What factors into our pricing decisions?
Most people don’t know how retail prices are calculated, and for good reason: the capitalist system works by obscuring social and economic factors and decisions, making them seem to be natural laws over which we have no agency. In the spirit of transparency, and as a gesture against these logics, we want to tell you a bit more about our economic workings and what it means to run an education- and community-centered business.
Since its founding in 2011, Other Nature has prided itself in being “Anders als andere Sex Shops (different from other sex shops)”. The core of our work, the education we provide at the shop every day, is and will always be free of charge. We never pressure our customers into making a purchase, even after spending a lot of time answering their questions. That means our consultations are working time in which we don’t directly make money. Our survival as an organisation, however, depends on generating a profit margin that can cover our expenses. When wholesale prices and running costs increase we have to adjust our prices to sustain ourselves. Ultimately, we are bound to a market and our shop is the end point of a complex interplay, where fluctuating raw material prices, producers invested in profit, competition, labour struggles and standards determine the price at which we buy our products.
19% VAT - value added tax - is included in the majority of our retail prices (in some cases it is 7%). This is money that goes to the state - for example, if a product costs €89.90, the VAT is €14.35. Sometimes additional fees, like import taxes, need to be factored in as well. Of the remaining amount, the product cost usually makes up half of that. So, on average, about 30-40% of what you spend on a product will be left for us to pay our bills with. Since we run both a brick-and-mortar store as well as an online shop, our monthly expenses are comparatively high. We need to factor in wages, rent, insurance, business taxes, running costs, shipping, packaging, renovations… you name it.
As an entirely queer, majority-trans/non-binary and -BIPoC workers’ collective, we aim to create steady, secure and salaried jobs for people in communities who have a harder time finding workspaces where we can bring our whole selves. All of us are permanently employed with full social benefits, we compensate for overtime hours and do our best to support each other in not overworking ourselves. Importantly, everyone on the team gets the same hourly wage, regardless of roles and responsibilities. Still, our earnings are very low, and many of us find it increasingly difficult to finance our lives without extra sources of income. We currently pay ourselves just over minimum wage. While it hasn’t been possible for the last few years, we are now slowly working on improving this aspect of our working conditions in order to better sustain our team in the long run.