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I've gone retail!

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Project by jma213 posted 04-23-2015 05:30 PM 1787 views 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
I've gone retail!
I've gone retail! No picture No picture No picture No picture No picture
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Extremely excited – had to share the picture of my first piece to go to a retail store. This is a small boutique that specializes in architectural pieces and antiques. I reached out to ask if they would be interested in displaying one of my Farm Tables – so excited that they said yes. Currently up for sale for 900 dollars. I absolutely love the way they decorated around the table. Sadly, moments before this picture was taken a couple purchased 25% of the items around and under the table.

Just need a buyer with a keen eye for style now!

I’m dying to hear everyone else’s experiences with retail stores. Has anyone had luck building a relationship or brand this way? Anything I should be on the look out for?

So far its been on site for a little over a week. Lots of interest, but mainly people who want custom pieces built for their specific design interest. Its difficult trying to explain that Restoration Hardware prices are high, but my prices would be even higher because I don’t have cheap labor and an assembly line. Custom = $$$$

I’m hoping to break away from the Craigslist crowd by selling in retail stores. Here’s to hoping that the “will you take 100 dollars for the table you listed for 1250” will be ending soon!





11 comments so far

View exelectrician's profile

exelectrician

2327 posts in 1891 days


#1 posted 04-23-2015 06:10 PM

Hang in there – personally I think you will just fine, and have a long career ahead of you building fine furniture.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View GravyBones's profile

GravyBones

43 posts in 596 days


#2 posted 04-23-2015 06:30 PM

Hang in there. I do the same thing. People are cheap. Remember 1% of the people in this world have 99% of the money. Just wait for one of these greedies to walk in the shop. I wouldn’t allow them to “stage” your stuff with decorations. The person who can afford ur table already knows how they want to decorate with it. They want to see the table top. They also don’t like the feeling a thousand things have been slammed or drug across it. Let the rich buyer see the full table top. Good luck, hope it sells.

-- http://www.WaveFish.com

View JoeinGa's profile

JoeinGa

7482 posts in 1471 days


#3 posted 04-23-2015 06:34 PM

I also would rather they didn’t put a bunch of other people’s STUFF on it, so buyers could see just the table.
But it is a nice table.
Good luck in your endeavors.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View CueballRosendaul's profile

CueballRosendaul

484 posts in 1604 days


#4 posted 04-23-2015 06:51 PM

Good luck. Retail is a tough nut to crack. I would encourage you to continue building a brand for yourself. Do you have a website, Facebook, Instagram account for your woodworking business? Do you have a logo you brand or apply on each piece that people could Google and find you? For example, if someone buys that table, they may want you to build a complimenting hutch or sideboard or chairs. If they carted it off in a truck tomorrow, is there any way you are making sure that they can find you? And if they DO find you, is there a small gallery of pictures where they can see your other work to know that you are indeed a real woodworker and not a false storefront for a Chinese sweatshop?? I see that you have 11 projects listed on LJ, but I’m sure the name of your woodworking business isn’t jma213, so perhaps you should create a new LJ profile for your brand.

I bring all those points up because we just started an Etsy shop and have our logo, and an Instagram account set up. We haven’t launched with both barrels yet, so not sharing on Pinterest and we’re still building the website, but once it’s launched, we should be seeing some good traffic with smaller items that are easily shipped. There is a local gallery that has items from local artists and there are no woodworkers displaying there currently, so that should provide some local coverage.

I’m splitting the work and money with my daughter. I told her that she can keep 50% of the money, but she’s doing the website stuff, photography, shipping, etc. All I have to do is make the pieces and give them to her. I also let her set the prices because she’ll research it and sell it for as much as possible but still enough to move the items, and her prices are usually higher than I would sell something for anyway.

Last point is to say that I would choose the right projects for the right retailers. Ask the shop owner how many $900 tables they sell in a year. If he says 1 and there are three other tables in the store, then you have only a 25% chance of selling it this year and a 75% chance it will take 2+ years. Stop in on a busy Saturday and see what people are buying and carrying out the door. Make your projects fit their traffic.

-- Matt CueBall Rosendaul. I don't think I've ever had a cup of coffee that didn't have cat hair or sawdust in it.

View jma213's profile

jma213

38 posts in 1440 days


#5 posted 04-23-2015 08:12 PM

CueballRosendaul – Thank you so much for the advice above. I love your suggestions and absolutely agree with them. Its funny – my 9-5 job is sales and marketing for a MAJOR Fortune 50 company, but I’m finding that Marketing myself and my work is a whole new creature.

I would some additional information on your success with Etsy – do you only sell smaller products, or larger as well? Do you have success with larger products because of the shipping costs? Who do you use for shipping, is it as easy as FedEx Freight / UPS Freight, or do you call actual shipping companies. Its funny because I deal with this on a daily basis at work, but I have teams that work on that for me!

Do you find that how you present the work on Etsy is important? For instance, do you find staged photos sell better than just a picture from the workshop?

My desire is to make what I want to make, and sell it to whomever wants to purchase it. I get inspired by pieces I see on this website and in magazines and I want to use elements of those in my work. Taking something that is already a retail product and just copying it for a couple that don’t feel like paying High End Store prices is not why I got into this. I do consider myself a designer / Artist and I want people to buy what inspired me – rather than just duplicating what inspired them.

I really appreciate the comments and will absolutely be taking you up on suggestions. I love the idea of building a brand in myself and exploring websites, etc. Thank you!

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4169 posts in 3206 days


#6 posted 04-23-2015 08:46 PM

Really Cool – -

One worry others mentioned, is that it will get marked and dinged as people will drag the plates across the surface.

When someone likes the table they will ask for a “New” one that isn’t scraped up.

Just like other facets of retail…. people want “New in box” not the “display model” and will want a discount on your piece.

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

View PhillipRCW's profile

PhillipRCW

386 posts in 729 days


#7 posted 04-23-2015 10:02 PM



CueballRosendaul – Thank you so much for the advice above. I love your suggestions and absolutely agree with them. Its funny – my 9-5 job is sales and marketing for a MAJOR Fortune 50 company, but I m finding that Marketing myself and my work is a whole new creature.

I would some additional information on your success with Etsy – do you only sell smaller products, or larger as well? Do you have success with larger products because of the shipping costs? Who do you use for shipping, is it as easy as FedEx Freight / UPS Freight, or do you call actual shipping companies. Its funny because I deal with this on a daily basis at work, but I have teams that work on that for me!

Do you find that how you present the work on Etsy is important? For instance, do you find staged photos sell better than just a picture from the workshop?

My desire is to make what I want to make, and sell it to whomever wants to purchase it. I get inspired by pieces I see on this website and in magazines and I want to use elements of those in my work. Taking something that is already a retail product and just copying it for a couple that don t feel like paying High End Store prices is not why I got into this. I do consider myself a designer / Artist and I want people to buy what inspired me – rather than just duplicating what inspired them.

I really appreciate the comments and will absolutely be taking you up on suggestions. I love the idea of building a brand in myself and exploring websites, etc. Thank you!

- jma213

That’s pretty much how I would explain myself and why I also started my own business. I’ve been taking it slow to build everything up correctly and market the right things to the right people. I’ve turned down a few storefronts because they cater to the clientele I’d like to avoid.

-- Phillip- Measure twice, cut onc.... Hey look, it's rustic.

View bruc101's profile

bruc101

1077 posts in 3006 days


#8 posted 04-24-2015 12:49 AM

A professionally built handcrafted table is a big ticket item and has a big space to fill in a home. I’ve got dealers with my tables in them and it’s usually not the table on display anyone wants according to my experience and my dealer’s experience. Not wide and long enough, To wide and to long, not the color I want, distressed lightly, medium, hard or no distressing at all…etc.

Your table on display will show your craftsmanship but your dealer needs to have pictures of your tables and just about any option a buyer wants in a handcrafted table with an estimated price they can offer to potential buyers.

Different age groups have different mind sets of what their preference is to owning a custom built table. I’ve got one dealer I’ve had for ten years and she’s sold one of the display tables only two times in all of those years. But, I usually get about four to six custom orders from her on a yearly basis and the same goes for my other dealers.

Your area and her market will probably come into play and I agree with everyone else. My dealers put only flowers, stone or iron wear on top on my tables and has chairs with them that she buys from a chair maker.

A customer sees everything first usually before they’ll see your table and not get a first view and impression with things all over it and around it. “Showmanship” comes into play on big items like dining tables.

You’re off to a good start..you have a dealer. Now get with the program and get you a website and a social networking site, blog etc. Get your social networking friends to put up pics of your tables and brag on you and they can get them a deal on one. I’m building a Joomal website right now for a newly retired friend making cutting boards, has 2 dealers and is averaging 10 a week at $45.00 each. Ain’t bad having fun. I have a password protected website for my dealers only. Just about every table I’ve ever built is on it in homes, pricing and just about any option you can think about. Thiat’s what my dealers show to their customers.

Good luck, I’m sure with your determination and craftsmanship you’ll succeed. Now move over 75 miles and find you another dealer. Find dealers in high traffic areas and especially in high end tourist areas with expensive vacation homes. I live dead smack in the middle of one and it has paid off for me over they years. If “momma” wants a new table and daddy says no…momma will write her own check for it. Daddy can eat on it or go outside on the picnic table. Good word of mouth from “momma” is your best friend in the furniture, architectural millwork and cabinet business.

-- Bruce Free Plans http://plans.sawmillvalley.org

View recycle1943's profile

recycle1943

1156 posts in 1086 days


#9 posted 04-24-2015 10:32 AM

I have found that “boutiques” usually mean that up to 40% of the retail price goes to the shop and in that respect will price a good item out of the retail market. That could put your table at a realistic price of $500 to $600, a far cry from $900. Your profile doesn’t show where you are from (marketing) so it’s hard to tell if the local environment will support custom work at “boutique” prices.
As well, most of the “boutiques” are owned/run by craftsman themselves and will eventually push their own product over anothers.
btw – Nice table
Good Luck -

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - Your imagination is your only holdup

View CueballRosendaul's profile

CueballRosendaul

484 posts in 1604 days


#10 posted 04-24-2015 06:35 PM

I’m certainly not an expert on it yet, but I’ve been self-employed my whole working life and understand the importance of building a brand and knowing the market. I also know when to delegate.

Right now, Lindsay, my daughter, is taking the photos and building the website. Although I have a camera and skills to do both, I don’t have time and I’m not as good as she is at it. This fits her skill set perfectly. She’s taking professional looking photos and I may have her dumb them down just a bit because they look too good. They’re also really close in because she’s a food blogger and takes close up shots of food all the time. You can check out her site at www.veggiebalance.com

We’re sticking to smaller “shippable” items. I might make a few mid size things like benches/stools/shelves but I’ll make them knock down pieces that can be assembled with included screws into pre-drilled holes. After we run out of the boxes and packing material we have on hand (which we’ve been hoarding for a while) then we’ll buy a bundle of boxes from U-Line. Menard’s and Walmart sell boxes pretty cheap too, 50-75 cents each.

The toughest thing I’m struggling with is coming up with new and original ideas. There are plenty of good ideas out there, but originality is key. Remember Marketing 101: Product Differentiation. Your stuff has to be better or different than what’s out there and NEVER COMPETE BASED ON PRICE. There are so many ordinary cutting boards out there that I’m just not going to bother.

Once you get the hang of “content marketing” and the power of social media like Pinterest it really can take off. Did you know that you can pay to have a Pin promoted by Pinterest? and it’s only about a nickle a click? Soon Pinterest will have direct “buy” buttons right in the pins. Most of the things we all build are going to be an impulse buy item, so we need to keep that in mind when we are thinking about what to build and where to sell it.

The biggest thing to understand about MY situation is that I don’t really care if I make any money at it. My daughter wants to because she needs the cash, but I’m making great money in my professional business right now, and woodworking is just a hobby. I’d like to make enough money to cover my costs and have a little fun at it, and perhaps when I retire in 5 years or so I’ll want to make some better money. That said however, I’m not going to do it half-ass.

I think she’s building the site and taking more pictures this weekend, so when that gets up and running, I’ll drop the links in this chain and I’ll probably start a blog topic for it on my profile because we’ll start posting projects that are for Etsy in my project file.

-- Matt CueBall Rosendaul. I don't think I've ever had a cup of coffee that didn't have cat hair or sawdust in it.

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

23175 posts in 2331 days


#11 posted 04-24-2015 06:40 PM

Congratulations. It sounds exciting and I hope that you do very well.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

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