Dear Dr. Per Cap: 

My sister makes her living as an artist and I buy her paintings for gifts.  However, she always wants to give me a deal which makes things uncomfortable.  I think she’s insulted when I try to pay more.  What’s a respectful way to tell her to charge me full price like any other customer?  I can afford it!

Signed, 

Guilty Conscience

Dear Guilty Conscience,

This is a common issue among Native artists and craftspeople.  Maybe it speaks to the generous and selfless nature of many Native folks.  Maybe it goes back to the old saying “Blood is thicker than water.”

I’ve experienced the family bargain dilemma with artist friends and relatives too.  Fortunately, I’ve found a pretty simple fix – don’t focus on money and don’t haggle over price.  Just buy the painting, jewelry, pottery, beadwork, or other handcrafted item at the “all my relations” price.  However, follow this up with a really nice thank you note and a gift card to the person’s favorite restaurant.  Still feel like you’re making off like a bandit?  Throw in a box of donuts or a plate of homemade cookies.

Trust me – this works like a charm.  The artist won’t feel insulted but they will appreciate your acknowledgment that they hooked you up with a special deal.  For some reason a non cash gift is just a lot easier to accept than the extra money.  And don’t fret if the gift costs less than the discount.  It’s the thought that counts.

By the way this also works great with friends and relatives who repair stuff on the cheap – brake pads for the minivan, backed up sewer line, cattle fence repair.

Keep supporting Native artists and craftspeople!