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baltimore acc show/rosen buyers market

updated wed 25 feb 98


Tom Wirt on tue 24 feb 98

Reading the notes re: the Baltimore ACC prompts me to second the
suggestions that maybe, just maybe the ACC has lost touch with a large
percent of what clay is doing> (This is not meant to upset those who do
the more contemporary work...only to talk to the functional potters
looking for a market. The ACC issue has been hammered over enough in
this forum).

We did about $15,000 in orders in the 4 days at The Phila. Buyers Market.
With reorders that will be about $37,000 and fill over a third of our
production. It's more than double last year's $6,500. This was only our
second year there. (The numbers are not to brag, but to give volume
perspective to those who haven't done this show). Our average order was
$485 and average pot price about $16). A number of our buyers remarked
that they wish there were more highfire (cone6 & above) functional people
there, that this work is hard to find.

Another interesting ?trend? that we seemed to have observed. There were
many buyers whowere also potters who had set up their own shops/showrooms
and are now buying others work for their shops. As people find truly
handmade harder to find, I suspect that the gallery which truly protects
hand made, and showrooms run by makers will be the two main venues for
handmade work.

It is truly awe inspiring to see several hundred potters lined up...all
different...all with quality work. Our repeated comment was, what are WE
doing here? Everyone around us sold out for at least 1998, and Mark
Matsui of WA. sold out through 1999. I know talking to several other
functional potters, most were very to extremely happy with the show.

A couple of keys we've discovered in doing the wholesale shows, the first
question most buyers ask is "what's new"? It is up to us to bring 3 or 4
new products and maybe a new glaze treatment each year. Otherwise I
suspect your sales will slip. Lighting is critical and a nice display,
but it certainly doesn't have to be art in itself. It's probably best if
it shows the work in a typical retail setting.

Also, you must be prepared with production schedules to be able to spread
your shipping to realistic dates. And have some kind of modest catalog,
price sheet and glaze sheet.

There was a lot of lowfire majolica type work and I don't know how that
sold as there was none near us. But I also sensed a rekindling of
interest in highfire functional. While all the work is quality, Wendy
does a great job of balancing known people with newcomers. And a great
job in supporting people who are new to the wholesale market. We started
to make the switch a couple of years ago when we realized that the wear
and tear of doing 12-20 reatil shows a year would quickly burn us out.
Now we're down to 5 for this year plus 2 wholesale shows (probably only
one next year). We're looking forward to planting some garden this year
and maybe taking a few Sundays off.

The one 'bummer' at the show was caused by a supplier, Aftosa, who had
the bad taste to hand out a sheet soliciting for offshore production
reproduction at The Buyers Market for American Craft. I have sent back
my catalog to them and written that we will no longer buy from them. A
couple of our buyers got ahold of the sheets and were outraged that
someone would do this.

Don't want to drag this out. Just to make the point that the market
seems to be as strong as ever, and that there is life beyond ACC. I'd
strongly look at doing Phila in July rather than the Chicago ACC if
you're looking to boost late year sales. (If this sounds like a
commercial, I have no connection to Rosen, just a very satisfied

Tom Wirt
Clay Coyote Pottery
Hutchinson, MN