How to find craftsmen for specialty shop?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Sweating for Bucks Through Woodworking forum

Forum topic by Shane posted 01-29-2008 08:58 AM 1541 views 2 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Shane's profile


6 posts in 3797 days

01-29-2008 08:58 AM

First time posting, so please pardon the blunt, in your face question. I’m about to take over a retail store with a strong emphasis on wood gifts (frames, mirror frames, pens, turned bowls, kids toys, handcarved flowers, etc.) I need very much to find some potential suppliers of these types of items. My concern (and probably yours if you’re on this site) is that a number of items like this have a lot more to do with repetition and large quantities, which sometimes (actually always) ire hard to balance with quality of workmanship and pride of making distinct pieces. Anyway, I just began the quest for potential makers of such items. I am having a hard time finding makers and suppliers of wood gifts at reasonable prices and large quantities. Possibly because mass produced items (for retail no less) are not the highest point of woodworking. If anyone has potential sources to go to for such items, then I would be obliged. Also, I have A LOT of 100 year old wood that I plan on supplying the woodworkers with to do some of these projects.

Thanks for any and all help.

14 replies so far

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 3825 days

#1 posted 01-29-2008 02:07 PM

please be a little clearer as to what types and at what cost. If I have an iea of what you are actually looking for, I may be able to help

-- making sawdust....

View Max's profile


56000 posts in 4299 days

#2 posted 01-29-2008 09:12 PM

Yes I think if we knew the price range you were looking at we would be able to be more helpful.

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3989 days

#3 posted 01-29-2008 09:23 PM

Where are you? Your profile doesn’t say. What are the items you want? We need more information to answer.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3965 days

#4 posted 01-29-2008 09:29 PM

Price, quantity, location are all important pieces of information. There are a lot of folks here who could probably fill your store.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Shane's profile


6 posts in 3797 days

#5 posted 01-30-2008 12:34 AM

The Location is along the redwood highway in Northern California I imagine that we would be ordering enough to ship from anywhere. I obviously can’t provide a lot of wood from a great distance though. For someone w/in a state or two I can supply a lot of 100 year old barn redwood.

Price points actually will be the problem, because I am charged with the simultaneous tasks of: 1) Providing meaningful mementos that are not going to fall apart 2) Meeting your average vacationer’s budget “cheap”.
I am a wood sculptor myself, and I recognize serious quality on this site. I am wary of offending by saying. “I need inexpensive” but here goes:

Redwood preferred, but others also acceptable (Prices are where I need to buy the item, not sell the item).

Handmade Pens (Wholesale $5 – $25, but average of $12)
Keychains (Wholesale $3-$8 for no detail. $8-12 for some detail)
Picture Frames (Wholesale $8 small to $35 large and/or carved)
Framed Mirrors (Wholesale $8 but some as high as a few hundred for show pieces)
Wooden Puzzles, Trains, Games, Educational Blocks for kids (Wholesale $5 to $50)
Small Redwood Planters (Wholesale $7-$30 depending on size)
“Rustic” Hand carved Animals (Wholesale $5 – $100 with median being $20)
Detail Animals (Wholesale $15-$200 median being $45)
“Rustic” hand carved flowers ($5 to $15)
Detailed hand carved flowers ($15-$60)
“Rustic Boxes” ($10-30)
Detailed Boxes ($30-50)
Small “Rustic” end tables and stools ($25-$75)

For bigger items, like stools and large frames, orders would be for about 15-40 pieces and would occur every few months. I’d buy the smaller items in orders of 25 to 100 every few months. I would not have to receive all the items at once as long as shipping costs are not prohibitive.

I can find these price points internationally but, truth be told, I want to go US made whenever possible. There are a lot of great woodworkers here.

View Shane's profile


6 posts in 3797 days

#6 posted 01-30-2008 01:17 AM

By the way, if these prices are out of line, then I’d love to hear what works. I need good quality stuff, but it doesn’t have to be fancy.

View Max's profile


56000 posts in 4299 days

#7 posted 01-30-2008 07:02 AM

Do you have any pictures of some of the things that you are looking at so one could get an idea of design?

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4188 days

#8 posted 01-30-2008 05:39 PM

I think you will be hard pressed to buy some of those things here. For example, plain handmade pens usually cost $10-12 just for the materials, a large part of that being for the pen mechanisms. Even add in an hour of time for the woodworking, and you are looking at something around $20 wholesale. A similar costing for the key chains.

The Wholesale prices for the frames, mirrors, planters, and end tables are also under priced, as the wood alone would cost almost that much. That would leave nothing for someone’s time.

I can not speak about the carvings, but I am sure the costs of time would be more than the wholesale price. I do not mind building production runs of things, but I can not do it at those prices.

Good luck and maybe you will find someone that can provide these items locally.
That is why a lot of these items come from overseas. Many times here you can not even get the materials for what it costs to purchase the item at retail. And, the retailer is only paying as much as half the retail price for these items, including shipping from overseas to their establishment.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Catspaw's profile


236 posts in 3842 days

#9 posted 02-01-2008 01:45 AM

ah ha…the old “walmart” dilemma. Not intended to offend…just the problem of retail you’re facing. Quality at an affordable price. Probably what we’d all like to see [again].

I think there are alot of retirees that work wood and don’t care about the money. they do it because they love it. Maybe there’s a segment you could check out.

Our crew recently visited an IKEA and started seeing the same thing [as Bill was talking about….”I can’t buy the wood for what they’re selling ‘that’ for”.]

We produce alot of shorts that I can’t help but feel someone could make a whole lotta stuff out of. I think we need some retiree that would just come in when he/she wants to and make ‘stuff’ out of it, sell it, maybe split whatever profit comes out of it…..better than stoking our fires with it.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View Woodchuck1957's profile


944 posts in 3790 days

#10 posted 02-10-2008 06:22 PM

I’ve never known many quality one of a kind specialty items to be cheap.

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4048 days

#11 posted 02-10-2008 06:39 PM

Here’s a thought:
Why not make up one of each of the items you are suggesting you would like to buy from us and then get back to us with what you figure would be a fair price?
Take some pictures to give us an iedea of what we are to do for you so we can contact you if the product is profitable.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View TheSteve's profile


34 posts in 3784 days

#12 posted 02-10-2008 09:58 PM

I may be interested in crafting some of your rustic peices. Feel free to email ( me more info about what exactly your looking in the boxes/tables/benches. a pic or 2 would be very helpful ( doesnt have to be the exact design just a close example) thanks , Steve

-- Aint nothin to it but to do it!

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 3907 days

#13 posted 02-11-2008 12:14 AM

既也会说汉语,就可以跟我们法 555 – 1212 lol

View Shane's profile


6 posts in 3797 days

#14 posted 02-11-2008 07:10 AM

Hey everyone,

First I owe a handful of people here personal responses, and I’ll get back to you all very shortly. I appreciate the time that you’ve taken to get back to me. Just to summarize for our viewing public the consensus on this forum is that these price points are way too below what anything of quality would take. HOWEVER, a few of you have gotten back to me with creative approaches to design and some even better ideas than what we had listed here, and we are able to go forward with quite a few ideas. For the record, I LOVED the (what I assume) was a brilliant sarcastic response of “Go ahead and make a couple then tell us what a fair price would be.” Surprisingly, though, there are enough folks who are efficient and clever enough to make this worth their while, and I appreciate their answers. Also, many of you have asked why my price points are so low. First, they are regulated by the state government because I operate in contract with them. Second, it turn out that they aren’t so low for a handful of people who have shops set up to run efficiently. Please keep the responses coming. I appreicate each and every one of them.

Best, Shane

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics