Marketing and Selling: Part 1
Even before I was making pottery full time, I began to look for ways to sell my work. It had to because I quickly ran out of space in my home, and my family became overwhelmed with gifts, plus I needed to pay for my pottery-making habit. There was not much information about what shows were available and even less about which shows were good. There were only a few shows a year in my part of Texas worth doing. Also, it was important and necessary to attend church on Sunday morning with my family. We tried to strike a balance between doing shows and finding stores to carry my work.
Finding shops to sell to:
Looking for a store was done by loading the van with pottery and driving around to various stores. Often that meant getting up early and going to Houston. I would arrive in Houston at about 9:00 am and cold call on stores. I would drive down a main thoroughfare and look over the shopping centers for a store that might be a good fit for my work. It might be a gift shop or a kitchen shop. By the time I showed my work at five or six stores, it was late in the afternoon and time to head home.
Starting at the Right Time
Fortunately, I started making pottery when there was a high interest in handmade work and fewer imported items providing lower-priced competition. I worked that way for several years, doing a few shows a year in San Antonio and other nearby cities Houston, Corpus Christi, and Dallas mainly. We would pile the whole family in the van, take off Friday afternoon, spend the weekend doing the show, and head back Sunday night. It worked well when we had a place to stay with family or friends.
On a wing and a prayer
Occasionally, we combined vacations with a show near some location we wanted to visit. We once drove to Colorado to visit my youngest brother, who lived in Fort Collins. On the way home, we stopped to do a show in Manitou Springs just outside of Colorado Springs. We stayed in a small hotel that wanted payment upfront, taking almost all our available cash. If that show bombed, we would have to find a way to raise money to get back home. Fortunately, it was a success, and we had enough money to make it home.