As many of you know, ACC Baltimore is two different shows. The first two days are for wholesale to trade buyers only, followed by three days of retail sales to the public. I did this combination show once before in 2007. Back then, I was brand new to wholesale. I set up one display and used it for both shows. In other words, I considered all of my pots to be available to wholesale buyers. Now it's six years later, since then I built up the wholesale side of my business at the Buyers Market trade show, then reached a point where I realized I needed to shrink that part of my business, before it swallowed me whole.
Last year, I took a break from all wholesale shows, while I tried to figure out a smarter way to proceed. I wanted to make my wholesale business more efficient, but still profitable. My new ideas sprouted last August. I received several new orders that month (this is the time of year when galleries place orders for their holiday season), and one of them stood out. It was the largest order in terms of dollar amount, but as I read down the purchase order I thought "piece of cake" because the order consisted mostly of dinner plates. My dinner plates are not wheel-thrown; they are hand-built out of clay slabs, using templates and molds. They are far more efficient to produce than anything wheel-thrown. In fact, someday I ought to do an Hourly Earnings calculation comparing my hand-built dinner plates to wheel-thrown pots. I bet it would show a significant difference. So in the months that followed, my wholesale line was reconceived around this idea. It is now focused mostly on hand-built dinnerware, with very few wheel-thrown pieces. I've also included my upscale line of oversized, carved serving pieces and vases. Because as my Hourly Earnings Project revealed, this segment of my work has always been worth wholesaling. Here is my wholesale display from the ACC Show:
So the reason I chose the ACC wholesale show over the Buyers Market is because of the retail show that follows. While I'm trying to streamline my wholesale business, I want to grow my retail business as much as possible. In between the two shows, I added a whole lot more shelving to my display, and a whole lot more pots, including the entire spectrum of my wheel-thrown work:
Looking forward now, there are two items that I think I need before I can expand the business further: a second kiln, and a larger vehicle.