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Mark C.

Locally Made-get on the bandwagon

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You know there is a movement in this country on local products. I have expanded my markets on this very movement. Its turned into a great success . I have written about this topic before but am expanding once again on it as I pack upped  up another local market order today.

Its not just in our tiny area of the country. Its everywhere.

If you are making enough quality work to want to whole sale think about some outlets and strategies.

Since  was in a local market with an end cap shelve of just mugs the past year I was open to other sales in the local market. I have two strong sales outlets that market local products made locally. One is my local Bagel /bakery shop  the other is our local Natural foods market similar to say a Whole Foods. The local bagel shop is a straight 5$ a mug to shop off whatever pricer point I set. The market is 40% of my price.

Both market and advertise locally made products. Our local co-op food stores (two in our area) just had a sea change and since the local farmers market produce is working so well in their stores (the board voted to expand to all local products)  with meant all local products now fit that model. They have a special local low markup to promote locally made products of 35%. I approached them on some items in my line and they went for them in a heartbeat.

Now we shall see how this goes but at this point its all looking up as they are going to display them well and group them together which is key, and of course the holiday season is upon us for brisk sales.

I again made them the offer they could not refuse and say I would buy back whatever does not work out as I have many outlets to sell my work so I do not care about that and as of this date in time I have never bought one thing back yet from any source I have made this offer to.

So if you are looking for a different type of sales outlet you may consider a local  grocery outlet-not Safeway but a local store offering locally made products.,Mugs sell very well at just such a places do other food items.

 

Edited by Mark C.
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I'm pretty young but I don't think handmade ever goes out of style but more or less peoples priorities. Seems like its been rough this past decade but maybe people are finding routine in this changing country. Maybe even a little slack to pick up a handmade mug or two

 

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Scouting out local settings that might be approachable for offering their customers  certain types of my ceramic items (rather different from what I have posted on the forum) is something I've been doing for a while.  I've got  a nice list of potentials and I plan to focus on them next year.  If I become an LLC and meet other criteria, I might be able to become a member of NH Made, a  cooperative public/private non-profit that supports  makers of good quality NH products. The distinctive logo is especially sought out by tourists-of which NH has plenty- so it would be a real blessing to have the right to use it. And as Mark has noted, the places where people find "NH Made" goods include small groceries, farmer's markets, cafes, regional-focus gift shops and so forth. 

nhmadelogo.jpg.54f08922d380e36ebc71315ac85fd73e.jpg

 

Edited by LeeU

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Yep, locally made . . . with glaze ingredients/oxides mined from Africa, kaolins imported from New Zealand, feldspars from England and Spain, etc. etc. etc. 

And don't forget to support your local artists . . . who are more than willing to sell/ship world-wide from his/her Etsy/Amazon/personal web site. 

I associate the word "bandwagon" with fleeting supporters/fans who join the latest fashion or fad.  Give me long-term, loyal customers who buy regardless of trends. 

(Just feeling the irony today).  ; )

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Yep Ceramics is made from a mix of worldwide mined ingredients-no doubt about that and since we are talking truthfully its also a far from eco-friendly no mater how you fire.

Now long term loyal customers are my bread and butter the past 40 years but in this thread I'm reaching out to those who may not get the  idea of other markets -the super market for sales of handmade locally produced items. This movement started with farmers market and has spread full circle and is out side the art show and gallery  and gift shop influences . 

In todays world selling to as many markets as one can supply to keep a good income is key. 

My day job is pottery and I like making it and selling it is what many struggle with so this thread is about selling locally  which can help one expand their market.

I will say in this last month I have shipped mugs to New Zealand -pots to New England and sold in Nevada and California art shows and sold a lot of pots to tourists bound for all over the planet . Think of them returning those minerals to there original home continents .Or I could be bummed that all that gas came from the dinosaurs and we are on an unattainable future-but I have an optimistic viewpoint that I will be gone before the Dino fuel runs out.

Not a a etsy fan so I see your point.

 

Edited by Mark C.

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This is a topic that comes under the umbrella of "Great Advice".

Mark’s original idea was excellent. The more people stare at machines, the more they need Handmade objects.

... as to Etsy ... I do not sell there but a lot of excellent potters do ... they actually get sales in direct competition with mass production. Bravo to them for doing the work!

As for firing my kiln, using clay or imported products ... as far back in written history as you can go, we humans have been creators and traders. 

Edited by Chris Campbell
spelling and clarification

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Its a bit naive to think that anything is 100% local, even farmers buy their seeds from major corporations that are usually out of their county. Farmers use equipment sometimes made overseas.  Limiting a business to only buy and sell locally is a recipe for failure and long term customers are the secret for success. I used to tell my salespeople that the first sale is the easiest, the next sale is harder if you don't have a good product or keep your word and the seventh sale is your bread and butter. Always work towards that seventh sale

For me personally and when I was running my business, I always made it a point to buy locally whenever possible as long as the price was in 10% of the price of getting it elsewhere. I sold to businesses all over the country and overseas. My business used equipment and supplies made both in the States and overseas. I manufactured it locally and sold to many local businesses and in turn I was a customer to many of these local companies.

More importantly, when people buy local they are helping to support their community. Remember local business hire local people that support themselves and their families who in turn buy local. Its no fad to buy local, its been happening for 1000s of year. Its a fact today that internet sales only accounts for around 10% of US commerce link   so it looks like buying local is still around and will stay for good while longer.

What I don't understand is the reason why one needs to be snarky about this thread and it surprises me more those who supported that response.

Mark, I applaud your post. It was meant to help people entering this field making handmade products and I believe it is both sound and timely. Thank you for the time you took to present it to us and defend your view.

Edited by RonSa
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Ron: 

Need to factor in the law as well:

from about 2010-2014' the EPA with new regulations shut down almost every zinc maker in America. horse head in PA was the largest, and Cerox 501 went bye bye. 

Under current EPA law, it nearly impossible to make stains or oxides in the USA. Iron still is , some copper. Cobalt, nickel, manganese has too much selenium and cadmium to be produced here. Ask Bullseye Glass in Oregon about EPA rules.

Lithium, soda,  and pearl ash are all carbonates by law.. (40% material and 60% fluff). 

Our potassium sources pretty much dried up. We have a Nep Sy coming out of our ears.

plenty of Georgian, Floridian, NC, and Montana kaolins around. lots of silica. Most all ball clays are home grown. hallsoyte comes from only one place.. NZ.

EPA is cracking down on wood burners in populated areas.

more to it than just local or not.

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@RonSa Snark and humor are not the same thing. I think you missed the point of Mark's OP. He was specifically talking about locally owned food markets as a good outlet, because the customers who shop at these places are the same people who will buy hand made pottery. These types of markets will promote your pots as "locally made" which is a productive bandwagon. He was not advocating doing all of one's business locally on principle. And as Bruce pointed out with humor, "locally made" is not exactly honest. But as long  as this bandwagon has legs, it's not a bad idea. 

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Guest JBaymore
21 minutes ago, GEP said:

 And as Bruce pointed out with humor, "locally made" is not exactly honest.

Ditto.

best,

..........................john

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@GEP Selling is selling, whether its pottery, woodturning, veggies or a commercial product. Selling local is still selling local if its on a food stand or a store front.

I've come across snarky humor before that I thought was funny and some not so funny. I wouldn't be surprised if  you have too. 

@glazenerd I passed through the Palmerton Zinc Pile Site on the PA Turnpike on my way to Allentown about 35 years ago. Everything in the valley just before the Lehigh Tunnel was dead, not a green thing in sight for miles,  just a dead trees and and a sad brown. Since the plants closure the green is beginning to reappear with the planting of young trees. Link  this is where Horsehead Industries  dumped tons of toxic materials,

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If they were that wreckless and uncaring; then they needed to be shut down. Zinc has selenium and cadmium, nasty stuff. The sulfur content alone will kill vegetation. However, the sulfur problem is self correcting: acidity of the soil will neutralize it over a period of time.

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Browsing this thread, my attention drifted off to the French concept of terroir. I know the word has crossed the Atlantic, and if you have any interest in wine, then you'll know of it. Terroir is often reduced to a physical description of a locality - the acidity of a soil, the micro-climate, the topology of a vineyard, and the impact they have on the taste and characteristics of a wine. It is why one area produces one type of wine, and another produces something different.

However, in France, terroir has an altogether more nuanced definition. As the New York Times puts it:

Quote

The importance of terroir to the French psyche and self-image is difficult to overestimate, because it is a concept almost untranslatable, combining soil, weather, region and notions of authenticity, of genuineness and particularity — of roots, and home — in contrast to globalized products designed to taste the same everywhere.

It seems to me that the marketing thrust of the 'locally made' product is an attempt to capitalise on this almost mystical sense of adding value because of the very ecology of an item. Something is gained purely because the object was fashioned in this locality, and by purchasing a pot 'made locally', you are partaking in the terroir that contributed to the making of that pot, specifically the cultural 'goods' which are part and parcel of that philosophy.

 Although The concept of terroir: The elusive cultural elements as defined by the Central Otago Wine Region (PDF) is specifically focussed on wine, it contains much which illuminates the point I'm trying to make about the seductive nature of 'locally made':

Quote

In summary, in the minds of the participants [of the study], there is a distinctive, differentiated taste associated with the attributes of the region and its people. The cultural aspects of terroir are embodied in the identity of the region as described by the participants. [...] The distinctive regional marketing “story” is powerful because of the interplay between the physiological factors and the cultural elements of terroir. From a marketing perspective, the physiological elements are a given because a premium wine exhibits the soil, climate, and topography of an area. However, the real differentiators in the marketplace are the cultural elements of terroir or how the people interact with the place. This is a concept that can be used effectively in marketing communication.

The concept is so embedded here where I live (in France) that one almost needs to tease it out again to make sense of what is going on. It goes without saying that being 'local' adds premium to your product, whatever it is - not just a monetary premium, but an existential one. France being France, that is most often food related, but everything from knives to leather to pots have their place in the landscape of theoretical terroir. Think too of the woollen products from the Shetland Isles, Orkney, and Fairisle. They are of their landscape, their culture, their history and their mythology - and that (quite rightly) sells.

Ultimately, I think, the attempt is to re-focus on quality as an essential part of daily life, and a parallel attempt to describe the locus of that quality, and how one might capture it, or live it. It's a reformulation of the Arts and Crafts Movement, of William Morris and John Ruskin, and ultimately Yanagi in Japan.

So, terroir as a philosophy for making?

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I think a lot of us are making this topic way more complex than it needs to be. 

We buy things because we either need them or we want them. There is no other reason to buy something. So a way to appeal to both of those reasons is locally made. It creates a sense of relationship.

Most people enjoy relationships. Knowing someone is local creates a type of relationship. This is a person that I am impacting in my community by buying their product. This is a product I know was made from skilled local labor. I am helping to create diversity and a craft oriented local market. I am supporting local artist, instead of big retail. I value art created by people around me because I like seeing more of it not less. These are the types of thought processes that go through someones head when they value buying locally vs some unknown product from China. When you go to walmart and buy a mug, you don't think about a single one of those things I just listed. You think. This mug is cheap. It will hold my coffee, etc. They are all logical reasons, not emotional.  I am not saying every single person will make take this thought process path. But if even one person does, it is worth labeling "local made". 

The best way to sell something is to impede on a person's logical and emotional thoughts. If you can make them think logically that they need something, and also appeal to some emotional value it is much easier to sell a person something. Why do you think commercials have all kinds of fancy music and beautiful people and cliff side shots of driving their car across the country. They know this emotional stage is huge. As potter's we don't have a lot of ways to convey this, we have photos of food in our pots, photos of flowers in our vases, and that's about it. Mark is simply stating that there is another edge a potter can gain on the emotions, and that is local support for your artist!

Thus there is an appeal to try to sell to local people by saying things are locally made. It has extra selling power. It impresses on one's sense to support artist who are near you and can impact the local society that you bring your family up in.

I don't know what the whole snarky humor discussion was about. I think every post here is valid. I personally enjoyed Bruce's post. It made me think about what products a person could get that are actually locally made. The only thing I could think of was organic gardening produce and maybe wood furniture put together Japanese style? Since the screws and nails would require a blacksmith and we don't have many of those around anymore.

It definitely isn't 100% honest to say locally made. But I rarely think people think of materials when they think locally made. Maybe that's just me though.

Edited by Joseph F
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I was thinking Locally Made is kind of like Home Made.  If a person makes a loaf of bread at home and calls it Home Made no one is going to out her for not raising, growing and harvesting the wheat, chickens or cows for the flour, eggs, milk and butter. Instead its generally acknowledged and accepted she bought that ingredients at a local supermarket (and who knows where it came from), mixed it together in a bowl, kneaded it, shaped it then baked it in an oven.  There's not one bit of dishonestly involve.

4 hours ago, GEP said:

And as Bruce pointed out with humor, "locally made" is not exactly honest

@SputtyI think when it comes to wine and the French they have the terroir concept cornered. :D  ie: You can't call bubbly wine Champagne unless it comes from a certain region of France.  And yes, I agree there is a certain "value added"  to some when the words Locally Made is display.

 

Edited by RonSa

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"Made in Montana" stickers have been available for potters and other craftsmen for at least 14 years. It was a big economic push at the turn of the century maybe before that..   There are a lot of local clays in Montana and possibly the Bray manufactures a lot with all or mostly all local ingredients. can't really say. The Canadian clay processed in Medicine Hat  just across the Canadian Border,-Plainsmen Porcelain, comes from a ranch of a former student just North of Roundup , Montana.  Its true , we use many imported ingredients. I have a button from the 60s that says "Support you local Potter". Maybe that is more of what it is really about than 100% ingredients. 

I am up to 6 Montana Galleries and one Nevada. Still have 2 in Texas, one in Minnesota. I like that many people remember me even though I was gone for 11 years. It is good to be back. 

Marcia

 

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There is a company in NC that makes local clay bodies, Starworks clay. Most of them are cone 10+ but they have a red stoneware for cone 6 that has local red NC clay in it. I wouldn't mind trying it, but it is just so much testing to change to a new body once you have made leaps and bounds with some others.

I am going to start making things for local places soon. I am dialing in my results every firing and getting more sellable work. I am excited to sell locally. One of the first things I am going to do is print those little hang tags like Mea does and somewhere on there put: Made Local!

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MarkC I'll be looking for one of your mugs when I make a trip to Humboldt later this week.  I'm up in Coos Bay now, by way of Idaho -so happy to be back to the coast- and was just thinking about my trip and what would be worth unzipping my very tight wallet for; thank you for reminding me, I need a quality mug or two. 

Since I got back to the coast, I've been chatting up some local store owners relatively nearby on the 101 corridor: and been pleasantly surprised in most cases at the reactions I've gotten. Only one consignment/accessories shop gave me a somewhat rude brush off (with some of my edgier 'punk' ceramic hand built jewelry, but they buy their accessories overseas,  wouldn't' ya know it.) but they were the only negative.  A local soap maker who has a bath/lotion/etc themed shop is waiting on some soap dishes to be finished, if they take them and they sell I'll probably start doing more of those, and including more PNW/ocean themes into my work.  Originally I was just doing this because it seemed very important when I run into new ppl to say "yes I'm an artist and you can see some of my finished work for sale at this address relatively nearby" -also I don't have an online shop open at this point in time. It seems to me selling to your locals is a particular sort of ego boost which is more tangible, than a distant person online, not that they aren't important too, especially in regards to getting paid.  Guess my point is agreeing with your post in regards to looking for local unfilled niches and having the nerve to fill them.

Also, to my great surprise Coos Bay has less terroir than I'd hoped, and absolutely no excuse. It's downright picturesque and my brain's gears are slowly grinding trying to figure out how I can change this and help myself at the same time.  Perhaps I should talk to the kiln owner how she feels about firing some mary jane themed paraphernalia...

And thanks for the word "Terroir". :D

 

Edited by yappystudent
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joseph, a very good cone 6 clay body can be made from 50% redart and 50% XX saggar clay.  the discussion on this topic was years ago but just believe that it is worth trying.  beating me over the head will not change the fact that it works.  look it up first before attacking.

Edited by oldlady
add cone 6
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On 10/31/2017 at 10:16 AM, bciskepottery said:

Yep, locally made . . . with glaze ingredients/oxides mined from Africa, kaolins imported from New Zealand, feldspars from England and Spain, etc. etc. etc. 

And don't forget to support your local artists . . . who are more than willing to sell/ship world-wide from his/her Etsy/Amazon/personal web site. 

I associate the word "bandwagon" with fleeting supporters/fans who join the latest fashion or fad.  Give me long-term, loyal customers who buy regardless of trends. 

(Just feeling the irony today).  ; )

I laughed at this one. I've been mining one of my glaze ingredients in my backyard. When I tell people, they picture a two ft by two ft deep pit with me throwing shovel fulls up & out, i.e. they just see the dirt flying not me. Also, I'm pretty sure most of my Plainsman M340 is actually Alberta sourced with a little ball clay from somewhere else. The mason stains I can't vouch for- if I could just find my own cobalt source.....

 

Edited by terrim8
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My biz card says "Handmade in New Hampshire" and I am quite proud to be able to say that. It does seem to appeal to folks wanting to support the local economy, the state-wide community of makers/small business, and the tourists who see something  that is -more or less- uniquely "locally made" during their NH visit to take away with them.  As a point of note, I learned that "handcrafted' is not the same as "handmade". I make my clay pieces, let's say pendants, by hand, and may call them handmade. Then my daughter (a jeweler's apprentice and very creative) does all the completion work, by her hand (hand crafting the necklace), adding the bails, the cord, the beads  (some commercial, some made by me) or whatever to make the necklace. The pendant is handmade and the necklace is handcrafted.  So when I do keywords  specifically for marketing text, I say  it is handmade (by leeuceramics) and handcrafted (by Stella Jewelry), when describing those pieces.  Don't know who may really care, but it was interesting to learn the differences in the descriptors, and I feel better knowing I am not misrepresenting anything about the product.

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