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Past Time Bears - Artist bears designed and handcrafted by Sue Ann Holcomb

bearlyart Canna Bear Paint
NY
Posts: 749

I just remembered something I'd been wanting to ask about... OK, so sometimes it takes me a while bear_original  I am still fairly new to the show scene, and have a couple more shows lined up in the fall.  Beyond the basic 'how am I going to display my bears' question, I would love more input on what sort of 'extras' people have on their sales tables.  The sad thing is, every time I go to a show I'm so wrapped up in admiring the bears and meeting the people, I forget to look at the little details like that.  For example, I do have business cards on the table, I figure this is a must.  And now I've even found a gorgeous little grizzly bear holder for my business cards at the next show.  To our last show, I also took a 5x7 photo album with pictures of our bears in it.  This was really useful to have around, as we could use it point out examples of certain features, fur types, etc.  But it got me to thinking... what other good extras do people have on their sales table?

SueAnn mentioned in another post that she has brochures of her bears available.  SueAnn, if you don't mind me asking a few questions... what information do you include on your brochures?  Is it just a photo collage, or photos and prices, or lots of information included?  Does the brochure only cover bears that you have available at that show?

I have heard that other people also have some sort of sign-in or registry book.  For anyone familiar with these, do you encourage just anyone to sign in?  Or just people that buy your bears?  Is this linked to a print mailing list of some sort?  What sort of information are you gathering, anyway?  Just names and addresses, or do you give people an email option or space to write comments, or what????  I've never actually looked at anyone's sign-in book, it's just something I've heard about.

As long as we're playing 20 Questions... what are peoples opinions regarding offering a dish of candy?  For or against?  Sorry for all the questions, but I figure I can't be the only person who will benefit from the answers bear_original
Kelly

SueAnn Past Time Bears
Flower Mound, Texas
Posts: 20,417

SueAnn Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Kelly, I'm going to see if I can get a photo up of one of my brochures (3-fold).  I have thumbnail sized pictures of the bear, then to the right side of it, a short description of the materials used, cost, edition size, etc.  Also, if I have been nominated for some award during the year, I try to save room to include it.  I have found, however, that ANYTHING related to bears on your table is going to draw attention.  I have some beary notecards/greeting cards, hand made "puzzle balls" using bear fabric, mousepads with my bears' pictures on them, and small paper mache "photo boxes" using my bear's photos.  I had all of that stuff at the April Schaumburg show, but I know it's hard to see what all is on the table right behind you!  bear_grin  bear_grin  Besides, we were bumping bums constantly and that can get a little disconcerting! bear_grin Anyhoo . . . people linger at your table for quite a while if there is a lot of stuff to see.  I also give a thumbs down on candy, especially if it's unwrapped! bear_shocked bear_shocked  I have a register book with space for name and address, plus anybody is encouraged to comment if they wish.  I figure it's a great way to add to my mailing list.  I will get back to this topic when I get some pics.

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Hi Kelly - I don't think we've 'met'.:)

I have a photo album (including pictures of my bears, family & dog as somehow conversations often go in that direction - besides, my dog is inspiration for some of my work) and a guest book - name, address, email and comment column. Because I teach workshops, if someone is interested in them for a future endeavor or wants to know about shows I'm doing the next year, etc. I make a note in that column myself so I know who to send what announcements to but those who sign are welcome to make their own comments also.

Candy- no way! Little kids (and some not so little people) + gooey fingers + expensive bears = YIKES!:o

Business cards I put out in two or three places as space allows, flat on the table, staring folks in the face! (And they STILL ask if I have a card! I figure it's cause they are just too busy looking at my bears!)

A friend of mine has a framed collage of bear parts & tools, etc. involved with the making of a bear that she puts out at the bigger shows. A neat way to educate customers!

I've used store bought garlands - berries, pinecones, whatever- and been asked if it was for sale, where I got it, etc. So now I limit the frills - that's hard for me! :/

Sue Ann - wish I could see you at a show - not only would it be wonderful to see your bears in the fur but it sounds like you've got lots of other fun goodies to see/buy!

Hugs,
Daphne

doodlebears Doodlebears
UK
Posts: 7,414

doodlebears Celebration Ambassador

Hi kelly, A BIG NO, NO, NO to candy at a stand. Boy imagine all the hard work gone into making a bear to have sticky candy all over it! I was at a show last year and I pointed fairly close to a bears face to point out a feature to a friend when the bear artist said "don't touch if your hands are dirty". I was taken aback by this as I had never had a response like this before. I reassured her that my hands were very clean and that I was an artist myself and wouldn't dream of touching a bear with unclean hands. She said she was sorry but went on to tell me that someone had picked up a bear at her previous show and left melted chocolate from her hands all around the bears middle.
When I am exhibiting I have some small teddys at a lower price for those who want a bear but can't afford to buy the bigger bears. I also have patterns which I have made plus small boxes with bear pictures on, I sell hand knitted teddy bear clothing. One lady at a show last Autumn bought a hat that I had knitted for bears and promptly put it on her tiny baby. She looked really cute! I also have flyers with a couple of pictures of my bears my logo and contact information and business cards and a book for visitors to my stand to sign. Woops! I almost forgot, hand painted tee-shirts with bear pictures on them. The tee-shirts are painted by my daughter Sarah and are very popular.

Jane

bearlyart Canna Bear Paint
NY
Posts: 749

Wow, thanks to everyone for the great input!  Looks like an overwhelming 'no' vote on the candy.  That's OK by me bear_original  I was never entirely convinced if candy would encourage people to stop anyway, a lady near me at a show last fall had a dish of candy.  By the second day of the show, she was complaining 'they just grab the candy and keep walking!'

Lisa - I do love the idea for using the guestbook addresses for Christmas cards.  My mother is an artist and makes fantastic cards, I know she could be talked into doing a custom festive teddy line of cards!  And thanks for the input about making sure the business card holder is not distracting, that's a good point.  I'll bring both it and a plain little one to the next show, if the bear one is too much I'll swap out for the plain one.

Sue Ann - I'd love to see your brochure, if you get the chance to post an image of it.  I don't think I ever got to see the entire front of your table at Schaumburg, every time I tried to walk past and take a peek you had too many customers in my line of view bear_laugh  In the future, please try to be less popular so I can snoop more easily.  I did, however, get to admire the backside of one of your amazing roosters for two whole days!  At least we only had a few minor collisions back there, I think it was just great minds thinking alike "I'll get up and go do something... NOW! <bump>"

Daphne - hi right back at you!  That's a great idea to keep your own little notes on people's interests and queries in their guest book comments section.  I had a few people at the last show that I needed to get back to with information, to send something to, etc.  I kept grabbing one of our own business cards, wrote information on the back and put it in the cash box, but keeping all of that in the guestbook sounds like a much better idea.  After all that, at one point after returning from the show, we managed to misplace those business cards for a while anyway... proof of an imperfect system.  Your friend had a great idea of the framed 'bearmaking' collage image, what a great supplement for conversations!  I wonder how well this would work for a 'making a fur bear' collage, with pictures of the original coat and such.  We seem to have a lot of conversations with people at shows about how to make fur bears, I think my mother has even inspired a few women to go home and try it themselves.

Jane - oh, melted chocolate horrors!  I had been thinking about some wrapped hard candies as a possibility, I can see where chocolate would be a *nightmare*.  We always try to have some pure white polar bears at shows, I can just see someone leaving handprints all over one!  AUGH!  I think you folks have officially talked me out of the candy idea.  Love the thought of hand-painted tees, I bet they are popular!  If there's one thing I've noticed at bear shows, it's that almost ALL of the collectors are wearing bears in some way.  Bear shirts, bear purses, bear necklaces, and so on.  Someone suggested that my mother put some of her art on tote bags, that seems like a good idea in this vein as well.  You also mentioned smaller inexpensive bears, this is a great suggestion.  We've been wondering about even coming up with an unjointed bear pattern that could be made very quickly and easily to be an inexpensive purchase option for people.  I've also been mulling over the thought of bear hand puppets, what fun those would be!

Here's another question for everyone - has anyone ever tried selling (or seen someone else offer) art involving bears at bear shows... meaning actual prints and paintings?  I know I mentioned above that my mother is an artist, I think this would be a fantastic way for her to combine the two.  Just wasn't sure if it would be well received.   We could also look into putting her bear art onto mousepads, note cards, mugs, t-shirts, or some of the other great suggestions made above.  Hmmmm.  So much to think about!  I love all your ideas, thanks to everyone for their $0.02!

Hugs,
Kelly

Dilu Posts: 8,574

Such interesting ideas, I am glad you posted the subject, Kelly.

I think your idea of a bear card holder is excellant.

I agree with the others- no candy- they may damage someone elses bear with your candy and that would not make you a popular artist.

But, what about something really small for the kiddies?  A lot of the craft supply places have tiny bears, made in China or some such place, that cost next to nothing and you could sell them for a quarter, or fifty cents....then the littlest and crankiest would have a little trinket- and mom would be grateful?

Oriental Trading company, Sunshine Crafts both have something along this line.

Just an idea, when I had my little ones, I was always happy at differant functions when there was something for the kiddikins-

Dilu

Dilu Posts: 8,574

Regarding Touching

At some of the big quilt shows I have been to, they had boxes of latex gloves, and it was a given you did not touch anything unless you had gloves on.....is there no such understanding amongst the bearing people?

Even hard candies, while usually ok for adults, usually, what about the 3 and under group- in and out, gotta take a look, drooly sticky slobbery yuck!  And many moms just don't seem to care.

I think, if I were ever to show at a show, I would have a box of babywipes- and whip one of those out the min an exuberant littlekin came near, and I would hand it to mom, saying something nicely about "before your little one touches, could you clean the peanutbutter and jelly off his hands please?

Well, I am sure you could do it much more diplomatically than I, but you get the point.

is this something that could be done at bear show?  The gloves and baby wipes?

Dilu

Who has yet to go to her first bear show but can hardly wait!

SueAnn Past Time Bears
Flower Mound, Texas
Posts: 20,417

SueAnn Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Brochure%20inside.jpg

Kelly, this is the inside of the brochure.  I also forgot to say that I have a few of my patterns for sale at my table.
As you can tell, my table probably looks a little "full" at times!!  bear_laugh  Dare I say "cluttered"??!!  bear_grin:lol:

SueAnn Past Time Bears
Flower Mound, Texas
Posts: 20,417

SueAnn Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Brochure%20outside.jpg

This is the outside of the brochure.  YES, yes I do think your mom's artwork would sell VERY well. 
People just LOOOOOVE anything "beary"!  Hope this helps!

millie PottersHouse Bears
Ohio
Posts: 2,173

Sue Ann,

Thank you so much for all of your help.  I realize Kelly asked the question, but I have gleaned so much from it.  I am doing a show in less than two weeks, so I am frantically looking for things that will help me.  You are just a spring of information.

bearsbybeesley bears by beesley TM
Tofield Alberta Canada
Posts: 6,818

Sue Ann your brochures are beautiful and a wonderful idea. You are so creative and I would want every bear in your brochure if I was ther!! I would be in alot of trouble with the Old Guy.

No Candy!! You just go with your heart Kelly. Your bears will be the only thing anyone is looking at. Trust me. They are wonderful.

Good Luck, I am sure it will be very successful!

Hugs Louise

Shelli SHELLI MAKES
Chico, California
Posts: 9,939
Website

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Sue Ann... Glorious brochure.  Thanks for sharing.  You can be sure that at my next show (whenever that is) I'll be bringing along something similar.  Hope that's okay... !

As for table extras...

When I was prepping for my first -- and, to date, only -- show in Nevada City last April, I asked question after question on other boards and in other Yahoo groups just to get some of the same ideas you're seeking here; namely, what should I bring to maximize sales, marketing, visibility, basically SUCCESS??? 

After some asking, and listening, and studying, and looking, I came up with my own list of "must-haves" for my table which, for the most part (note MUG comment, below), worked out well for me. 

Here's what I brought (in addition to bears and stands to showcase them, and cloths/drapes for the table):

--  Guest book, where table visitors could sign up for my mailing list and/or leave a physical address and their name

--  A copy of the magazine in which my bear had been published in an editorial feature.  I went to a restaurant supply store and bought what was basically a "menu cover" in magazine size.  That way, I was able to open the magazine to the page where my bear appeared, and then hold it open to that page by sliding the magazine, opened, into the clear plastic menu cover, which then covered the pages completely.  The menu cover also kept the magazine cover, plus back page, viewable.

--  A photo album with two pictures (full body, closeup) of each bear I've made.  The pictures were 4x6 and slipped into double-slot pages.  I made sure to buy an album which coordinated with my business colors; it had a pink leather cover.

--  An accordian-fold, self-standing photo frame which had nine small windows (think "Brady Brunch" credits, or a Tic-Tac-Toe board!)  I used this to provide backdrop to a part of my table and to visually showcase, again, some of my work.  This time, it was bears that had already been sold and were not present.  I figured showing off some range and longevity was a good thing!

--  Two self-standing, cheap-o plastic frames which held credit card and layaway information.  I stood one on each end of my table.

--  A vintage (meaning, I bought it for 50 cents at Salvation Army) silver soap dish, and a HUGE stack of business cards to put in it.

--  A copper bucket (actually meant to be a small planter for a houseplant) filled to the brim with salt water taffy (which you can get at Cost Plus Imports, if you have one locally, or at your neighborhood candy shop.)  Taffy doesn't make hands sticky becuase it pops into the mouth in one fell swoop; it takes forever to chew; and it keeps the over-three crowd occupied... and quiet!!!

--  Promotional mugs, as an alternative to pricey artist bears, which I had imprinted with a promotional image (photos of my work, POTBELLY BEARS name, website URL.)  These were expensive to make and ship to my home, plus there was shipping and handling tacked on, so I had to charge about $19/mug to make even a single dollar per mug.  I figured if people fell in love with my bears but couldn't, for some reason, buy one, a mug might be a nice alternative.

NONE of the mugs sold (well, except for the ones my mom bought, but that doesn't count!) 

So if you're going to bring promotional items (pins, stationery, mugs, shirts, etc.), be sure the price point is low, low, LOW and that they're VERY affordable.

--  A vintage painted toy wagon to put the mugs in; it added a lot of charm, and some height, to my table.

I received a lot of compliments on my table and felt they were honest compliments.  MANY, MANY people -- including other artists, promoters, and visiting news media -- loved the taffy, as did a whole slew of adult collectors and small children.  I'd bring it again in a heartbeat.  (PS  I also had a garbage can in view, beside my table, for wrappers.)

I would not bring mugs again and would think hard about bringing other kinds of promotional items at this point, too, except for things like Sue Ann's brochures, which are more "advertising" than "merchandising."

Kelly, your mom's art might be an entirely different thing, as it bespeaks "investment" rather than "impulse purchase," which is more the appeal I figured my mugs would have.

What would I do differently next time?

1)  Try to bring more bears; I sold out by the morning of day three (it was a long show so I had a lot of time to sell out.)  I was incredibly lucky.

2)  Bring a sign with my company name.  I used it all over my mugs, my photo album, it was in the magazine, and it was on the credit/layaway placards.  But people still asked, "Who are you?"

SueAnn Past Time Bears
Flower Mound, Texas
Posts: 20,417

SueAnn Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Absolutely on the brochure, Shelli . . . go for it!  I just composed them on my computer and printed them out.  Since I have the basic compostion of the brochure saved, all I do is change what needs it at the appropriate time.

Shelli SHELLI MAKES
Chico, California
Posts: 9,939
Website

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Sue Ann... Glorious brochure.  Thanks for sharing.  You can be sure that at my next show (whenever that is) I'll be bringing along something similar.  Hope that's okay... !

As for table extras...

When I was prepping for my first -- and, to date, only -- show in Nevada City last April, I asked question after question on other boards and in other Yahoo groups just to get some of the same ideas you're seeking here; namely, what should I bring to maximize sales, marketing, visibility, basically SUCCESS??? 

After some asking, and listening, and studying, and looking, I came up with my own list of "must-haves" for my table which, for the most part (note MUG comment, below), worked out well for me. 

Here's what I brought (in addition to bears and stands to showcase them, and cloths/drapes for the table):

--  Guest book, where table visitors could sign up for my mailing list and/or leave a physical address and their name

--  A copy of the magazine in which my bear had been published in an editorial feature.  I went to a restaurant supply store and bought what was basically a "menu cover" in magazine size.  That way, I was able to open the magazine to the page where my bear appeared, and then hold it open to that page by sliding the magazine, opened, into the clear plastic menu cover, which then covered the pages completely.  The menu cover also kept the magazine cover, plus back page, viewable.

--  A photo album with two pictures (full body, closeup) of each bear I've made.  The pictures were 4x6 and slipped into double-slot pages.  I made sure to buy an album which coordinated with my business colors; it had a pink leather cover.

--  An accordian-fold, self-standing photo frame which had nine small windows (think "Brady Brunch" credits, or a Tic-Tac-Toe board!)  I used this to provide backdrop to a part of my table and to visually showcase, again, some of my work.  This time, it was bears that had already been sold and were not present.  I figured showing off some range and longevity was a good thing!

--  Two self-standing, cheap-o plastic frames which held credit card and layaway information.  I stood one on each end of my table.

--  A vintage (meaning, I bought it for 50 cents at Salvation Army) silver soap dish, and a HUGE stack of business cards to put in it.

--  A copper bucket (actually meant to be a small planter for a houseplant) filled to the brim with salt water taffy (which you can get at Cost Plus Imports, if you have one locally, or at your neighborhood candy shop.)  Taffy doesn't make hands sticky becuase it pops into the mouth in one fell swoop; it takes forever to chew; and it keeps the over-three crowd occupied... and quiet!!!

--  Promotional mugs, as an alternative to pricey artist bears, which I had imprinted with a promotional image (photos of my work, POTBELLY BEARS name, website URL.)  These were expensive to make and ship to my home, plus there was shipping and handling tacked on, so I had to charge about $19/mug to make even a single dollar per mug.  I figured if people fell in love with my bears but couldn't, for some reason, buy one, a mug might be a nice alternative.

NONE of the mugs sold (well, except for the ones my mom bought, but that doesn't count!) 

So if you're going to bring promotional items (pins, stationery, mugs, shirts, etc.), be sure the price point is low, low, LOW and that they're VERY affordable.

--  A vintage painted toy wagon to put the mugs in; it added a lot of charm, and some height, to my table. I also brought faux florals in glass vases; an embroidered mirror; and a needlepoint pillow; just for decorative accent and color.

I received a lot of compliments on my table and felt they were honest compliments.  MANY, MANY people -- including other artists, promoters, and visiting news media -- loved the taffy, as did a whole slew of adult collectors and small children.  I'd bring it again in a heartbeat.  (PS  I also had a garbage can in view, beside my table, for wrappers.)

I would not bring mugs again and would think hard about bringing other kinds of promotional items at this point, too, except for things like Sue Ann's brochures, which are more "advertising" than "merchandising."

Kelly, your mom's art might be an entirely different thing, as it bespeaks "investment" rather than "impulse purchase," which is more the appeal I figured my mugs would have.

What would I do differently next time?

1)  Try to bring more bears; I sold out by the morning of day three (it was a long show so I had a lot of time to sell out.)  I was incredibly lucky.

2)  Bring a sign with my company name.  I used it all over my mugs, my photo album, it was in the magazine, and it was on the credit/layaway placards.  But people still asked, "Who are you?"

Being a little (a little?!?) OCD, I did a practice run with my table setup and have included a labelled picture of that try-on session, here.

Hope this helps! bear_original

Shelli SHELLI MAKES
Chico, California
Posts: 9,939
Website

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

labelled-table-setup-for-te.jpgHey, wait a minute!  A total screwup!  Oh well, since Sue Ann has already replied, I'll let it stand and not edit or delete.  Criminies...

Here's the picture I MEANT to also include in one of my two, nearly identical, posts, above. 

Where is my head today?  I can't tell you how much it bugs me to have my computer screwups posted to the WORLD WIDE web.  Aargh!

Laughing here... bear_laugh

ellen ontario, canada
Posts: 324

is there some way to see the whole picture on here?  or is my monitor just too small?  *feeling dumb*
ellen
p.s.   LUV the display Shelli!!
thanx for sharing!  YOU TOO SUE ANN!!

bearsbybeesley bears by beesley TM
Tofield Alberta Canada
Posts: 6,818

SHELLI! I love your bears. Your table looks wonderful. I can believe each bear sells at your shows. Your bears will always sell themselves. Thay are truly wonderful.

Hugs Louise

Eileen Baird'sBears
Toronto
Posts: 3,873

Wonderful advice and pictures!! Thanks, all :D

I'm attending my first show in August, intending to learn all I can. Now I know what to look for !


Eileen

SueAnn Past Time Bears
Flower Mound, Texas
Posts: 20,417

SueAnn Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

SueAnn-at-Schaumburg2004.jpgThis is my table at ABC's Schaumburg 2004 fall show.  Hmmmm . . . maybe it does look a little cluttered!!
Shelli, your table looks wonderful with those to-die-for little honeys on it!!

Eileen Baird'sBears
Toronto
Posts: 3,873

bear_laugh WOW bear_laugh SueAnn

I love the idea of the cubes--lots of display and the height is most appealing.
What are they made of?

Eileen

Shelli SHELLI MAKES
Chico, California
Posts: 9,939
Website

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Sue Ann, I don't find your table cluttered at all.  It's precisely what I was going for; lots of bears, beautifully displayed!  I recognize your little holiday bear and tree from the Intercal photo gallery.  What's on the lower left corner of the table?  Wooden letters or some kind of plaque?  I can't quite make it out...  (and PS, I'm not usually a huge fan of colorful bears, especially those made in cool pastel tones.  But here I see one of yours again -- I've seen them before in the Gallery --  and you manage to make them somehow so warm and wonderful; love it!)

Thanks, everyone else, for the nice words about my bears.  Showing is a lot of work and a little stressful but it was super, super fun to meet all those collectors and so many other talented artists like Denis Shaw, John Paul Port, Lori Leeper, Joan Woessner, Intercal's own "Bear Street" supplier and bearmaker Dale Junker, Susan Arnot and sister, jeweler Stephen of Stephen & Helena Animal Jewels, and a host of other wonderful folk -- artist, promoter, collector -- that make this industry just the warmest place on earth.  If there's a show in your area and you can manage to work up the time and stock, I highly recommend it!  I had a great time.

Eileen Baird'sBears
Toronto
Posts: 3,873

Shelli,

Who is that handsome tanned dark-faced bear on your table?

I checked your website to see if I could find him--my first visit to your new one. Wowza, girl. You make those bears say it all. I love the way all the different head tilts give a really 'live' impression of the whole gang.

But no tall dark stranger . . .

Eileen

Shelli SHELLI MAKES
Chico, California
Posts: 9,939
Website

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

RASCAL-standing-72dpi.jpgI think maybe that's RASCAL...???

dscn2755.jpg

I designed him to stand and look a little bit like Maurice Sendak's LITTLE BEAR.  He was one of the first to go, to a very nice lady who came with her girlfriend, and then returned the next day to buy a second of my bears.  Which she said looked "BALD!", so she redressed it in vintage, granny-style clothing that she bought at the show itself!  She came back to show me how much "better" the bear looked. 

I wouldn't have dressed her that way myself but had to admit she did look so much more charming!  I said I should hire her as my bear stylist!

Thanks for the compliments on my site.  It's a labor of love; I really enjoy the photo editing and element arranging and color selecting stuff.

Eileen Baird'sBears
Toronto
Posts: 3,873

Ah, that's the dude. bear_laugh What a sweetie. Thanks, Shelli

Eileen

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

I have a question.....

What do you all use for a table covering that doesn't cost a fortune?!?

Something that covers an 8' table to the floor, looks neat & professional. I really don't want to do layers of sheets, etc. Just one big something that fits properly. I've thought of making my own but would have unsightly seams as I don't sew in a straight line very well!!!

I've found banquet table cloths to be very pricey but perhaps this is the way to go?

HELP!!

Daphne

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