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Dealing With "do You Make This Smaller....?"


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#1 PotterGrl

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 07:39 PM

I hope the business forum is the right place for this, it's talking about shows and dealing with customers or "almost" customers.

 

I had a disappointing show today. It was a small vendor fair, only 3 hours long. My second one. I was the only potter there as they only allowed one in each category.  I barely made back the booth fee, which I'm glad I at least made that. It was so cold (inside a gorgeous golf club at that!) that I was shaking the whole time and my 12yr old daughter's feet were frozen (in her tennis shoes). Ok, onto the real bother. So many people seem to have something to change about a piece. For one lady, she eyed my mugs and said how much she loved them, but asked if I can make bigger mugs. Another asked if I can make a shorter chalice/goblet.  Another said I should have made this little tray able to hang on the wall!! She at least bought it and said she'd figure out how to hang it. I told her "I love it when people can see something different in a piece and see different uses for them." I SHOULD have made it able to hang on the wall?!  Ok, yes, I guess that one bothered me ;o)

 

Some people think that people weren't buying much due to the recent government shutdown and furloughs (I live in the D.C. area, in Northern VA, where so many were affected). I'm not sure. I guess it was just not a day for selling.

 

That was a lot of work for selling 2 pieces plus 2 little brown sugar keepers.



#2 PSC

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 09:27 PM

The shoulda/woulda customer is everywhere. They are giving themselves an excuse to not buy, they want the item but they have a budget or some other reason they need to not buy. If you pull out a bigger one then its not blue enough, if you pull out a blue one, the foot is wrong, if you pull out one with the perfect foot, they suddenly get a phone call and wander off leaving you to put away the 10+ items you pulled out of your extra stock to try to please them.

Now the ones that say 'Do you HAVE this in blue?' really want the blue one and will buy the blue one if you have it. But the ones WONDERING if you make it in blue are not really going buy the blue one...they just want to see it.

#3 Mark C.

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 11:17 PM

The business of shows is a huge learning curve-it takes lots of them to get them dialed for you and your pots.

I knew that this was going sideways on your 1st line of this post-(only 3 hours long) That RED flag only meant one thing

For me doing all the setup/breakdown work for 3 hours would not be worth it.

As far as customers never pleased-some are just that way and really are not customers-I never give them any energy . Its like a bee you can wack at it or let it buzz by with zero effort.
I do not mean to simplify this but it takes lots of exposure to wade thru this .

Do you make it smaller taller bluer or larger-Just check thier forehead  for the never happy tatoo

The trick is moving thru/ around this pothole without feeling the bump.

 

One last note-its the public and its always a mixed deal

Mark


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#4 PotterGrl

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 05:59 AM

Thanks guys :) This is only my second one I've done, but the first with annoying comments like these ;o) In all my years of being the shopper, I've never asked such things. I just admired the work and wished I could afford it all (or make it). Maybe that's the difference between a shopper who truly loves the art, loves each piece for what it is (or not, and moves on to the next piece without comment), and the shopper who thinks they are shopping at Target. I forgot to mention the comments about how expensive along with the comments about how cheap it all is, lol. They had me second guessing my prices both ways!

 

I'm a 3yr old potter, a baby potter as I call myself, so I need to stick with these smaller fairs for now. I'm not ready to be side-by-side with the big fellows yet ;o) Which I know the long time potters usually appreciate ;o)

 

Thanks for helping me feel better.



#5 TJR

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 07:47 AM

Pottergirl;

Mark is correct as usual.

These people are not customers. They look at your booth to see what you DON'T have, and then they ask for it. "I really like that mug and would have bought if you had it in green." No you wouldn't have.

Don't sweat about these people. They want to engage with you but don't want to buy anything. Then they leave the booth rapidly.

Point #2. Don't bother with the 3 hour sale. It takes me almost three hours to set up my booth. One day sales aren't really worth your time either.

You learned something from this, which is good, and no one was hurt by it.

TJR.



#6 clay lover

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 08:57 AM

Was anyone else selling anything ? If so, there is info in that you might get something from. If not, there is other info in that.

I won't do a show that is not double the time that it takes me to set up and tear down. I will do 1 days, 9-5, but close at home where I can set up the night before. Shows are lots of labor and the profits need to be enough that you don't feel like you have performed self abuse when you do one.

Make the BST work you can, present it well and don't get pulled into the browser's comments. If others around you are selling and you are not, than work on why. but if all are the same, do good work and carry on!
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#7 GEP

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 09:21 AM

What I tell my students who are venturing into this world ... the first few shows are not about money. Choose small, low-investment shows, and use them to get accustomed to the process of doing shows. Which as you have already gathered, it is a lot of work. Some people decide they hate it. Too much heavy lifting, or too much stress. But after you have a few shows under your belt, if you thought the process was doable for you, then start investing some serious time and money on better shows.

As was said above, you will hear comments like that everywhere, but if you heard a lot of it in a 3 hour show, you can attribute that to the show. Some shows just aren't going to attract a knowledgeable audience. (Just because someone can afford to join a golf club, doesn't mean they appreciate art and craft.) But again, if this is your second show, that doesn't matter at this point. You were just there to gain experience.

The government shutdown was not a factor. I was at a show in the DC area this past weekend too, and I broke my record for sales at a 2 day show. It wasn't just me, I saw many many shopping bags, and large pieces of art, being carried away down the street. Just as a side note, the artists who fared the best during the recession years are the ones who never used the recession as an excuse.
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#8 Chris Campbell

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 10:33 AM

I am going to join the chorus ... "It's them" ... these are the same people you hear in restaurants ordering a dish and changing everything about it ... I want the special but without the sauce or tomatoes, white beans instead of black, no onions and could you just bring some balsamic vinegar on the side? UGH! I would make a terrible waitress, believe me.

 

Shows are great learning experiences. I think every potter should do at least one friendly, local one. That said, not one where they are too cheap to pay for the heat being turned on. I cannot imagine your customers were thrilled to be cold either.


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#9 Humboldt Potter

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 09:35 PM

This thread made me laugh. At a small, local sale a few years ago, a woman came up to me holding one my altered bowls. It had a lovely (to me), graceful fluted rim, that I had altered for interest and softness.

An older woman walked up to me with the bowl in her hand, told me that she loved the bowl, but could I make it without the rim. In other words, she just wanted a plain, blue bowl. I'm not good with this kind of thing. I said, no, i couldn't.
I have done enough shows now, that I don't take it personally when a person doesn't buy my stuff.
I don't do commissions either.. Since every piece is different, they'll either find something they like ... Or not.
Don't let it get you down. As long as your work sells, use it as a learning experience.. After a few years of doing shows, I have narrowed the shows to easy, local shows. Packing, driving , hotels, time, ... Make me wish I made feather earrings instead of pottery.
Elaine

#10 Pres

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 10:28 AM

OK Chris, Guilty here, I order everything to my taste when I eat out, which is often. I replace all of the starches with veggies, hold the croutons, the tortilla strips, and any other starchy additions to food. All of this allows me to survive without meds, and stay healthy. Type 2 diabetes since 2009.  It is a pain, but it is a way of living and other people do have other health problems.

 

On shows, it really takes some time to become immune to the picky browsing customer. Often you see them in your booth, picking everything up, looking around, putting you on edge. Often these folks don't know bean about what they want if they do want, but feel they have to talk to you since they have been there. This ends up with excusing their behavior by asking the inane question is this available in blue, or with a left hand handle, or are there smaller versions of this. After your response they feel justified in leaving. However, I have done shows where someone comes in, looks around carefully at everything and leaves saying something simple like good bye. 2-3 days later they come back, and purchase one of my largest most expensive pieces. . . stating . . . it is still here, I was meant to have it.   Go figure!


Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#11 JBaymore

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 02:20 PM

Douing such shows and not making money is simply part of the tuition for your education.  Comes with the territory. That period of time SHOULD be a part of your business plan. 

 

 

To oversimplify a lot....... there are two general approaches to making ceramic works and selling them.

 

One way is to find what people want to buy and then make that stuff for them.

 

Another is to make what you are insprired to make and then find the people to buy it.

 

Each requires a different approach to marketing and making.  Both will involve some fine tuning.

 

Trying to do both will likely drive you crazy.

 

The most important thing to learn from doing "craftt fairs".......... is............. be-backs won't.  (As in, "I'll be back in while......... I want to look at other booths.") 

 

best,

 

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


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#12 TJR

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 03:18 PM

I was at a craft fair years ago, where a woman said under her breath;"dust collectors."

It took me a while to work out what she had said. By that time she was gone and I was hopping mad! Why would somebody make the effort to say something cruel like that?

I don't THINK I make dust collectors, but I am a functional potter. Please dust my work!

TJR.



#13 Chris Campbell

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 05:27 PM

Sometimes, what customers are saying really doesn't have much to do with your work.
What that lady said had more to do with her dislike of housework, or her mother in law running a disapproving eye over her dusty shelves or her hating her job ... She just had some junk to dump somewhere. Lucky you!

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#14 spring

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 11:27 PM

I was at a craft fair years ago, where a woman said under her breath;"dust collectors."

It took me a while to work out what she had said. By that time she was gone and I was hopping mad! Why would somebody make the effort to say something cruel like that?

I don't THINK I make dust collectors, but I am a functional potter. Please dust my work!

TJR.

Last year I did my first sculpture fair. I like to stand a little ways from my work to observe and listen to peoples responses.  ( I didn't have my name tag on either) I stood behind these two guys and one guy looked at the price and said "how much .....for what?" and proceeded to make a face that said, this person is effing crazy!  I started laughing. I thought it was hilarious.  I put myself in his shoes, and I know he had absolutely no idea how much time and energy it takes for me to make it.  But more important, I knew he didn't say it with malice, it was just a plain honest reaction.  In the same show, I had a lady cry from seeing my work, and she gave me a long hug.  I might be the rare artist that likes hearing the negative as much as the positive. I don't mind it when a person just doesn't like it. I figure different strokes different folks.  Love it, fine.  Hate it, fine.  In the end, I know the comments are about my art work, not me. 


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#15 MikeFaul

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Posted 05 November 2013 - 03:17 PM

We had a lady come into our studio a couple of weeks back for a town Art Crawl. We were serving goodies, wine, cheese, punch, etc. We had a new three pot fountain we were finishing up on display. A really nice piece. It includes a large bottle form, about 24" tall, a large vase form (about 26" tall), and a large bowl form (about 18 inches in diameter). Each form sits on a base inside a pond. We provide the mini pond, container, all of the plumbing, and we make the pots and bases. It's really a nice piece of work.

 

So, this lady starts to ask what goes into making a piece like that? So we talk about throwing the forms on the week, glazing, and such. She asked about how much time goes into those steps. And, I ask if she was interested in making a purchase. She said maybe, how much does it cost? I told her we planed to sell the fountain for $3,975. She about collapsed on the studio floor, gasped and said that was outrageous; she didn't think we deserved that sort of price. I must be insane to ask for that amount of money. She said I would be the highest paid, on an hourly basis, potter in the history of the world. To which I replied... I don't get paid by the hour, but by the beauty I bring to your home. She was not a buyer, she would not have bought at $397, or $3.97... She was a wanna be. Someone enamored with the world of creative people but couldn't believe their value was equal to hers in the corporate world. I don't think I could have sold her a coffee cup.

 

The next night at out grand opening I was discussing the same piece with another woman. She asked about the price of the fountain. Again I replied $3,975.00 She asked if she could get a customized version? Something slightly larger? Yes, but that will cost more... How much? Not sure, we'll need to agree on the design, but there will also be a design fee, would you be willing to work with me on the design? Yes she says... Do we install? Yes... But, installation would be additional. That makes sense she says...

 

So, I asked here about where she would want it placed, next to her front door... What's the color of the trim around the door... the color of the door? Is the door a double or single entry? Does she see it on the left or right side? on the walk or in the garden? Does she like the sound of falling water? And, eventually... when can we meet to work out the details of the design... Next week of course... She's a customer, a very very good customer. 

 

Everyone has a target market that can afford, and is interested in their work. The trick is to find that target market and make them very happy by solving their problems and fulfilling their desires. Qualify non buyers out with price, if someone walks on price they should shop at a box store, not at a gallery, studio, or art show. And, you should celebrate when the walk, you just moved one step closer to finding those who will pay your price by learning who won't pay your price.

 

A buyer in my target market will not be afraid of price, and will engage in a visualization dialogue. Note the questions I asked after price. They are designed to get the person to see the item in use in their life at their home. This isn't by accident. When a person "sees", "feels", and "hears" it in their life they are 10 times more like to part with their money and be a happy customer. Now go back to the first person who didn't "think" we deserved the price we were asking. Art, gifts, luxury items, are usually purchased with the heart not the head. She was thinking herself right out of that purchase. 

 

Just a thought, or two, or three, or maybe that was rant?



#16 JBaymore

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Posted 05 November 2013 - 03:48 PM

Everyone has a target market that can afford, and is interested in their work. The trick is to find that target market and make them very happy by solving their problems and fulfilling their desires. Qualify non buyers out with price, if someone walks on price they should shop at a box store, not at a gallery, studio, or art show. And, you should celebrate when the walk, you just moved one step closer to finding those who will pay your price by learning who won't pay your price.

 

A buyer in my target market will not be afraid of price, and will engage in a visualization dialogue. Note the questions I asked after price. They are designed to get the person to see the item in use in their life at their home. This isn't by accident. When a person "sees", "feels", and "hears" it in their life they are 10 times more like to part with their money and be a happy customer. Now go back to the first person who didn't "think" we deserved the price we were asking. Art, gifts, luxury items, are usually purchased with the heart not the head. She was thinking herself right out of that purchase. 

 

Mike,

 

That should be "required reading" for anyone thinking about selling their ceramic work.

 

It is clear that you are one of the folks that "gets it".

 

Bravo.  Excellent. 

 

best,

 

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


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Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

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#17 Chris Campbell

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Posted 05 November 2013 - 07:20 PM

BRAVO from me too.
John has often been in the choir with me on this fact ... there is more than one type of customer for clay!!!
Sure you can flog a $7 mug but believe it or not, people will pay $125 for one and be very happy doing it.
Trying to push excellent potters UP the price scale is a huge chore.
No one will appreciate us until we appreciate ourselves.

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#18 JBaymore

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Posted 05 November 2013 - 10:20 PM

No one will appreciate us until we appreciate ourselves.

 

BINGO again!

 

And don't get me started on the implications to the public of the "I play with clay" T-shirts. :rolleyes:

 

best,

 

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


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Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

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#19 royjohn

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 04:06 PM

I really liked MikeFaul's reply. Mine was similar. If someone asked me if I made it smaller (or bigger, etc.) I'd just say, "I can do custom pieces most any way you'd like. If we can come up with a design for what you want and you prepay for it, it can be ready in a week." I think this would separate the real interested buyers from the posers pretty well.



#20 DMCosta

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 11:08 AM

Pottergirl;

Mark is correct as usual.

These people are not customers. They look at your booth to see what you DON'T have, and then they ask for it. "I really like that mug and would have bought if you had it in green." No you wouldn't have.

Don't sweat about these people. They want to engage with you but don't want to buy anything. Then they leave the booth rapidly.

Point #2. Don't bother with the 3 hour sale. It takes me almost three hours to set up my booth. One day sales aren't really worth your time either.

You learned something from this, which is good, and no one was hurt by it.

TJR.

I actually laughed out loud over TJR's comment, "No you wouldn't have".  It's SO very true. I am closing in on a year of doing craft fairs and that's a very valid statement. I feel people show up to these events either eager and ready to buy, or with no money ready to "browse". The key is spotting that ready to buy customer and helping them find something they like. To those customers that are browsing, I politely hand them a business card and rarely hear from them afterwards. 






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