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Born in Canada - What's your local market like?

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  • Born in Canada - What's your local market like?

    Iv'e posted the following in another forum, yet because of it's size and participation, I figured I might get additional feedback by adding it here.

    Yesterday, Sue and I walked in a store downtown and what started as a shopping trip turned into a business trip. I love those days. What made this one especially nice, was a comment from the woman who owned the shop . She took my card and was PLEASED to hear I was a local and proudly stated she doesn't sell anything in here store from China. Seems her tradeshows and wholesale dealers have been flooded with import mass produced items from China, competing with the local flavor.

    In contrast, last year I was looking for a gift for someone and wanted to purchase an authentic north american native drum. I went to several shops and couldn't find anything. I then drove to a near by reserve and just on the outskirts, there was a gift shop. Surely, I figured they would have one. I did find drums there, and when the clerk came by, I asked if she sold REAL ones. She got very defensive and said these were in fact REAL. I smiled and asked if she only imported the "made in China" label on the bottom then? (somedays I can't help myself)

    The city I live in is a small "cottage country" kind of place. We have water all around us and beautiful natural resources. This brings tourists to the area in all seasons and the shops in the downtown, which is right on the waterfront, cater to tourism. Our city boasts a "Shop Local, Build your Community" slogan on many stores and businesses. Seems this small place is plaqued with residences shopping in other towns (I am guilty) and cities close by.

    I personally try to purchase only items made in Canada / USA. Ever look for a dog toy.... that isn't made in China. LOL.

    On the other forum, another member was stating how the market for our products is saturated with knock off imports from China and was talking about what he needs to do to compete.

    What can we do as scrollers/crafters to compete with the mass production of products when trying to get market space with local retailers? Is customer awareness the key?
    _________________

  • #2
    I don't know...but I am born from canada and since I work for the 3rd largest pet supplier in the USA, I have lots of possibilities at hand for dog and cat toys made in the USA and some from Canada. We build our own aquariums and dog bones too. But I'm sure if I could count high enough for all our inventory, I'd come up with a number around 90% of products other than food, coming from overseas. Here's what I love the most though...Our biggest customer is Meijers...a grocery chain. They do corporate importing of goods from overseas, so we use them to import some of our items. They import the baskets for example that a cat would sleep in, we take them back to our warehouse and then re-sell them back to meijers.

    As far as competing with mass production...you can't do that on a daily basis, but you still have your opportunities with craft shows/art shows. Generally people go to those for that very reason...support their local economy. Too bad theirs always a few bad apples there as well. Hopefully it's a juried show that doesn't allow that I guess.
    Jeff Powell

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    • #3
      mini rant.

      Toni:

      (Soap box rant - Please dispose of the leaflets being passed out responsibly)

      I must respond with my admiration for the business owner who is going against all the business model theories that are summed up by the term "Wal-Mart Mentality." That business owner who you mentioned is one very special person; I tip my hat to her.

      Mass production, economy of scale, lowest common denominator, and mass marketing, have all become so ingrained into the societies of North America that hand crafted is almost incomprehensible except in terms of uniqueness.

      Wal-Mart, big box home improvement retail centers, and the like are just the logical extensions of the mass market concept. The concept that draws supplies from the cheapest source available, like China is now, and Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan were a few decades ago.

      IMHO, it is all about profits and the business plan(s) at the retail market level. For a business owner to put local culture and pride of country ahead of the current trend out of college business schools (text book teaching) is brave indeed.

      Phil

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      • #4
        I love to support Canada and the USA with my purchases, there are times however where my budget doesn't always allow it. Or sometimes things are not available that are made here.

        Life is full of compromises and choices. If we do not compromise then we often do without.
        Case and point, my dear old grey haired mom.
        She lives in a community which is lumber based. Since the softwood lumber tariffs between our countries have cause much hardship in her area she refuses to buy imported fruit and vegetables. This does limit what she will purchase.

        I find that the dollar stores have done a great deal to cripple the home craft market. I think the key is to change markets.
        Instead of selling the items we used to sell in the flea and craft markets of the world we can go to different venues.
        We can sell in galleries and home decor stores.

        It is all about salesmanship and what the market will bare.
        When I was on vacation in January I ended up in Malibu for an afternoon. There was an "Artsy" type roadside venue that had many wooden pieces in it, furniture and the like. I saw a wind chime made of 5 rusty nails and some stainless steel cutlery. Reasonably priced for the Malibu Market $1200.00
        That isn't a typo! There was also a bentwood twig chaise lounge also $1200.00

        And to think that $20.00 used to be the magic number
        CAЯL HIRD-RUTTEЯ
        "proud member of the best scroll sawing forum on the net."
        Ryobi SC180VS scroll saw EX21

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        • #5
          I don't think you can "compete" with the imports. I do juried art shows and there isn't supposed to be ANY imports allowed (I won't do one that isn't juried). Needless to say...even these shows get people sneaking in imports - which irritates me to no end. Last September I had a customer come into my booth and admired my eagle (with a $300+ price tag on it), awhile later he came back holding a brown paper bag...with a "hand carved" eagle in it with a $35 price tag still on it- IMPORTED from mexico or the philipines. It is irritating has heck but what are you going to do...(yes I told the show authorities). I see at least some form of imports at just about every show even tho they aren't allowed. (the vendors say...they ARE handmade..yes, in mexico by children getting paid pennies a day!)

          People have to see the quality of the work you do, understand you've made it and know it's worth what you're asking. There are people who will appreciate your work (whether they can afford it or not) and those who look at the price tag and gasp (sometimes loudly on purpose so you can hear them!)- those are the flea market people!

          Anyhow- It's not likely to go away unless people stop buying imports, which is unlikely to happen. It's a shame too.

          As a side question for you fretwork folks....I run into what seems like a lot of folks who have laser cutters and mass produce. I'm sure they don't help sales either.
          Janette
          www.square-designs.com

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Toni Burghout
            What can we do as scrollers/crafters to compete with the mass production of products when trying to get market space with local retailers? Is customer awareness the key?
            _________________

            The only thing I can think of is to continually offer something new/unique that the mass marketeers have not done yet. I reckon that will take a lot of imagination and intestinal fortitude.

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            • #7
              We have a HUGE Arts and Crafts store near Beckly West Virginia called "Tamarack". They only sell artwork made in West Virginia by West Virginians. It's located right off the interstate exit and does high volume business from tourists and travellers. The artists must be interviewed in person and bring three samples of their work to the interview. Although Tamarack has very high quality (and high dollar) products it's a 60/40 split between the artist and Tamarack. Even with the mark-up at Tamarack I can sell my work locally at a fair price and still realize a better profit. They have lots of beautiful, very high quality work there and people here take "day trips" just to go there and look around. I've often thought about submitting a piece or two just to say, "I have stuff in the big store"!! LOL!!!
              If it don't fit, don't force it....get a bigger hammer!!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Neal Moore
                Although Tamarack has very high quality (and high dollar) products it's a 60/40 split between the artist and Tamarack. Even with the mark-up at Tamarack I can sell my work locally at a fair price and still realize a better profit. They have lots of beautiful, very high quality work there and people here take "day trips" just to go there and look around. I've often thought about submitting a piece or two just to say, "I have stuff in the big store"!! LOL!!!
                WOW...that's a high split for an art show. I understand galleries, but if you have to be there selling yourself, I think that's way too high. Galleries around here usually take 1/2- which means you mark the stuff up. I have done 2 percentage shows and they charge a reasonable booth fee (around $150 to $180) and take a percentage of 10 to 12%. One good thing about percentage shows is there is incentive for them to bring the buyers in. If you do well, so do they. One huge show I've applied for this year but have never done before just went to an really high booth fee and no percentage. They did this because last year was so hot, they didn't get the money they're used to. Kind of jumping the gun on their part but it has excluded a lot of folks who are ticked off because of the loss of incentive to put on a good show. Hopefully it will still be good and then I can get in because of all those who quit! They get their money up front and the heck with the vendors. We'll see if it lasts or not.
                Janette
                www.square-designs.com

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                • #9
                  For what it is worth here in Alaska there is an even bigger push to buy only Alaskan made products. There even exists a stamp that is placed on such items that way consumers know that they are supporting local businesses rather than "outside" interests. We're part of the USA and proud of it, however being an Alaskan offers an even greater sense of pride amongst it's residents.
                  Todd

                  Hawk G4, Dremel 1800

                  Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

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