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Christmas Pottery Booth comes to an end after 43 years

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Well after 43 years I packed up my last xmas pottery booth .

I flew a sign past 12 days telling customers I would not have this booth next year at xmas. Get my work in September at my only show I will be doing .

They where  not as happy about as I am to say the least but-they still have options

Its in same small town (15K population) only its 3rd weekend in Sept. I have build upo a huge following in those consecutive 43 years

I'm already supplying 8 local outlets as well , dropping off pottery about every 2-4 days at xmas as well.Since I was in my later 20s I have always had this booth in the same shopping center -in front of a large drug store (its changed these names all thru my years-value giant,payless, longs drugs, rite aid ,CVS)  In front of Safeway for 5 more years and then the past 12-15 years in front of locally owned pet store. The money has been great as has the customers but as I approach 70 its in my plan to slow it down and this xmas I put the booth away permanently (this booth is made just for this location) -not the sales racks but the lockable booth. I have a younger potter friend I'm, hoping to give the whole deal to if his health gets better. I offered it free of charge and would set him up in it if he is able next year or the following. I have permission from 4 property owners around town for signage in their years and I and pass it all on if and its a big if he can do it. I operate booth from 12-5 weekdays 11-5 Friday-sat sun. Those hours I learned from decades of messing with the best profitable hours. I also have sales help and have paid them well so they always wanted to come back-all the things you learn over time.

Next xmas eve I will not be packing up that booth or driving 30 times into town last few weeks before xmas. Yes less sales but thats the idea-that town sells my work in 3 locations year around anyway-not this huge selection but alot of choices. Its a new transition for me-iI think I made my last canister sets for example and now dinnerware will only be made to order small stuff like that. I'm cutting back on forms (no longer 35 ) My wrist will like this change as well as its not happy right now. I'm leaving that flying dog in the window behind now

Merry Christmas all






Edited by Mark C.
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Congratulations on taking your first step to retirement  you need to do it while you can still enjoy it!   My daughter in-laws dad was at Christmas dinner,  he didn't look very well and walked stooped.   He is 67 and had to retire last year,  the company he worked at 35 years closed.   He is bitter and resentful,  all he does is sit around complaining about bad management.    I think he should have retired on a high note a few years earlier and have a enjoyable retirement.   We know several people who had to take early retirements because of Covid pandemic shutting down business's.     Some  got part time jobs others got some more education or training to work in a field they always wanted to try.   Everyone of them is happier and more relaxed,  they found out they had plenty of money  if they tightened their budget.    Denice

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i hope you have a very comfortable recliner to stay in for at least a few days but before you go to your well deserved slow schedule, please put a link to the parade your town  did.  well, i hope they still do it but i remember the marching and music as they happily  went around the square.   i enjoyed watching all those folks having a great time and would love to see it again.  if they are still doing it, you will get to watch as a spectator only.

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Well done and congratulations, Mark! You are a brilliant example for all of us. 

I’ve been on break since mid-December and thinking hard about the coming years, and the changes I want for my studio business too. Change is scary, but also exciting. 

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Its all part of a slow down plan I started when I was 63. I stopped doing my most  successful show (twice a year in Temps AZ for 24 years). I was driving to Tempe  at age 63 and heard the famous Beatles song when I'm 64  and in that moment decided that when I was 64 I was not going to do the show anymore (its a solid two day drive)

Since then I cut 8 shows to 6  than to 4 and then to 3 then covid hit. When I gave up myTempe show (in early Dec and springtime) I also did  my local outlets and my xmas booth as well at that time.At that time my xmas season brought in about 25-30% of all income. December was a huge month for me for about 35 years.

I thought I had saturated my local market area. Then when I had that production time off I fell into a local organic  suoper market  sales situation and expanded to 4 local orgainic markets. That turned into more money that the shows I stopped doing. Change can be rewarding  in ways one does not expect .I quit 1/2 those markets during covid buying craze as it was to much to keep up with in 2021. After working and selling twice as much as a normal years in 2020/2021  I needed to really slow it down more. The tax man really made out those years 

My xmas booth is about 15% of total yearly sales so its not really that slow for me-no recliner chair yet in this house . What it really is  now after a 50 years of  my own retailing directly -now its down to one show and 8 local outlets and one huge wholesale account . My plan as it evolves now is work for a few months and then take a few off to keep a stockpile of work to supply outlets. I also have studio assistant so it all needs to work for us

.I have commited to two large orders a year to my Harmony Gallery outlet down on the central coast (near where Hulk lives)

Its a new phase for me and I know whats I'm cutting out next when I need to hit the brakes again.

I was talking to a full timer like me potter friend who lives in Santa Barbara (he is slowed it down already) and we both have lost the mental drive to make a ton of work and hit the road and bring home 15-20K from shows on trip and then do it all over again and again. It's just gone now at this age.It's no longer about money. I still like the making/firing and selling just not as much as I used to.Caly has been good to me-kept me in shape and will in the future.

I have many other interests as well-always have. Life is short and for me at times I feel I'm  way past my due date (as Jackson Brown says on his new CD). I was on a 24 day dive trip in Bali two months ago (47 beach dives in 18 days with a camera) so I am still able to move well.

We shall see how it evolves  from here-tax prep in on my horizion now-oh ya I need to stock up the markets and shops after they got wiped out at xmas tomorrow and the next day

Edited by Mark C.
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Its not my town but a town nearby. Our Fair has two parades one each day at 1 pm

I have done this fair since the 1st one in 1974 and am on the board whom runs the fair-we are called the same old people

the Saturday parade around the plaza (and show) is called All Species-this parade is also been going on the longest back when our show was a one day in the 70s and 80s

now its two days past 35 year or so

here is this years all species-It was a ariny day but the rain stopped just before the parade and the dancers where dry the whole way around the square.

I love this show-we are looking for more potters so feel free to apply as potters are rare around here these days

The second link is the Sunday Samba Parade which is over the top now-this was filmed about 20 feet from my pottery booth.


Edited by Mark C.
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22 hours ago, Denice said:

you need to do it while you can still enjoy it!  

Yep yep yep! Too many people don't plan for retirement, have no hobbies, and drop dead shortly after. Don't be "that guy".  Thankfully, I think we all know Mark is safe! I would still be happily, tho compulsively,  working my career in  state public behavioral health services (40 yr/2 states-clinical to program design to mgmnt. to funding development etc.) if I hadn't been a bad girl & joined the whistle blowers disclosing to the feds some very serious corrupt practices w/serious consequences to those we were supposed to serve. That got the state put under DOJ litigation and got me targeted to be forced out before I could be vested in the retirement. I fought back & prevailed, but knew it was in my best interest to retire the minute I was eligble. That said, while I grieved the loss of my work life, it turned out to be the best decision I ever made. I'm 75 now and that was 8 years ago. I lost a lot of stress, gained a lot of quality time, and am so happy that right now my kiln is cooling down, full of goodies, incl. some experiments.

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Thanks, Mark, for explaining details of your business process. It's enlightening to read about how you've structured your pottery business, including its eventual end for your retirement. Thanks to everyone else for adding your strategies and advice as well.


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