Today’s post will be a rather short one, as we are going to be off and running soon. We need to go to Bear River to pick up Keith’s remaining pens and see how sales went at the gallery there. They closed at the end of October, as they do every year and we are meeting with the owner to discuss how things went and make plans for next season. It will be an interesting trip.
Since we didn’t really get the pens into the shops until August, we realize that much of the season was already over. The owner said that he typically doesn’t do consignments, and prefers to buy the pieces outright, but since it was well into the season, he would do so to kind of try things out and see. The first month he had sold a couple of the pens he selected. That was good. He also told Keith that over the next two months he had sold some more, although we don’t know which ones or how many and will find out today at our meeting.
The good news is that he was interested in taking more pens for next year, and I expect he will then buy them outright. Since August when we first approached him, Keith’s inventory has grown quite a bit. What used to fit into one pen case has now grown into filling three cases. There are several more styles and varieties of materials used, as well as many different types of refills that will be available. Presenting them in an organized way will be a challenge.
We are probably also going to stop in at the Digby store and see how things are going there. While the owner was very nice, he is difficult to get hold of and his communication skills could use some work. Since August, we haven’t heard from him at all, and when Keith has tried to call him, he usually gets the answering machine at the shop. Not a great sign.
Keith is hoping that his inventory is still there but being somewhat pessimistic, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the guy was gone. Myself being the eternal optimist believes that he is just disorganized and as I said has poor communication skills. Hopefully things will be OK.
I think we would have heard by now if the shop would have closed down or something like that. It had been in business for many years but this owner only acquired it a couple of years ago. With the economy the way it is, I suppose anything is possible and it is a good idea to stop in and see what is what. Yes, we probably should have done this a while ago, but we don’t get that way often and we just haven’t done so. I hope we have some good news when the day is over.
We also have the gallery in Yarmouth to consider and need to stop in there and see what is up. We last checked in with them several weeks ago and they hadn’t sold any pens yet. They were still optimistic that they would be selling some through the Christmas season though. But they also seemed to have bad communication and Keith found that he needed to call them to see how things were. You would think that it would be the other way around and that he would receive some sort of monthly report or statement.
When we last visited the Yarmouth gallery, Keith’s pens were in a small, glass-topped case shoved in a back room corner. There was no light in the case and even though we went into the place looking for the pens, it took an effort for us to find them. Needless to say we are not very optimistic about sales from that place.
As for myself, there are people who inquire as to why I don’t sell my finished items. I had mentioned before that they are collecting in various boxes and stored in different places. To be honest, I would rather give them away than invest the time to try to sell them. That itself can be a full time job and the return is minimal at best. It can also be very demeaning, as many people want flea-market prices for something that took a long time to make. That doesn’t even consider material cost. The frustration and time of setting up in a shop is amazing and enough of a deterrent for me.
The other alternative is to sell online through either the site or ebay or something like that. But then that involves shipping which I know opens another entire can of worms. The ‘snowflake fiasco’ of last week was another example of that. I wound up having my friend Leldon cut a snowflake because I had another one ordered and he was sending it from Alabama to North Carolina, which isn’t very far and the cost from UPS came to $30! He wound up sending it through the US postal service, but it just went to show how much that can affect the price of things. When shipping from here in Canada, it is even worse, even within Canada itself. Many times it cost more to ship within Canada than from Canada to the USA. I kid you not and am not exaggerating. I don’t know why and it is ridiculous, but that is how it is.
I really don’t have any desire to sell my things at all. As it is, I find so little time to draw and cut and make patterns that I feel doing so would be another distraction that would rob me of my time to do so. In the long run, those few dollars I would make wouldn’t even begin to make up for the time spent making, preparing and shipping the items. It is not good for my business.
Over the years I have taken quite a realistic attitude towards this. I am proud of myself for doing so. While I want to ‘do it all’, I am finally wising up and figuring out that some things are simply a drain on the business and I can’t invest the time there. Selling retail is one of them for me.
Keith and his pens are a different story. While we are partners, his pens are his own business and I am not very much involved in it. I am as supportive as I can be and if he ever needs anything from me I will be there for him, but it is his own venue and I stay out of it. Much like he does with the painting aspect of my own business. It is good that way and works well for both of us. It allows us to be independent of each other and we each have our own division of the main business to call our own. Perhaps that is why things work so well with us.
I will certainly keep you all posted on how things go today. As usual, when I start off saying the post will be short it has a way of growing into a full sized entry. You probably all snicker at that. You would think I would know better by now.
I wish you all a good day today. Have fun and be creative.
(For those of you who haven’t seen his work, here is a picture of one of Keith’s beautiful pens. They are available on the site at the Items For Sale page.)
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"