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11/04/2018: in dreams of price and value

The old man sat at his market stall as he had done two days each week for the past 40 years. Arranged before him, the beautiful, unique dolls he made always attracted admiring visitors. Some bought, some didn't.

On this particular day, a very large, very haughty lady admired one particularly splendid doll with an angelic face, long, flowing tresses and a lace trimmed gingham dress. When she enquired the price, the old man replied "Two hundred pounds ma'am". "Ridiculous!" The woman shrieked. "It is no more than a few pieces of wood, some paint, fabric and dishcloth string for hair", she declared, then went on "My husband is in property development and he could buy all those materials for £30, so that is what I will pay you."

She was slightly surprised when the old man replied "O.K., come back in a week.

As the week passed, the lady became more and more proud of her achievement in bartering with the old man, mentioning it to many of her friends over tea and coffee rounds in the local ladies circle.

Returning to the market on the appointed day, the old man recognised her as she approached and brought out a large box, which he handed her. On opening it, the woman was horrified to see various shaped pieces of wood, some gingham, lace, fasteners and some small pots of paint. "Where's my doll?" she asked "My daughter won't want to play with this. I paid you for a doll!". The old man smiled and replied "In the right hands, that is a doll. All you need to add is the lifetime of experience, the skill and the love for a finished product that you didn't add to your order. What you have is exactly what you paid for."

The moral of this story is that the true value of any bespoke product is greater than the sum of its component parts. The intangible elements of skill, experience, dedication to quality and the numerous costs of running a business all contribute to the final price.

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