Jump to content
shawnhar

Tow behind trailer for shows

Recommended Posts

There is definitely something to be said for not having to pack and unpack your gear: I have a farmer's market I do most Saturdays in the summer, and I just unload the empty bins and the tent, and leave the rest of the fixtures and stuff in the van. Loading and unloading is a lot of physical labour, and it's a job that makes more sense to do as infrequently as possible. Mark has often told us how he has a dedicated show van that just stays packed all the time. however if you're a relatively new potter like Shawn who is still figuring out the shows he's doing, I think it's too early to make a trailer purchase. You need to spend a bit more time dialing in your productand who you're selling it to before you can think about selling kind of volume.

For the more experienced potters @Magnolia Mud Research @Mark C. @Min at what point in your businesses did you decide to get a dedicated vehicle or a trailer? Were you making a particular dollar amount or selling a particular volume you'd be willing to share? How long did it take you to get to the point where that was practical?

edit: also meant to tag @DirtRoads.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My decision to get a trailer was not one made for the sole reason of moving pots from A to B. The trailer was a secondary consideration following the decision of buying our current “family” vehicle. As a family we need a vehicle that has 4WD (or AWD like the Rav we have now). We do a lot of off road camping etc and often take our tiny RV trailer with us. It also has to have a tow rating of at least 3500lbs and be fuel efficient. We do a lot of driving so getting a full size SUV wasn't an option with the crazy expensive gas prices we pay here.

For many years we had a Jeep Wagoneer (converted to dual fuel propane/gas) which I was able to get all my pots and gear into. The Wagoneer was the first vehicle we had that I used for hauling clay stuff, then came a 3/4 ton diesel pickup. Pain to crawl in and out, I could sort of scrunch over and shuffle walk boxes into it but it was hard on my back. Used my dads Explorer whenever I could instead of the pickup. 

The midsize SUV we have now is perfect for everything except being able to fit all the clay gear in. It ticks the most boxes for our needs. Only thing I can’t do is pack everything in it for an outdoor market. I could pile stuff on the roof but with the trailer I don’t need to. Like I said earlier I have never had a pot break from transporting them in the trailer. Maybe the suspension in the Hallmark is better than other trailers, dunno. So long story short, have been using the trailer for 9-10 years. Wagoneer / truck / Explorer for about 15+ years prior to that. When the trailer is in the driveway we keep a boot on a wheel, a lock on the hitch and reverse it so the back doors are close to the house so they can't be opened. I should add that earlier on in I was also working another job so clay wasn’t full time then.

We get to markets early to avoid the last minute and crazy drivers. Takes an hour to pack up, by which time the majority of other vendors have left so getting the trailer beside our spot to load up isn’t much of an issue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In regards to @Callie Beller Diesel 's question about when to buy a dedicated vehicle/trailer. For me, the point was when I could afford the payments. I was lucky and my associate was downsizing out of the big sprinter into a smaller one, and I bought his used. $350/month for a 5 yr loan was a no brainer. Comparatively, if I was renting a van, Id spend much more than this each year, but have nothing to show at the end of the year.

I knew that I was going to be a full time potter, and had been using this vehicle, and other E-350, suvs, etc prior to owning it. For me, the hassle of unloading a non dedicated vehicle all the time was senseless, and this vehicle in particular was much easier to use (high top, flat floor, low deck--->easy on back/body) than the others I had been. Buying them new is a much bigger cost; payments would likely be around $800-900/mo., however when you break it down $900 is (40) $22 mugs a month; thats how much more youd have to make and sell, to afford the new vehicle which makes your life a whole lot easier. IMO if you're doing more than 10-12 shows per year (bigger shows, out of town, double booths), or if you are going to make the leap into full time,  and you are making the sales, then its a purchase that should be made. Not only does going to shows become much easier, but picking up tons of clay, glaze materials, and all the other things which potters tend to transport becomes easier. Just my $.2. Out of all the tools/equipment Ive bought over the last few years, my van is one of my best purchases.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had the trailer from a previous business.  But would buy one if I didn't.  I look at opportunity cost of loading the trailer vs doing something that produces revenue.   I'm at full production, not willing to make any more pottery than my current production.  If I had to load the trailer, I would have to be out there the whole time it was being loaded.  It would take me at least 2 days to load that trailer plus 2 workers.    2 days to load a 20 x 30 foot booth (the jewelry racks would take most of the time .. probably 6 hours to load just pottery fixtures and inventory) .    And the work is timed right before the show, a time where if I'm not making pottery, I would rather be doing very little.   One of the workers does full time pottery, so instead of just costing me $15 Hour/8 hours   for 2 days  ($240) plus a minimum net loss of pottery production $1500. (pottery still has to be fired & glazed ... profit of at least 50% ... opportunity cost $750)  The other worker would be pulled off jewelry production plus waiting on customers ($240 plus  $2K net loss of jewelry production)

You can see the math here.  It would cost me in production to pull these workers away and have them load.   Now I could always use this college student that works here $10/hour to help me load for 2 days  (it would actually take 3 days with just us 2 loading $240).  But he's not usually around at convenient times.   And that would insure that I do a lot of the work.  My time is worth at least $500/day.  (that's the very minimum it's worth in terms of working to bring in revenue for the business)   So just on this, loading this trailer 2 times a year would cost me $2K plus loading labor.      In 2 years, it would pay for itself, only doing 2 shows a year.
 

Edited by DirtRoads

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.