October 01, 2022
October 1, 2022
Something that may get lost in all the high-speed news and social media cycles is how the interaction between those who create arts and crafts and those who love it as consumers has been changing. Our business is definitely in the middle of it all, and it has occurred to me that many of our customers are not really aware of how the changes in this interaction have been unfolding - how the use of technology is sometimes hidden unless you know to look for it.
Some things haven't really changed much at all. One of the more common questions we get here is something along the lines of "How do you find all these really beautiful items?" The short answer is that, after 37 years, it's every possible method you might imagine - we travel, we find creative people, they find us, etc. It's a lot of fun, and a lot of work. There are minor variations of what we've always done, but our people-to-people skills are still our strongest asset.
On the other hand, I've been thinking more and more about all the different ways that customers buy from us, and it's interesting how so much has changed over the years. Of course we have a lot of foot traffic, and it's all the visits we get from so many interesting and educated friends and customers that feeds our souls; (we are, after all, a people-based business). However, it's the outreach beyond the walls that keeps evolving.
I remember commonly shooting a small roll of a dozen 35mm photos (bracketing the shots, of course), running over to the quick-print place and hard-mailing out some photos of a piece to some hopeful customer. Many days would go by and then we'd finally get a call and have a quick conversation about the next steps - the phone bill really added up! Then we moved onto digital photography (my first digital camera was not a very good one) - we'd get the images, print them out on our printer... then hard-mail them out. Sending images via email in the early 90's didn't really work when most people still had monochrome monitors and dial-up connections. Of course, our internet speeds finally got faster, customers got better computer screens (at home, as opposed to at work), and then we'd send out images... except that few people really spent the amount of money required to have a really color-perfect monitor, so what looked like green turquoise here might be kind of blue at the other end. So, we still did plenty of printing and hard-mailing of photos.
During all that time we grew our little website and learned how to keep in touch with clients all over the world. It was, and still is, a quite fascinating thing. But websites have a limitation when working with the kind of creators and the inventory that we carry. Our one-of-a-kind pieces sometimes go through so quickly we don't have time to go through the process of uploading them onto our site; sometimes we're so busy in the bricks-and-mortar part of our retail store that we just don't have the time to update the pages. And sometimes there is a snow storm and we need to go skiing...!
So, this brings me to the present. As a result of many conversations that I've had with current customers and friends I've learned that many people just don't know how many of our transactions now take place. We're seeing a notable increase in sales where a knowledgeable client will call us up and we'll have a toll-free phone call about what we currently have of interest to them. Then, we follow that up by taking multiple images on some pieces with our cell phone (that has good color rendering on its screen (!)) and texting the photos to their cell phone (that has equally good color rendering on its screen). We can then have a meaningful conversation with folks anywhere on the planet about what we have on-hand and how to get it to them. We process the sale, send out the item via the Post Office, UPS, etc., and they have in a few days. Easy Peasy.
I think this is almost as good as seeing a piece in person - and we do offer a very lenient return policy if it doesn't pan out. Importantly, it short-circuits all the delays in getting pieces onto the website, and sometimes we've had a very different option available than what was expected. As the gift-giving season starts to loom for many people, I think we'll be seeing more and more of this method of buying by our friends and clients. The upcoming Trunk Show with Artie Yellowhorse is a perfect example of why this is a good idea - during the four days of the show we'll have hundreds and hundreds of pieces on display and other than being here in person, a phone call or email is the only way you'll really find the options available.
Please feel free to call us up and ask more about how this might work for you. Ask for Grant or Betsy!
We are enjoying an amazing year for Fall Foliage - I hope the leaves give you a blast of color wherever you are.
PS. Send along your thoughts on this to email@example.com anytime.
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October 09, 2022
September 01, 2022