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Heads Up! After Labor Day Sale is Here.

Greg and I hope you all had a fabulous Labor Day. We got hit with Tropical Storm Lee, so we saw a lot of rain. Other than a few downed limbs, everything is fine and the sun is shining today. A perfect day to celebrate our 25% off everything After Labor Day Sale.

For the murrine users:

Everything is 25% in the murrine Etsy shop.
www.chasedesigns.etsy.com

For the beaders:

Everything is 25% off in the bead Etsy shop.
www.cdlampwork.etsy.com

Prices are already marked in both stores.

And the website has both beads and murrine. Discount will be taken at checkout.
www.chase-designs.com.

Sale ends Friday night 09/09  at 11pm CST.

And if that wansn’t enough. My good friend Lisa Liddy of Metal Me This is having a sale as well.

Her After Labor Day Sale.

Stop by her Etsy store today through Thursday (until midnight eastern time). Spend $50 or more and receive a FREE set of bead caps (2 pair of BHB caps or 4 pair of regular beadcaps). Just put in the Notes section if you prefer Copper or Brass and if it’s BHB, let her know if you want to fit sterling tubing or copper tubing. Pattern and cap size is her choice, but you know there are no bad choices there!

FREE SHIPPING on orders over $50 also. Use the Etsy FREESHIP coupon at checkout.

Shipping and Payments for Online Sales--Business of Lampworking extras

I’ll start off with saying we’ve been selling online for over ten years and while we have received many phishing emails, we have only come close to being scammed once. So lets start by talking about what kind of payments you’ll be taking for online sales.

Number one biggest and safest is Paypal.

There are protections afforded to the buyer and the seller.  The buyer is protected because the seller has to prove they mailed the item within seven business days with delivery confirmation. For sales over $250 the seller must send the item with signature confirmation. If the item does not show up the buyer can then file a claim with paypal.

Now, if the seller has shipped to a confirmed address, sent the item with delivery confirmation, and the tracking shows the item arrived, the seller has done their job. Even if the buyer opens a claim, they will be protected. However, if they missed any of the steps, ship within seven days of payment, delivery confirmation, and a confirmed address, the buyer can and likely will win any claim dispute.

In the US, this is fairly straight forward, and it’s easy for sellers to comply to be protected. If we are shipping overseas, there really isn’t an affordable way to purchase delivery tracking. Neither Priority Mail or First Class International have a way to track packages once it leaves the US. So for those of us who ship overseas, we really are taking our chances. Insurance isn’t really a viable option with the USPS on international either. So I use a third-party insurance company, Shipsurance, to insure large value packages, just for my own piece of mind. I have used their service and it’s very easy. Fortunately for me, I have not had to file a claim, so I cannot comment on that end of the business. With all that said, overseas is more risky. But it’s worth it. We send stuff out of the country multiple times a week. We’ve had a few take a long time or go missing over the years, but not nearly enough to offset the thousands of dollars worth of sales we would have missed out on.

Credit Cards

I accept all major credit cards. It’s actually a lot more risky to accept CC than it is Paypal. All it takes is a call to the credit card company from the owner to get a charge reversed. If you make sales in person, you get their signature, so you are protected, but online or over the phone, not so much. I use Propay and customers can check out from my website using their card, I can send them an email for them to click to pay, or I can call them and get the number over the phone. I rarely get credit card payments online. Most people use Paypal.

I do get a lot of credit cards at shows though. Side note: For shows lots of people are going with the Square that lets you run credit cards through your iPhone or Droid. I, however, have not pony-upped for a smart phone, so I am still using Propay, which is actually a lot cheaper for me since I don’t have to pay a data package. However, if you have  an iPhone or a Droid already, I believe the Square is a cheaper option to go with over all. Do some research. Another side note: Etsy sellers get a discount with Propay. When you sign up or renew, just ask and they’ll take care of you.

Personal Checks and Money Orders:

I still accept both of these. First of all, I don’t have to pay any fees for this type of payment. It isn’t as fast or simple as an online payment, but if people want to give me money in these forms, I’m happy to take it. I just deposit them as soon as I get them, and then wait ten days to be sure they clear. If it’s a regular customer, I usually don’t even wait. The items just goes right out. It’s important to be sure these payments clear because checks and money orders can hit your account and appear to be cleared, but then a few days goes by and they might show as insufficient funds. It takes a few days for the banks to communicate. So be aware that just because it showed up in your account, it might still need some time to clear. In  my opinion ten days is a good amount of time. If your spidey sense goes off about anyone paying this way, do a quick google search to be sure they aren’t passing bad payments.

Are you scared yet? Don’t be. We’ve been doing this online thing for eleven years. I’ve had three checks bounce. One was taken care of by the customer ASAP. The other two were by the same person and my spidey sense was going haywire due to the details of the transaction. As a result, I never mailed the items, and I was only out the bounced check fees and some aggravation.

I have yet to have anyone open a Paypal claim. I’m sure that is partly because we have a 100% guarantee policy that anyone can return anything for any reason within ten days of receiving it. Also, if something goes missing, we either replace it or refund the amount. Don’t get caught in the it’s-the-Post-Office’s-fault trap. Think about it. If you order something and it doesn’t show up, do you care whose fault it was? All you know is you ordered some goods and they never arrived. You’re not likely to reorder from that store again are you? Take care of your customers and they will be customers for life. I promise.

Bead Fest Philly Report

Last week I drove up to Philadelphia to attend the Bead Fest Bead show. It’s a two-day trip both ways from here. Luckily, my friend Angie Ramey lives in TN at pretty much the halfway mark, and I was able to visit with her on the way up and the way back.  Though it really would have been much more convenient to fly. But then how would I get my gorgeous light bar and all my stuff there? The murrine bins are a particular problem. So, after mulling it over, we decided the car was the best bet.

You should see the car after Greg packs it up.The trunk and backseat are full with the light bar running the length of the car and poking out between the front seats. Hey it’s only me in the car, so who cares? Plus I can bring a cooler of food and throw in anything extra I deem necessary. Like extra bubble baggies I was able to share with a friend who ran out of packaging for her beads. Yay me! My last show I used a fair amount of another friends bubble baggies so it felt good to pay it forward.

Anyway, this was my first year at this show so I don’t have anything to compare it to. This was also the first year for the new venue: The Expo at the Oaks. Some people we not pleased, but the old venue is being turned into a casino (or so I heard). Hard to hold a bead show in all that construction. I heard some complain about the parking. Since we got there before the show opened each day I didn’t notice a parking issue. There seemed to be plenty. It is an Expo area. But since the show attendance was over a thousand people I can see how some would end up with a good walk. It doesn’t help that it thunder stormed all weekend. No one likes to walk in torrential downpours. Despite the new venue and rain, the promoter said the show attendance was up from last year.

That’s good. But how were sales? I can only speak for myself. I have a formula for what I have to do for the show to make me money: Expenses + $100 a day for all the days I am not torching (prep, driving, and actual show days).

For this show the expenses were:

$495 table fee
$110 electric
$400 travel fee (gas, I was lucky and ended up with a free hotel room)
$800 (Eight days away from the torch)

$1805 Total amount needed to make for the show to be worthwhile.

I made more than that.

For me Bead Fest Philly was successful. I heard mixed reports from other vendors. Of course, without hard numbers I have no idea what they consider successful.

Better yet, I met three long time customers of mine in person for the first time. It’s really awesome when someone stops by your booth looks at your stuff and says, “Hey this looks like Chase Designs.” Then they look up and say, “Are you Deanna?”

Pretty great right?

Plus I got to spend the weekend with my good friend Susan Sheehan. I think I may have talked her  into Bead Fest Texas in October. Hopefully she’ll be able to work it into her schedule.

Profitability of a Bead Show-Chapter 6 The Business of Lampworking

There are all kinds of reasons for selling at a bead show. Being part of the community, making contacts, building client base, picking up wholesale bead stores, hanging out with like-minded people. But when it comes to the business of lampworking, the main and most important reason should be to be profitable.

When deciding if you want to attend a certain show you need to know just how much money you have to make in order to be profitable. Be realistic with yourself and as always, remember shows are a gamble.

Here are a few examples:

Bead and Button (I’m using approximate numbers because I don’t have everything right in front of me, but they are close):

Table fee: $895
Electric fee: $150
Hotel (Shared a room): $200
Travel (gas, I drove from LA to WI): $300

Total fee not including food: $1545

$1545 before I’ve bought one display or sold one bead. Ouch! I’m not including display costs because those are business costs that are used for all my shows, not just one. But if you plan on only do one show, you for sure need to add that cost in. They can be as inexpensive or expensive as you like. Greg made my light bar. The materials cost $150. Plus bead trays, inserts, table cloths, a banner, risers, etc, etc. More on table displays later. But those costs can add up too.

Next I need to factor in how many days I will not be working at the torch. Bead and Button is a four day show. Plus I have four travel days. Two days up and two days back. Eight days. Plus I lose the day before I leave for packing and last minutes show prep. That’s nine days total. My goal when working at home and bringing in online sales is $100 a day. So I must make at least $900 at the show just to make up for my days of being away.

$1545
+900

=$2445

At Bead and Button I must make at least $2445 just to break even.

Let’s look at another show for comparison.

Houston Bead Society Show:

Table Fee: $275
Hotel Fee: $200
Gas fees: $100

Total fees: $575

Total days away from the studio is four with one prep day=5. My formula $100×5=$500.

Total needed to break even $1075.

It’s important to run the numbers and know what your expectations are for each show you are contemplating. Everyone will have different expenses so be sure to take into account your specific situation.

I’ll be honest, with the amount of work it takes to build inventory for a show and the cost factor I’m pretty sure I’d do better just selling everything at wholesale online. I don’t do that of course. The thing is I sell wholesale to bead stores and I have to maintain price integrity. Plus, with retail online prices I make more per piece so I don’t have to work as hard with lower prices. But when it’s crunch time (like right now) I dream about it. Bead Fest Philly is next weekend and I’m not ready.

No one is ever ready for a show.

You just do what you can and try not to spend too much time doing other things, like blogging. :)

A Tennessee Retreat

If you’ve been around this blog for  a while, you know every spring I go to an event called Bead Camp. It’s actually the home of a very dear friend of mine, Angie Ramey. She organizes the event, books a teacher, sets up demos and we all come for a long weekend of sharing, learning, and most of all laughing. And it’s held right there at her house, complete with a fabulous studio.

It is my must-not-miss event every year.

There are limited spaces and every year they fill up fast with the original participants, which means it’s usually not open to new attendees because all of us old timers get first shot.

So why did I tell you about it here? Because Angie is opening her home to more beadmaking and metal retreats throughout the year.

Read about them here!

You cannot go wrong with a retreat like this. Angie is by far the most organized person I know. She makes every event go off without a hitch. Plus she makes fabulous beads and metal goodies. And she loves to laugh.

 

And as a bonus? Vern–Angie’s mom and business partner–will likely be there. Vern is just awesome. You’re gonna have to go for a retreat to find out. So gather up your girlfriends and get ready for some learning. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

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