starting ww business

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After 34+ yrs, layoffs to numerous to mention, big economic downturns, I was laid off my SW engineering job. Thought it was ironic since the economy is supposed to 'be doing better'. I have mixed feeling about looking for another high tech job.
I have been building furniture for at least that long for ourselves, family, and a few friends. I'm playing wiht the idea of starting a custom furniture, woodworking business for paying customers. What's a good way to get the word out to people intested in custom furniture?
Craigslist doesn't seem like it would attract attention from people able & willing to pay for custom furniture. Newspaper ads are practically non- existent. I was planning to beef up my blog and other pages. I know a few people in the construction industry who could 'spread the word', but that doesn't seem very efficient either.
Yeah == I know: the prospects are slim at best to make a living at this, the probably of finding people who wnat this stuff aren't good, ... Thought I'd get some opinions. Thanks
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On 3/16/2014 1:57 PM, xxxx wrote:

In this day and age, the vase majority of potential customers flock towards big names for their furniture. Most don't want to wait.
If you are serious about making a living doing this I hope you have deep pockets to begin with. You are going to have to find customers that appreciate, want, and can afford quality furniture. You have to offer what the big boxes don't.
Most people that can afford you, will be suspect of someone that they have never heard of, so having a portfolio or inventory of available product will help to persuade your potential buyers.
I progressed into selling my work after doing woodworking seriously since the late 70's. I had a previous career that paid the bills until I retired at 40. Woodworking was strictly a hobby up until then. I began selling my work to those that had seen my work the previous 15 years. I am successful with selling to almost every one of my potential customers but I do not go after this work to pay the bills. This is a hobby that pays for itself and gives me a nice lump of gravy.
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Leon wrote:

It's seems like lots of those who CAN DO woodworking TEACH IT. For the "celebrities", that seems to bring in about $150 day/person before expenses. The Marc Adam school of Woodworking close to where I live, gets about $175/day-person (+ $40 annual application fee). To the OP, maybe you would consider teaching courses in your locality? Realize that teaching and doing Are two different things. You would need to spend considerable time "getting organized". Maybe go to the woodworking shows and ask yourself whether you can, or are interested in doing the kind of work that the presenters are doing. Just a thought. Good luck!
Bill
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Bill wrote:

If you would like any more suggestions from someone not really qualified to give any, "Think Kitchens". It has been demonstrated that people are willing to write big checks for them--compared to what they pay for custom made smaller things, except maybe musical instruments. It seems like the artistic part of "custom made" take too much time. I think you might do better to remove the word custom. I was talking to someone who made mountain dulcimers (a folk instrument), and he told me that he made them 10-15 at a time--that he Didn't Make Anything one at a time. Of course, that explains how he was able to price a decent looking instrument at $125... I also spoke to a mother and child hemming and hawing over the price of one. I asked, "Do you know how long it would take to make that?!"
Bill
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Thanks for all the responses. I haven't decided if I'm going to try this or not. Selling to retail shops probably won't work because of the price and time. I took 2 nesting tables of walnut with "southwestern" cutouts and design to a local shop. They had some painted ones for $150 a piece of course mine looked a lot nicer which wasn't a factor. He offered $25 a piece after a lot of talking. Of course I was thinking in the $100 each range. He was importing his "handmade" stuff from Mexico.
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On 3/17/2014 1:04 PM, xxxx wrote:

Have you considered making contacts with high-end interior designers, realtors who specialize in expensive houses, maybe even art galleries?
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On Monday, March 17, 2014 2:04:40 PM UTC-5, xxxx wrote:

I've been thinking more about this and I wonder if you could go business to business asking if they need something specific. I can imagine a business needing cubbies that will fit in a particular place, or a table or cabinet for a specific location.
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Michael wrote:

Of course, there are 500 page catalogs containing bookcases, tables, and cabinets of every configuration. Most businesses are probably not looking for that custom, one of a kind bookcase. This niche may not be impossible, but it seems hard to penetrate.
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Perhaps you could create a portfolio and then visit people that do "interior design" and discuss with them how you could generate unique pieces for their clients.
Bill
On Sunday, March 16, 2014 2:57:45 PM UTC-4, xxxx wrote:

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wrote:

Just to piggyback on a few things Leon mentioned:
Forget Craig's List. Most people there are bargain hunters. Consider a small ad in a local shoppers paper if you have one. You have to find those few people that have the money to buy and are willing to wait for that perfect piece of furniture they want.
Word of mouth is the best advertising, but that takes years to develop.
Do you have enough photos of your work for a portfolio? If not, try to go back and take pictures, but be sure the piece you made is still pristine or it will reflect badly on you.
Don't sell on price. Don't price over or under. You want to be known for quality, not cheapness. If you quote $1200 for a piece and the customer offers $800, walk away and don't negotiate. That type of person will try to find a fault on the finished piece so they can try for a discount when you deliver.
If a piece would take 30 hours for a skilled craftsman, but you know it will take you 10 hours more because you never made that, you have to take a hit on price. If you represent yourself as an experienced furniture builder, the customer does not want to pay extra for you learning a new skill.
Any specialty shops near you that sell quality merchandise on consignment? Make a couple of small pieces and sit them in their shop. Be sure your name and phone number are displayed so a prospective customer may contact you directly if they want something other that what you display. Note that I said specialty shops, not the second hand consignment shops that sell used junk. Maybe a jewelry box in a gift shop would work.
Plan on not making any money for a while too. Getting started can be tough for any business. Good luck and I hope you are a success.
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On 3/16/2014 5:31 PM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

careful on that consignment stuff. A local woodworker was making chests for tack equipment and getting equestrian shops to take it on consignment. He was not getting paid. He stopped in a few of the places they had sold them without letting him know. Then they did not pay him once he saw they were sold. They put it off repeatedly. He said he does not do consigment any longer.
Just what he told me.. I have no first hand knowledge.

--
Jeff

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On Sunday, March 16, 2014 1:57:45 PM UTC-5, xxxx wrote:


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You might consider working in the general area of woodworking like decking or custom cabinet making, although there you are probably competing against established businesses in your area with higher volume and lower productio n costs. I was at a farmer's market where a guys was selling some interesti ng things, boxes, bird houses, things like that. Also, I wouldn't give up o n Craigslist. Try advertising something like: "Wooden furniture and other p roducts made to your specification." I think a lot of people would like som ething or another for their houses that they hoped they would find some day -- end tables, blanket chests, bookshelves, whatever. The downside is that many will be surprised when they see how much these things actually cost w hen you factor in your time. Best of luck.
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On 3/16/2014 1:57 PM, xxxx wrote:

There's riches in niches ... a niche can be as simple as doing when others are talking.
--
eWoodShop: www.eWoodShop.com
Wood Shop: www.e-WoodShop.net
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Yup. The only difficulty is finding the right niche.
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Years back when my father passed I made his burial urn. The funeral home offered to buy all I could make. The price offered was possible but it meant doing lots of the same things and using a lot of jigs. Realize you may end up doing a lot of work you don't want to do until your established. I found it more profitable to maintain my master electricians license. Now I have an excavator and backhoe and find that pays better to support the woodworking.
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On Mon, 17 Mar 2014 21:37:32 -0700, Mike M

Isn't it almost always that way? It's a lucky person who can earn a decent living doing what they love to do.

Smart man. You found something that lets you continue to do what you love to do.
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That has been a bad situation for many new business owners. They take a hobby you enjoy and turn it into just another job. My wife did that many years ago. She made a good buck, but no longer had a hobby.
Once established and more work than you can handle, you can do away with unwanted jobs, but in the beginning, you have to eat. You will get the customer tha wants a cabinet made from curly cherry and they wants a wash of paint to bring out the swirls. Ir a walnut table with two coats of primer. Or a dozen boxes that gets you bored after number two.
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I've been thinking of a simple wooden " cozy " - to accept the <standard ?> crematorium metal container .. It can be very simple & cheap - or made with some special wood from the deceased's life - or fancied-up with carvings etc .. .. surely this service already exists .. ? John T.
--- ---
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Talk to a furniture store company maybe? Some of the natural oak or wood furniture stores.... consignment?
You are competing with factory.......that is the hard part. I know your quality is better. Factory is cheaper..... Like myself, I like building residential homes..... Now it seems modulars are the more economic avenue.... john
"xxxx" wrote in message
After 34+ yrs, layoffs to numerous to mention, big economic downturns, I was laid off my SW engineering job. Thought it was ironic since the economy is supposed to 'be doing better'. I have mixed feeling about looking for another high tech job.
I have been building furniture for at least that long for ourselves, family, and a few friends. I'm playing wiht the idea of starting a custom furniture, woodworking business for paying customers. What's a good way to get the word out to people intested in custom furniture?
Craigslist doesn't seem like it would attract attention from people able & willing to pay for custom furniture. Newspaper ads are practically non- existent. I was planning to beef up my blog and other pages. I know a few people in the construction industry who could 'spread the word', but that doesn't seem very efficient either.
Yeah == I know: the prospects are slim at best to make a living at this, the probably of finding people who wnat this stuff aren't good, ... Thought I'd get some opinions. Thanks
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Designers and decorators. Architects too, especially for business/office types. What you do has to be first rate for them, though; moreover, you need to be able to build to their design (and their designs are sometimes way less than practical).
A showroom helps. Someplace - high traffic - where the population can look and go, "Ooooo". If you have a mall, a kiosk there would be viable. With a brochure rack. Brochure has to be first rate too.
I knew a couple of guys in Honolulu that did very well, they had a showroom in the same building I was in. At one time, koa furniture in Hawaii was quite common; common and inexpensive...even the folks in public housing had it. Back then one could buy koa lumber for $0.50 brd/ft; now it is pushing $50. Much of that increase is due to the marketing of exemplary koa furniture by the guys I mentioned.
--

dadiOH
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