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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Merchandising matters


I received a letter from a gallery last week asking me to come by and pick up my work. The letter stated that my work wasn't selling, they wished it had sold better, my houses "are lovely", but perhaps this gallery is not the place for them. "They will be removed from the sales floor this week". 

These are not the fun letters to get,  I like the letters saying please send more work, hi, come by for lunch one day, or even the best ones, the notes with a check enclosed.  But I didn't take it personally because I know better. I went into this gallery during Christmas holidays, the top selling season for any gallery. I looked all over this store and I never did find my work. Later a friend told me she had seen my houses in the back on a bottom shelf. Well, hell..... reckon that might be why my work didn't sell there? 

I suppose it isn't really this gallery's fault. I have been daydreaming this past year, and didn't really put in the time to go by, make myself known, and be the artist they wanted to merchandise properly. You gotta do some "me" selling to get that prime real estate in a gallery sometimes.  I went by yesterday to pick up my work. The fact that the person at the desk said, "who are you?" was a clear indication of why my work didn't sell, ha! I followed the desk person to the back room to find my work, another sales person was sitting and having a bite to eat. No one in the store. There sat my beautiful houses on a table. They even had 50% off red dot stickers on them. In the proper place, those houses would not have lasted a day with a fifty off sticker on them. While one lady sloooowly found a form for me to sign and the other continued her eating, I searched for a box and some wrapping, thanks for having those ready for me to take home........  

thus confirming why I am glad I have taken time off from this very frustrating journey with clay.....


In my other world, I am constantly  merchandising product for maximum sales. I watch our customers. How they shop, what they are looking for, what they are buying. I bring stock out on the floor, constantly keeping shelves full and I move things around to keep products fresh.  I noticed the other day that these really great stone garden statues had been sitting on the shelf for quite a while and every now and then we would sell one. They should be moving faster, they are very nice. Then I noticed a lady trying to reach one from the shelf. They were placed too high. The customer that would likely buy these tends to be a female and most times she can't reach this shelf. Also these statues are very heavy, hard to lift from that shelf. So I moved them to the window by the front door, did a nice little display, and in the past week, four of these have sold. And they aren't cheap.

Yesterday a young woman and her little girl came in. The woman was trying to decide on some items, daughter was impatient, so I took little girl back to see the fairy garden I just did. Mom came back to join us after gathering what she wanted without distraction from little girl, and they shopped around the fairy garden for awhile. She let her daughter pick an item. Add on sale! It's just that easy.....

If you sincerely help your customers and present your products in a thoughtful way, the sales come. You just have to think about how you would be shopping, how you want to be treated and flip it around to your customer. Every time I work in the store, I put myself in the customer's place and think about how I want to be treated in a retail store. I hate retail shopping because most stores do not think this way. They want your money but don't want to acknowledge that you are a human with feelings.



 And just because..... I was putting dishes away and thought my cupboards looked quite nice, thought I would show them off :) there are even a few pieces I made in there.



Potters out there are doing a fine job making some beautiful pottery and I for one am very glad for that. I love my cups and bowls and they get a bunch of use. Well worth the money spent!

11 comments:

Michèle Hastings said...

You have made some very good points. I have work in a gallery that is moving pots slowly. I do know that some of it is my fault for not providing them with more work. Part of the problem is the place is jam packed. Instead of grouping my ginkgo leaf pottery all together in a nice display they had the mugs mixed in with shelf packed with a variety of other potters mugs... there were my $30 sgraffito mugs with simple $15 dollar mugs.
Thank you for sharing photos of your cupboards and I love the Buddha statue with it's head resting on it's knee!

Dennis Allen said...

Wish I had half your merchandising skills.

Scott Garrett said...

Good stuff Tracey. I love seeing you have fun and it all balancing for you. You have a keen eye and just know what looks good together, your displays are always cool... even fairy gardens! :-)

littlemancat said...

This is so interesting!
Your skills are wonderful and if I lived closer, I'd be shopping at this garden center!

Mary

PS - I'd say a happy good-bye to that gallery. And your pottery shelves are just glorious! Yeah!

Lori Buff said...

It seems like the small businesses get this. They try to figure out how to best serve the customer, thus make a sale and stay in business. The big box stores just try to get you to walk through the entire 80 acres of store just to get 2 items (why are nails on the opposite side of the store from the lumber?). This way you see everything in the store and are enticed to buy.

Another lesson learned, always bring your own box and packing materials when you pick up your pots.

Vicki said...

Your beautiful, soulful houses deserve better treatment than that, Tracey. They didn't know, or appreciate, what quality they had... too bad for them.
You're quite right about considering the customers needs/wants when considering sales.
It's amazing what tips and tricks can be utilised to make sales, even at a market stall.
And, I always thank people for "choosing handmade".
I too avoid the big retail stores - soul-less, mass produced junk mostly.

Your cupboards are a joy to look at...

cookingwithgas said...

Oh my- it is good for me to have some time away from the drama that they call clay. I at times miss it and then I times I see a comment that makes me think, really, really- on the agony of life.
Laugh!
I would love to have lunch as soon as we can and we will laugh, out loud, like we always do.

Shannon said...

yes, exactly, on the being sensitive to the whole shopping process and the customers' issues. good for you. sorry about being downsized.

Lori Watts said...

Oh, yeah, I've gotten that letter before.
Lately I am more pro-active - if I haven't gotten good checks for several months, I'll ask what we can do better: different work, better location within the store? But if it doesn't get better I'm not shy about pulling the work. It's the best thing for both me and them.

Laurie said...

I love your cupboards :o) Mine are looking more like yours as time goes on. How can they not, living around all these wonderfully creative folks! I look forward to catching up here. You make some excellent points... gives me some things to ponder, as business/merchandising is not my strong suit.

gz said...

From the shop worker side, in many places you are criticized for looking after the customer...wasting time....
makes the job soul destroying