Do any of you remember back when I owned the art gallery, Pine Street Art Works, and had a bunch of mannequins there? Oh how I loved them. When I closed, back in 2009, I sold three of them, two Maira Kalman children and one Adel Rootstein. I kept three Maira Kalman/Ralph Pucci busts.
I sold the Rootstein - Diane Dewitt - to someone who was crazy about her, and that made me feel better about losing her, but I found I really missed her. Years later, I heard that the new owner gave her away to a mutual friend. I emailed the friend and said if she ever decided that she didn't want the mannequin anymore, that I'd like her back.
Lo and behold, the day arrived. Two days ago we were reunited. I rearranged my living room to welcome her and she is home at last! So please expect to see many more images of one of my favorite models.
Here she is working hard at the shop, selling tableware. Glass by AO! Glass, placemats by Small Equals.
Do any of you remember back when I owned the art gallery, Pine Street Art Works, and had a bunch of mannequins there? Oh how I loved them. When I closed, back in 2009, I sold three of them, two Maira Kalman children and one Adel Rootstein. I kept three Maira Kalman/Ralph Pucci busts.
I was planning to teach a class at Winooski Circle Arts, a store I managed, about using Facebook for business. Since WCA is closed, I thought I’d share some ideas here. The examples are from two Facebook business pages I created: Winooski Circle Arts and Small Equals.
I've framed this for business pages but the ideas hold true for any professional pages: art, writing, publishing, theater, cooking classes, or anything.
The four key ideas are:
Image + Story
+ Acknowledgement + Engagement
1) Use images:
Use images as often as you can. It’s best if you can shoot your own. iPhone or smartphone pictures are great for this. Better still - take an extra few minutes to crop, frame, and add text if you want. Remember to add your logo, and add photo credit if the photos are not your own, or even if they are. I use online photo editing software, PicMonkey and think it's a great program. There is a free standard version or you can upgrade for more versitility.
Take pictures of your product, your office, studio, employees; take pictures at the craft or business fairs you attend. Take photos at events you speak at. Take pictures of the equipment you use to make your product, and the people who are using the equipment. Take pictures of your customers interacting with your product - but only use them with permission.
Old images are great too. Take advantage of google image searches to find a vintage image that is no longer under copyright. These are fun and people enjoy them. Do not use images that are copyright. Rule of thumb, stick to images made before 1925. That’s not precise, but good enough.
2) Tell a story.
Story sells. There’s always something to tell about your product or service. Do you make something that uses ingredients or components? Write a paragraph or two about them. In my business, Small Equals, I like to write about how my bags and placemats are made by Flashbags in Burlington, VT. Or about the boxes that are made for me by Vermont Wooden Box. Go to your supplier, ask some questions, snap some photos. Link to their websites. Do this often.
Did you start working with a new manufacturer, with a new tool, a different paint? How is it different? What does it look like? Where did you get it?
Unless you go into the woods and chew down trees to make your paper, your supplies are made somewhere. This is interesting when you think about it. Your customers will think so too; even more so if you actually do go into the woods and chew down the trees.
Did you read an article or see a film that inspired you? Even if it is only tangentially related to your business, your readers might like to know about it too. Remember, your customers are well-rounded people, and they want to hear about your ideas as well as your product.
If you’ve written a blog post about anything related to your business, make sure to link it on facebook. And, of course, make sure you have a facebook link on your blog.
3) ACKNOWLEDGE EVERYONE
No business, maker or artist works completely on their own, nor do they get their ideas out of thin air. Did someone give you a terrific idea that you put into production? Were there books that inspired you? Tell your customers about it. They want to know, and the person who gave you the idea deserves credit.
Is your product being sold in a local store? Go there and take some pictures, or at least write a little post about them. Make sure you link to their facebook page, too. This lets your customers know where they can get your product, and builds good relations with the store. This is very important. Do this often.
Did you consult on a project with someone? Tell your readers. You have an amazing accountant, fed ex driver, editor, publicist? A customer who was particularly encouraging or funny. Share the story.
Write about your employees, mention their birthdays, or if they got an award or had a baby or if they accomplished something interesting or important for your business. Everyone likes to be recognized, and your readers will like peeking behind the scenes.
This is all about building good will with your customers, friends and employees.
This is also known as building community. It matters. A lot.
4) ENGAGE WITH YOUR READERS
Don’t just post and run. Make sure to respond when someone comments on a post. A “like” will be the barely acceptable minimum. A “thank you, Sally,” is quick and easy. If someone asks a question, answer it. If someone’s comment inspires you to write back, do so, even if it's brief. Conversation is engagement. Conversation lets your customers know that there is a real person there and that you care about them. If you don’t care about your customers, you are in the wrong business.
Sometimes your readers will post a comment you disagree with. If it's truly offensive, if it uses slurs or attacks, you certainly have the option of deleting it, and often that is the best thing to do. But if readers are responding with a genuine concern or interesting idea, even if you don't agree, try to think of this as an opportunity for engagement. You lose credibility by ignoring or deleting comments that don't tell you how wonderful you are, or that don't parrot your own ideas. Eventually your readers will figure out that you do this, and will realize that what you have provided is not a community but an echo chamber. All but the diehard fans will leave, and this is not really something that will help you promote your business.
These suggestions mean you have to check in to facebook regularly. I’d say minimum of once a day. Keep posting, keep responding to your readers. Engage! This is an important part of your job. Just do it. And have fun with it.
Your business is not just about you. It is about relationships. Build them.
PS: I wrote a post several years ago about reciprocity in business that covers some of the same topics. Find it HERE
Winooski Circle Arts is not open right now, but here's the Facebook Page.
Find Small Equals Facebook page HERE
Last week I posted this image of a billboard in progress in Greenwich Village, NYC.
Photo ©Liza Cowan
Today my friend Penny sent me this picture of the finished billboard. It's for Barneys New York.
And here's the inspiration for the billboard:
"Helmut Lang's cast-resin replica of five front-row seats from his final fashion collection are installed in a concrete room in the window of Barneys, replicating the artist's own basement, where the piece has been stored. Flat-panel plaques on the floor display the fashion items the artist selected as highlights of 2009"
More images from around NYC. Wooden shoe molds I saw at Fishes Eddy- a store And a view through a tailor's shop window to a portrait of of the king of Thailand and spools of thread.
Walking around New York City is never dull. I grew up in the city but now I am just another visitor with a camera.
This is my first post via iPad do bear with me as I learn. Always a journey, right?
After I closed Pine Street Art Works, my bricks and mortar store, I had to figure out how to keep selling, but online. I was developing a line of products - wooden Keepsake Boxes - that I was excited about, and wanted to offer on the web. I did my research and decided on BigCartel as my platform. I considered Etsy because I know a lot of crafters and antiques vendors who are happy with it, but I thought about the tradeoff - possibly more visitors via the well known site vs. the ability to jump around once the shopper is inside the site. I decided I'd rather have a captive audience. And on BigCartel I can sell products made by other people or manufacuturers, like Seed Bombs by VisuaLingual, or Canetti Pure Acrylic Magnet Frames, two of my most popular items.
When I first started selling on BigCartel the design options were more limited than I would have liked. I don't know how to code but I have high standards. But that changed recently when BigCartel offered new design options for the coding-challanged.
To have a beautiful storefront you have to start with a good, or at least a good looking, product, good pictures and a strong enough design sense. But that's a given. All of that takes a lot of work, and a skill set that takes time to develop. Once you have that, and have found your online platform, there's still the work of marketing. But it makes all the difference to have a good platform, and I have to say I'm hugely pleased with the folks at BigCartel.
I'm very happy that I can write as much text as I like about a product. Regular readers of this blog know that backstory and provenance mean the world to me, and I get to tell it on each product page. I've even included a video on some pages, of me showing the box.
There's even an option for pages, including a page for your blog. I love this feature because the more a customer knows about the folks who make a product, the more personal it becomes. Story sells. And as a customer, I like to know who I am buying from.
The support staff at BigCartel is superb and that counts for a lot. Quick, friendly advice and help? I'm hooked.
BigCartel even has an app that connects to my my small equals Facebook Page, for seamless shopping online.
My ancestors peddled door to door and then opened up one of the worlds' first catalog companies. It makes me proud to continue in the family tradition...but in a 21st century venue.
Find my online store HERE
If you are interested in using bigcartel as your online platform you can find them at www.bigcartel.com
and happy shopping! Or selling.
Once in a while, I come across a place or an event that renews my faith in Burlington Vermont. Today, I ventured into Maglianero Cafe, which has been open for just six weeks, in one of my favorite culs-de-sac in Burlington's post industrial South End.
Housed inside of the former Burlington Wholesale Grocery building, which fronts on Maple Street, the cafe is owned by the partners at JDK, one of Burlington's most prestigious PR firms. The building also is home to the Iskra Print Collective, who made the gorgeous screenprint murals inside the cafe.
My regular readers will know what a huge fan I am of Burlington's industrial architectural history. So you can imagine my delight in finding this old warehouse re-imagined as a cafe. The interior is large. Huge, even, with various spaces that flow into each other, yet can be separated for various large or small functions.
The iced coffee was delicious and refreshing, served with style and the only kind of warmth I wanted on such a hot day, by Maggie, the barrista.
The theme of the Malianero cafe is bicycles. They have bike parking and even have showers for cycling commuters - which invokes another old passion of mine, community bath houses. (Another time, dear reader, I might post an essay I did on Bath Houses and community bathing in early 20th Century New York City)
47 Maple Street
Burlington VT 05401
Farmers Markets, Burlington, VT. Community building, great food, great for the environment, supports local farmers, AND retail theater at it's best.
Everything's falling into place. Aaron Stein, artist/builder, has been constructing a beautiful 90 sq ft store for Small Equals. Phil The Wonder Assistant and I have been busy packing up Pine Street Art Works. Downsizing from 2,000 sq. ft to 90 sq. ft is a daunting challenge. It's not so much designing the small space, as much as getting rid of everything in the large one.
Meanwhile, I've been shopping for fun products to put in the Keepsake Card Kits:
I went to the NY International Gift Show, which was amazing. I had only one day, which wasn't enough, but I found some sweet products for the shop.
Magnets from iPop, pouch and robot from Wilde and Woolf.
I also ordered more cuteness from Shinzi Katoh, vintage image products from R. Shackman and beautiful classic plastic boxes from AMAC.
I'm kind of in a magnet mode these days, so it's no surprise that I was attracted to iPop Magnets.
Also in the magnet mode, I've been selling these fabulous pieces by Uno Industries. 40 inches of magnetized chain and a cute little magnet to hold it together as a bracelet, ring or whatever. So fun and endlessly playable.
Uno Industries Magnetic Jewelry
And the magnetic item that got me started on the magnet kick: Canetti Magnet Frames. I finally met Nancy Halper, Canetti's owner, at NYIGS, which was great. I've been doing land office business selling the 5x7 frames, which I will continue to sell at small equals, along with some smaller versions.
Next week Pine Street Art Works will be closing. After five years. I will be opening another small shop, with a much tighter focus, so I'm excited about that. But meanwhile here's a small photo review of most of the shows I've curated since 2005.
My kids used to like to sit in the window and pretend to be mannequins. Liza Cowan Photo 2005
same window without kids. David Klein, Beanie For Peace. Liza Cowan photo 2005
David Klein, Beanie For Peace. Liza Cowan, FAKE! photo by Liza Cowan 2005
Show card Richard Gombar. Design Liza Cowan 2008
Heinrich Harrer photographs, Seven Years In Tibet. Curated by Leslie DiRusso. Card design Liza Cowan. 2008
Showcard Aline Smithson. Liza Cowan design 2009.
Aline Smithson photos at Pine Street Art Works. Photo Liza Cowan 2009
OK, well that's the brief tour.
I'm moving, reinventing, reincarnating, all of those things. Opening Sept 10th at S.P.A.C.E Gallery 266 Pine Street in Burlington.
As soon as I'm settled, Seesaw will continue as usual.
This is big news but I'm telling you in a tiny post. Seesaw, the blog, will remain the same but the shop - Pine Street Art Works - will be radically downsizing and moving down the street.
Basically I'm going from a 2,000 sq. ft space to a 90 foot space and will be selling only small goods like my beautiful Keepsake Card Kits and the small treasures that fit inside them.
Huge Sale at Pine Street Art Works. 404 Pine Street Burlington VT.
Come over if you are nearby. Keep tabs on what's for sale on the Moving Sale CataBlog
call or email if you think you want something that I can ship. I will ship small goods, hold larger ones for pickup, but large items, like furniture, I cannot ship.
802 863 8100
Burlington, Vermont native Edward P Hatch bought NYC department store Lord & Taylor in 1879. He also owned the Lake Champlain estate, Red Rocks, that became one of Burlington's most beautiful and popular public parks.
I've been writing and posting about Red Rocks this week, so a couple of days ago my daughter G and I decided to take a hike up the Red Rocks trail. It's not far from our house, and we've hiked it before - she many more times than I - but I never bothered to read the sign before:
Sign at Red Rocks Park, South Burlington, Vermont.
"Beginning in 1888, this large property was part of an annual summer retreat for the family of Edward Hatch, Jr. who managed the famed Lord & Taylor department store chain in the late 1800's. Mr Hatch took up residence for several summers in the former Hotel Vermont adjacent to City Hall Park in downtown Burlington. The City of South Burlington subsequently purchased the site with federal assistance from the Land And Water Conservation Fund in 1970."
Wait a minute!! Lord & Taylor??? I practically grew up in Lord & Taylor. It's was one of the oldest department stores in New York City when I was a girl in the 1950's. I'm sure I remember riding the rickety old wooden escalators to the upper floors of it's now landmarked building at 38th and 5th.
“The department store began in an era of a hub-and-spoke transportation system for cities, before the automobile,” Tedlow says. “In Chicago, for instance, the large downtown department store, Marshall Field’s, became in and of itself The Brand. And for a store like that in, say, 1870 or 1880, the competition was basically mom-and-pop shops. Department stores were a new mode of retailing. They became destinations—they became places where you shopped not solely for procurement but for entertainment." Adam Gopnik, Under One Roof, The New Yorker, Sept. 22, 2003
Lord & Taylor began as a dry goods store on Catherine Street (Manhattan's Lower East Side) in 1826. Subsequent moves brought it further and further north, to Broadway and Grand, then to Broadway and 20th Street, which became part of the "Ladies Mile" destination.
"The architect James H. Giles developed a five-story mansard-roofed scheme in cast iron that was widely praised. The building rises like an expanding crystal structure, an intricate pattern of crisply decorated blocks and spiky plant forms that seems to prefigure the William Morris patterns of the 1880's. The entire corner tower is angled, with a tall rectangular mansard pavilion on top, and the roof line still has much of its original, lacy cresting." Christopher Grey NY Times May 7, 1995
So, Lord & Taylor is in its new digs in the beautiful cast iron building when, in 1879, Eward Hatch, of Burlington Vermont, takes over the reins.
Edward P SEPT 21, 1909- Burlington VT, Edward P. Hatch, for many years President of the dry goods firm of Lord & Taylor, New York, died at the Van Ness Hotel in this city to-day from heart disease, at the age of 77. He had spent the Summer here for the last forty years. ....Edward P. Htch was born in Norwich, Vt. on July 11, 1832. He was the son of a village physician, Dr. Horace Hatch, whose own father had been one fo the pioneers of the town and had helped to clear the forest for his home with his own hands...When Edward Hatch was 15 years old he entered a store at a salary of $4 a month, one of his chief duties being the packing of wool [? wood?] Two years later he came to New York and entered the store of Robinson & Co. on Broadway as an entry clerk....[goes on to work for Wilcox and Gibbs sewing machines, makes a forturne, retires and...] In 1879 however, the opportunity came of reorganizing and carrying on the affairs of the house of Lord & Taylor, and Mr. Hatch, as the head of the reorganized firm, entered the world of business again. Being impressed with the commercial value of the firm's name he retained it, and only a small part of the general public knew whose brain it was that was working behind the old firm name. Until five years ago he carried the firm on alone. Then he organized it into a corporation capitalized with $2,500,00 preferred and $3,000,000 common stock, he being the President.... Many years ago Mr. Hatch purchased Red Rocks, a splendidly wooded estate on Lake Champlain, south of Burlington. He constructed a permanent stone road for many miles near Mallet's Bay. Along the road he set many drinking fountains. His interest in making improvements of this kind throughout Vermont continued to the time of his death. His body will be buried near Lake Champlain." Meanwhile, back in Burlington, Red Rocks had - and still has- some great swimming places, from a tame beach to massive cliffs for the foolhardy to jump from. If bathers were to buy their suits in 1879, the year Hatch took over Lord & Taylor, this is what they'd have been wearing
If the bathers, or picnickers wanted to get around the estate in those days, or a bit later, they could have ridden in a buggy like this
Alas, when daughter G. and I hiked up to recreate the view, we found the trees had filled in most of the roadway, and we ended up with this.
But we were happy, and the view is still spectacular. Maybe next time we'll find some old fashioned bathing costumes.
If you want to give a shot at reading the things at Pine Street Art Works, I'll give you a hint: Spring Cleaning. Yes, after a long winter here in Burlington, with the gallery set up as a wonderfully crowded and fun store, I decided to go simple for Spring. Intern Par Excellence, Daniel Weinberg, and I spent a couple of days moving furniture and products, art and artifact. Grueling, but worth it. So welcome to Spring on Pine Street in Burlington Vermont's Arts District. Why the interest in reading objects? Carol Golemboski's amazing show here at the Gallery: Psychometry (the ability to divine the history of objects through physical contact.)
Next big project: The street garden. Charlotte Albers of Paintbox Garden Design is planning something special, and I'll keep you posted.
Call it the Golden Rule, the threefold law of return, Karma...every culture has it's version of Do Unto Others. Running a retail business offers endless opportunities for beneficial mutual exchange with all kinds of people...vendors, customers, suppliers, staff, delivery people, neighbors, tech support: the question is - what are you going to do with it?
For me, part of the thrill of retail is being able to cultivate relationships. If I'm excited about a piece of art, a product, a service, a website, I want to get to know what, or who, is behind it. My first impulse is to write an email, make a phone call, write a blog post, send a note on facebook or twitter. If I like something I want to tell the world about it. But after a point, I really do need to be supported in kind.
It's been my experience that only a portion of the people I extend myself to bother to respond in kind. Do I understand why? Not really. I guess some people are just not connectors. Do I accept it? Yes. And move along.
I'm not quite snarky enough to tattle on those businesses who don't see generosity as part of their work ethic. The law of threefold return will bite them in the derriere eventually. If I like their products or services enough I might continue to use them, or sell them, but I won't go the extra mile to help publicize them. There's no juice in it.
But those who do... ah, the sweetness of mutual delight and support. Here's to the connectors.
Flashbags started in business the same time I did. We are all Burlingtonians. Our kids go to school together. I adore them, personally and professionally. We've always featured each other in promotions and events. Ali and Laura, now just Laura, are the most generous, enthusiastic co-conspirators a business could ask for. Flashbags are the staple of my retail business and I couldn't imagine retail life without them.
I was excited about Cardboardesign from the moment I found out about their products. I think I read about them on a design blog when they first started, and was one of their first wholesale accounts. Because I was so in love with their product I started blogging about them. Because their marketing director, David Rosenzweig is such a nice and cool guy, he started emailing me. His daughter even commented on this blog. Did I mention he knows Simon Doonan? (who has never contacted me, ahem...) And recently they quoted me on their new sales brochure. Was I excited? You bet. Does this translate to sales for me..and them? Of course. Why? Because the personal connection, the reciprocity, makes me want to work that much harder for them. [update: sorry to report that Cardboardesign went out of business. sniff...]
Canetti frames are, after Flashbags, my best selling product. It's always easy to sell a product I love so much. But when owner Nancy Halper and I started exchanging chatty emails, when she took the time to research and answer my questions, when she invited me to Linked In, I knew there was a real person behind the product and that relationship spurred me to be even more excited to sell their beautiful, pure acrylic magnet frames. I'm sure that in the scope of things I'm not that big of an account for them. Au contraire. But Nancy always makes me feel special. At their booth the recent NYC gift show, Canetti featured my store advertising postcard in their frames. Yeah, it's a great card, looks super in their frames, and mentions them on the back. But they didn't have to do it. Again, wow.
I used to send gallery and shop announcement email blasts via my website, which was cumbersome. Then I only used facebook, which is good but doesn't have any extra oomph. Then a few months ago I was blog surfing and someone mentioned Mad Mimi email marketing. I regret not remembering which blog, but a couple of days later I googled Mad Mimi, browsed their site, and decided to give them a try.
The MadMimi webpage was inspiring, their testimonials glowing. I decided to give it a try. Heck, I need to promote this store. At some point while I was designing my first promotion I had a question, even though their design program is super easy to use. I emailed their tech support and ....right away someone was there, live, in real time, answering my questions. Patiently. Nicely. I mean, Hello!!...when does that happen??
But then there was a bigger bonus - besides my amazing and amazingly easy to design promotion. At the Mad Mimi site they have a gallery of some of their clients and I decided my goal was to get into that gallery. They've got cool stuff there - great clients. I emailed and got a really sweet response from Gary, CEO and Founder. We chatted about this and that...he lives in my old Brooklyn neighborhood..and yes, they loved my promotion and put it on their site. So...not only did I get super tech support, get to design and send a gorgeous email promotion, which my customers loved, but also they put me on their website. Again, sure, my promo was great... but that's the thing. They didn't have to. But they - Gary, Dean and the others on the team, understand reciprocity, they are nice, down to earth folks running a savvy business. Part of their savviness is in their genuine customer relations.
If you've ever tried to get tech support from web or blog providers, you know just how frustrating this can be, and how likely you are to get the response, "we got your question and will be back with you soon" and then you wait and wait - and wait - until you get an answer that confounds you even more. Not mentioning any names typepad.
Some tech support makes me want to gnash my teeth and tear out my hair, which makes my happiness with MadMimi even more impressive.
Link some Love:
Love what someone's doing, selling, writing, designing? Send them some link love. Why not? Tweet them, it costs you nothing, and the goodwill you get back is astounding. Or post a link on Facebook. I'm new to the tweet world, an old hand at Facebook, and here's what I think: you can build community through links, tweets and retweets.
A while back, book designer and blogger Ian Shimkoviak tweeted a post of mine. I only knew because I followed the trail on sitemeter when I noticed a bump in readership. Then I wrote about him in my recent post on book covers. Then he tweeted that. And it was picked up by a couple of his followers. Again...wow. Today I tweeted MadMimi. They tweeted me. And tomorrow??? Maybe I'll tweet you. Or you'll tweet me.
What it boils down to for me is more than the golden rule: in my mission statement I say that Pine Street Art Works is in business to build community through retail. I am a fierce advocate for local neighborhood community building, but, in addition, in this cyber age, neighborhood can be anywhere and everywhere. We build it one email, one tweet, one link at a time. Share the love.
Time to set the table. Holiday festivities are coming up, and then there's just plain every day gorgeousness. Check out what we've got for your table.
In the background: Ginny Joyner food illustration prints, mid century botanical school charts.
Also available for you table: Shinzi Katoh tea pots, Liquid Cardboard tabletop sculpture, more mid century vases and dishes, pottery from Paige Russell.
Did someone say party?
Here are some random shots of new and old things we have at PSAW today:
Always popular, The Magnet Frame from Canetti. 5x7, these pure acrylic frames open and close like a dream, held by tiny powerful magnets. @ $28. Photos in the frames are by me, Liza Cowan, except the one of two old fashioned girls who are my grandmother Lena Straus Spiegel and her sister Hettie.
As I posted on my sandwich board today, "Tick tock, time to think about holiday shopping" Actually, as a retailer, I've been thinking about holiday shopping since mid summer. Truth be told, as a consumer I enjoy buying presents for my loved ones, but it's even more fun selling fabulous things to my customers. In this economy we're all being careful of what we spend, so I've worked at getting great stuff at reasonable prices. By reasonable, I try to mean under $50. Often under $25.
These clocks are super cute and a brand new product from the Timeworks, Inc. Clock Company from Berkeley, CA. They come in a reusable box and assemble in a jiffy, really. I think they are made of melamine. The clock runs on a battery. Great little gift for under $20, easy to send, too.
Check out the clock faces. Click the small image and it will pop up!
I've been a stationery lover my whole life. Mostly I've collected postcards and notecards, but anything with pretty images and shapes will catch my eye. Now that our local paperie, Scribbles, has closed (alas) I'm trying to fill the void a tiny bit. Above are some sets with images by Wayne Thiebaud, Andy Warhol, Geninne D. Zlatkis. I also have Lotte Jansdotter and Paul Frank as well as assorted classic botanical images.
Not new to PSAW but one of my favorites, the Canetti Museum Magnet Frame. At $28 these are a sensation and very popular with my customers. Made of pure acrylic and tiny magnets by a small company in New York, (although manufactured in Thailand) these are the original Magnet Frame. They inspired me to offer PSAW mini prints by PSAW artists, made to fit the frames. At $20 a pop, these are also a fun and charming gift.
No two of these pendants by Marc Kornbluh are alike. Marc used to live in Burlington and his glass studio was one of my favorite places. Now he lives. in Nebraska, but I'm lucky enough to be able to sell his lamp-work jewelry. At $45, this is a gift that will be loved for generations.
I've been collecting typewriter tins and cigarette tins, lovely for both their shapes and graphics. No two alike, only while stock lasts since buying them is a random operation. But I've got a bunch here now.
AO! Glass, whose retail shop is right here at PSAW (separate store - common roof) are in high production for their very popular little Sno Folk. Great, perfect holiday gifts, they can be a tabletop decoration, or hang from a tree or mantle. www.aoglass.com. Tove Ohlander also will custom etch the bowls and other pieces that she and her partner Rich Ahrentzen make.
There's more, but I'll leave that for another post. Just come on buy and check us out. Tick Tock.
I can't remember how I first heard about the NYC company Cardboardesign. Maybe it was on one of the home design blogs I frequent. I do know that when I placed my first order a few years ago I was one of the first, if not the first wholesale customer they had. Hooboy, not anymore.
Cardboardesign products were featured at the Guggenheim Gala honoring Frank Gehry, at the American Museum of Natural History Climate Change Launch. They were featured on Big Ideas For A Small Planet on The Sundance Channel and on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Look for Cardboardesign products at some of the tonier retail venues around the country, including, of course, Pine Street Art Works.
The various products made by Cardboardesign - furniture, toys, tableware - are all made of recycled and recyclable materials. Even the glue they use is eco friendly. Equally important, they are all design forward, sophisticated and fun. I'm featuring the Liquid Cardboard line, pieces that can be used to hold flowers, candy, candles, or just sit on the table to amuse your guests. They morph into all kinds of shapes and are endlessly fun to manipulate. I've even had a customer buy one to use as a bracelet.
If you live near Burlington or are planning a visit, come on by and check out the coolest line of table top sculpture you'll see this season. If not, you can buy online direct from Cardboardesign
Some Liquid Cardboard items are available at our online store. Check it out!
Liquid Cardboard #4
We write our sign daily. Then the rain washes it away. True ephemera.
It's been a slow week. I'm busy stocking up for the holidays, but meanwhile...ain't nobody shopping much. Rainy day, listening to Rufus Wainwright and the soundtrack of Wicked. Here are some random shots from the day.
Pendants by Marc Kornbluh. TMNK paintings in the background.
Moleskine journals. Nakki Goranin's American Photobooth. Liza Leger painting.
Card wall. Cards by me, from my ephemera collections. Ever changing.
Vintage typewriter ribbon tins.
Shinzi Katoh in foreground. Then Flashbags, then cards. TMNK paintings on the wall.
I think I'm entering my third week of absolutely no sales. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
I get that we are in a recession/depression and that most people are scaling back. Buying expensive works of art is more of a luxury than it has been for a long time. But seriously, I think some people need a refresher course in the do's and don'ts of shopping at an independent retail venue.
If I could pay my bills with compliments, I'd be sitting pretty. Every day I hear, "this is the best shop" "this is the best gallery" "you have such an amazing collection" "this is the highlight of my visit to Burlington" Yet do my visitors reach into their pockets to buy a $2 postcard? No, they do not. Do my visitors spend an half an hour of my time looking at all the art, talking about it, asking questions, wanting to see more, yet not spending a dime? Yes, they do. I can't help but find this most unsupportive, if not downright rude.
I have postcards and ephemera that start at $2, less than the price of the latte from next door which they walk in with (and for which they also probably, I hope, gave a tip.) I have fabulous things for under $30 and of course, on up to work worth hundreds and sometimes, even thousands. But let me emphasize, I"ve got the cheap stuff too. And by cheap I mean fabulous, unique and inexpensive. I'd be mortified if I loved a store and took up the owner's time and expertise and didn't spend a spend a dime. So here is
My basic shopping rule: Buy something!
Since I know that most of my readers do not live in Burlington, or even in the United States, I urge you to apply this to shops in your own community, or when you are traveling. It doesn't have to be expensive. If they sell cards, or candy, or trinkets or maps or whatever, buy something. Buying something is a show of good faith. Buying something shows that you care that the store stays in business, because, trust me, without sales they will have to close, probably sooner rather than later. Buying something is a win win event. You get something, the store gets something, the person or company that made the item gets something, and if you are buying something vintage (which is a lot of my stock) you get the satisfaction of knowing you are buying Green. Stores can not stay in business without sales.
Unless they are funded (I'm not, and most in the US aren't) art galleries cannot stay in business without sales. I know this should seem obvious, but apparently it isn't.
If you have engaged the owner or the salesperson in conversation you've spent some of their valuable time, now repay them with some of your valuable money.
I would be embarrassed to death if I spent the kind of time that some of my customers spend here without buying anything. Even if we've had a conversation about how tough the market is, how I'm not sure if I can meet my expenses, how I've had to pare down to bare bones, how scary it is to be in retail these days. Still, they walk out with a "Thank you, I adore this place."
And I sit here with my jaw dropped down to the floor. Did I hear you right? You adore this place but you walk out without anything? No! I take that back. Every person who enters this store walks out with at least one beautiful free postcard announcing an upcoming show, or a generic store card. These are gorgeous cards, which cost twenty five cents more or less to print. Everyone gets two. So they walk out with fifty cents worth of miniature art for which they've paid nothing. I know it's marketing for the store - they've basically walked out with a little advertisement - but they still get to keep and display them, and believe me, they're good.
Everyone who visits the store gets one of these postcards, as well as a show postcard, and often, if they've expressed interest in a particular past artist, I give them cards from that show as well.
Maybe I'm just not a good salesperson. I don't know. I try to be encouraging, and I certainly don't want to hard sell or berate my customers, because I really do want them to feel comfortable, but sometimes I just want to say, "What the bleep are you thinking? Where are your manners? Where is your support?"
I don't usually share this kind of information with the public, but I thought that you, my readers far and wide, might be interested in some of the back stage stuff, and who knows, maybe someone has something to tell me that would be helpful or encouraging. Because I'm more than a bit depressed.
I hung the first show at Healthy Living Natural Foods in South Burlington on Monday, and it looks swell. If you are in the neighborhood, go over and check it out, buy some great food or products, and tell me what you think. I'm so excited to have this new adventure in retailing. Brilliant, if I do say so myself, to combine art and food retailing. I wonder if it will become a trend.
FAKE! on the long wall at Healthy Living. The one on the right, Liza Leger Woman With Vase is a print of my original painting. I had it done on water color paper and it looks amazing. Best of all, it only costs $200 unframed, so if you want one, send me an email (liza@pinestreetartworks) or call. 802 863 8100. I don't have a paypal widget but I'm happy to wait for a check, or take a credit card over the phone. the rest of the work is for sale as well, at slightly higher prices because they are originals.
Paul Larson produces Art Express on Mountain Lake PBS in Plattsburgh, NY. He has been incredibly supportive to me and to PSAW in the past few years. He did a piece on my FAKE! Series in 2004, then last summer he came to the gallery to do a piece on the Paint By Number show, which I think will be aired soon. This week he and camera man Jared Stanley braved the snow and ice to travel across the lake to tape a show on Nakki Goranin's American Photobooth.
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience working with Paul and Jared when they interviewed me. Paul is a good director, and I absolutely loved it when he'd say, "wait, there was a truck in the background noise, we have to re-shoot that sentence." or "please make that statement a bit clearer" or "turn this way". He took the same care with the PBN story and the American Photobooth. I'll let you know when they air. Meanwhile, if you want to see the FAKE! story you can go to my website and click on "media"
Pine Street Art Works is getting ready for our new exhibit: Nakki Goranin's American Photobooth.
Opening Friday February 1st during Burlington's First Friday Art Walk, 5 to 8.
Artist's reception Saturday February 9th, 2-5.
404 Pine Street
image (cropped) from Nakki Goranin's American Photobooth