Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Economy and the Handmade Industry

There hasn't been one handmade artisan I've spoken with that can say they have not been hit hard by the current state of the economy. Traffic at shows seem down slightly, but more and more of the traffic appear to be "just looking" and often leave the show empty-handed.

Personally speaking, the upper end pieces that used to move quickly from my inventory have stagnated, and even at reduced prices, they remain in my online or brick and mortar consignment shops. There was a time when I could not locate enough rare jewelry quality pieces of sea glass. Now the only time I add jewelry-quality pieces to my collection, is when I find them on the beach. Even when I have a chance to privately purchase a nice lot of quality sea glass, I have to pass because my customers have been hesitant on making higher-end purchases.

The reasons are always the same. They like a specific piece of jewelry, and they may come back to my display two or three times to look at it. But in the end, they walk away from the piece saying something to the effect of "I just can't spend the money"

Creating a lower end line of sea glass jewelry has helped. My surfer necklace line is very affordable, but it's more of a teenagers line of jewelry. The price does bring in potential customers to my display, but at this time the line sells to a niche market, within the niche market of sea glass jewelry customers.

I have found more and more customers asking to purchases a wrapped sea glass pendant, rather than buy the entire necklace. And in a buyer's market, there have been a few customers looking to "negotiate" on the final price.

Selling my handmade creations has been getting harder and harder as this year winds to a close. Show sales are down, online sales are way down, and so are my profit margins. Adapting to budgets of potential customers is a must, and I've had a little success with the newer creations. Adapting further is certainly needed, but I see this holiday season slipping away because I don't know if there will be a mad buying spree in the last few weeks prior to the holidays.

How have the sales been at your shop and shows? Have you found lower prices meant increased sales, or have your sales remained stagnant...and how have you adapted your creations to what the market is willing to bear?

'til next time..

No comments: