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  • Selling in a Mall

    I cut a lot a lot of the Peterson animal puzzles, the Fox Chapel Wooden Puzzles and patterns from William Berry. My wood choice is 1" Basswood (Linden) that I buy at 5/4 and plane down. The finish is simply mineral oil. Then I shrink wrap them.

    For the 1" Basswood, I find the Olson #5 PGT to be the best. I have an assortment of FD, but the teeth aren't as deep so clearing the sawdust out of 1" stock takes longer.

    These are pictures of my products and the display I made at a store in the mall. This store is where you pay by the month plus commision and volunteer a day per month. I think the rent is a great deal for the level of mall it is in.

    I break even or less than $100 for January thru September and then starting in October it ramps to 10 fold in December. For my product and price point(~$30), it isn't anything you could rely on as part of a living. Other people in the store have many items for over $100 and make real money. There are other products that sell much better.

    I did a lot of outdoor shows and venues in 2009, 2010 and 2011. They had highier return per weekend by far. I'm going to start shows again in the next month or so with the puzzles.

    My biggest lesson learned is that you need to figure out your earnings expectation before choosing a product. I need to sell more than 20 puzzles to make $500. Although I can make 40+ a week, the market to sell that many in a week isn't there.

    My biggest customer demographic (80%) from January to October is aunts and grandparents buying for birthdays or even baby showers. Then the last three months shifts to parents buying for Christmas.

    Another thing I have observed at shows is to not show up with a product that was in a magazine or online the prior months. More than a couple times I have seen four different vendors trying to sell the same ornaments or toy, which causes nobody to sell enough or cut throat price drops happen to hurt all of them. You need to do something to your product to make you different and add value in the customers eyes.

    Steve.
    Attached Files
    Steve.
    EX-16, DW-788, Dremel 1680

  • #2
    Nice display
    Hegner Polymax- 3,Hegner Multimax-3,
    "No PHD, just a DD 214"

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    • #3
      What do the signs say on them Nice display.
      "Still Montana Mike"

      "Don't worry about old age--it doesn't last that long."
      Mike's Wood-n-Things LLC

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      • #4
        A very nice way to display in an open area. I like the shrink wrap idea for the puzzles. I tried using glad wrap and went to small ziplock bags instead. They work, but....

        george
        A day without sawdust is a day without sunshine.
        George

        delta 650, hawk G426

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        • #5
          George, I battled with the zip lock bags for a couple years. I always wanted to do shrink wrap but saw the commercial kits online started at $300. Then I found that Grainger sells the bags at a reasonable price. At first I bought their package of 100 bags for $10 for a trial and they worked great. Some puzzles wouldn't fit so I ordered the bigger bags.
          Heat Shrink Bag, 12x18In, PK250 - Shrink Wrap Films - Packaging and Shipping Products - 5URP0 : Grainger Industrial Supply
          This was 250 bags at 12" x 18" for $58, or $.023 per bag. Actually I get more than one puzzle in a bag most times. You put in a puzzle, double seal a quarter inch from it and have another bag ready for the next one.

          You need to get a seal-a-meal machine. Look in the resale stores. I trimmed the lip in order to lose less bag. You don't want to use the vacuum portion of the machine, just the sealing strip.

          Then just a blow dryer or heat gun. I use a Harbor Freight heat gun, but even on low it can be a little hot. Expect to have a blow out or void occasionally, but the bag gets stiff after cooling and that isn't a real problem.

          I'll try to take some pictures and post a blog on this. Actually very easy, makes the puzzles much easier to handle and I think it makes the product look more professional. Another upside is that you can then put a label with your name on the shrink wrap.

          Steve.
          Steve.
          EX-16, DW-788, Dremel 1680

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          • #6
            Steve that is a little expensive. I use these fellahs for my shrink wrap bags for your size it is .07 a bag. Compared to your .58 per bag. I use a slightly smaller one the the 9x14 at .04 cents per bag plus shipping which raises it up to about .05 cents per bag.

            Shrink Bags
            "Still Montana Mike"

            "Don't worry about old age--it doesn't last that long."
            Mike's Wood-n-Things LLC

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            • #7
              Mike,
              Great information. My source was $58 per case of 250 each and 23 cents per bag with local pickup. Your source with double the count per case at the same size is 9 cents per bag with shipping ($12). That is still less than half the price I have paid and it is delivered to my door. [a case of these bags is 11 pounds]

              Super example of the benefit this site can give to people.

              Steve.
              Steve.
              EX-16, DW-788, Dremel 1680

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              • #8
                Glad to help. Every penny saved in our chosen endeavor...
                "Still Montana Mike"

                "Don't worry about old age--it doesn't last that long."
                Mike's Wood-n-Things LLC

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                • #9
                  Steve
                  What price range are you selling your animal puzzles at? I have started cutting some puzzles for shows this fall.
                  Thanks for any help.

                  Russ

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                  • #10
                    Very nice display and nice puzzles
                    Diane
                    Dragon
                    Owner of a nice 21" Excalibur
                    Owner of a Dewalt 788
                    PuffityDragon on AFSP

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                    • #11
                      Now I know why I am a year behind in cutting patterns from the books!!! Everybody has moved on and I'm the one selling the "old stuff." LOL

                      Russ my prices start at $5 each plus $1.50 per piece. A ten piece puzzle would be $20. Unless I have some unusual wood, like box elder. I usually start at $10 plus $1.50 per piece.
                      Betty

                      "Congress needs to realize it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Not of the people, by the people and for Congress." - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Johns Hopkins Hospital

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                      • #12
                        Russ, pricing is very dependent on where you are selling. My puzzles are $20 to $35, a bit oversize and full 1" thick. Plus I bathe them in mineral oil.

                        I went to a number of craft shows that were borderline flea markets and nobody expected to pay more than $10, so I went home without a sale.

                        Having "Art" in the show name or what the show did in the past for sales doesn't always mean anything either. My attempt is to sell where the demographics will appreciate and not hesitate at my puzzle prices. Sure wish I could judge that better.

                        I walked through a show last weekend to see a friend who was selling (not scroll work) and there was a guy there selling the same Peterson puzzles I do, but at 1/2 the scale and 1/2 the price. I saw him sell a few, but he wasn't open to any conversation. The cutting time, sanding and finishing are my cost and not the wood. I didn't think his business model would make sense. BTW, that show cost $130 for one day, which meant his first 10+ puzzles only went to pay the show fee.

                        Betty - I bought a flitch of box elder over two years ago and am still paralyzed to come up with the "perfect" project for it. It is pretty just in the rough.

                        Steve.
                        Steve.
                        EX-16, DW-788, Dremel 1680

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                        • #13
                          That's my problem, Steve. I just love box elder and will hold onto it until the perfect pattern screams "box elder" to me. LOL
                          Betty

                          "Congress needs to realize it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Not of the people, by the people and for Congress." - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Johns Hopkins Hospital

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                          • #14
                            Let's try this again.
                            Attached Files
                            Betty

                            "Congress needs to realize it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Not of the people, by the people and for Congress." - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Johns Hopkins Hospital

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Betty - That is a great use and vision for the box elder.
                              Steve.
                              EX-16, DW-788, Dremel 1680

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