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Wholesale-Know Your Limits


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#1 Mark C.

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 07:43 PM

Here’s a story about wholesale from the early 70s

I had an art professor friend that taught art and ceramics as well for a short time at a JC in our area.

He decided to build a kiln (I was one of the crew that later dismantled it) and get a slab roller and start making flat items. He got some samples together then decided to head down to SF wholesale gift show one winter to get some orders. His plan was to hire students to crank out the work.

He took all the orders he could-at that time I think it was over 80K in orders which is 1972 or 3 was no small number. He came home with several years’ worth of orders to do that spring and fall. He hired whomever he could find to crank out wind chimes and X-mass ornaments etc. In about 3 months he had a mental breakdown as there was no way he could ever get the volume of items needed. He sold all the clay stuff bricks slab roller clay etc. and I got the job of taking the kiln down and the bricks away.

Just stating that one needs to know your output before taking orders of anything.

True story

I can tell it now, as he is not on this planet anymore and theirs a great lesson here.


Mark Cortright
www.liscomhillpottery.com

#2 Mark (Marko) Madrazo

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 10:09 PM

You have limits? that's funny, Mark.  But I get your drift. But it's not something I would do anyway. I'm in my mello age and I don't take orders from no one, haha. If  we're talking pottery, I will take an order, but I will not commit to any unrealistic deadline. I have a pension, not a job.  :)



#3 Chris Campbell

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 10:27 PM

Sadly Marks tale is a very common one ... and one I suspect has been repeating itself since the first potters took orders from a tribal elder. I know at least four who are not potting anymore because they took all kinds of orders without serious planning and basically started to hate what they were doing.

Simple math and eternal hope collide with reality every time.
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#4 MatthewV

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 02:24 AM

One of the visiting demonstrators I had promised his wife a full dinner set. After 30 years of marriage, he said it still isn't done :-)


Make More Mistakes


#5 Mark C.

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 02:36 AM

One of the visiting demonstrators I had promised his wife a full dinner set. After 30 years of marriage, he said it still isn't done :-)

My guess is he made up for it in other ways after 30 years


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#6 GEP

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 09:23 AM

I know at least four who are not potting anymore because they took all kinds of orders without serious planning and basically started to hate what they were doing.


I've seen this happen to a few people as well. Not as dramatically as Mark's example, the burnout took years instead of months. Very sad to see someone grow to hate their own work.

I was once on the brink of this situation myself. This is when I had that invaluable conversation with my accountant about employees. He advised me not to let my business grow in an out-of-control fashion. Instead, grow in a selective way, keeping in mind what I can handle by myself. He said I would be happier and richer in the long run. He was right, I am much happier with the current state of things, and my business is far more profitable now. I gather he has seen this happen to a lot of his clients.
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#7 Stephen

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 10:16 AM

Ya know I am busy making my wholesale product now before I do a push to add accounts later this month. I hope to stay in front of orders as I add accounts. I thought about it long and hard and decided what percentage of my time and revenue I wanted to devote to wholesale and decided 6 hours a day, 5 days a week is the max. I'm in studio about 12 hours pretty much every day, although doing lots of things other than just making and need to leave time for that as well as continue working on my overall products. I also want to preserve the ability to take days here and there when I have something I want to go do. I don't have structured days off but I do not want to continue to feel like I HAVE to spend every waking hour in the studio and at some point I want my evenings back so knocking off at 5-6 instead of 8-9 will become more the norm as inventory grows and revenue starts hitting where it needs to be. 

 

BUT ... I hope to add accounts and if my marketing is actually too successful and I have interest and orders beyond my capacity I must admit I would be very tempted to toss out the above, hire a helper and get it done. Best of intentions often give way to reality of trying to make a good living and I can't imagine turning down a good order right now  :rolleyes:



#8 GEP

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 10:34 AM

You don't have to turn down any orders, just give out realistic delivery dates. My approach was to have every other Monday as a "delivery date." I had max dollar amount that I felt I could produce in two weeks. As I received orders, they were assigned a delivery date. When delivery dates became full, they were no longer available. Buyers are fine with you telling them their delivery will be in 3 months, or even 6 months. If that is your demand level, buyers understand.
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#9 Chris Campbell

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 11:03 AM

You don't have to turn down any orders, just give out realistic delivery dates. My approach was to have every other Monday as a "delivery date." I had max dollar amount that I felt I could produce in two weeks. As I received orders, they were assigned a delivery date. When delivery dates became full, they were no longer available. Buyers are fine with you telling them their delivery will be in 3 months, or even 6 months. If that is your demand level, buyers understand.


I agree. You don't need to turn down orders ... you do pessimistic math and provide realistic delivery dates.
Chris Campbell Pottery
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>TRY ... FAIL ... LEARN ... REPEAT"

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#10 Mark (Marko) Madrazo

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 12:06 PM

Mea, you have a sage accountant.

#11 RonSa

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 05:16 PM

"Where's The Beef!"

 

Remember that commercial?

 

It was so successful it nearly brought Wendy's down. They didn't anticipate the sear volume of business that came from that commercial. They didn't have systems in place to deliver fresh (not frozen) beef patties that was needed to the eateries. As a consequence many of the eateries ran out of burgers early in the day and left many dissatisfied customers. It took them 2 months before they ironed out all the bugs and closed the year with with a 32% increase in sales. Not bad.

 

But the following year they got complacent, riding on the tails of their success Wendy's nearly went bankrupt.

 

I guess the bottom line is success can be as fleeting as a french fry, both can vanish can vanish with one byte.


Ron


#12 Mark C.

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 05:55 PM

The thing is about having another person or 10 working for you is you have to decide- do you want to manage people? If the answer is yes or maybe than that can be an option. If its no I want to be solo then you need to keep those goals.

I had a friend in the early 80 start a slip business-soon they had 12-25 employees. They where selling stuff to department stores and all over the USA.The business was called overland stoneware. He was master mold maker.They had about a decade before it all went boom-Nobody really was a good people manager and that was what did them in. A few dips in the economy also helped.

You can see the stuff on e-bay now and then-just look for overland stoneware. The forms where made by a not so talented thrower so they where a little soft on form.

He moved away and later made some molds for me in long ago side slip business-long gone now.

So ask yourself do you want to manage people or make stuff yourself?


Mark Cortright
www.liscomhillpottery.com

#13 Mark (Marko) Madrazo

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 08:59 PM

"Where's The Beef!"

 

Remember that commercial?

 

It was so successful it nearly brought Wendy's down. They didn't anticipate the sear volume of business that came from that commercial. They didn't have systems in place to deliver fresh (not frozen) beef patties that was needed to the eateries. As a consequence many of the eateries ran out of burgers early in the day and left many dissatisfied customers. It took them 2 months before they ironed out all the bugs and closed the year with with a 32% increase in sales. Not bad.

 

But the following year they got complacent, riding on the tails of their success Wendy's nearly went bankrupt.

 

I guess the bottom line is success can be as fleeting as a french fry, both can vanish can vanish with one byte.

I remember it. 

And when I was in High School, Chicago, I changed it up.  It was during a confrontation I had with another student. Instead of, "where the Beef,"  I said, "what's your beef,". It caught on, but I never got credit for this elegant response before get a knuckle sandwich.   :huh:



#14 Mark C.

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 11:18 PM

I did not think knuckle sandwichs ever got on the menu ?

I have never been to a Wendys so maybe I missed it?

I did know a Wendy if that counts.


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www.liscomhillpottery.com

#15 RonSa

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Posted 13 January 2017 - 07:51 AM

A Brooklyn hello usually precedes a knuckle sandwich


Ron


#16 JamesP

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Posted 15 January 2017 - 12:56 AM

While your on this topic I thought I would see if any of you know of the #1 wholesale shows to visit. I have been looking for B2B Trade Shows for selling bisq fired ceramics and I am struggling to find a show. What are some good shows (West Coast) to check out or maybe a link to a list of shows. Thanks



#17 Chris Campbell

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Posted 15 January 2017 - 12:05 PM

To be clear, are you looking for shows where you could sell bisque fired ceramics that would then be finished by others?
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>TRY ... FAIL ... LEARN ... REPEAT"

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#18 JamesP

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Posted 15 January 2017 - 02:56 PM

To be clear, are you looking for shows where you could sell bisque fired ceramics that would then be finished by others?

Yes, as I said for selling bisq fired ceramics, and they will be intended to be finished by others. So like selling wholesale to pottery supply stores that stock molds and bisq fired ceramics, plus what ever else.



#19 Chris Campbell

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Posted 15 January 2017 - 03:25 PM

I Googled ... pottery bisqueware wholesale shows ... and names popped up of places you could probably call to ask what show they go to buy supplies.

It would not be a typical wholesale craft show as that is all finished ceramics ... you are looking at a commercial level wholesale show where you would be competing with factories. A shop near me gets their bisque from France, Italy and China ... so you could also call your local paint your own pottery store to see how they get their supplies.

Unless you can produce huge volumes of bisque ware you might be better off establishing relationships with local stores whose customers might appreciate working with handmade items.
Chris Campbell Pottery
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http://ccpottery.com/

>TRY ... FAIL ... LEARN ... REPEAT"

" If a sufficient number of people are different, no one has to be normal "

Fredrick Bachman

#20 Stephen

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Posted 15 January 2017 - 08:34 PM

I know two of the 6 shops I have shopped have large selections of bisque that I think they make in-house. I would imagine this is an indicator that other pottery supply might well be interested in carrying a line. Is your line slip cast?






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