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I was caught completely off guard yesterday evening when a gallery-owner-friend asked me, "What are you making right now for Christmas sales?"  Well, after I picked my jaw up off the floor I explained that I don't have a definitive plan for what will be new this year...but that I should know soon.  That was the best tap-dancing-answer I could spit out for a question I wasn't expecting.  The question did get me thinking.

 

Last year, I asked a question about cut-off dates for custom holiday orders and now have October 15th chiseled into my calendar.  But now, we are (only) 165 days until Christmas Day and it is time for me to at least start thinking about those Christmas sales.  Considering that the first pop-up show I have committed to starts November 1st, there are a lot fewer than 165 day to get ready.

 

So...On your mark, get set, here are the questions:

What is your plan for Christmas?  When do you start production on items that you know will be reserved for Christmas sales?  And what  (if any) are you doing/making that you expect to be your top seller for the holidays this year?

 

No pressure, but I have Santa holding on the phone for an answer ;)

-Paul

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Yikes, one of the few not-so-good things about our art form is the timing of work.  Just got the entry stuff for our local big deal christmas fair.  Last year I had to skip it due to hand injury.  This year I am going to skip it because I just don't want the pressure and rush to make enough stuff. It was fun last year being a patron and not a visitor.

 

You are  wise to have a deadline for orders and such and it made me realize that I have to decide NOW what I am going to do about holiday stuff.  Thanks for the reminder.  rakuku

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just hung the calendar with shows marked into december.  i leave about dec 1 and the last show is our guild christmas sale on thanksgiving weekend.  first one is 5 weeks away.  most important dates are the ones marked  LAST DATE TO FIRE that goes on 3 days before each show.

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At this point, I am thinking about next Summer. A lot of bigger shows jury or simply close applications months in advance, so it would be a rush to schedule (part of that is life outside of pottery though. My workspace is crammed with greenware and I've got no clue when I'll have time to do kiln maintenence and fire).

 

Christmas in July: it makes Fall and Winter easier. Ideally, the best time to plan product for Christmas is in early January when it's still fresh in your mind. It's a good idea to jot down what worked well, what was not worth the time and what you'd like to try next year (for events, your work, and display). It's pretty difficult to remember those details months later without notes. Spring is a great time to work out those new designs, produce heavily in Summer, sell heavy in Fall and for the sake of sanity, pick a cutoff date and stick to it hard: don't ruin your own holiday time stressing over customers who waited til the last minute!

 

Seasonal rhythm is a difficult groove to get into, but since shows and fairs generally land around the same time each year, it's a sanity saver.

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x-mas show app is a done deal thru Zapp a long time ago-its just another Az show in Dec. The other x-show is also a done deal.

As to making work for it yet-no way -I have a big summer show in August and two fall shows do do 1st.

My december production starts in mid -October usually as early fall is a big sales time for me.

I refuse to be pressured about x-mas until the fall.

Mark

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I start thinking 4th quarter after the 2nd Thursday in May (date of the Canton, MS flea market).    I try to keep weekly production at $3K to $3.5K.  This past week, I wrapped up 5 or 6 red/green ribbon on bags ... customers already have Christmas on their minds.    I only do 2 Christmas only items, a plate and some tree ornaments.   We will start the tree plates this Tuesday, making up to 200 $16 plates and 50 $25-$30 plates. Around 500 tree ornaments, in 2 sizes.   I have 2 new items this year, a cake plate ($35)  and a spoon rest ($10).  I'm going to do a poster for the cake plate at Vista print, showing how that traditional glass cake dome fits.   And just yesterday the kids made 100 spoon rests. I would like to have 300 spoon rests and 200 cake plates. In addition I will push a deer plate for a man's gift, about $25 with an easel and cross plates with easels $20 to $30.  (found this nice easel at Tripar http://www.tripar.com/product.php?id=335751YPVX, looks better than average easels I think and ws cost is $1.25, $1.50 and $2.00).  In addition, I'll be stockpiling hostess sets and other items in my standard line.

 

4th quarter kicks off with the Canton flea market on the 2nd Thursday in October.  Sales are steady but kick up at open house, in mid November.   Black Friday yields pretty good sales, with sales going all the way to the Saturday before Christmas.  Sales for these 3 months will surpass 6 figures.  TBH, I can't wait for the money to start coming in.   I already have a $20K shopping list.  I have steady cash flow now but  not enough for the capital improvements I have planned.    I do have 2 28x8 shipping cargo containers which I will move in as soon as I get a dry spell, one of which will be converted to an overflow pottery inventory  show room.   A place to store and organize my 4th quarter wares, where they can also be seen by customers wanting to buy in multiples.  After December 1st I have plenty of room but right now my show room is really crowded with stockpiles.

 

Paul, this was a great question.   I think some of the members of the forum could greatly benefit from 4th quarter gift sales.

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I'll run all of these items in a couple colors.   I'm really expecting those easels to pump sales in the emblem items like the deer and cross plates.  In addition to pottery I will be heavily stocked with all ornaments, small crosses and of course my complete jewelry line.

 

Let the gifting begin!!!!

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Paul, you're not the only one getting questions. I have a five day sale in Edmonton at the end of November asking for shots so they can start promoting work. I haven't even completed my first year as a business!!

And yes, I was making production schedules for the fall today. I have two shows confirmed and fees paid. Two others I am waiting on notifications, which should come late August. I expect calls for entry for at least two more in early fall. I'll produce assuming affirmative answers on all of them, and if I get turned down I'll have a studio sale in mid December. (The mailing list is only about 45 people right now, so not a big enough draw on its own quite yet.)

 

I am planning on bringing my usual line, plus plenty of Christmas ornaments. . I'm getting major requests for butter dishes lately, so I'm working on those.

 

Last year, mugs and steins were my top sellers, but I wasn't doing what Mark calls "smalls" then. I have a mini cup and a simple 4" spoon rest/ring dish/dipping plate/etc.

I went to my Christmas market with some larger ticket items, expecting that they'd be display filler and conversation pieces, but I sold a tea set and several mixing bowl stacking sets. $150 is an exhilarating sale on your first big show! No one had ever really heard of me at that point. My mailing list was 6 people, including my Mom.

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A few years ago about this time in July I was skating in Central Park, NYC. It was a beautifully warm and sunny summery day and I came upon the Radio City Rockettes dressed like candy canes filming a commercial for their Christmas show. There were fake Christmas trees and decorations all around. Talk about crazy. It seemed to me that they could have filmed it in a studio because they didn't use the available surroundings. It was just a shock hearing the holiday music and seeing that in July.

 

Paul.

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I just sent in my application for our biggest local holiday crafts festival, held the first weekend in December. Here it is July and I still don't have any inventory, because I sell out so quickly at the local cooperative gallery (a happy problem, I know). But I'm already thinking of Christmas, and if by October, I don't have enough work, I'll just pull out of the show. My work is very labor intensive - sgraffito porcelain mugs, bowls, etc.

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I just sent in my application for our biggest local holiday crafts festival, held the first weekend in December. Here it is July and I still don't have any inventory, because I sell out so quickly at the local cooperative gallery (a happy problem, I know). But I'm already thinking of Christmas, and if by October, I don't have enough work, I'll just pull out of the show. My work is very labor intensive - sgraffito porcelain mugs, bowls, etc.

You are just asking for people to check out your work in the gallery. Nothing there! Where can we see your work?

TJR.

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  I'm going to do a poster for the cake plate at Vista print, showing how that traditional glass cake dome fits.  

 

I do have 2 28x8 shipping cargo containers which I will move in as soon as I get a dry spell.

The poster is a great idea for introducing new items or emphasizing special or seasonal things that you're making in quantity!

 

Shipping containers - what a huge amount of space to add without building - and easy to lock up!

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