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About DirtRoads

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  • Birthday June 1

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  1. Yes, I'm surprised at how much business this has generated. It's on Hwy 16, an incoming route for people from Alabama going to Pearl River resort (casinos, water park & Nick Fazzio golf course). I think it's important to always "know what you don't know". I have tried bill boards in past businesses, even on this same high way. I only got a handful of customers to my other businesses. The key to this one is the DIRECTION that the customers are coming from. Alabama, not cities like Jackson, MS. These Alabama customers come over 2 or 3 times a year for a few days away. Also, the golf course gets a decent number of conventions of golfers (and their wives). What this has done, is given me a small slice of a tourist market. Really picked up my summer sales. Had a 40% sales increase last year and am seeing a 30% increase this year. I plan on going after a little more of the tourist market. Just started on construction yesterday, adding 640 square foot more to my retail space. Will put in an area of "Mississippi" gifts and have a couple of marketing ideas to bring more tourist business here. I've had this sign for 18 months. Before this 60 foot sign, I shared a small spot on a multi board and I think I got 2 customers from it. I can almost identify the "sign people" when they come in the store. They have lowered my sales closure ratio. We used to have a 95% buying conversion and it's lower now. Also, the sign customers have lowered my average sale. but thhe amount of traffic it generates is significant. And I can get some very large sales form it. Like the 6 ladies from Atlanta that were here for a golf outing and they more than paid the sign bill for an entire year. And some customers become repeat customers. Overall, it's definitely profitable. I'm not sure this would even apply to a lot of the readers here. But the key is to constantly look at your market. I see a lot of people here that are oblivious to market opportunities. Two years ago, I would have said "hmmm don't think bill board advertising would work for my type of business". But NOW, I'm nailing down a second bill board location. I'll definitely put a pottery picture on the next design too. What makes this work .. is "Straight Ahead 11 Miles". I've had 100 plus customers say "well it's just 11 miles here". And the website. I get website pings from that area where people are checking Dirt Roads out. My web traffic went up 5X last year.
  2. The wholesale opportunity is definitely there. I worked for a potter at a local wholesale show (Mississippi Wholesale Trade Show). I used to work in Atlanta Merchandise Mart and saw quite a few potters up there. I see a lot of pottery in gift shops and other specialty type retail stores. You just have to be on top of your game to wholesale. And watch the order taking. I've seen several potters ruin themselves because they couldn't fulfill the wholesale orders they take at wholesale shows. And it's the retail store that can command the up pricing. And usually (almost always) the right display goes with an upscale retail store. You could put a great display in a low end/low traffic retail location and would get very little results. The key is to get in the right retail stores. example: https://babcockgifts.bridgecatalog.com/collections.cfm/Good_Earth_Pottery That guy is in Starkville, MS about an hour from my location. I would say Babcock's is about as upscale as you can get. I see Eta B Pottery there too (located in Eta Mississippi.) Pretty sure Good Earth doesn't do any direct retailing. And if Eta B does, it's very limited. You can do quite well with wholesale. But it's my belief, it's hard to do both retail and wholesale. Pick one and go for it. I know some people do both but the best I've seen do one or the other. I could list at least 30 potters Ms, AL, Tn or La that do nothing but wholesale. In my area, wholesale means more employees if you are successful. We're are touching on this in another thread under "Output is Finite".
  3. I've run your numbers several times. A couple months back, I was on your blog and saw your "new" bathroom. I made a comment about it and then remembered I made almost the same comment a few years back. My business if I had just me and only did pottery, would have almost the same numbers. You and I both realized that wholesaling was less money for us a long time ago. "By myself, and I have no interest in expanding or having employees". I could totally go that way. One of my pottery friends says that exact thing. The employees I have allow me to do other things like my jewelry line and new fragrance line. It would be very hard to justify 2 pottery employees if all I had was the pottery because I personally, wouldn't see a lot more income. More revenue, but not more revenue. I've run the numbers a few times and I think at around 5 employees, and adding wholesale, I could see more income. But then I would be more in management and new product prototypes. "Output is so finite". Seems a lot of potters never get to that point. That offers so much insight to this business. I really pick and choose what yields me the most revenue. Not always just inexpensive things. About a month ago, I did the most expensive piece I've ever done. $1500 but it included 2 on-sight trips and me making an exquisite floral arrangement in the container. . I insisted on no payment until it was done. Wasn't in the studio but they left me a $500 tip plus the payment of $1500. Would I like more of that type work? Probably so.
  4. You have to broaden your view of what the customers are really buying. It's not just an "ornament". I sold 30 something of this last week to a customer from Canada. She made a "list" of all the people she wanted to take "a little happy to" (cat sitters, plant waterers, grandchildren, nieces/nephews etc). Last summer someone ordered 450 of them to give out at a lady's conference. She was the president of the Mississippi chapter and saw them at the only show I do in the Spring. We didn't sell but 50ish at the show but the idea was planted for later. You can just as easily sell that angel or cross as "a little happy". Of course I add a little packaging that enhances gift giving. It's July but a customer may think "that's a beautiful handmade gravy boat. I could give that to my 2 daughters and daughter in-law for Christmas. I'll take 3 of those. No wait. Give me 5 of them. I'll give them to my sister and sister in law too." A "heavy sauce" NEVER comes to mind. I would sell more during 4th quarter because I sell more of everything then, but I never rule out an item because it's not 4th quarter. Of course I will sell more of those "ornaments" in Nov/Dec but they are buying some right now.
  5. That white is a basic white matte glaze. I'm too lazy to make one from scratch so I buy that from Coyote. As for holiday items, I would be very cautious about anything to do with fall or Thanksgiving. I do these little ornaments all year, sell them all year. Last fall we blew through 500 at Canton in 2 hours. I have 1000 done now for fall show, already packed in van. We on target to sell at least 3K of these this year. ($5 each) I have a time limit on making and glazing these. Need to have less than 2 minute investment total. (cookie cutters, made from scraps of slabs) & design is a rubber stamp) 30/hour x $5. Decent revenue. Most of the time, these are just space fillers in kilns. I do a Christmas plate every year, about 100 of them. They sell for like $25-$35. If you don't have an established customer base, I would hesitate to do them.
  6. --- Gep quote Didn't want to hi jack the other thread, but this is really on my mind. I'm at that point. Currently I have 3 full time employees. One in jewelry, the other 2 pottery. Here's what I think ... for every person in pottery production, you need 1 kiln. Every person can yield about $75K a year in pottery. That's what I'm seeing. Does anyone have different numbers?
  7. Interesting read. https://mailchimp.com/resources/keep-archive-delete-top-tips-for-managing-contacts/
  8. Home decor moves a lot shower on color trends than fashion. And in a lot of color forecasts, never moves at all. Home decor follows color movements as opposed to those Pantone color forecasts. These 2 colors are 4th & 5th in my sales, with red being 6th. I'll do a few color "bursts along, but limit it to like 15 to 20 pieces. yellows, oranges, turquoise - I never saw yellow even make it to accessories. Orange only slightly. I've seen them try to bring back turquoise at least 20 times but never saw it push higher than: Buying ratios: Black 20/Brown20/Turquoise 4. Orange was like a 1. Pink usually a 2 but during 90's I did see a time when pink was the new black, outselling black and even more ever so slightly into home decor. I did see Brown become the new black for a few season Brown 25/Black 20. I love the 2nd one and did it in response to a "gray kitchen" trend I saw a year or 2 ago. But can't say it's a great seller.
  9. "Embrace your inner farm house" is what I should call this collection. This is the most popular of my 6 colors by a landslide. I do 4 "versions" of this. This is a 6 figure seller.
  10. Not exactly what it sounds like to me ...............
  11. My Blue Cross health insurance is $830 a month. I've been in different businesses for 30 plus years now and have never been w/o health insurance. I've only had the pottery business 8 years, but it totally pays my health insurance and all the living expenses for me and about 30 animals. As for living on $20K a year, I spend more than $20K a year on animals and donations to animal causes. Now, I do have a jewelry business along with my pottery business. But just because I am more interested in jewelry than pottery. I could make it totally just on the pottery, but would not have as many employees. It's not the "pottery" that does people in. They can't handle the business end. Pottery can be a fairly profitable business. I've watched people flounder in and out of specialty retail store businesses for 30 years now. And yes, most are epic fails. But, someone is going to be successful in a pottery business. It's not even that difficult. Oh yes, I'm getting ready to put in another 40 foot Graceland building for more retail space. (Damn it, wish I had known this was going to be as successful as it has been or I would have put in a nice building from the start ... but no, this is a business that has grown from a single 24 foot building in 8 years). @dhPotterhas actually been to my little business, so he can verify that it is actually here and I do have the employees. Don't lump everyone into the "epic fail" category because you can't do it.
  12. ^This. The weather was expected to be scattered heavy rainfall, like 40 - 75% chance in hourly forecast, with 75% at 11:00. Tornadoes were not mentioned in the forecast. No watch when I got there at 5:30 that morning (with 8 customers waiting for the tent to open). The tornado "warning" was around 9:45. I'm not 100% positive it was a real tornado warning for the City of Canton but like @dhPotter said 60 mile hour winds were blowing tents away. Cell phones that had service were all going off. I heard some sirens. Someone said it was a police car going up the street was announcing over a mega phone. I didn't hear this. The rain was so heavy you could not really hear. A man came in our booth and said "I thought you all should know we are under a tornado warning." The woman chimed her sister said "People in Ridgeland (about 12 miles away) are taking cover in a stair well." I see the 2 tents blow away. A large blue tarp up the road broke off of a tent. I said to customers "we can go in side the parish center or get on the porch. (like really ... get on the porch ....) Two went to the porch. No one left the tent, I guess because of the pouring rain. We had about 12 hovering on the back side of the tent (like that's the safe space in a tent .....)I tell my 2 employees we need to leave. By that time it was over. I never heard one word from the City of Canton. I'm right across from City Hall .... like one space down. The Director of my area was NEVER told to shut down. There should have been a plan in place. My thinking wasn't fast either. I had literally 2 minutes from when I heard "tornado" had it been one, when it was at it's worse. But someone knew that front was approaching and should have told people to take cover and closed the event. My cell phone wasn't getting service so I couldn't see it.
  13. Awww. I'm at 424 Peace Street (Hwy16). Right across from Canton City Hall. I'm the first booth if you take Hwy 16 West going into Canton. Here's my cell phone. 601-955-9150 and my brother's cell phone 601-955-9319. If anyone ever comes to that event give us a call if you can't find the booth. And if anyone ever wants to set up here, I'm on one of the committees and can direct you to a good spot.
  14. A completely miserable day. My sales were off 75%. But some customers did come and buy. My break even point on this show is about $5K. Would have been $2k if I had cancelled without the labor of set up/sales/beak down. (doesn't count my opportunity costs where I could have stayed home and made more product) I did hit the BEP (barely) but if I had it to do over I wouldn't go back. The show was today and I unloaded on Monday. After unloading everything, it seemed pointless to just pack up. I've done this show for 8 years now. There are around 1000 vendors here. I did get quite a few new customers that say they will definitely add us to their agenda on future shows. Before today, so many vendors they didn't see us, even though we are front row on the major Hwy through the area. So that is one positive thing. But it was a miserable day for me. Would NOT do it again. Someone asked me "Sharon Grimes what are you doing here in this weather?" And I said "trying to turn a nickel into a dollar and you're here for ....?" But not enough dollars for me to do it again ever. I will rethink rainy forecasts from now on. Never experienced anything like it. We all had on light rain gear and boots but still got soaked. Needed professional rain gear here. Shawn: The answer I give to your question: "NO NO NO and NEVER AGAIN". I have never cancelled a show for weather before. But I saw several tents blow away today. My tent is put up by a professional tent company and stayed in tact but when you hear the tornado sirens and all the cell phone warnings going off, a tent is no place to be. Usually I'm mostly positive. This actually happened today. Maybe I'll have a change of mind in a few days. But this was almost a traumatic experience for me. Worrying and being cold and wet.
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