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About DirtRoads

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    Advanced Member
  • Birthday 06/01/1957

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  • Location
    Edinburg, MS
  • Interests
    MMO's like World of Warcraft. Beta tester for new WOW type games. Making the world a better place for feral cats. Helping teenagers and adults cope with and break free from video game addiction.

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  1. Animals at work!

    That's a great picture of that racoon.
  2. This year 50% of my studio sales were in Nov/Dec. Last year 42% of sales during Nov/Dec. About 75-80% of these purchases were for gifts. If you are not selling your desired target, you should consider positioning your business as a gift destination. I do sell some gifts at the two shows I do, but sell more at my free standing retail location. I think it's possible to sell some gifts at shows, but consider a bricks and mortar space as a supplement. I have built most of my destination business (which is 80% of my business) from customers that "saw me at Canton" (Canton, MS bi-annual flea market). You need somewhere to shovel all those customers after the show. This is where you could do online too. I refuse to ship pottery. So I can't offer much on experience on that. I do ship jewelry and have gotten most of my online orders from those Canton customers. Interestingly, the most searched word on my jewelry website is "pottery" .... so I know the demand for online sales is there. You have to select a location for becoming a gift destination after the show. Once you have a location, you need to shovel every customer you encounter at shows or other places to that location. I give away stacks of cards at my shows (remember cards only 2 cents now). I always have cards and casually hand them out to people I run in to. Location Options 1. Free standing retail operation in the location as your studio (my model) 2. Kiosk - A small selling space in front of or in another business (Mark C uses this) 3. Space in a vendor, craft or antique mall. This could be ideal if the venue is a successful retail operation. One of my clients just sold $20k plus in a vendor mall during December. You really need to do your research on these venues. I know of another very successful once a month venue that has an assortment of merchandise where vendors sell $4k and more. 4. A shared retail space. I've seen 2 different places where 2 people split a store in my area. They have their separate registers or use a code like vendor malls do. I could see where 4 or 5 potters split a retail space. 5. Online. Drive customers to Etsy or your online store. Gift Buyers vs Self Purchases - Most gift buying is driven by price. - The competition for gifts is just getting them to your store or outlet. You need to get in their evoked set of gift giving options. Become one of the "go to" sources for gifts. Whereas at a show, there are rows of options for competition. - Gift buyers are less discriminating ... they will buy things that will never be a self purchase. - Most gifts are "obligation gifts". They HAVE to get something. Hate to say it but half the time, they may not even really want to buy a particular gift. You are providing a much needed service if you can supply gifts in their price range. Wedding gifts and a lot of Christmas gifts are obligations. I have a steady wedding clientele. The great thing here is that wedding gifts are consumables. The buyer usually doesn't worry about "where they will put it". And pottery is easily established as the "go to wedding gift". Buyers usually have a set price. A lot of them have the same "go to" item for every wedding gift. My average wedding gift is $50. Shower gifts are usually $25 to $35. - Teacher gifts are consumable gifts. The kids usually have new teachers each year so people will come back year after year. I find ornaments to fit perfectly for teacher gifts. I always add a new style or two and change up the colors so in case they still have some of the same teachers (coaches, dance teachers, etc may not change. My record teacher gift sale this past Christmas was 27 gifts (for 3 kids) - Dirty Santa gifts are consumable gifts that you can hit almost every year. Average price varies from $20 to $35. - Family gifts. Buyers for family gifts are typically more discriminating than other gifts. A typical purchase will be a lady buying for her daughters and daughter-in-laws. Average price here is around $50. They will buy anniversary, Christmas and birthday gifts. I've found I don't retain this customer for more than 2 or 3 sales. But ... it's a good sale. Another good family sale is for "all the grand daughters" I have seen a few women hit all the women in the family with $50 gifts. When they extend to "all the nieces and nephews ", this is usually a $4 to $8 ornament. AND many gift purchasers do buy something for themselves. Or send another gift buyer in to get them a desired item. We have a wish book to record this.
  3. Post a photo of your best sales pet! Bit is the best sales person at the studio. He often sits at the front on the porch greeting customers as they arrive. At other times he's overseeing production as he sits in front of clay, reminding people to get to work. One of best things about owning this business is allowing animals to be a part of everything.
  4. Instagram or Facebook or ??? What?

    I would say YES to this. Situate yourself for gifts. Maybe even a smaller store for the rest of the year. I sold 5 wedding gifts today and a couple of birthday gifts. Selling gifts is so much easier than aiming for self purchase. Let me try and find that post I made about gifts. I only do 2 shows a year now. Canton MS Flea Market in May and October. When I first started, I did more shows but was running out of inventory by Dec 1 and decided I rather sell more here. This year I ended up with around $8K ending pottery inventory. Maybe enough to try and do a show called "Hand Works" in Jackson, MS (in November) I do more in my showroom than at the shows. Those 2 shows account for about 25% of my sales, with the showroom accounting for 75%
  5. Instagram or Facebook or ??? What?

    Range 30 to 50. I did a demographic analysis (visual confirmation) 20 and younger 6% 25 - 30 10% 30 to 40 30% 40 to 50 32% 50 and over 22% 70% of my pottery purchases are for gifts.
  6. Didn't do any shows but free standing retail business was up in November and in December. Sales for December were up 24% from 2016. Finally hit my pottery sales cap. We've been steadily producing $5K a week for the last few months. Kept the main sellers in stock most of the time ... if we ran out it was only for a day or so. I really pumped out the best sellers. We have around $9K left. I've never had more than $500 left before. I can't reach this number without employees. I have really good steady part time workers ... all retired professionals. No family teenagers here now.
  7. Instagram or Facebook or ??? What?

    I have used both Facebook and Instagram. And have received direct sales from them. I am always closed on Sunday and decided on Friday to stay open today from 1:00 pm to 5:pm. I posted my hours on Facebook and promoted for Saturday as well. I did around $500 today in sales and all but one customer saw it on Facebook that we would be open. I got over 1800 exposures from my first post. Yesterday we made several sales directly from what people saw on Facebook, around $700-$800. That said .... I have found I get diminishing returns from Facebook. A little posting here and there is good ... constant posting and people get "bored". Instagram is key for a younger clientele. I have found it to be very effective in promoting jewelry. Somewhat effective for pottery. You have people just waiting to get posts on Instagram. I have consulted for a clothing store that does a significant business using Instagram. You get more exposure as people "tag" your Instagram posts. I would say for what you are doing ... Facebook. One of my goals this year is to rework my Facebook and have 2 FB's only for Dirt Roads Pottery and Dirt Roads Jewelry. And eliminate the personal one for Sharon Grimes. You need to get a significant customer base if you are using Facebook. Same for Instagram. Younger people use Snap Chat more than Facebook. I think hard core shoppers really like using Instagram.
  8. A person that sells kilns told me that you damage the fire bricks when you open at higher temperatures. I mentiond 250 degrees and he said that was way too hot and said that extreme temperature changes make the fire bricks crack, etc. I have no idea as to the validity of this idea. I never open above 250. Usually around 150.
  9. From what I am seeing, Christmas sales are going to be exceptionally strong this year. Get your products somewhere where customers have the chance to buy them. It may be a little late, but use this time to scope out venues and find somewhere for next Christmas.
  10. Agree with using even numbers. Psychological pricing is more for bargains and groceries. When a customer sees an item at $20, they think it's $20. PLUS tax. Where can you shop that does not include sales tax? By not adding sales tax, you are effectively giving them at 7-9% discount (what ever the tax rate is in your area). In Mississippi, it's 7%, so that's $1.40 ... too much to throw away. You are going to pay the sales tax, so collect it. In my busy show, I add a round number for sales tax, but I do add it on the marked price. At the show room, we automatically add it, using the register. I did have a kid buy something a couple of months ago and handed me the marked price and tell me "I'm a child, I don't pay sales tax". I laughed and let it go.
  11. You're always doing something .... right. So important to capture some of those Christmas sales and a lot of potters aren't able to do it. The 35% margin totally works in a grocery type store. Is this the margin for all products in that store? There is a novelty grocery store close to me and they operate on a straight 25% margin. If you aren't at 100% sell thru, you need to get your products somewhere they can be purchased for Christmas gifts. Great distribution strategy here.
  12. I just scratch with a stylus.
  13. Christmas Ornaments

    State shape is a great seller. I have about 10 styles of cross ornaments, which are also great sellers. May not sell that well outside the Bible belt ... not really sure.
  14. Christmas Ornaments

    Cookie cutter Christmas trees - Great sellers. Lime green base with random red and holly green accents. We just slap the glaze on tbh.
  15. I think you did a good job. IMO you might as well do websites yourself. So you can update. Get the right platform and it's doable. I've got 2 websites. Did all of the work myself. One for pottery is not e commerce. This one done using network solutions. Basically this one is advanced word processing. http://dirtroadspottery.com Another e commerce site using Shopify platform for jewelry. A bit more complicated than the other one but once you get things figured out, it's relatively easy. Very easy to update and add new products. One part required a small amount of HTML. And another required using Liquid (which I was unfamiliar with but turned out to be really simple ... but it 100% not necessary to use the Liquid ... I think they added that to get people to use one of their consultants). I would recommend Shopify but only is you are willing to work through it and do it yourself. Too hard to get the money back, based on the quotes I got from web developers doing the site for me. You still have to provide the photos and descriptions. With all that, you might as well do it yourself. http://dirtroadsjewelry.com I don't want to deal with shipping pottery. I find that to be one of the biggest limitations in establishing an e business for pottery. However, some people seem to do it.

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