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Packaging Up Purchases At Art Fairs


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#1 Brian Reed

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 02:14 PM

I have gotten some great advice on my journey in clay and selling thus far.  I am happy to report that some of that great advice was from this forum.  Now I have a new question.

 

At fairs I have been bring packing paper, masking tape and plastic bags for packaging up purchases.  When asking other potters I get head nods and confirmation that they do the same.  So I figure I am doing what everyone else does and I am in good hands...following suit and happy.  However this always felt a little "grocery" store or department store to me and I have not been real happy with it.

 

For one sale last summer I took some small bowls and created sets of 4 similar bowls.  Then found some small lidded single thickness cardboard boxes at IKEA with riveted metal trim.  They were $2.50 for a set of two boxes.  I put the bowls stacking in with crinkle paper separating the bowls.  Those were the first to sell.  Sure they were a matching set and I think people like that, and perhaps they picked them up for gifts.  However I like to think they were drawn to them because they were packaged right.  No wraping and taping paper to the bowls after purchase.

 

I have been now thinking about finding a place to get small wooden boxes made for tea cups or bowl sets, which just drives the price up. Although I think they would be perceived as nicer for gifts and such. 

 

My question is, 'How do you package up your purchases at fairs?"  "Do you use nice wooden or cardboard boxes for sets?" "do you still use packing paper and tape?" 

 

 

PS:  if you are using wooden boxes, please tell me where you purchase them from. 


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#2 bciskepottery

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 02:55 PM

Regarding wood boxes, you might want to find a woodworker in your area and have him/her make them for you.  Hank Murrow uses boxes for his wares; he has a source in Japan who makes them for potters.  But a local source would be a nice compliment to locally-made wares.  And, you might be able to arrange a tie-in -- like including the woodworker's card along with yours, etc. 

 

For fairs, I use tissue paper and kraft paper bags w/handles.  I buy mine from Uline; I think using clean packing materials makes your work look more professional than wrapping in yesterday's newspaper and putting it in a big-box plastic bag.  I print a sticker with my name on it and attach it to the paper bags.  Free advertising as the bag is carried around the fair. 



#3 Tarheeler

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 03:00 PM

We use tissue paper and kraft bags as well for most of what we sell.
The larger artistic pieces get bubble wrap and sturdy boxes.

#4 JBaymore

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 11:57 AM

Because I sell not only in the US but also in Japan, I often use wooden boxes for certain pieces.  Particularly teawares.  It is for higher end pieces normally and the cost is built right into the pricing of the work.  Just like in Japan, here in the states if someone wants a "presentation box" for anything, I will certainly do it, but on lower priced works or on pieces that I don't already include them on, there will be a "box charge".

 

I have a local woodworker do my boxes for me.  Order them in bulk, lots of the same sizes at once.  The American boxes are using American softwoods that are similiar in some qualities to Palowina (Kiri) used in Japan (although I have them use hardwood for the lid rails).  In Japan I typically use Japanese boxes.

 

Unfortunately the US boxes are expensive.  WAY more than the ones in Japan.  Even with shipping costs, I am considering starting to use Japanese boxes; they will still be cheaper.  In Japan there is a whole industry of support services for potters, .........raw mateials processing (like ash makers), wooden boxes, and so on.  A very decent quality box with the tie for a yunomi sized piece in Japan will set me back less than the equivalent of $10.... a cheap box with tie there maybe less than $5.  Here in the US it is more like $20-25.

 

It is impossible to over stress the importance of presentation and packaging in market positioning your work.  It is possible that the percieved marketable value of a piece can be increased $100 with the addition of a $30 box.

 

How YOU treat your work tells the customer a lot about how you percieve the value of your works.   Back when I did "craft fairs", I still had the wooden boxes. for certain works.

 

"I don't always pack my work in boxes, but when I do, they are nice wooden boxes.  Pack well, my friends."

 

best,

 

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

 

 

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#5 Chris Throws Pots

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 05:49 PM

I do not use wooden boxes, though the idea of it, particularly for higher end items, is very appealing.

When I do a show I wrap purchased items in plain newsprint. I used to bring an end roll (free from the local newspaper) and tear off pieces as needed. I always felt awkward/unprofessional tearing the paper as it's very loud and would interrupt the small talk with customers that usually comes with a sale. So I went to a Christmas Tree Shop and asked the manager if I could buy one of their packages of newsprint sheets used at checkout. After some gentle nudging I left with a ~2000 sheet pack of 24"x18" pieces for $10.

I have been using paper kraft bags with handles, color matched as best as I could get, to the colors in my business card and booth banner. I have logo stickers that I put on every bag. Everything is branded very intentionally. I gave two sizes of bags, a small bag for one or two mugs, a small bowl or olive oil bottle, and a large bag for serving bowls, platters, or purchases of more than a few pieces at once. It is very gratifying seeing people walking around a show, bag in hand, advertising for me.

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#6 Roberta12

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 10:16 PM

Thank you!  I like the idea of boxes.....and stickers on my kraft bags.....I always learn something new here.

 

Roberta



#7 clay lover

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 08:39 AM

Good ideas. As my total # of tickets drop, but my $$$$ total on each ticket rises, I realize that what I spend on each bag is not so important, but what the bag looks like has become more important.
I have been using colored T-shirt bags that compliment my overall booth color and business cards ,banner etc. While I don't want to give up the convenience of the bag holder for packing orders, I'm thinking about ordering good looking, heavier T-shirt bags with my logo on them.

#8 GEP

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 10:03 AM

I've been using clear plastic or frosty plastic bags. I know they are not as easily recycled as paper bags, but for me they are cheaper and much easier to store and pack because they aren't as bulky. I've always relied on the see-thru quality to advertise for me as customers walk around a fair with my business card showing in their bags. 

 

But I just took the plunge and ordered frosty plastic bags with my logo printed on them, to start using next year. I'm excited, I think it will look really sharp. My per bag cost went from 16 cents each to 60 cents each, but this is a cost I'm willing to pay, and I think it will pay for itself with the advertising factor.

 

As for cushioning, I tear kraft paper from a roll. I guess the noise doesn't bother me, and I like the flexibility of getting a tiny piece or a nice big piece. 


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#9 clay lover

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 10:31 AM

Mea, How many different sizes did you get?

#10 TJR

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 11:15 AM

I slap mine in newspaper and an old Safeway bag. For bigger items like teapots, people get two full sheets of newspaper, for mugs you get a half sheet of newspaper. I have hardly any plastic bags anymore as we try not to bring them home from the store. Lots of people bring a re-usable cloth bag to the sale.

Its about the pot, not about the package. I am selling from my studio, maybe I would get unprinted newsprint if I was in a four day sale.

Remember to reduce,re-use, and walk softly on the back of Mother Earth.

TJR.



#11 nancylee

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 02:13 PM

Because I have owned retail shops for the last 10 years, I think that the packaging can be part of your branding. I have very distinctive bags, with a label I put on them. They are not environmentally friendly, but I tell people that, and they promise to reuse them, as the sticker comes off.

Here are the reasons I do it:
1. Branding - as I said, I have people come in to my shop and tell me how they remember and love my bags. I haven't done shows, but I bet if someone bought something from me one year at a show, and looked for me the next, they may not remember what I look like, but they will remember my bags! And:

2. Value - if I sell a mug for $25, I want people to see it as a treasure, and that is has the value that they paid for it, so I pack it beautifully and carefully. I know many disagree, but I wouldn't like a purchase wrapped in butcher paper and put in a plastic grocery bag. It seems flea market to me. My stuff takes me a lot of work - I want the packaging to represent that.

Just my humble opinion. As I said, I haven't done shows, but will do this when I begin. Is worth the .60 a bag to me.
Nancy
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Northern Woods Pottery
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#12 JBaymore

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 02:50 PM

Well said, nancylee.

 

Packaging can tell the story about where you position your work........ market positioning. 

 

There are many solutions... but the solution should match the positioning.

 

best,

 

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


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#13 GEP

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 04:58 PM

Mea, How many different sizes did you get?

I got two different sizes: an 18x15 which is the size I use the most, and a smaller 12x11 which I also use a lot (perfect size for one mug). I will continue to use unprinted bags in extra small and extra large sizes, because I don't use them enough to justify the custom printing.

btw, I got them from http://nashvillewraps.com
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#14 Chris Campbell

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 06:10 PM

I slap mine in newspaper and an old Safeway bag. For bigger items like teapots, people get two full sheets of newspaper, for mugs you get a half sheet of newspaper. I have hardly any plastic bags anymore as we try not to bring them home from the store. Lots of people bring a re-usable cloth bag to the sale.

Its about the pot, not about the package. I am selling from my studio, maybe I would get unprinted newsprint if I was in a four day sale.

Remember to reduce,re-use, and walk softly on the back of Mother Earth.

TJR.

I have a small comment here. :rolleyes:

 

It's OK to be "earth friendly" and use newspapers etc. ... but I cringe at the "slap mine and stuff it in an old Safeway bag".

You can do earth friendly with a bit of style that makes you memorable.

First, you don't slap them into newspaper, but fold the paper properly, make it neat and tie with twine or cord.

Add a card with all of your contact info printed on re-cycled paper.

Close that Safeway bag in an attractive manner ... with a twine bow if it has handles or a bit of tape or sticker if it doesn't.

Just because you are using re-cycled materials does not mean it has to look used or recycled.


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#15 jolieo

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 10:24 AM

Hi I bought a japanese hand painted porcelain vase, and a hand blown art glass perfume bottle. Both were expensive for me, both came in boxes. I don't think my perception of their value changed w the box but I was and am very appreciative to have custom boxes to store these things when I need to. If I was traveling and wanted to buy , that would be a tipping point even on a low end sale and I would pay extra for the box. Also no one has mentioned reusable shopping bag w logo. Just randomly googled for 50 logoed one color free shipping, $1.55. Order more ,pay less. There is some branding for you, especially local ! Just a thought. Jolie

#16 GEP

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 03:32 PM

Hi I bought a japanese hand painted porcelain vase, and a hand blown art glass perfume bottle. Both were expensive for me, both came in boxes. I don't think my perception of their value changed w the box but I was and am very appreciative to have custom boxes to store these things when I need to. If I was traveling and wanted to buy , that would be a tipping point even on a low end sale and I would pay extra for the box. Also no one has mentioned reusable shopping bag w logo. Just randomly googled for 50 logoed one color free shipping, $1.55. Order more ,pay less. There is some branding for you, especially local ! Just a thought. Jolie

 

I had reusable grocery bags with my logo on them for my Open House two years ago. They were a big hit, and I did it again for this year's Open House (coming up this weekend). Where I live, we get taxed for consuming plastic grocery bags, so reusable ones are in high demand. I think I paid $1.37 each for them. I got them from http://discountmugs.com


Mea Rhee
Good Elephant Pottery
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#17 TJR

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 04:32 PM

 

I slap mine in newspaper and an old Safeway bag. For bigger items like teapots, people get two full sheets of newspaper, for mugs you get a half sheet of newspaper. I have hardly any plastic bags anymore as we try not to bring them home from the store. Lots of people bring a re-usable cloth bag to the sale.

Its about the pot, not about the package. I am selling from my studio, maybe I would get unprinted newsprint if I was in a four day sale.

Remember to reduce,re-use, and walk softly on the back of Mother Earth.

TJR.

I have a small comment here. :rolleyes:

 

It's OK to be "earth friendly" and use newspapers etc. ... but I cringe at the "slap mine and stuff it in an old Safeway bag".

You can do earth friendly with a bit of style that makes you memorable.

First, you don't slap them into newspaper, but fold the paper properly, make it neat and tie with twine or cord.

Add a card with all of your contact info printed on re-cycled paper.

Close that Safeway bag in an attractive manner ... with a twine bow if it has handles or a bit of tape or sticker if it doesn't.

Just because you are using re-cycled materials does not mean it has to look used or recycled.

 

Said the woman who dumps her used clay scraps in her yard!

Everyone gets a smile and a story. If they wish, they get a professional business card with all my data on it. I carefully hand them the Safeway bag,with reverence. Man, did I go through the newspaper!

TJR.



#18 MikeFaul

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 04:55 PM

I'm a huge believer in the idea that Packaging provides the sizzle that makes the product sing... I can't see asking someone to spend $40 on a coffee mug and then throwing it into a plastic bag. I wanted a packaging solution that feels and looks as organic as the wares I place inside it. But, then I'm picky.

 

We plan to place our wares inside of thick walled Kraft paper boxes, which have black bands around them and a sticker with our logo on the band. A palm card, also printed on kraft paper card stock will go in the box with care instructions and an explanation of our breakage guarantee.  A business card, also black on kraft paper card stock, goes into the box as well. Wares are separated by cushioned sheets (stacked bowls), crinkled kraft paper shreds and bubble wrap surround the wares to the walls of the box. Before the box is sealed we'll be adding a "Thank You" tile we made in the shop to the box. We plan to change the design and message on the Thank You tile periodically just for fun.

 

Boxes carried out go into a kraft paper bags and a black sticker with our logo goes on the bag. It's all part of our brand image, and it sells as much as anyone on the team. We tested this yesterday at a show, and it worked out well and the only kraft bags with black stickers in the show came from Potter's Fire...

 

When we ship a gift we gift wrap the box, in Kraft paper with a black ribbon, except during holidays, then we replace the standard black ribbon with blue or red burlap ribbon according to the customer's choice, we charge extra for gift wrapping, shipping, and handling. 

 

I'm looking into custom clam shell boxes made of wood as well. We've been looking at a small business up north, a retired Air Force Officer stated it. This box would be finished as a display case and designed to be opened with a prized piece of barware on display. The nice thing about working with this lady is we can buy small quantities. We also built wooden crates that look like old munitions crates that we use to carry sets of product. These are filled with crinkled kraft paper shreds to mimic old straw packing material.



#19 TJR

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 06:12 PM

Holy crow!

I talked to my buddy Steve where I fire my work. He was also in this studio crawl this weekend. He uses a roll of unprinted newprint for wrapping and a Safeway bag. The co-operative gallery where 11 potters sell their work [which he is involved with,as a member] use newsprint and boxes of different sizes. But at Christmas and during their sales, no one has time to do all that fancy stuff. You get your purchase in a bag after it is wrapped in unprinted newsprint. At their studio sales, people are lined up around the block like at a movie premiere. They have  been doing it a long time, and I have never seen a wooden box or a souvenire tile. People are there for the pots, not the packaging.

TJR.



#20 nancylee

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 06:32 PM

Holy crow!

I talked to my buddy Steve where I fire my work. He was also in this studio crawl this weekend. He uses a roll of unprinted newprint for wrapping and a Safeway bag. The co-operative gallery where 11 potters sell their work [which he is involved with,as a member] use newsprint and boxes of different sizes. But at Christmas and during their sales, no one has time to do all that fancy stuff. You get your purchase in a bag after it is wrapped in unprinted newsprint. At their studio sales, people are lined up around the block like at a movie premiere. They have have been doing it a long time, and I have never seen a wooden box or a souvenire tile. People are there for the pots, not the packaging.

TJR.

 

Hi,

I am glad this works for these potters, but I think that I will use every advantage I can get!! And I want to know where these people lined up for the pots are!? We have lots of good potters where I live, and none of them have anyone lined up to buy anything. They really, really push hard to make sales and make a living at this. I know they would be green with envy having people lined up around the block to buy their stuff. Where is this??? I'm going to spread the word! :)

 

Honestly, if you are successful with a plastic grocery bag, and you obviously are, that is great. I think I will need more branding, as I am newer to this. I don't have a reputation, I don't have repeat customers. I do have some marketing savvy and am getting better and better at making pottery. But I am definitely going to need to push the marketing. 

Nancy


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