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What Is Your Most Successful Sales Venue?

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#1 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 06:46 AM

There is lots of discussion here about easy, fairs, gallery contracts etc. Let's hear your opinions with some explanation as to why you prefer the venue you do.

#2 clay lover

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 07:42 AM

So far, my best sales are local 2 day shows, Spring and Fall.   I can cultivate my buyers between the shows, letting them know where and when I will be set up.  I also have a local gallery that I promote as my 'store'.  Other galleries out of town are not doing as well for me. 



#3 Denice

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 09:16 AM

  I have never done art fairs have just sold at galleries, I stuck with places that charged a 30 percent commission.  I don't know what the rate is now  it's been a few years since I have put anything out there.  The galleries I used went out of buisness when the economy dropped  and just when things were starting to pick up here there was another big lay off at an airplane plant last week.  There is such a trickle down effect when this happens that people don't realize how bad it can be.  I owned a retail decorating store, one month Boeing went on strike, I lost $6,000 it affects everyone. I guess I'll wait a little longer and see if things stabilize around here before I try putting my work out again.      Denice



#4 alabama

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 11:43 AM

Hey,

 

     I have a hard time getting stock to them but the Folk Art Center in Asheville, NC does well with me, mainly because of foot traffic.  They usually get 1000

people thru each day year round.  I don't use their services to my advantage since I live 350 miles away.  There are 6 galleries run by the Southern Highland

Craft Guild which members can sell items.  By the way, the Folk Art Center will have "Clay Day" the first Saturday in June from 10 - 4:00.  Free demonstrations.

 

    Another good place is an obscure little giftshop on Dauphin Island.  I usually drop off shipments or network them down.

 

    I have done well at archaeological conferences where the pottery are copies of say mid-1600's to late 1700"s pottery... But the hotel room takes most of the bulk of money.  I also do well at living history events when the wares are checked out by the authenticity police.  Only historic pottery, preferably with

references can be sold.  There are no 8 ounce steins.   And you have to be dressed as a 1746 pottery merchant and the garb you're wearing is also checked

out by the authenticity police, (usually a historian and/or archaeologist.)  Most of these events are juried as well.

 

     Giftshops run by the state capitol can be a good place since the visitors like buying a souvenier from that state.... I've used Alabama's before.

 

You just have to find your niche in this wide spectrum of clay.   Weigh the time and trouble of doing business at different venues...

I've also had nightmarish trials and tribulations of doing business.... and from reading the posts of others on the subject  - I'm not alone.

 

     I don't go to many craft shows....  I find it hard to start off in the hole, but others love it.  Sometimes you can demonstrate, at shows and the show will

waive the booth fee.

 

Good luck,

Alabama



#5 GEP

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 05:56 PM

By far my best venues are art festivals. For me this is the most efficient way to generate sales, for the time and the costs involved.
Mea Rhee
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#6 Mark C.

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 06:37 PM

Art shows hands down for time spent VS dollars earned.

Mark


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#7 Chris Campbell

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 08:58 PM

My best sales venue was my own Open House.
Perfect crowd since they were all there to buy, not to spend a sunny day listening to a free band or eating cotton candy.

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#8 Mark C.

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 01:30 AM

I should add that have several income streams  has helped me in my ceramic career

wholesale

consignment

shows/retail/stiudio sales

 

art shows are my largest piece of that pie-they are the most work but have the best return

I can do a show  2-3 day show and make what I can in a year of  a gallery sales

That said I still like the gallery sales as its less work I have to sell myself

It also did not always start out that way-now after 20 -40 years at a show your return customer base builds up and now at many shows its over 40 %

I had studio sales twice a year for 19 years but shows outsold my sale long ago and I gave them up

That was before art tours became popular like they are now in many areas but still thats just a few K on a weekend compared to a great art show.

At shows now many times my own customers answer new customers questions on the work

This all takes time-time spent at same venue and same locations and there is not shortcut.

For some its work for me its been a great on going journey

Now I'm cuttung back on shows and thats hard as I'm down to the great ones for my work.

Mark


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#9 Rebekah Krieger

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 08:00 PM

My best sales venue was my own Open House.
Perfect crowd since they were all there to buy, not to spend a sunny day listening to a free band or eating cotton candy.

This is a fantastic idea- good reminder to compile a customer contact list 


Learning On my Kick wheel with my vintage Paragon (from the late 1960's)

#10 Up in Smoke Pottery

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 01:49 AM

We have had the best luck with outdoor art fairs/festivals the further the better.  Granted we have our furthest show is 7 hours, but has repeatedly been the best return for our dollar, with the exclusion of the "tornado" year.  Typically we look for shows 2-5 hours away, but do the local shows (2) to help our galleries.  We have found, albeit a copout that the closer we are to home we hear "Your local right, we can stop by your studio anytime"  They rarely do, but we do notice an increase in sales in the months following in our galleries.  Local show does populate our annual open house, which keeps growing every year.

 

Chad


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#11 GEP

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 09:47 AM

Just one note about open studios and home shows .... yes these are very efficient selling venues. Everyone who attends is already your fan, and goes there intending to buy something. This is unlike an art festival where the attendees may or may not be planning to buy something, from one of the 150 vendors. However, keep in mind that home shows are great for tapping your fan base, but not so great for growing your fan base. If you did nothing but home shows, your customer base would dwindle over time. Every customer has a life cycle, they eventually move on to other artists. To stay in business for the long term, you need to continually find new customers.

 

I only do my Open Studio once a year. I've thought about possibly doing it twice, but I would not consider doing it more often than that. Yes this event is usually a higher-grossing event than most of my art festivals, when compared to the time and cost. But when viewed among a year's worth of venues, it is just a small percentage. Art festivals are the "meat and potatoes" of my business. The Open Studio is the "gravy."


Mea Rhee
Good Elephant Pottery
http://www.goodelephant.com

#12 dawnmferguson

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 06:44 PM

Community Art Sale attended by people who know me or have seen my work and live in my hometown.  



#13 Marc McMillan

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 02:59 PM

It seems the Art show seems to be the ticket. Does low fire stuff sell (like saggar firing and horsehair) or are they looking for more traditional glazed functional ware?



#14 Up in Smoke Pottery

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 03:44 PM

Marc,  There is very much an educational part of selling the alternative pieces, we have been selling only Pit and saggar fired pieces at shows for 7 years or so. It gives lots of discussion opportunities about how each piece was made.  Yes most people are looking for the traditional glazed ware, and we answer a lot of questions "what do you do with it?" but I equate that to "does this come in blue?" when I did stoneware.

 

I don't sell the same volume of pieces, but than the price point is different as well.  If a person in your glazed booth likes your stuff, but is on a limited budget they may choose a cup.  In our booth, they have the piece they want and most of the time not settle for a smaller piece.  They either buy it or walk out.  Last year was 1st year I sold out of small $20-$40 pots, prior to that they just sat there.  That has been our experience.

 

Hope that helps,

Chad


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#15 TJR

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 04:22 PM

Just finished a two day Mother's Day sale last weekend.

I am in a group of 10 artists living within walking distance of each other. We print 5000 colour brochures of our pictures and our work with a map to where our studios are located.

We hire my sons to place a brochure in every mail box in the area.

We also do a Christmas sale at the end of November. Billed as an open studio tour, most people hit one or two studios at each event.

The beauty is that I don't have to pack work, but I do have to clean my studio. I love seeing everybody and the sales are all mine, no commission.

TJR.



#16 Benzine

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 10:13 PM

TJR, I read that last sentence, and imagine you rubbing your hands together and laughing maniacally.
"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#17 TJR

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 07:35 AM

TJR, I read that last sentence, and imagine you rubbing your hands together and laughing maniacally.

Mine! All mine! Bwah ha ha !

You got it!

T.



#18 Marc McMillan

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 12:08 PM

We have had the best luck with outdoor art fairs/festivals the further the better.  Granted we have our furthest show is 7 hours, but has repeatedly been the best return for our dollar, with the exclusion of the "tornado" year.  Typically we look for shows 2-5 hours away, but do the local shows (2) to help our galleries.  We have found, albeit a copout that the closer we are to home we hear "Your local right, we can stop by your studio anytime"  They rarely do, but we do notice an increase in sales in the months following in our galleries.  Local show does populate our annual open house, which keeps growing every year.

 

Chad

Thanks for the info Chad. I've been thinking about my next step and wondered if my work would have a market at art shows.

Marc



#19 JLowes

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 03:56 PM

Marc,

 

You were asking about low fire & horsehair selling at art shows.  Over half of my sales are raku based, thus non-functional as traditional pottery, so one does need to educate on what is an appropriate use for raku, but I find that is usually not much of a sale stopper. The sales are based on the "cute" factor, or physical beauty of the piece.  Many of my raku pieces are figures and don't require the explanation, but there are jars & vases in the mix that they need to know are not watertight, nor appropriate for food.  I also have a sticker on the back saying not intended for food use as a backup.

 

In some ways, I find selling non-functional a relief in that I don't have to worry about whether a piece will be in a freezer to oven use, going through many cycles in a dishwasher, being microwaved, or used on a cooktop,   I find myself trying to stay away from pots that face those issues.

 

 

John



#20 Marc McMillan

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 03:06 PM

yeah John- after hearing that story of the customer bringing back a serving dish after over a decade, I felt much better about selling non-functional ware. Thanks for your information. I need to find the courage to make that next step.

Marc







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