Great post guys!
I have spent $1000's (12-15?) on my collection/setup. That means animals, housing, heating, feeders, supplies, shipping, building supplies and so many little things that I can't even recall. That doesn't even TOUCH on the time that goes into keeping a medium-large collection and the offspring. And then there is the web site.... sure it's free because I know how to do it myself, but it takes time.... everything takes lots of time.... time and money. But hey, I love every minute of it.
But I agree full-heartedly that people don't realize the work and effort that go into this stuff. They just see the cutch of 20 babies worth $250 each and think it's all free money... not so much.
About the first topic of shipping costs... that's a tough one. I think it just has to be part of the cost of doing business. Just like the racks they live in and the food they eat... part of the cost. I suppose you could always say "will only ship on orders more than $500" or something like that but what will that do to your business? Who knows?