Open Studio - Come One and All

Published On: 11-18-2011 03:02pm

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Several weeks ago, I decided to do an open studio and sale of my jewelry in my home. We are retired and reside in a gated "active adult" community. We have two "Shop and Share" events for the sale of handmade goods here in the community, but I've never seen allot of success there and decided that I would give this approach a try. I also decided that no matter how I fared, that I would do this again in the fall before the holidays.

I set my time from 11:00 A.M. until 3:00P.M. on a Wednesday, because that is men's golf day and I hoped that the women would be free.  I thought that 4 hours was a good test and I could adjust later and I said in my emails that I was willing to set something up if someone wanted to come and the time was not convenient.

I sent an email out to many of the residents, and everyone in here who has purchased from me, about two weeks before the show telling them what I was doing and to save the date and the details would follow.  On the Sunday before, I sent out the "official" email with all the details and asked them to come and bring their friends and neighbors too.  Next time, I will ask them to forward my email to their list.

Even though we have lived here for about 3 years, due to some serious health issues, we are not well known in the community nor have we been an active part of it. So this was not a case of a show for my friends and neighbors.

My doorbell rang at 11:01 and I had people there from that time until 2:35 and lots of them were strangers.  I sold allot of jewelry, more than  at any show I have ever done. I considered it a huge success and I am anxious to do it again.  I do feel that it is something that could be overdone, and 2 to 3 times a year would be my max. Because we live in Arizona, I billed it as my "end of the season" sale and did have just about everything on sale.

Next time that I do this, I will do some flyers for the community bulletin boards and I will try to get something on the website.  I am trying to get the list of the emails of all the residents but have not been successful so far, but I do have about half of them entered into my machine. Because I work with allot of precious metals I did not want to advertise this to the general public.  I really did not want them to know that I am here...but I did send to people outside of our community that I knew that had already purchased from me.

The best part about doing an open studio as opposed to a show is I could spend a couple of days setting up and taking down.  Of course, in the same vein, you have to have a relatively clean house to do this in, which is something you don't have to worry about at a show.

My sister, who had her own gallery for a while, suggested several things that I did not do, but might apply for your situation. Have help so you can talk to the prospective client and the friend can take the money.  Block your house off, so people cannot wander all over, but make sure you have a bathroom available. Ask other artisans whose work you admire to join you, thereby doubling or tripling the number of people notified of the event. This is one of those events where you want to think outside the box, but there are always ways to make events special, and this is the time to do it.  You will have nothing invested into your sale - no table or show fees - no slepping your stuff - no meals - no traveling - just some time - so whatever you sell is all profit.

If you live in a community where this could work, I think that this is an excellent way to sell your product and to let your community know that you are there and this is what you do. For those of you in non retirement communities, this could be done for a couple of hours on a couple of nights and also, on the weekend.  Not only do I make jewelry, I rehab it too.  I had copies of the blog that I did on "Redoing the Family Jewels" set out in several places, again to inform people of another service that I offered.

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