This is the first in a series of posts that we hope will serve as a resource/guide for members who are interested in organizing a variety of selling opportunities. In this first post, Janet Buskirk shares the logistics of the sale that she and Jim Koudelka have developed in their Southeast Portland Studio.This is the first in a series of posts that we hope will serve as a resource/guide for members who are interested in organizing a variety of selling opportunities. In this first post, Janet Buskirk shares the logistics of the sale that she and Jim Koudelka have developed in their Southeast Portland Studio.
Future posts will include single-potter studio sales, sidewalk sale pop-ups, and—hopefully—larger events including a group pop-up in a non-studio location and larger multi-day events. Future posts will include single-potter studio sales, sidewalk sale pop-ups, and—hopefully—larger events including a group pop-up in a non-studio location and larger multi-day events.
Thanks to those who are willing to help develop this important resource for the OPA community. If would like to participate in providing information or are willing to be an email resource for others just starting to create sales opportunities, please contact Roberta Lampert <email@example.com>.
How did you start your sale, and how do you choose which other artists to include?
We (Jeanne Charles and I) began the sale in 1987, when we were each $50 short on our rent payment. We met our $50 goal, and were quite pleased! It has always been at least two people, but starting in about 1990 we included friends who fired in our kiln: Tony Hackenbruck, Marilyn Cony, and Wally Read.
We invite people who can bring something to the sale. What type of “something”? Some people make fabulous pottery, some have a dedicated customer following, some have a big mailing list. Some people own display equipment or can do heavy lifting. Some people are really good at chatting with customers and working at the sales table. We also like to have someone from another media (jewelry, clothing) because it adds interest.
Our sale usually includes me, Jim Koudelka, Nancy Hart, JiMin Lee, Alex Farnham (glass) and Kattsplat. We have all shared studio space in the past or had other, similar connections. Recently we have often included friends and people who use our kilns, for instance Ginger Steele, Kathleen Fallon, and others. Our son, Jasper (and sometimes his friends) also shows and sells his work at the sale, and is included in every announcement.
Display of Janet Buskirk (left) and Jim Koudelka's work at their studio sale.
Where do you stage the sale?
We chose Jim’s and my house/ studio because of its central location in SE Portland. It is along a bike route, lots of people walk by and stop in, it’s a neighborhood that people from the suburbs might want to visit.
1. Mailing List: We have collected a mailing list since 1989. This has slowly changed from a “snail mail” list to primarily an email list. Currently we mail about 150 postcards and send about 2000 emails. Who is on our mailing list? Anyone who has ever expressed interest in our work: People we meet at parties, people who email us with questions, people who have bought work from us. Our mailing list brings in most of our biggest spenders.
2. Sandwich Boards: During our sale, we have 6 large wooden sandwich boards that we put at major intersections around the neighborhood. They are all shaped like pots, they are painted blue, they are recognizable. We have a dozen small plastic signs that we put up in nearby intersections and around our property to direct peoplealso shaped like pots. igns bring in almost half of our foot traffic.
Small (left) and large sandwich boards alert neighbors and drivers to the sale.
3. Social Media: I post to Facebook and Instagram as much as I can in the weeks leading up to the sale. It is important to spend some time on these platforms, “friending” or “following” people and organizations that might want to purchase your work. Join Facebook groups that relate to your work. Make a Facebook event and post it to these groups’ pages. Use any social media platforms that you understand, and that are pertinent to your work and the audience you hope to reach. I pay for a bit of advertising on FB and Instagram, about $20-30 each..
4. Postcards and Fliers: We still send out postcards to patrons who we can’t contact by email. Fliers are put in a plastic box on the street in front of our house. People walking their dogs and out for a stroll take them. Some of our participants hand out flyers at work. We used to take them to OCAC, where we would leave a stack in the lunch room. We make two versions of the flier. A small simple one is the postcard. The otheris a full-page flier, which can be printed and handed out, posted as a jpg to social media, and used as the “graphic in an email. I still email a wordy explanation as well as the jpg. Some people have their email set not to view images, so words are important.
5. Paid advertising: Sometimes I take out a small ad in our neighborhood newspaper..
Sale announcement featuring Janet Buskirk's work
How do you organize your sale?
We try to coordinate with other potters in the area and our sale the same weekend they do. Early in the month is goodsome people don’t have money left at the end of the month. We have two sales each year, one in early June, one in early December.
We total all of the sales and take a commission to pay expenses. The people who make the most money pay more this way, which is good and bad.
Expenses for our sale:
$150-600 Credit card fees (about 3% of credit card sales)
$10 Print flier
$10 mailing labels
$70 Postage (postcards)
$100-200 Food & drink
$25-50 bags, wrapping paper, etc
$400-1,060 Total Expenses
We invested in display equipment (shelving, grids, etc), sandwich boards and credit card processing equipment many years ago. These are an up-front cost that you may need to add to your list
$5,000 – $20,000 Total Sales (for about 8 participants)
Display of work by Kattsplatt and Nancy Hart
Any other general advice?
Make your sale interesting to the public, make your customers comfortable:
Feed people (we haven’t fed people during covid, but we used to).
Provide a toy box for their kids.
Have places to sit down