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Tue Dec 27, 2011, 07:17 PM

How to approach local business???

Not sure if this belongs here or in the DU Marketplace, but I'm going to try here first.

My local independent coffee shop generally does a pretty good job of supporting local artists. There is almost always a wall of paintings or photography or other two-dimensional art on exhibit, and s few local clay artists have been allowed to display mugs and cups.

But this past holiday season, the themed items displayed for sale (ornaments, decorations, etc.) were virtually all made in China, including a half dozen or so incredibly cheap and unimaginative "Christmas" stockings. Although the tags were well hidden, I finally found one. When I showed the "made in china" label to a fellow patron, she was likewise dismayed.

Unfortunately, the cheap imported stockings were sold at something just under $10, and I'm pretty sure locally crafted ones could not be priced so low. More than likely, however, these would be much higher quality. The trick is, how to persuade the coffee shop's owner to eschew the cheap, sleazy, imported crap and instead promote local products and local artisans?

I'm not a "hustler," so I'm not good at this. Anyone have any ideas to share?


TG


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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Jan 9, 2012, 06:55 PM

1. Challenge them. Make something better and ask the owner to display both for sale.

 

Yes, price yours higher. The quality will speak for itself. There's a thread going on elsewhere on just this topic - would you rather buy a cheap snow shovel or a US Made one that's more expensive. I prefer investing in something that will last. You aren't going to find a hand-stitched stocking made in China. I mostly do woodworking and you can't find anything like what I produce except from another craftsman of the trade. There's no problem with people buying the cheap Chinese shit if all they care about is cost. Think of it as placing your products in a good home. Somebody will prefer quality over price.

The other point to make is that the profit margin on the cheap stuff only works if it is sold in quantity. A higher priced item with a sales commission will bring in more for the store owner than the crap will. And, if it doesn't sell, you can take it back and try elsewhere with no cost to the owner. The Chinese shit just has to be boxed up and stored for the next season - it's already paid for. There are a lot of advantages to commission sales. I've got work in a shop 60 miles from here that didn't sell before Halloween. The store owner wanted to keep them and get them out earlier in the year next season and I agreed (found out about the place too late). I've got the plans (my own) and can make some more for local use.

Basically, I'm saying don't TRY to get the owner to eschew the crap. Put yours up against it. And there's no "hustling" involved - just a persuasive argument to get the opportunity to display your work.






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Response to HopeHoops (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 9, 2012, 09:28 PM

2. Good ideas!!

I saw part of the shovel thread, and then last night got into a FB discussion with my son and one of his GOP friends about whether it is the fault of the workers or the consumers that most of what's for sale in the US is cheaply made crap from China, etc. As soon as I pointed out that neither workers nor consumers have the power to move factories to China, and then my son mentioned that it isn't Chinese companies producing the cheap crap but rather US companies with factories in China, the "friend" stopped posting.

You bring up a really good point, too, about the consignee having to put the leftovers in storage until next year. The coffee shop I'm referring to has been putting out some of the same ornaments for the past 5 or 6 years! Not a very good ROI.

Oh, and what kind of woodworking do you do?



Tansy Gold, who has no use for a snow shovel of any kind in central Arizona

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Reply #2)

Tue Jan 10, 2012, 08:56 AM

3. Mostly scroll saw and band saw art. They are my two favorite "big" tools.

 

I like cutting jig-saw puzzles (big ones) out of 2" pine on the band saw. It can't whip a turn like a scroll saw, but it comes damn close. I can turn in place with a scroll saw. It took a LONG time to master (and a shitload of broken blades), but I'm really good at it now. I also use it for 3D wall hangings. If you cut at a slight angle, you can push in or pull out the inset piece. They look really neat.

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Response to HopeHoops (Reply #3)

Tue Jan 10, 2012, 09:07 AM

4. :::::sigh:::::

I love working with wood and have all the tools and all the wood -- literally piles of it -- and no time. If you look at the pendants on my Etsy shop, most are photographed on a background of ironwood. :::: sigh ::::: I love wood.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Reply #4)

Tue Jan 10, 2012, 09:32 AM

5. I think oak and poplar are my two favorites. I've mad a lot of knives out of those.

 

My wife and 3 daughters are all black belts (wife 3rd degree, daughters 2nd degree). I make both dull practice knives and really sharp demonstration knives. I even made one with a metal blade for my wife (scroll saw). Most of them are pretty deadly.

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Response to HopeHoops (Reply #1)

Thu Jun 14, 2012, 12:43 AM

6. Everybody is sick of seeing "made in china", so along side the cheap stuff, put a sign that says

 

"Made in the USA, by local artist, then your name. I did a show last December, (I do mosaic art) a lady came up to my display table and looked around. I started to tell her about my mosaic process, and she said," I'm a designer, and I appreciate and know all the work you put into this piece". She bought two of my mirrors and one stained glass stepping stone. We exchanged business cards for future reference
.
People do appreciate interesting, beautiful, high quality work and they will buy it, but it important to display your art in the right venue. Craft shows offer fantastic marketing opportunities. Networking is very important.


A friend of mine was looking for a cabinet to hold his collection of Air Guns. He went on line, and found a wood craftsman, and bought a beautiful gun rack at a reasonable price from this artist. He is one person who appreciates high quality wood working.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Sun Jun 17, 2012, 10:29 PM

7. Some years back I stopped buying any Christmas decorations because

 

everything in the stores was made in China.

It's almost impossible to get a reasonable price for something you've made by hand. I know knitters, really good knitters, who sometimes sell stuff for only a little more than what the yarn cost, just to make back the price of the yarn.

I participate in an employee craft fair at the hospital I work at each November. I sell crocheted scarves, which I mostly make while at work. I'm on the information desk and I have a LOT of down time. I've figured out a very simple pattern, make them from Lion's Brand Homespun which comes in wonderful colors, machine washes and dries like a dream, and I never pay more than five dollars a skein and sell them for twenty. I sell enough over the winter, both at the craft fair and discreetly from the information desk, that I get an extra few hundred dollars. This coming winter I'm planning to work two or three more craft fairs just to see how I can do.

But good for you for trying to subversively get people to buy quality stuff instead of cheap junk. I do think that many people, when they get to see quality alongside of junk, tend to get it. Once in a while someone will be shocked that I want twenty bucks for a scarf, when, so they tell me, they can get something just as good at WalMart for five dollars. I just repeat how mine is hand made, and that I have to pay retail for the yarn. Plus, the yarn really is pretty nice, especially for a simple crocheted scarf.

I have a semi-secret dream of crocheting enough scarves to get one of the kiosks at a local mall at Christmas time. I may do it someday down the road.

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