different.

Historically, we all start in our basements and in order to "attract customers", we undercut prices. Aren't we smart enough to know that "if we build it, they will come"? Even Kevin Costner was that smart. LOL. Then when we've been in it a few years, we see that we're overworked and underpaid and raise prices. Guess where the price checker is taking his work too this year. And there's really no excuse for it. Every year, Breakthrough prints nation wide pricing gathered from surveys. The national standard for deer is around $275. I'm sure most full timers charge between $300 and $400 on average. Now why would anyone, anywhere want to charge $200. I submit that no other industry in this country is like ours as far as business perception. Go by roses for your significant other, or a gallon of milk, or a lawn mower, or a bushel of clams on the docks. It doesn't matter if you live in Palm Beach or Appalachia, the prices are going to be pretty close. Why taxidermy? As Stephen said initially, we already know why, but is that reason not to expect to make a fair wage for fair labor? I can cut grass on Dover AFB as a temporary summer hire for $17 per hour. Isn't my taking a hunters trophy animal and recreating it as best I can worth at least what the guy pushing the lawnmower gets?

I don't have a cure or a solution, but I know when you underprice, the perception of the industry suffers. This is a capitalist society and a pretty good one at that, and if you can't look at yourself in the mirror and persuade yourself to work for someone like yourself for the wages you pay yourself, that's not very good business sense.

relevant points

This response submitted by J Lumsden on 5/4/01. ( )


To get away from the screaming match, I would value to hear any of your comments and opinions on the relevant points of the subject. Recognizing that you are one of those trendsetters I was referring.

We'll probably have to wait until...

This response submitted by Perry on 5/4/01. ( )

the next Breakthrough for ken's comments( assume you mean Ken Edwards).
seeing as this has generated well over 100K in threads, it's a shoe-in
for a best of the forum. The only problem is that yoxy will have read
the article 3 or 4 times while others are still kicking their dogs and
cats on the way back from the mail box....


This response submitted by MICHAEL S on 5/4/01. ( )

what about an article on the pricing of taxidermy and why it is that way, this article can be submitted for publication along with photos of good and bad taxidermy specimens to the leading outdoor magazines.
this would reach joe customer and most of his friends. this article could be written by a world champion, a taxidermist with a majority of years experience under his belt, perhaps someone like ken edwards, larry blomquist, john C, jeff lumsden, matt thompson, pat rummans, etc.. you get the point, some one with knowledge and know how.
it semms most of the complaints are about the customer shopping for the low price guy regardless of quality. i still feel if we start to educate the sporting public our industry will be better understood, which was my point in trying to get the outdoor media to cover the world show, but they weren't even interested in doing that, yet these same people will come to you to have their trophy mounted and expect a world class mount at a regular customer price just because of who they that burns my A$$(did i do that right..LOL)
now what about that article ?

Well, Bob B.......

This response submitted by Bill Gaither on 5/4/01. ( )

I may have to retire to continue reading and re-reading all these threads about this issue. I checked my references to see if my intended descriptive, "twerp" fit. I believe it did, and yes, if George or John C, myself, or anyone else alive,including you,decided to run off half-cocked about an issue and begin to sway from the point at hand, they would also fit the narrative. Especially when the paranoia sets in.

The reference to someone taking a second in competition not being able to justify price is horsehocky. I have judged some competitions and have seldom been able to award a first or second place ribbon without conferencing with the other judges. That is how close things are in the circle. It doesn't matter who won placed or showed. In fair competition an "honorable mention" is close enough to the big banana.

Bob, you seem to have a penchant for the defense here. You are as guilty as the remainder of us minions about putting words into the mouth of and interpreting the words of ole Daniel. Maybe we are all being twerps. You tell me, you are the man with the definitives.

Well, Bob B.......

This response submitted by Bill Gaither on 5/4/01. ( )

I may have to retire to continue reading and re-reading all these threads about this issue. I checked my references to see if my intended descriptive, "twerp" fit. I believe it did, and yes, if George or John C, myself, or anyone else alive,including you,decided to run off half-cocked about an issue and begin to sway from the point at hand, they would also fit the narrative. Especially when the paranoia sets in.

The reference to someone taking a second in competition not being able to justify price is horsehocky. I have judged some competitions and have seldom been able to award a first or second place ribbon without conferencing with the other judges. That is how close things are in the circle. It doesn't matter who won placed or showed. In fair competition an "honorable mention" is close enough to the big banana.

Bob, you seem to have a penchant for the defense here. You are as guilty as the remainder of us minions about putting words into the mouth of and interpreting the words of ole Daniel. Maybe we are all being twerps. You tell me, you are the man with the definitives.

Well let me ask you this George...

This response submitted by Al on 5/4/01. ( )

If all of our prices are to be within a few dollars of one another.... then that must mean our over head is all the same. And we all know that is not the case. You mentioned that you work out of your garage, do you have a store front there? Are you paying business taxes for the space you occupy? How about business "rate" phone,gas and electric.(living not to far from Niagra Falls boy to we get a good rate on our electric..Ha HA).I guess I might as well keep going: Business ins., workmens comp., disabilty ins.,payroll,commercial garbage pickup, rendering service..etc. These are some of the things I have to look at when setting my prices. So what some say? There right, I am not complaining here one bit. I am making these points to show that some one operating out of a more home type of enviroment "might" not have these exspenses. Now please I am not putting down basement or garage taxidermists...Please do not put words in my mouth ! I am just trying to drive home my point. We are not all on the same page. Some of us are way apart when it comes to business and overhead. The beginner of this thread really hit the nail with his thoughts. He left out a bunch, but the point was well made. You see our indusrty for the most part is looked at as a part time,hobby type of business.We are mounting dead animals for christ sakes!This indusrty is quite unique and can not be compared to alot of others.
Do you realize in some industries you must have a store front, min. posted business hours, liability ins of atleast a million, and a business checking account , before they will even let you buy product?
Now look at our indusrty: any one can buy materials, At the same price as the next guy, No proof of licsense, No store front needed,No insurance needed
and they will take payment any way you want to give it! Once again No complaints ... just facts of the matter.The suppliers could set alot more standards then you and me ever could. So really, is the guy down the street lowering the standard buy charging $200. less then me? Heck No! Go for it Bud ! All I know for sure is they end up coming to me to either fix it or redo it!
And they are charged MY GOING RATE ! Nice talk George.... I will be sure to BOO JAGR for you at the game on saturday.

the paranoia sets in

This response submitted by J Lumsden on 5/4/01. ( )

LOL Bill, but I think illusions of grandeur might also play a part here as well.

Great Points, Al

This response submitted by George on 5/4/01. ( )

But I do pay all those gee whiz costs. My garage is a licensed business location with a business phone, checking account, insurance, etc. And while your point on supplies is valid, many of the specialty items I buy are from businesses that required my business license to be on file before selling to me. Many tanneries won't do business until they have a license copy either. SOME businesses do treat us like business. LOL I'm going to be like Yox, I'm going to back off this issue and let folks be happy charging whatever blows their skirts up. I see I'm spitting into the wind and I AM smart enough to recognize that. LOL.

ha ha Dans the Man

This response submitted by your go Dan on 5/4/01. ( go Dan go )

Go Daniel go!

lets see gas is 1.85 a gallon

This response submitted by lets raise it to 2.00 because we can, on 5/4/01. ( then we still have as much money and won't have )

to work so much pumping it, all gas is the same quality so we can all pump less gas make the same amount of money, everybody will love us equally and we will lose our redneck image all at the same time....ha ha I bet Yox and Roof would be the first to drive 100 miles looking for 184.9, ooops forget their cheerleader Leanna

Lumsden, no grand.

This response submitted by Bill Gaither on 5/4/01. ( )

Read the threads. This was about business and commerce and pricing and apples and bananas and grapes and viruses and epoxy and fish backs and eyes and paying for pickups and gasoline and garages and deer heads and ribbons and insurance and........what was the subject?

There is...

This response submitted by Lisa on 5/4/01. ( )

Tolerence (which has been shown)
There has been one,to be asinine (which has been shown)
There has been two,that have been impudent (which has been shown)
The ones that are except by the last two frames know it.
And last but not least,( is Dan to go?

Denial is over...

This response submitted by Lisa on 5/4/01. ( )

I need glasses,that should have been EXEMPT.

No disrespect Ken!

This response submitted by Dan on 5/4/01. ( )

Ken, I in no way meant to give the impression that taking a second or third in the world was not a great accomplishment! I was trying to make the point as why was John not giving his customers the best quality he can do! If he can do better quality then charge even more and do that level of work! That is his whole point in his first post! John did make threats on a post before the world show with MIKE. Mike had questioned how John could do 2200 fish a year and John did not like being questioned then either! It is a waste of time to try and reason with some of these guys. Again it is a great accomplishment to take home any ribbon from the world show!

Bill G , or What would do you prefer to go by?

This response submitted by J Lumsden on 5/4/01. ( )

Sorry that you are confused about the subject of the current text. You are very close with the beginning of your run on sentence. I was trying to give you a complement with your genuinely funny remark in the second place.

Lisa, you never have understood me, I still like you anyway. I am really very simple.

Contrary,Mr. Lumsden

This response submitted by Lisa on 5/5/01. ( )

I can relate on many of your concepts and question some. I like simplicity.


This response submitted by jt on 5/5/01. ( )

john c. there is never any real, complete anonymity on the web as we all believe. everyone is assigned an IP address. this is like your home address for your computer. if a person knows exactly where to look they may be able to find out a few things about your IP address.for instance i did a little searching of my own and to keep things a little private i found out who some of you use for your internet services. i may be wrong on a few but never ever assume that you are completely isolated from others on the web. if you want anonymity on the web go to this service hides or cloaks your true IP address. oh my research of some IP addresses on this posting:

John C. IP# uses QWEST
Taxidermologist who started this discussion#
uses Bell Atlantic
and Dan IP# uses Microserv/ division of Micron Internet Services/ division of the Westnet network

just some food for thought


Mental, Mental, Mental?, !

This response submitted by Randal R. Waites on 5/5/01. ( )

Mental ability, who has it, who can handle it? That is the main problem, you can preach all you want about quality and prices, and it will not change a thing for a lot of people.
Some people can be the boss and run the show, and make a company look good, and want to be compensated greatly for it. Some people do all the hard work for the company and make it look good, but they would not ask for more pay because they don't feel they are worth it.
That is what you have here, untill a person knows how to price their work, and accually feels, mentally, that they are worth that. You can write all the articles you want, they will read it and aggree, but mentally they are not at that level, and may never


This response submitted by The Taxidermologist on 5/5/01. ( not Bell Atlantic )

Dear jt,
The method you use to attempt to get the IP address must be incorrect. I send material via two computers - one is a T-1 line at work hooked up with something far larger than Bell Atlantic, and the second is the @home address which by the address designates AT&T cable network. I have wondered how the searches can be done. I never found out who "smiling" was despite trying a search on these numbers. The numbers don't seem to coincide with an individual.
Maybe I should be indignent and stomp my feet up and down a few times but I like to be as professional as possible LOL.
By the way, Mario and the bunch will surely beat those saber-rattlers.


This response submitted by smiling on 5/5/01. ( )

WOW, didn't know you cared Steve. My email is on top. if you write me,
try to keep it short, lol, and please no hate mail.
Leanna correct spelling is..... reflect. Hehe
now that I'm here, I'll give my opinion.
We [the high $ guys] need You [the low $ guys] to keep up.
WE can't get $10 for a $1 mount if You only charge $3, but
if you charge $6 the We can move to $11 and You can go to
The same thing works for You. If We dont keep the prices moving up
You will be making $3 forever.
that's all I have to say on that.

J.T. & IP Addresses

This response submitted by marty on 5/5/01. ( )

FYI, dial up modems and their associated ISP assign a unique IP address each time you log on. ISP's such as AOL, etc. do this. Dialing up is a very slow way to access the internet, yet they offer the most secure connection. Cable and DSL however assign a fixed IP address and are linked to the internet all of the time. Much faster access can be achieved yet security can be somewhat compromised. My IP address is fixed as I have a cable connection here and DSL on my other machine. Therefore, I have to watch what I say because I can be traced back - lol! I'm sure there's a way that the computer guru's can trace back a random IP address, but average "smoes" like you and me cannot... What was the original subject of this post?


This response submitted by Ken Edwards on 5/5/01. ( )

I think it had something to do with M&M's.

Not candy, Ken, it was fruit

This response submitted by Bill Gaither on 5/5/01. ( )

It was about apples and oranges and bananas and.......Actually I think it dealt with the impact of the part-timers on the business and how demand economics cause crap to float and dross to sink and for some folks to stay in the, let's talk about the price of beans.

Smiley's Taxidermy

This response submitted by RC on 5/5/01. ( )

You are correct, all prices rise in unision, volume stays the same, everything stays relative, everyone makes more money,sounds like a plan too me.
In 1983( 18 YEARS AGO) Jonas Bros, Denver was charging $295.00 for a deer mount and $9.95 per inch for skin mount fish, today 18 years later many taxidermists are not getting that price for their work, WHY ? What was the cost of gas then? A new pickup?


This response submitted by smiling on 5/5/01. ( )

Yes, and in 1977 it was $179.-deer and $5.85 inch for fish.
Part of the price your paying is the Name.
I dont know how much thay charge now, but I'm getting more than thay
charged in 83.
my post was my opinion [we all have one]
RC what is yours

if it helps any in 77 the cost to tan a fox was about the same as
now $13.90

Lumsden.......No offense taken

This response submitted by Bill G. the Curmudgeon on 5/5/01. ( )

I used to always go by my name until reference was made to a curmudgeon. I decided I liked that moniker. I'll be glad when this dust settles and I can go back to curmudgeonry practice.

This has been a good sampling from the clan of the baseball stitch; An airing out of the attics, if you will. All this just goes to show ya that after forty years in the bizness, things ain't changed a bit. Stranger, maybe, but no different....

Non taken

This response submitted by Lumsden on 5/5/01. ( )


Non taken either. If we haven't changed much in forty years then, we must be still on the right track. I just hate to see taxidermists disparaging others, we all seem to be wound a little tight these days? At the expense of sounding too philosophical, I feel that it's better to be an alive dog than a dead lion, if you know what I mean.

And buy the way, I charge a small $30. per use fee for the word "curmudgeon" and billing is quarterly. LOL!



This response submitted by RC on 5/6/01. ( )

I'm on your side ,i agreed with you, we have the same opinion on this i belive.

If I may, can I call you Jeff?

This response submitted by Lisa on 5/6/01. ( )

As I am new to this forum,I do not wish to over step.I am a bit confused as to the assessment of not fully understanding you. To give some insight,I have absorbed the viewpoints that have been given,and truly,it has been a polishing stage in my outlook of this business.However,I have shared an opinion or two(perhaps it is the little bit of Irish blood in me that tends to bubble)and delight in the the wit of many of you.And I take it as a compliment that you do "like me anyway".



This response submitted by jt on 5/6/01. ( )

you are totally right. some isp's provide a lot of security and the only thing traceable from the ip is the isp. like i said, they may be wrong on some ip's im no "hard core hacker" or anything. is there too many "i"'s "p"'s and "s"'s in this thread? EVERYONE, i charge what i feel is right for the quality of my work and that's that.


Just a little More please.

This response submitted by The Taxidermologist on 5/6/01. ( )

jt and some others had good closing arguments/ er statements BUT I simply can't let it end here. First off, the Penguins lost yesterday, shouldn't have, but did :(
Secondly, well, I've just wasted much of the last hour trying to find the largest posting of all time on this forum and we are closing in fast. I would like to thank all contributors. Initially I wished to have a summary total of largest postings of each category. Did the Reptiles first, and it was a measely 21K on Snake Killing Part 3. So, picking another "small" category, Tanning, the largest posting was in 1998 "Bad experience with a tannery" on Oct 21, at 42K. About now I started getting sidelined - Way too many interesting titles, I got sidetracked into reading some of these cool archives. Concentrate, I kept saying, just look at at K numbers. AAAHHHH.
I eventually had to give up on all topics and chose to focus on only the Taxidermy Industry category since it provides the largest cross topic discussion. I knew previously that there would be lots of postings over 50K since I had tried the Google technique, but couldn't seem to make it work to get the largest posting (see previous posting for this tehnique). So, in the next half hour, I wasted (I mean searched diligently) counting up the number of postings above 50K, and there were over 8 postings made previously larger than this figure. Of course, most were heated topics - Buffalo NTA meeting, Montana NTA meeting, NTA in general, Thoughts of NTA Board members, Pets in competition, etc. But my cursorial search came out that the top post was "Why are many opposed to Christian Posts?" at 67K. I certainly couldn't let a post with a title like that WIN! Besides Yoxy hasn't said boo on the topic, and the basic thread of this posting is one that he holds dear to his heart, and it was even started it using him as the example taxidermist.
Now I ceratinly don't want it to be construed that I am padding this posting so that it goes over 67K, LOL, so I will make this message a short one. I would be remiss to point out though, that the best way to end the post would be for Mr, William T. Yox to simply log on and say Boo.

Lets get it over the top

This response submitted by Elmer on 5/6/01. ( )

Goforit-The points made about the hobbiest or part time taxidermist are well merited but even with the overhead kept down I believe that most people start out with interest and love of hunting fishing and the outdoors. They also would like to bring in some extra cash into the household. The farther along they get the less hunting ,fishing and outdoor stuff they do. They get away from what brought them here. Unless they just don,t care about turn around time and pleasing their customer. The further along they find it takes a little longer and a lot more resources to do this. Materials, equipment, time and overhead even if they are doing it out of the garage or basement. The further they get they find they should charge accordingly. You almost have to charge a fair market price for your work where ever you are,or charge for your mounts to the value of how you believe your work is. The bottom line is are your customers happy are you getting referrals from them, do they stand the test of time and do you have plenty of work not two freezers fullor more that are not getting taken care of. Can you still do the things you love. Yep pricing is like trying to ride a bicycle you have to learn that too. In the meanwhile we can have great conversations about it on this valuable forum where everyone can air their feelings and get a little educated about pricing at the same time.

Mr. Rogers I guess...

This response submitted by Al on 5/6/01. ( )

Still getting over the sabres beating your buddy Mario! I think he should just be an owner.
Like I already stated I feel your post was a good one. But surely you can go round and round as George has already stated. Its a rat race no matter how you look at it. You think we can make it too 100K. Game six is tuesday,
for sure your pal will be up for this one! I think my tickets for game seven will be put in use.Pits done !

Sure Lisa

This response submitted by Jeff on 5/6/01. ( 425.353.9884 )

Tomorrow by 9 am Pacific, I should be in the shop.

What a surprise!

This response submitted by Lisa on 5/6/01. ( )

But very enjoyable!


This response submitted by Bill Yox on 5/7/01. ( )

Sorry guys, I was away at a show. Very interesting post. I read the whole thing just now, and of course, I read the same old thing, as always. Its just ego ...EGO! That word just kills some of you, scares the life out of ya. Youll deny it, but thats the simple fact. Price equals ego. Intimidation. The funny thing is, I dont care who believes it or agrees/disagrees. Maybe 5% of all of us really figures out a complete and accurate business plan to price thier work. Most just either charge according to what the other guy does, or just asks what the market will bear. When you read the whole post like I did, rather then daily offerings, you sure can get a feeling for whats being said, and the mood. Glad to see there is at least one or two Jackasses while Im gone. Let me say this, though. I feel that part timers are as good as me, being a full timer. I dont mean quality, but their standing in the industry. They may well put the same hours in as full timers. Also, yes, they do hurt the full time guy by charging "part time prices". Thats obvious. But you know what? Theres so much work out there, it really doesnt matter in the ling run. Ill be criticized for saying this, but more than half the guys griping about the "other guy's" prices are probably way behind on completion time. I know I am. Thats why I dont bitch about what others charge. I know Im going up again this fall. Hope some of you can, too. When you are ready, you will. By the way, it makes the ego feel GREAT!

Qwest, eh? guess the fire wall does work.

This response submitted by John C on 5/9/01. ( )

Since it is routed thru the west coast, ha.

Wondering if maybe price, ego, antler envy is all like the boys in the locker room in high school with penial envy?

Simply charge what you see and know your wrok is worth. Dont sit here whining and crying bitching about it.

Also Dan? I think I ask Mike if I would see him at the world, you read something into the text of that messege that did not exist.

I have sat here and watched this thread grow. Maybe it did make some think about their priceing and business tactics. Thats what it was intended to do. Any lowball price taxidermist could never do half of the work out there, same for the high dollar guy doing the best work.

Some place at some point in time you the taxidermist will decide, why am I married to the shop? What happened to the kids while I worked my life away in the shop? Yes at some point you will decide to either go up in price or get out of the business.

I ask why not go up now. You cannot put a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, the Russian goverment could not niether can you. Best of luck.

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