Monday, August 9, 2010

Abandoned Product Lines

I've had some product lines over the years that I have since discontinued.  This post will focus on how I decided when it was time to stop making and selling a particular product.  Or, how it was decided for me.

I had this brilliant idea.  It was 1997 and I had just moved up to Alaska and started my jewelry business.  I had met my friend Carol within weeks of arriving here  (such a truly fortunate meeting!) and we decided to share a booth at a few Saturday Markets in downtown Anchorage throughout that summer.  Oh yeah, back to my brilliant idea.

At the local bead store, I spied some large kilt pins with loops for dangling charms and such.  Then I saw the Alaska themed charms and decided to hang a moose, fish and bear charm from 3 of the loops and some additional beads from the other 2 loops.  I know, doesn't sound all that brilliant, but trust me, this was just the beginning.

The Saturday Market was always full of tourists looking for small gifts to bring home.  I sold these pins like they were some sort of rare treasure at a bargain price.  It helped that I was displaying them on decorative cards that I printed myself.  And people loved the fact that no two pins were exactly alike.  I had about 20 different color schemes for these pins.  One of my best sellers was called Sitka Spruce (Alaska's state tree).  I printed a small picture of a spruce tree on the display card and the beads were all different shades of green.  Another popular one was called Birch Forest and this was the bead I used in the center dangle:

Among the options for the shoppers was Mixed Berries (shades of red), Fireweed (bright pink/purple), Denali Twilight (dark purple), Silver Salmon (grays)and Big Dipper (royal blue and gold).  I think you get the idea.  Each cute pin on it's own cute representative card.  It made quite a compelling display.

When I found the wholesale source for the pins and the charms, I stopped purchasing them from the bead store (sorry Mark) and started wholesaling the pins to gift shops all over the state.  The pins retailed for $18 and with the new lower prices on my components, I was able to wholesale them for $9, a true keystone price.

This craziness continued on for years.  Through 2006 to be precise.  True, the display for these pins was getting smaller and smaller at my craft shows, but my wholesaling was still strong.  Starting in 2004, I battled quality problems with those silly kilt pins and then by the end of 2005 the sources dried up completely.  I bought the last batch from each of my 2 suppliers.  Then Tierra Cast decided to discontinue the moose, fish and bear charms!  How dare they!  This was part of my livelihood after all.  But I think the universe was trying to tell me something.

Deep inside, I was actually quite relieved.  I had considered discontinuing these pins for 2 years prior to this, but just couldn't do it while they were still selling.  So, the decision was made for me.  When I opened my destash shop on etsy at the end of 2007, I started to unload the remainder of my moose and bear charms.  I had no fish left.

I'm proud to have had such a successful product line, but I'm glad that it's in my past.


Sherry said...

I enjoyed this post because I think every artist has a watershed moment like this.

I never really liked it, but I was an early paticipator in typewriter key jewelry. I know it's still sold, but I'm SO happy it is in my past.

Thanks for your contribution to my book post. It may not be summer fare, but it sounds just right for a fireside read!


Pricilla said...

Sometimes the universe is just trying to tell you something.

They sound like they WERE the perfect little tourist item, though. Good for you!

Anonymous said...

I can so relate to this! Sometimes it's for the best when we're "forced" to discontinue a line. :)