Thursday, July 25, 2013

Things About Being A Potter Part 3

Every artist who participates in many shows or sales knows the vendors often hear the same questions repeatedly from the shoppers.  The questions vary some depending on the artists medium, but I'm sure we all hear them.

One of the questions I'm asked frequently is where my shop is located.  My business cards intentially just say I have studios in Farmington and Lanesboro, but lack addresses of either locations. So people frequently ask if my shop is in downtown Farmington or Lanesboro.  They often seem a little befuddled when I say I don't have a shop, just studio spaces where I work. 

Usually early in the day at sales, my explanation goes something like "I have studio space at my home in Farmington and our farm in Lanesboro, but don't operate a retail shop in either location.  I do, however, have my work available at the Market on Oak in Farmington and Lanesboro Local in Lanesboro."  By late in the day, my answers get shorter - just because I've said it so many times I start dropping a couple words each time. 

It seems there is an assumption that as a potter I must operate a retail shop to sell my pottery.  I don't know if other mediums experience this same assumption from shoppers, but I don't think so. 

So... the third thing about being a potter I wanted to explain is -

How we market our finished products is as unique as the pottery we make.  Some of us have combined retail and studio spaces open to the public during regular business hours.  Some have private studios and market to wholesale/consignment clients, operate online shops, attend shows/sales on weekends  or some combinations of all of these.

I operate two private studio spaces, opening them up on occasion for studio tours and sales on specific dates or by appointment.  Additionally, I have wholesale/consignment clients, an online shop and attend weekend art festivals to sell my products.  Being tied to a retail location on a daily basis isn't something that I want to do, so I've structured my business in a way that allows me to have the freedom away from a daily shop obligation.  To me, that's the beauty of operating an art business.  I can make it fit my life.
Any of the other potters who read this blog - how do you operate you business?


Becky said...

People ask me the same questions, including 'Do you have store hours?' for the showroom... and my response is 'If I'm home, you're welcomed to stop by, but please call first to make sure I'm here'. I don't have a retail space outside the studio, and I don't have work in an outside retail space (consignment etc). Most of my sales are through shows, the state fair, online sales (usually through FB, not Etsy), and occasionally through my blog. I could never keep my studio with regular hours.. there's too much going on for me to sit in the studio for X amount of time on X days to wait for a potential random customer. I have to proactively sell my pottery in venues where there are people looking to buy.. and that's usually not at our farm out in the sticks. ;)

Gary's third pottery blog said...

WOW, yes, I get that assumption about a store too, I wondered why....

cookingwithgas said...

we do have a store front here but that is more common in the area, where it is expected that you would.
It is a different life since it does tie you to being at your place or open 5-6 days a week.
I think whatever works for you works.

Judy Abdelaziz said...

I used to get that question alot, so 2 years ago I purchased a nice shelving unit for my dining room, which is where you enter our home and I made this my showroom. Then waited, and waited, and waited. Since then no one has called to come see the showroom. My home shows even suck. I think it's because I live in a residential neighborhood. I think country potters may get better turnout.

I sell at shows,gift shops and Etsy.

Lori Buff said...

I have a studio that doesn't have space for a gallery so it's really challenging when someone (often a regular customer) wants to come buy and choose a piece. I do have work in galleries and stores around Atlanta. and Etsy are my on-line galleries as well.