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Somethings up this Christmas season?


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Ok the fall was on fire with sales at most all of my outlets -People where buying early for xmas. Then it went nuts

Now its gotten insane. As soon as I take pots in they sell out. I have had pottery in organic markets for 4 years now and have never seen this happen like its happing now. 

Mugs display last week was  full-today not one mug left-I dropped off two banana (I use banana boxes for drop off boxes of pottery) boxes of pots this am and we shall see if they make it a week.

One of my gallerys called last week and they sold 48 glasses to one customer. I have raised all my prices but its not slowed it down. My own sales venue opens on Friday and I'm hoping its not nuts. 

My outlets are getting hit harder than I have ever seen. (not many potters around here selling anymore)I should be happy but its a bit to much as I can only produce so much.

I want a nice even. covid safe venue. I'm hanging plexiglass in front and sides of sales table.I have some youger ladies doing the selling-5 hrs a day.I do not want a crowd (never had one in 41 years at this location) just steady slow sales. 

Really a strange situation.

 

 

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I've gotten several large orders for mugs and dinnerware, very nice but I'm so busy now. And of course my elements are on their way out.  Changing them this weekend, got 2 more bisques out of them but now I have about 3 glaze firings worth of bisqueware sitting there waiting for glaze.

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All levels of governments here are encouraging everyone to shop local. Federal, provincial, municipal, are all united at least on this one point. There’s been tons of directories and campaigns online and off springing up, encouraging folks to support handmade, support small businesses, etc etc etc. 
 

We’ve just entered further lockdown restrictions again here, and I expect another online rush because of that. I’m releasing my shop update tonight to my newsletter subscribers and giving them 24 hours access before I tell everyone else on social media. 
 

People are nesting. If they have to stay home, they’re making their surroundings as nice as they can. 

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There is a funnel to what remains open and available. 

A lotta people are saving money on child care with the kids home.

"Unssential" positions almost all could always be done from home, they just thought it was cute to ....banana box everyone up!

The move is accepting checks! Free slow shipping to the return address on the check!

It's insane how we have to pay to get digital money, send me a check, and some tea! Mmm!

I been wondering if we remain profitable, what we can do to help neighbors who can't, maybe employ somebody. 

May your books be in the black and your kilns in the red!

Sorce

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The items that have been in high demand for me are Dinner Bowls and Breakfast Bowls. People reserved them in sets, so I made a whole bunch of extras, then all the extras were reserved too. And people are still requesting them! I agree with Callie, it’s because everyone eats all of their meals at home now, so they want to make it a nicer experience.

I just shattered my previous record for the first day of my holiday sale. I still have two more days, but we’ll see how it goes. Normally for the in-person holiday sale, a lot fewer people come on the second day, but they are very likely to buy something before they leave. Right now, my online store looks like slim pickings, so I’m not sure if it will inspire buying.

The online seconds sale worked!

I have started a list of “spring follow ups” for the pots that sold out but people still wanted them, and are willing to wait until March to get them. (I’m taking January and February off.) This list is already over $1k of pots. Lots of Dinner Bowls and Breakfast Bowls.

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I have pots in 4  organic supermarkets two really as they each have two stores-one in each town so 4 markets total. One outfit (two stores) is blowing thru over $1000. a week (my take) in inventory and its been doing this for a while. I have pottery in 8 local outlets in tyhos county so its been busy just keeping them stocked well. I build my  covid booth today and sale starts on Friday.It will be good to sell larger items 

I have two glaze kilns coming out later today (47 cubic feet of wares) my assistant and I will unload later in afternoon . I just hope this lasts until next Thursday when we unload the same two kilns (every week this time of year)I have been on a bisque sat -wax sunday glaze and load  Monday fire Tuesday -unload Thursday schedule for months now.With throwing on the lesser work days. The shop is piled with bisqueware and I still have 1/2 an electric of bisque to process so I may do a last minute glaze fire just before xmas as well.

I close the booth next Monday and Tuesday to glaze load and fire, as well as I like to only be open 12 days at 5-6 hours a day.I have PPE for all my sales staff  including N95 masks and surgical masks and enough sanitizer to wash a small battleship .

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It's crazy busy here too. I think part of it also people don't know what or when the next restriction is going to come along. I've had people buying Christmas gifts since the end of summer just in case we go into another "essential stores only open" lockdown again. What's taking so much time now is the back and forth emails with customers about their orders, I spent most of yesterday answering emails and bagging up pots, one sweet lady took 21 back and forth emails before she made up her mind. It is what it is as they say.

@GEP, whats a Breakfast Bowl? A cereal bowl?

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17 minutes ago, Min said:

Breakfast Bowl? A cereal bowl?

Yes, it is sized for cereal or oatmeal. 

And I feel your pain about the amount of emails it takes to sell something remotely! It's so much easier to put out a display full of pots and let people see them all. My general rule for advanced reservations is that the person needs to know exactly what they want. I don't mind a little back and forth, but if someone asks vaguely "what's available?" then I ask them to wait until the shop opens. But still, after I blast emailed about my sale a week ago, I spent a week buried in email. 

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My average e-mail per customer used to be 7 . Now in the 1st email ask for all the info and give all the info I can. I have a low threshold on anymore than 5-7 emails per sale For me iots not worth it after 7..The funny part is when covid hit email sales where on fire, than as summer came on the slowed way down. Later in Fall they really picked up. Then my shipping deadline stopped it-thank my stars -a few read my shipping date and still thought I could make exceptions for them. I did not.. Shipping pots and doing a show and suppling 8 outlest for the holidays is enough especailly this year. I cannot wait for xmas eve and to pack it all up and as Mea says put my feet up.I'm hoping folks do not start calling and emailing right after xmas as has happened before. I get cranky about then.This year since my hand surgery will stopo all pottery making for 4-5 months I'm going right back to work after New Years for some weeks to build up stock for the outlets-but it will be thier slow season . I have plenty of small for them now which will last untl late spring -spoon rests and sponge holders.

This is my big push season  and I have a target amount of $$$$ that I like  to sell every December and its been a solid for decades. I will let that amount go in the upcoming years but I'm still pushing for it.

I had a customer return a mug for another that was 2 oz less ,via ups . I'm done with her-she paid the extra shipping but 2 oz?Was my last transaction before my ship date cutoff.

You know when you have agreat customer and you know when you have a less than great one as well.

This year I have had more folks send me photos of others work from decades past wanting to get me to make it.I do not do custom work anymore so its and easy NO but years have gone by without any requests and this season has seen lots of them for me.Must be covid.

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Opening day sales may have been a new sales record for that day. The booth has two sides of 3 foot wide plexiglass and a one foot side on entry so the sales staff is protected. Credit card sales done with contactless bluetooth square card reader on table.I'm pretty sure some of my stock will not hold up another 11 days (I close booth Monday /Tuesday to glaze and fire two more kilns.Then reopoen Wens-xmas eve. Booth is open 5-6 hours a day-closes at 5 pm I set it up and close it daily as well as restock it along the way.This location (41 years) is perfect as we get one to two customers at a time-no crowds.My regulars know I'm here every year. Seems so strange that the last show I did was this one last year.What a starnge year its been.

 

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Today sales where heavy in big serving bowls and cereal bowls-another great day. dropped off some pots to a market and two galleries as well. Small glaze fire cooling today (shut down early afternoon) and large car kiln bisque is going off  later tonight ..Pots pots pots-I cleared out shop today and all green ware is being fired. I have lots of bisque thats waxed as well waiting for glaze. Will throw some on Tuesday again when firing glaze fires. Dinner plates sold today as well. I had three sets of 8 place settings large and salad plates in three colors. I seem to always start a show with tghis dinner plate set up the two sizes in three colors . No body and I mean no body brings that much flatware to a show. . My customers always know that they can add to their set if they get there early. The beat gos on

Its times like this that full timers like me  juggle about every plate you can get spinning

Edited by Mark C.
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Yep the big stuff is moving as is usual for my  xmas booth.I rasied prices on mugs and glasses as well as on the larger bowls.The big ones are all over 100$. They seem to go at xmas petty well. I usually sell teapots at this location better than elsewhere as well. I also have a lot of wall art fish as this is a pet store with fish for sale inside.The pet store is a local owned and operatoed store been there 41 years-same as the 41 years I have sold in this small shopping center. My flouresent yellow /green neon signs around town also bring them in -I run 7 signs that are on tall poles in selected corner lawns with the property owners permission .  That color one cannot miss,Heck one is a prime corner and its my insurace agents business. You need to master signs making and placing to cash in on a pottery sale . I leaned this 40 somne odd years ago. Now I use the extremely tough plastic hineycombed material for my signs .I had a friend who did calligraphy make the Stencil and I spray paint them. These have lasted for decades as there are no dates on them . They withstand rain and wind and are backed with plywood bolted to a tee post.

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Firing last two glaze fires of 2020 today-this is them last night before closing kilns.

I have over 250 mugs of many sizes along with lots of other forms in these two kiln loads 

I only had 8 glazed pots left over for next year that did not fit. My hope is these  two loads will get me thru to the 10th of January when the next two fires unload

This week is the most busy for sales in all my venues including my own. Xmas eve sales (open 11-3pm) are always the most sales usually but this is covid time so its hard to say.

Today I took in a box of free pots -I do this every xmas as I collect some minor flawed ones  overe the year and give one to every customer until all gone. Usually within a hour or so the box is empty.People are very happy as well . Part of the season

I'm going thru some pitting on interiors with my rutile blue the past month. Yet to get to the cause other than the rutile monster in the kiln.

I'm hoping next year the monster will be gone-I have tried hotter bisque and less redutiion but has not gone away yet. Always a challange in ceramics 

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One more 1/2 day 11-3 pm for xmas eve hours -I usually set up about 10 am and in years past this can be the busiest day.

This 12 day stint is way up sales wise and will be north of 1,500 a day. I am amazed of whats happening this season. I have been in this location at xmas for 41 years (same small shopping center)and never seen this  buying happening before. Its not more customers just hungrier customers buying more.No slow sales days-none

Today I took the final pots to all of my outlets.A bit like Santa Claus of pots. They all are selling upside in  record numbers. 

At 3 pm my wife and I will pack it all up in two vehicles  (long van and a full size poickup) and take it home. I'll pick up all my 7 signs around town between 6-7pm and head home wraping up another year in pottery sales. This was  my 1st show in 2020 and my last show in 2020. It was also my last show in 2019 at same location

I was talking to one of my orgainic market managers who put out two large boxes of my work and the next day it was all gone.I have been going to that store every 3 days the past weeks.

I have no more backstock in many forms (sold out)  I have  for many decades tried to always have enough to never run out as that way you can find the limit of whats possiable but this season has made that impossible in many forms. (I still have spoon rests and sponge holders) But glasss, 1/2 glasses ,mugs of all sizes are gone or nearly gone.

One thing is certain I really do not need to leave this area for shows-I still will for the few I really like but the others that are especially hard -are toast for me.

I'm getting right back on the horse after New Years and will get as much done as I can pre hand surgery.

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One thing I have not mentioned is our extremely strong shop local movement. Shoppers are really supporting small local business in our island here in fNorthern Cal. We are a bit isolated from the rest of state up here behind the Redwood Curtain as they say. So years ago the shop local became a strong theme and this year its especially true with covid wreaking havoc with some businesses.I hear evey day about my customers support locals like me as they buy gifts.

We try to keep our local economy here supported as I said its a bit of an Island thought process.

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2 hours ago, Mark C. said:

One thing I have not mentioned is our extremely strong shop local movement. Shoppers are really supporting small local business in our island here in fNorthern Cal. We are a bit isolated from the rest of state up here behind the Redwood Curtain as they say. So years ago the shop local became a strong theme and this year its especially true with covid wreaking havoc with some businesses.I hear evey day about my customers support locals like me as they buy gifts.

We try to keep our local economy here supported as I said its a bit of an Island thought process.

We have a similar sentiment happening here as well.  The shop local theme took off the last 2 years, and with the restrictions, people definitely have the message!  I hope it continues.  I shipped my last order to Missouri on Monday and when it arrived, they placed an order for multiples in the new year!  That was nice!  

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For us in Humboldt county there is only 3 roads in and out-long windy roads at that.Every few years due to floods and washouts and rock slides we turn into an Island nation with all access cut off so its easy to feel the local vibe and due to many marketing ideas here like made in Humboldt (about 5 years ago) and support local artists (about 20 years ago) and suport local business (about 10 years ago) these there factors have developed into a real shopping force. 

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I have not noticed much in the movement, as I do not sell. However, I have been reading about the "stay at home" movement because of covid. Seems many that I have talked to have decided that it is best to eat at home instead of out, to treat meals as an occasion as going out is not a possibility. This often means breakfast with nice ware, matching pieces, or specialized pieces. I have made special bowls to microwave my eggs in or other bowls for microwaving oatmeal , and my wife an I sit in the kitchen at the island watching the birds and eating breakfast, where as before we would get up and go to breakfast at a local mom and pop.

On another note here, is the recent article about the liner in paper cups being absorbed into the system, and the other article about the absorption of plastic in the body from so many sources.

I believe that this year is going to cause a major shift in what folks look at as important. We may see a return to more use of aesthetic hand made pottery and other crafts. Time will tell.

 

best,

Pres

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Wrapped up the sale in late afternoon and got it packed and home by 6.30.

In the middle of the night we got hit with huge winter storm winds which are gusting to 30+ today.
I feel I dodged a bullet since the past 12 days have been so calm with light winds and small amounts of rain.My covid acrlic shields do not like wind as they are hanging from string.

I pulled off the sale safely and my staff felt safe as well.Lets see if the next  in person sale is in December or sooner?

This was my best sale ever at that location and to top that off its many less days than usual. I have decieded that the 12 days is just right and will keep that schedule in whatever remaing years I do it.

We are getting rain on and off maybe for a week but so far this season the rains are lighter than predicted -Its all going north to Seattle area.

Got the van and most of truck unloaded this am before rain hit us.

'Time to put my feet up.

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