USPS prices are going up May 12, see here for info http://www.usps.com/prices
I had foolishly bought a book of 41 cent letter stamps a few weeks ago instead of the 'forever' stamp. Why? I picked out something pretty and forgot there was even a forever stamp.
Normally that's too many to use within a month or so and I was not happy looking forward to purchasing those pesky 1 or 2 cent stamps to make up the difference.
Without rushing anything, I just so happened to have 2 fairly light envelope packages to send out (one was a prize to a winner in my trivia contest at Pretty Cheap Jewelry and the other was a request for items from my sister).
Weighing the envelopes at the post office scale, it was karma that I had just the right number of stamps to cover the costs for each!
Yay! And I will not make the mistake forgetting to buy forever stamps anymore. Even though they are not as pretty.
Archive for April, 2008
USPS prices are going up May 12, see here for info http://www.usps.com/prices
Happy Mother's Day?
We got it at Lowes: Bosch new washer, front load, low water use.
Original Price ~ $800
Marked Down Price ~ $700
Out Front 1/2 Off Price ~ $350
Verbal Agreement with Salesman Price ~ $200
Why? No matching dryer.
We grabbed it for our weekend home coming in May.
Drat! We were unprepared to take it with us. It was near my MIL's about 1 1/2 hours away. Not time or cost effective to go and get our pick up truck. So we paid $55 to deliver it to her house and will go and get it next visit.
So total cost was more like $275.
I was a vendor in a city sponsored, well attended art walk event over the past weekend. I had 2 spaces:
1. A single 6' table in the thick of the highly visited pedestrian area
2. Unmanned display in a room off the main drag
Cost of the first was $33
Cost of the second was $0
Sales from the first $150+ ****
Sales from the second nothing yet, (I haven't picked up my stuff yet).
It was a looooong 16 hours manning the table over the 2 day event, but I enjoy meeting and talking to my customers (otherwise it wouldn't be the right business for me).
Wonderful to feel validated by folks buying your crafts. I sold some of everything: bracelets, fancy earrings, casual earrings, men's jewelry, photo albums (like the little one shown in the left column), cross stitched cards, pressed flower cards.
Pooped but satisfied.
Zany trivia time:
'What do thousands of people do to save money that is not necessarily good for them?'
I'll put an answer here late in the day or over the weekend.
Have fun and don't read toooooo much into it!
I was accepted to display my jewelry designs in a venue for a city sponsored event called Art Walk. The host is an office/residential mix building; the downstairs has large, yet unoccupied, business space. One of the rooms is half used by an artist for the event, I was invited to fill the other half of the space.
The items are pinned onto fabric covered foam core boards and hung with wide velvet burgandy ribbon, (see below). Each board has an explanation of the item, including a contact number and price.
The cost of the set up was next to nothing. The fee for the space was nothing. I spent about $4 for a masonry drill bit. I already had made the boards long ago, and already had a very large spool of the ribbon from a marked down Christmas sale.
An easel (I already had from years ago) displays an entertaining biography and contact info. A stand which holds my business cards in a glass candy dish is next to the easel. (Bet you wouldn't guess what the 'stand' is made of).
I'm very happy with the results, and am so excited that it is ready for the show!
When I was working at the dining room table making painted wood pins (like the curved heart in the mini picture, left column), my 8-y-o daughter decided to paint. (She still wants to do whatever I'm doing much of the time).
She has a nice set of acrylic tube paints. So she grabbed a piece of white printer paper and sat at the table.
A vase of roses happened to be on the table. I glanced at her making the beginnings of what might have been the vase. And remarked "Oh, are you making the vase? Many famous artists do 'still life' and paint what they see". Whether or not she was going to paint the vase, I just wanted to subtly teach what a still life was (you learn while doing much more).
In our dining room is a corner curio with some pottery items on the shelf. I was pretty busy but looked over after she worked for a good 1/2 hour.
WOW! Here is what she saw and what she painted. I am flabberghasted at her creative talent. She did the whole scene including the cabinet, the items on the shelf and mixed black into her main colors to give the walls shadow/depth.
I could never do this!
My husband (the big earner, and big spender) hates to let coupons like this go unused. So we went to Lowe's and obtained 2 new carraige lights for the house exterior (plus a widget he already needed) at for a total of close to $50. Which of course, came to $40 after the coupon.
So far so good. One of the existing outdoor lights was falling off the house and was in need of replacement for a couple years (they are 14 years old).
But they gave him another at checkout. Argghhh.
So he quizzed me what do we need? I came up with a few good ideas. Off he went back a day or two later. I credit him for taking hours walking around scrimping to find something we truly needed for $50.01 to take advantage of the coupon.
He did spend, it wasn't really necessary. But one thing was a 4 slice toaster for the weekend home we are building this summer and are going to have to SLOWLY furnish. OK. I'm in favor of that. We already have a coffee maker for the house. And are moving some of the items from our current house to the weekend place (we have enough to spare in the current home).
Not too bad, but I wish they wouldn't give him any more coupons.
Wow! I was accepted to be in two venues for Art Walk this weekend. This is a city sponsored event that has thousands of visitors, music, outdoor festival type fun.
1. A small space in a popular location.
The first venue I worked pretty hard to obtain. After pestering (nicely), the host store is letting me vend a table in the foyer of their front door. They have a resident artist take 3/4 of the foyer, and I am a little worried I will be hugely overshadowed by this woman and her work. She sits and demonstrates most of the event. I saw her last year and must admit it is beautiful work! But I paid $33 (half of the space) for the right to have one table in there. Thousands of folks will walk by this spot though, PLEASE let some of them visit me!
2. A big space in a quiet location.
The other space I got (today!) was in a building a couple blocks off the main art walk area. It is still visited fairly well because there is an artist's studio building hub very close which is big on the art walk scene. The downstairs contains a big unfinished room which has masonry block walls inside. There is one artist going to take half the room (and be present during the event). But there is a BIG other empty half of the room!
I am mounting my items on boards (already made) and hang them like 'paintings'. I brought several to try today and they look great!
The only worry is I won't be present at this venue because I have to vend the table 100% of the time at the first venue! If folks want to purchase anything on the boards they will have to contact me through my email. I have tagged everything with price and email.
I'm So Happy Tired! It's alot of work to get things ready on boards, tagged, sorted which items are going to which venue, etc.
AMAZING! Nearly EVERYTHING in my inventory is going to a show in April and May. My storage shelves are CLEANED OUT.
This art walk runs Sat/Sun and I am in another show in Texas (a jewelry invitational) in May which I already sent 18 items, a nice small collection. The host studio feels some items are sure to sell.
HERE'S TO HOPING FOR NOT GETTING MUCH BACK TO PUT AWAY! WHEE!
and someday it will be
3. A big space in a popular location
coming soon when I am famous...
This is just too hilarious not to pass out. Sent from my mom, an animal rescuer.
8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 PM - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 PM - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 PM - Rode in the car! My favorite thing!
5:00 PM - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 PM - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 PM - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 PM - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!
Day 983 of my captivity. My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets.
Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape.
In an attempt to disgust them, I occasionally vomit on the carpet.
Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am.
There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event.
However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.
Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.
I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.
Fun and promotional games really DO attract customers to my internet shop.
Below is a 'treasury' (a gallery of 12 items in which Etsy members create choosing from the millions of items for sale in the site). Treasuries are wildly popular for Etsyians to view (kind of like photo sharing). And folks are usually VERY creative making treasuries of gorgeous similar colors, themes, etc.
Well I made a treasury game. The title was "Which one DOESN'T belong?". Players emailed me their guess. The prize was a gift certificate to my shop.
One lady won last night and was so excited she posted to the Etsy bulletin board about the whole thing. The post drew about 5 more players to my treasury. This is the kind of advertising you can't buy!
Want to take a guess? The bottom row is a little cut off, but the idea is intact.
No more gift certificates though, just a little fun. I'll post the answer after awhile.
I had a small percent of my total IRA account invested in oil (decline to say exactly here) which has of course doubled over the past year (maybe not even that long). My conservative advisor, who fits me to a 'T', sold it with my blessing yesterday so I capture a very tidy profit before things get too wild.
He says, "You can be a bear, you can be a bull, but don't be a hog." And I agree.
I would love to invest in gold but it is still high. It's come down some, but still going up and down. Sterling is going up.
WELL....stopped by the bead/jewelry supply store on my lunch break. WHAT WAS I THINKING?? I couldn't pass the 25% off gold-filled wire and sterling silver wire. This shop's prices are always a bit high, so with the sale their prices come down to what is available more typically to me with a little work (ie using a Joann coupon for sterling wire, although there is no choice in wire weight at JoAnns, or going to a different shop which sometimes but not always has the right weight).
Goldfilled and sterling work are never terribly inexpensive and 25% off doesn't come around too often.
These will be such a pleasure to work with! I made two pairs of chandelier earrings last night using sterling wire/silver plated chandelier frames and semi-precious stone briolettes.
no pic -- you'll have to wait! They will be priced somewhere in the $10-15 range.
I have a stack of coupons for:
Six Flags Magic Mtn (Valencia CA)
Six Flags Discovery (Vallejo CA near SanFran)
I have plenty, if you want some email me to obtain the address where to send me a self addressed stamped envelope. Include in your request how many you want.
The fine print on the coupons:
Six Flags Magic Mtn (Valencia)
Buy One Get One Free Any Day/ Expires 4/30/09
6Flags $29.99/Hurricane Harbor $19.99
Good for up to 9 tickets
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Vallejo, near San Fran)
Everyone pays kid's price/ Expires 12/28/08
$29.99 + 2.5% city fee
Good for up to 6 tix
Sales are tough, especially for handmade jewelry! Lots of folks enjoy crafting, and most everyone seems to try their hand at jewelry. But it's true for card makers, soap shops, and knitters.
How can you compete? Especially on the internet?
I've had a sale this past week from a no cost promotion and am going to tip you off!
What's at stake? These are SOLD
'O' Iolite Earrings
1. Games. Make it fun for your customer to play a game. I ran a 'Name that Tune' puzzle and gave a virtual gift certificate to the person(s) who answered correctly. The puzzle can be hidden in various places in your shop, such as the titles, item descriptions, item pictures and anywhere else you want them to go. What other games can you think of? Do you like word scrambles? Trivia?
I give you only one big caveat! Be sure to comply with local laws, ie special laws apply to drawings (with or even without purchase required) and sweepstakes type games. Avoid the whole sweeps issue by removing any aspect of chance to your players. For example, give EVERYONE who gets the answer right a prize.
2. Mailing Lists. Make sure you have a mailing list for potential customers! Put out a sign up sheet at every craft fair you vend. Get names by giving out small goody bags ('Free Goody Bag for signing up') filled with samples of your work, candy, or whatever you ingeniously think up! Use that list! Send out specials to subscribers at least monthly, including 'Free Gift with Purchase', Sneak Preview prices, and more. Do a simple, no cost email mailing without an attachment (many spam filters will flag an attachment).
3. Join some Groups. Many internet groups are out there for posting free ads, showing off work and general camraderie. The trick is defining your market!!! It would be exhausting and unprofitable to post just anywhere so if you make baby clothes, join some mommy groups! If you make dog treats, join the pet lovers groups! Look in yahoo, google, myspace and just google your target market.
It takes time, but has returns.
The black ink is drying!
Five vendors held an Artisan Af-FAIR at my home yesterday amidst food, friends and fun.
Sales averaged $100 a seller. Modest to good if I say so myself!
We kept expenses very low by volunteering for various tasks:
1. Donating snack trays and drinks for guests;
2. Donating goody bags to hand out for visitors who brought a coupon we distributed with a flyer in prior weeks
3. Making and posting street signs for about 1 mile in 3 directions.
I also provided a nice lunch for my sellers. We played radio music in lieu of finding a live musician.
These are new crafting buddies in my internet group the "California Crafters Club of Etsy".
I made a pin for each to wear, to serve as an easy lead in for offering a visitor a business card or coupon to their internet shop.
This Saturday I am hosting a craft fair at my house (yikes!). Five local colleagues will have booths out front, we are providing light refreshments and have free goodie bags to hand out for every guest that brings a coupon which has been on a flyer we are distributing.
Send me sales mojo! It is intended for our extended contacts, ie family, friends, neighbors, school friends, co-workers, etc. But I expect half or more of the attendence will come from the street signs 2 of us are placing within 1 to 2 miles of the house. I have made about 16 BIG signs.
Am busily tagging my things with prices as I speak (write). And just yesterday had a little lightbulb go off while making a necklace. See the shell piece on the item below, it was picked up off the beach by my then 8-y-o and has languished in my bead box awaiting the perfect use.
Strand of polished jasper chips (obtained in a trade), bone donuts (reclaimed from a former necklace), and tiny gold beads, hold a framed picture of peaceful Buddha. Picture protected by a permanently affixed plexiglass window.