Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Devil is in the Details

hand made bears from a Christmas sale past
The two sales I participated in are all done and I'm waiting for one more cheque to come in and I have yet to get back some of my handwovens due to the kerfuffle of my hubby's medical woes*.   (*more on this later)
It has been interesting to take a closer look at two guilds and two sales in two diverse locations. What sold well and what price point were the best sellers this year?

The guild in the south central portion of BC had a one day only sale. I can see the benefits to this as the customer has but one chance to buy. There is no tomorrow or next it now or regret at your peril!
This is also easier on the participants as we all have busy lives, getting ready for Christmas ourselves, or as in my case, having Life keep me busy despite other people's time table and plans.

They have a theme each year and also have a mailing list to alert people of when the big day is. Their venue is an art gallery in the centre of town, along a good highway. The benefit of this is obvious but the nicest perk is the battery of halogen lights meant to highlight the art works normally shown there through out the year, now shine on our items for sale and show them at their best. Yes, there are paintings and sculptures in the room but somehow they add to the ambiance (though one year, I recall a certain nude painting being covered up as it was a bit too distracting!)

The guild members bring sweets and treats and have an area set up for tea and goodies (by donation) and encourage people to linger. There are staff members everywhere to assist and answer questions. The guild member playing her own harp that she made is a lovely touch too! Their inventory runs the gamut of soaps and hand made wooden boxes to felted items, knits, skeins of yarn, weaving and jewelry. There are pressed flowers and hand made paper. What ever the guild members (and spouses) create, is showcased.   The guild just acquired their sixtieth member and fully half of them participated. Here is a repeat of the FaceBook link to the pictures.

Here are my sales stats for the inland guild:  I submitted twenty two items and sold twelve. The prices ranged from $15.00 for guest towels, to $25.00 for tea towels and $99.00 and $125.00 for scarves depending on yarns used and complexity. The guild took a modest 5% commission and I got a nice cheque!   I averaged $41.55 per item, so not too shabby!

bobbin lace by Sandie 2011
The southern Vancouver Island guild has a different approach which is mostly due to the conditions of their venue. They hold the sale on a mezzanine or loft above a retail business. The mezzanine is given over to local artists and groups to do displays for a month at a time and the retail business below takes a 25% commission.  The inventory covered bobbin lace, felted items, hand knit sweaters, weaving and some small jewelry pieces. Pricing for my weaving was the same as for the other sale.

The sale was held over thirty days and required at least two persons to cover the day in two shifts.  That can be tricky getting sixty spots filled on a schedule! I was only able to work one shift during this time due to a family medical emergency.   A guild member kindly covered for me on my second shift. The shift can be long and quiet if no one comes in or *very* busy if several customers do show. I had seventeen guests appear on my shift and was kept hopping; two items were sold that day.

The location is in a shopping mall, above a wine u-brew shop which means there is the musty smell of wine  the entire time. The upper floor is very warm as the heat seems to collect up there and wearing light clothing is recommended! The guild has roughly sixty members, with only sixteen contributing to the sale.  I entered twenty two items to this sale as well, and sold seventeen.  After the 25% commission, I averaged $18.83 per item sold.
 That's quite a difference!  $41.55 per item in the Interior Sale vs. $18.83 per item on Vancouver Island!

Granted the two sales had a  different type of shopper. The interior sale sold seventy six scarves (yes 76!!) and twenty five hats, thirty three tea towels and thirty nine runners among many other items....

The local guild seemed to sell mainly small items with lower price points, or leastwise I did! I have yet to see a break down of the type of  items sold other than grand totals for the monies but I'm sure they will look into what was popular this year. Though, no two years are alike as locally this year I sold no scarves at all and last year I sold quite a few here.  You try to make things in all price ranges and then hang on for the ride!

There are further differences between the two sales. One is all about one day and everyone knows it, seller and customer. There is one end goal: putting product and client together and they did that successfully this year and had their best year ever! Collectively they sold over $11,000.00 of hand made goods too happy people! That's amazing! Job well done!

The Vancouver Island guild has just had their third year of selling at this venue and increased their over all sales but its a far harder slog for those involved.  The venue was also closed one day a week and holidays. There was good advertising done by both sales but I noticed that the majority of people entering the retail business were there to either start their Christmas wine or bottle it.  The U-brew displayed small signs indicating that a sale was going on upstairs, but as of my shift mid month, there was no window display as we had last year.

I had to resist the urge to lean over the railing and call out an invitation to come up stairs while wine customers waited their turn downstairs!

I must thank Lynnette and Ngaire for minding my weaving at the interior sale in addition to their own entries! Its fair to say that I could not have done it without you!   I feel at a crossroad and must look into doing something far different for 2012 and will be looking at my options. I need a new game plan!

I have listed some of the returned unsold items on a separate sale page (see the top menu bar below the very first picture).  I will be adding more items as I get some decent pictures done!  I  hesitate to advertise something until I have it back in my keeping  and can see its in the same condition I sent it to the sale.  So please check back and I will collect the balance of my weaving  this coming week and then update the list.

Now, moving on....  The Hubby Report!
Well, he's been home for two days from the hospital and very happy to be in his own bed and surroundings again.  I placed Calli into the doggy resort for about 5 days for some R and R!  She was able to play with other dogs, socialize and get regular exercise.  They even bathed her before she came home so it was a seamless return for her.  The house was sure empty with out Hub and pooch...

first night home!
So what happened? well, the signs and symptoms seem to add up to a (tentative) diagnosis of osteomyelitis and septicemia. A source of infection in the body had spread via the blood and settled into his bones (right heel) and appeared in various places as abscesses (example: his thumb for one location) It resisted normal antibiotics and so was classified as MRSA.  He was kept isolated in a private room where doctors and nurses had to 'gown up' and wear gloves before entering his room. He had two surgeries in less than two weeks and no less than three ambulance rides for various high level tests including echo cardiogram, total body/bone scan, ultrasound, xrays and an MRI in Victoria and Nanaimo.

He is to continue with antibiotics and follow up with blood tests and doctor appointments in the days and weeks to come. His job is to relax and get well.... and write more stories at his blog.

Bruce modelling his new hat in October
We may never know the source of the infection for sure! It could have been the routine procedure back on November 1st or it could have been far earlier as a bone infection can take two to three months to settle in.
Either way we are hopeful that the worst is behind us !  Bruce thanks you for all the supportive comments you have sent via emails and messages to my blog posts.  Your messages of hope and encouragement have meant a lot to both of us.


Theresa said...

Hooray for Bruce's and Callie's return home! It's got to feel so much better having everyone in the fold and close. I hope your holiday season now has some true joy in it even if there is still some recoup time ahead.

Delighted Hands said...

Glad things are settling down-my son almost died of septicemia and it was a long slow recovery for him (and us!) Take care!

Anonymous said...

Hurray Bruce is home and feeling better, that is indeed good news. Callie looks as if she had a blast at her R and R spa. Glad everyone is home again.

Susan, I am curious what is the difference between a towel, kitchen towel and a tea towel? Think it must be size, but then again different countries call one thing by many names. Just curious.

If I had the spare cash the while silk shawl would so be coming home with me, it is my all time favorite thing I have seen of your weaving.

Merry, merry and Happy, happy Holidays Dear Lady. hugs to all of you, Martha

ladyoftheloom said...

I am so happy to hear that Bruce and Callie are home and investing in their R&R. You should too as the caregiver needs it as well. Here is wishing you a very happy holiday and a wonderful and healthy new year too!

Dianne said...

Selling the goods is the hardest part of weaving. Too often I'm told "I've a wardrobe full of scarves, don't need any more". My answer is to get them made into a quilt and then you can start again afresh!

Glad to hear your tribe is home and recuperating. Callie looks like she needed to come home for a rest.

Restless Knitter said...

I'm glad to hear that he is home. I had my own MRSA scare a couple of years ago and it is indeed a scary thing.

LOU said...

THANK-YOU-KINDLY for that DETAILED-UPDATE on BRUCE !!!! That sure sounds complex and will test his stamina to it's fullest during the recovery, but know he can call-on those many ' Past-Trials ' he handled so well !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

dorothylochmaben said...

Nice tale of two sales ! So very different ! Just great to know Bruce is on the mend and back home to safe hands. Take care both of you

Susan said...

Hi Martha,
Sorry for the tardy reply! Kitchen towels and tea towels are essentially the same item. Roughly 23" to 25" wide and 32" to 34" in length. (I like large towels!)

Guest towels are small sized hand towels for drying the hands in the bathroom. Mine measure roughly 12" by 16".

Towels would be the full sized bath towels and those I buy at Home Sense! I've yet to try weaving one of those. Learning pile weaves is a whole study unto itself!


Sandra Rude said...

I'm so glad your hubby is home for the holidays! Have a wonderful and healthy Christmas and New Year.