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About DirtRoads

  • Rank
    Advanced Member
  • Birthday 06/01/1957

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  • Gender
  • 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.
  1. See all the packages on the porch for pick up. We use those translucent poly shopping bags and write their names on them with a sharpie. This pick up feature really ups the pottery sales. We will also store large items from other vendors here for customers. No paper because shopping starts at 6:30 ish and paper bags get damp. A lot of shoppers roll around those carts like the customer checking out. The craft wrapping paper is a must for speedy check outs. (we started out using ... newspaper). We also use craft bags in place of wrapping smaller items. Yes. This is a very good show for me. The only show I do. It's 40 miles from my studio. I get a lot of customers from this event. You have to consider all the people I have working and the fact that I am purely production business. But the sales here are 5 figure plus. I started selling the jewelry too because there is a huge market here for that. More than for the pottery. Plus importing jewelry is something I know how to do. I had an extensive back ground in high volume Junior League shows. I'm an "item seller". I sell 1000's of the same "it" item. I was taught this by The Colonel from Nashville, TN. This one guy came in the booth and asked who the owner was. They pointed me out and he came over and told me "You're a really mediocre potter. But a brilliant marketer ... I suppose." Turned and walked away before I could even say anything. Oh well.
  2. Look at them dipping their blingy little fingers into those jars of cheap bracelets. There is a constant stream around this table, making it hard to restock.
  3. The booth stays packed. This is the jewelry side. I design most of the jewelry. Have the bead work done in China but we "assemble" most of the jewelry here. Some of the jewelry is 100% made here, but using imported findings. All the racks are loading with jewelry and wheeled in using hand trucks. Those 60 inch bead necklaces are "it" items right. I carried an inventory of about $15K of those on 2 racks. Around 12 styles of them. Opposite are trays of Amazonite bracelets, 7 colors. I do the same thing with pottery. "It" items in 3 colors. It's always about "It" items.
  4. A constant mob passing by. Pulling those shopping carts! Quite a few people come here to really shop and buy.
  5. LOL ... lots of banners, sign boards and even shopping baskets. Definitely not an art show. The "It" items are hostess sets (long tray, bowl and spoon) and various shaped bowls. We had a $40 bowl that sold really well. Other items ... we pack around 5. In those items we take 100 plus.
  6. Check out area in front of booth. Mostly jewelry here but some pottery checked out (smaller pieces and no wrapping)
  7. (omg made pictures smaller ....) Check out area behind booth. We wrap well and use this porch for holding items. Customers drive up to the booth and honk and yell their names and we carry bags to the cars. Both jewelry and pottery checked out here.
  8. Antique Turquoise, Fluer de Sand Bar and Blue Swirl. A row of each color. We arrange by color. Stack tons of back ups in the bottom crates. I took this photo's about mid day. Sales started at 6:30. We had almost the perfect amount this show. Packed up less than 20% of the starting inventory.
  9. This is a bi-annual event (2nd Thursday in May and October). This is little different than the Art Shows. But I thought it might be interesting for some of you. Keep in mind ... while I do (somewhat) like making pottery, my primary interest is making money. It's not your average flea market. A lot of crafts here and wholesale importers. From what I've noted here is that if you are not a hand crafted item, you have to be a competitively priced importer selling close to wholesale prices (I would say 20-25% over wholesale price). Hand crafted items do pretty well there. Retail stores tend to come and go ... they don't do that much. I have a 30 x 20 foot booth here. About 55% jewelry 45% pottery. I have 7 people working, including my brother and myself. I have one check out behind the booth, with 3 workers and one in front of the booth with 2 workers. I float around putting more product up on the tables and racks. My brother mostly carries bags of pottery to people driving up on the side street in their cars. He also relieves workers, handles money, change, helps customers, etc. We have a unique set up, in front of a house owned by the Catholic church. we are the only booth in that spot and park right behind the booth. And use extra space for check out areas. Note the 3 colors I carry to this show. Two matte finishes and one glossy. And we carry a small amount of red.
  10. Ok ... about the horse shoe pit. My nephew was wrong. Here is a photo taken today. The cats don't even use it now. As you can see, no one uses it. Only 2 children ever played horse shoes, at my request (grand children of employees). BUT, it makes a nice privacy fence for the dog pen, covers up my expansion, until I get it painted and trimmed to match the rest of the building. I do think it finishes out the property quite nicely You have to keep trying until you find what works.
  11. My business path has been littered with "dumb ideas". But they have never made me stop dreaming. "I've always wanted a horse shoe pit" This idea documented right here on the forums. http://community.ceramicartsdaily.org/topic/13337-qotw-did-you-do-what-you-wanted-to-do-in-2015/page-2?hl=%2Bhorse+%2Bshoe+%2Bpit&do=findComment&comment=99824 (and above it you can see all the bla bla bla about the cute retail space) Putting a retail location in Edinburg, MS was pretty much a "dumb idea" to most people. I hoped to sell $25K .... maybe even $50K, a year from this location ... my brother thought I would be lucky to sell $5K a year. A dumb idea that has yielded a profitable destination business. Two years ago, I had to expand the parking arrangements in order to keep traffic from backing up on Highway 16, waiting to get in during the Christmas rush. When I put the building there, it was a stretch to think I could pay for the gravel drive way to the business.
  12. Okay ... so where I am now August 2017?. Okay .. the cute retail building. At least it's cute, if not a "retail" building. Going in and out of 3 buildings just didn't work. Plus I needed a space that could be heated and cooled. Great storage for excess pottery, pickup orders, etc but NOT a retail space. Adds nicely to the overall effect. http://dirtroadspottery.com/images/IMG_0034.JPG As for the pug mill and electric slab roller, LIFE CHANGING. So were the ramps, rollers and racks. I can not stress the importance of this. Increased production with less output. Anything you can do to reduce points of contact. Photo story on my website: http://dirtroadspottery.com/aboutus.html As noted, "jewelry business has increased exponentially. Connected a new building to the original show room in March 2017. Just launched e commerce site for jewelry and it's going well. Why not for pottery? We're at 100% sell thru and I can't deal with packing pottery for shipment. I'm down to 2 full time employees and a Saturday retail employee. Managing a production pottery line just didn't work for me. I was literally working 70-80 hours a week to keep things flowing. Right now the business is going really well. Just waiting for my 4th quarter profits. In retrospect (7 years in): Pottery is an extreme amount of work. The points of contact with the product are very high. Anything you can do to cut down points of contact will help you. I have a production business. Training others is doable but you are assuming the role of a manager. So if you are a solo operation, you depend on your own output. It comes down to a production quota. The other end of the spectrum would be to create art forms. I have no real interest in making "art", just money. I applaud all of those endeavored in artistic creation. None of what I have to say would apply to you. Is this a profitable business? Yes. I branched out to jewelry because it is more profitable and a lot easier than pottery. But I do appreciate the pottery business. Could I make a decent living doing just pottery? Yes. One day I may move back to my "dirt roads" property and hang out there, with no retail store and just make pottery. You are going to have some set backs along the way (I don't consider them failures if you work around them). Example my fresh air market and cute retail building just didn't cut it. Two retail buildings are fine ... adding to the original small building for more jewelry has already paid for the expansion. I have numerous products, in both jewelry and pottery, that don't really sell. They are dropped from the line. Come on 4th quarter! Gift buyers incoming! Sharon Grimes
  13. Wouldn't the cost of slip casting always be a % cost to selling price ratio? I don't slip cast but the cost of clay is 7% of the selling price in my business. It never comes in at more than 7%. If it does, then the price is raised. Sometimes on certain products, like ornaments and jewelry, it is less than 7% but I still price on the 7% which adds a small amount to my overall profit margin. I price the items, based on amount of clay used. Glazing materials and electricity add 10% and 8%. Labor is 25% of the production cost. Glazing labor being 10% and making labor being 15%. You just fix the final selling cost to fit in that frame. I back into the final selling price using these numbers. That gives me a comfortable 50% margin to cover selling costs and generate a 20% minimum sales to profit ratio. MINIMUM. Note: that's assuming I don't do any glazing or making. The amount I do adds to my personal profit.
  14. Pottery Back To A Sideline

    Haven't posted in a while .. saw this and wanted to put in a word. It's really hard for most people to make any business work. In a craft, the product can be your differential advantage, but at the same time getting the "right" product can be your downfall. I'm not sure what happened in your case, but it seems the "place" element seemed to pose your biggest obstacle. Go back and reevaluate your entire marketing mix: Product, Price, Promotion and Place. I came from a background where I know my customer bases extremely well. Edinburg, MS .... I won't publish my thoughts on my most of my immediate geographic base (I said most not ALL) . But I know those customers are out there that will relish my pottery and drive to get it. I just know what sells ... how they use it and what core values my product fulfills. Example: I know faith is a core value for most of my target market and my line is full of cross merchandise. I attribute my success to knowing my customer base, better than they know themselves. I have offered advise to a couple of crafters and potters and one got the exact business they wanted. But their pricing was a little off and not yielding enough profit for the time put in so they cut back. I repeatedly told the to raise the price .... The others .... didn't really listen and have either left or are floundering. I think it comes down to business ownership and personal finances. Recently did a little consulting for a business that I'm pretty sure will make it because they are well financed. (if they fail it will be because they don't want to put in enough hours and you really can't payroll most small start up businesses, have to do the work yourself). One thing I've always recommended is that one of the household maintains a job. A job that will pay the bills and provide things like health insurance. I think my personal health insurance is running about $800 a month now and being able to pay this from the business is MANDATORY. If I can't pay that in 3 years, this business is a no go. It does take 3 years to really get most businesses up and going. Since this is my (10th or so ...would have to sit down and count them) business, I got to positive cash flow in the 2nd year. The 6th year in, business is doing well. All this said, don't be too hard on yourself. Take what you've learned and try to restart the business, if it's your dream. Let the business tell you when it's time to go full time. Look at my business model (somewhere in my previous posts). I stand by it as being successful. What have I been up to? As for myself, I have cut back to 2 full time employees and a Saturday employee to run the retail store. Overseeing production was dragging me down, making it mandatory for me to put in 70 plus hours a week. Sales dropped slightly last year but profitability was up more than 30%. There is money to be made here ... an investor (my brother who does the accounting for the business because he sees the potential profit) wanted to put in $100K and expand. And I said NO. NO in NO uncertain terms. Had 2 different companies want to buy my "designs". One came through with a solid offer, which I accepted but they backed out. I was very disappointed. Had an offer in the spring to produce this stupid amount of pottery for resale and I basically hung up on them. Be very very careful in these type offers because I have watched 2 different pottery businesses fold when national companies get involved. I've now split my time between the pottery and the jewelry business. Added another building for the jewelry and the pottery has it's own building now. And a complete e commerce website for the jewelry business. Take a look on my website if you want (in my profile). (really need to update the pottery website) Good luck and keep pursuing your dreams ... even if it's part time. Sharon Grimes
  15. Moving Studio To Montana

    Glad you're moving back. You never complained but I always thought south Texas was not optimal for you.