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Sales Force for Woodworkers?

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Forum topic by Mike57 posted 09-08-2010 02:20 AM 1985 views 2 times favorited 78 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mike57

61 posts in 2557 days


09-08-2010 02:20 AM

Topic tags/keywords: resource question

I am part of an entrepreneurship program in Michigan. One of the business ideas I have been toying around with is starting a company that represents independent woodworkers (possibly other crafts as well) to interior designers, galleries and other wholesalers / retailers.

I would really appreciate any thoughts from woodworkers who are selling or want to sell their items as to whether the idea has any legs.

Thanks for your thoughts.


78 replies so far

View uffitze's profile

uffitze

199 posts in 1609 days


#1 posted 09-08-2010 02:34 AM

Hey Mike … interesting idea. If you have the contacts and can get me in to places that I wouldn’t otherwise have access to, I would certainly be willing to give you a cut of the business generated. Of course, I am only an aspiring pro, and have some work to do before I would be ready for your services. But, I will say this … finding solid sales leads is the thing about the business that scares me the most.

View Kjuly's profile

Kjuly

302 posts in 1939 days


#2 posted 09-08-2010 02:47 AM

Hi Mike,
I would like to hear more.
I know a few people that sell their work.
I am in Charlotte. Where in SE Michigan are you?
Keith

-- Keith, Charlotte, MI www.julyswoodworks.com

View Mike57's profile

Mike57

61 posts in 2557 days


#3 posted 09-08-2010 03:10 AM

Hi Keith,

I am Royal Oak, MI. (just North of Detroit)
If you and your contacts would be willing, I would really like to come up and talk about how they currently do their sales/marketing and where they might need some assistance. It would really help me understand how deep the water is before I jump in.

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Mike57

61 posts in 2557 days


#4 posted 09-08-2010 03:13 AM

Hi Rob,

Thanks for the info. Anyway I could look him up?

Thanks!
Mike

View Mike57's profile

Mike57

61 posts in 2557 days


#5 posted 09-08-2010 03:16 AM

Hi Uffitze,

Yeah – I can your take on the scariness of generating sales. That’s why I think that a sales force for woodworkers and others might be a good bet. I talked to a few artists at a local art fair her over the weekend and they agreed with you that it would be helpful to many folks to get some help in letting the markets know the kind of work they do.

Mike

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Mike57

61 posts in 2557 days


#6 posted 09-08-2010 03:35 AM

Rob, Thanks! Maybe I am focused on an area that he’s not.
Mike

View rance's profile

rance

4132 posts in 1814 days


#7 posted 09-08-2010 04:30 AM

Hasn’t one of the big magazines recently (last 12 mo.) started a site where woodworkers can sell their pieces or generate commissions? I believe one of the recent LJ contests even gave a subscription to it as one of the prizes. It sorta seems counterproductive to start another one when multiples already exist. Joining forces, as you mentioned, seems the right thing to do.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

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Mike57

61 posts in 2557 days


#8 posted 09-08-2010 04:53 AM

Hi Rance,

Thanks for the feedback!

You’re right, there are sites out there that allow woodworkers to sell their products. I don’t know if the sites do a lot of active selling to get people to their sites, but you’re making me think about that – it’s a good question that I would need to check out before jumping in heads first (I’d like to avoid headaches like that…).

I have a bunch of research and checking to do before I take the plunge!

I’ll check my back issues, but if you remember which one had it, I’d be grateful.

Thanks again!

View Mike57's profile

Mike57

61 posts in 2557 days


#9 posted 09-08-2010 06:22 AM

Hi Jarrod,

I don’t have a price structure yet. I am working through the research planning phase to determine if the thing will fly. Right now, if I can get the pricing right, it seems to have a chance. I’ll be asking for more thoughts over the next few days which will, hopefully, help me figure out what the real value is of ths idea to woodworkers and designers.

Hopefully, you and the other Lumberjocks will swamp me with feedback so that I can get a solid idea of whether or not I am getting into something that people value enough to allow me to support my family while helping others do the same.

Thanks!
Mike

View rance's profile

rance

4132 posts in 1814 days


#10 posted 09-08-2010 07:05 AM

Mike, http://www.custommade.com/ is what I was thinking of. Hope this helps. I’m not saying don’t do your own thing, just giving you other models to compare with. :)

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Broglea's profile

Broglea

665 posts in 1745 days


#11 posted 09-08-2010 01:48 PM

Mike – I thing you will get a lot of interest from the guys and girls on this site. Most of which (myself included) can produce quality furniture, but lack marketing firepower.

My question to you – Is there equal interest/demand from the galleries, designers etc that you referenced that could support such a proposed business?

Secondly, once you find a gallery interested in my stuff and it is not local, I would have to figure in shipping cost which will significantly cut into my/your profit to Jarrod’s point.

I think you have a good idea that still has a lot of questions that need to be answered. Good luck to you my friend. If there is a will, there is a way.

View DAWG's profile

DAWG

2850 posts in 1791 days


#12 posted 09-08-2010 02:34 PM

Mike, I would like to hear more, please keep me informed of what you come up with.

-- Luke 23: 42-43

View pvwoodcrafts's profile

pvwoodcrafts

223 posts in 2575 days


#13 posted 09-08-2010 02:44 PM

personally I have always thought woodworkers were missing out on great opportunities because interior designers don’t know about them or just really don’t want unique products. I personally know two interior designers . One bought a curly cherry hall table from me and sold it before leaving town that day. That was 3 years ago and haven’t heard from her since. The other one just doesn’t seem interested in wood. I think its a great idea!

-- mike & judy western md. www. pvwoodcrafts.com pvwccf1@verizon.net

View Kjuly's profile

Kjuly

302 posts in 1939 days


#14 posted 09-08-2010 06:13 PM

Mike,
I can’t speak for the others at this time but I am willing to look into this more.
To set up some sort of group meeting, I think there should be some an outline or itinerary.

”I am part of an entrepreneurship program in Michigan.” I would like to know a little more about this program and how it fits.
A phone call may be in order. If that will work, PM me your phone number and a good time to call.
Keith

-- Keith, Charlotte, MI www.julyswoodworks.com

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2163 posts in 1504 days


#15 posted 09-08-2010 07:09 PM

Some fundamental observations: The idea rings true here because most woodworkers are introverts and don’t get excited about walking up to someone and asking her/him to buy.

There are several comments in this thread about finding the vehicle. It’s nice to have a vehicle, but it’s not much use unless you have someplace to go. By that I mean, the buyers. Rance mentioned “one of the big magazines.” Which one, and who reads it? (Magazines know this about their readership.)

Major shows, another way to reach potential buyers, have been credibly covered by Woodshop News and other trade publications.

Shows like Baltimore are places where the right buyers can meet up with artisans and touch their work, but the cost of displaying there has to be carefully considered. Costs for the vendors stay the same or increase, while the attendance year to year is something of a crapshoot.

What this rambling discourse is about is, we have to start backward, dispassionately, from the potential buyer, not frontward from the piece we just made (and in which we are deeply emotionally invested).

Mike57’s idea would be dynamite if he were to come to us and say, “I represent a cross section of people from around the country who are interested in buying well made hand crafted wood items. Here is the statistical analysis of income, shown by region, cross referenced by category (sculpture, furniture, short-run production items [corporate gifts], etc.). I can connect you to these people by these methods, and here is the fee schedule for various levels of my services.”

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

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