Jelly Bean and Hamlet inspect my display.

Open House and a New Shop Display

Jelly Bean and Hamlet inspect my display.

Jelly Bean and Hamlet inspect my display.

I had a little open house this past weekend, and established my living room/office as a little shop for local people to visit any time I’m here. It’s an event, and a change, I’ve been trying to find the time to set up and I’m happy to have it now.

Christmas in July!
Studio Sale and Open House
July 28 & 29, 2018
Just like my holiday sale but inside and outside!
You’ll see my new “shop display” inside and items on my porch, deck and my tent in the back yard.

My Open House for the holidays last December was very fun and successful. I had missed a half dozen or more events because my car was in repairs for two months and that seemed to be the answer to the unsold merchandise and missing income. Plus, I love having people visit, and hosting it at my home made set up easier as well as giving me more space to work with than an average display.

Usually I send post cards as well as an enewsletter because the cards are worth the investment, being far more effective than any electronic communications. Because I don’t want to broadcast my address to total strangers on social media I keep a list of those who have expressed interest and encourage them to share with friends and family. This time, as you’ll read below, I ran a little too close to the date to get them out on time so I just sent the enewsletter to those who are on that list.

Because I had no vendor events this July I’d considered attending the Artisan Market in the the Strip District in Pittsburgh once or twice, but also thought about a “Christmas in July” open house and studio sale. I would introduce my new ideas and designs for the autumn gift shopping season with sales, have a clearance on older art and merchandise, and guests could tour my studios, upstairs and basement. When I realized I could also use the outdoors as well as indoors, on my deck and setting up my tent in the back yard, I was more than ready. But it took four weeks to get to this point.

The back yard with the tent.

The display would include ALL art, photography and merchandise I have on hand of cats, dogs, pets, wildlife, nature, florals, cityscapes and anything else I’ve found inspiring. All sales would have a 25% discount from the regular price because I build in a certain amount to cover the costs of either shipping or attending an event, and there was no cost, just a lot of work.

As a bonus, there was a birthday party! Visitors would get to meet my feline family and celebrate a big birthday. Giuseppe, Mewsette, Mr. Sunshine and Jelly Bean were born on July 26, 2007. On July 29 that same year the newborns and Mimi came to me in a little box, and they’ve been with me ever since. Mimi’s nominal birthday is the day she came here, so July 29 she was 15 years old, and her children turned 11. It’s hard to believe 11 years have gone by.

Mimi was thankful for the tasty gifts and glad I didn't make her wear a quinceanera dress for her 15th birthday.

Mimi was thankful for the tasty gifts and glad I didn’t make her wear a quinceanera dress for her 15th birthday.

Planning it out

I have boxes and bins of artwork and photos that haven’t been seen since they were in shows a couple of decades ago, or since the times I occasionally had rooms in other shops. They don’t fit into other exhibits and don’t fit anywhere on my walls, and like the 40 matted black and white photos it’s time-consuming to add these to my website so I haven’t. I already had my artwork and photography from my recent and past shows up on the walls and some in bins, lots of prints of artwork and photos, small framed items, and all the handmade gift items I had made inside, then filled the tent outside with these miscellaneous paintings and photos, and because I’d intended to discount these older things I decided to call the tent my Clearance Tent.

The Clearance Tent

The Clearance Tent

And here are a few detail photos of what was in the tent.

However, intending to begin organizing and promoting at the beginning of July, I knew that both my home and yard needed a heck of a lot of work to make them welcoming. When the time came I still had a fair number of boxes of paperwork clogging the works, and my yard was quite overgrown. I wasn’t sure I should even mention the event until I knew I would be able to host people inside and out. I got started on both even in the intense heat at the beginning of July, out in the yard until it got too hot then inside sorting papers and organizing things later, taking boxes of papers to the paper recycling bins, calling Vietnam Veterans donation pickup for household goods and clothes or dropping it off locally. After a week I felt I could at least have a small sale, and making enough headway in two weeks I knew I could host people inside and out. Even if I didn’t get my studio renovation completed or clean and waterproof the basement to set up my print shop, it would still be fun, and I could introduce those spaces another time. I wish I’d taken some “before” photos for comparison, but I didn’t.

The flagstone path that leads around the side of my house to the back yard was completely overgrown until Saturday morning.

The flagstone path that leads around the side of my house to the back yard was completely overgrown until Saturday morning.

I had to trim the mulberry tree and clean out and cut the grass for the tent to fit there.

The shop room

The shop display will be permanent: I will always have merchandise and greeting cards on display in this room if you want to stop by in between my sales and events. Just let me know you’d like to visit to be sure I’m here. It won’t be 25% off at other times, but nearly every item will be $5.00 off the prices you see on my website because I build that into my prices for shipping. Below is the beginning of what it looks like, though I’ll be changing and adding to it in the next few months as I do finish my studio renovations. Also, once I get the chance to replace some stock of handmade goods after the sale, I’ll take more photos.

I’m looking forward to my holiday open house. Last year it was in December but I hope to have it earlier this year since I have the shop room set up already. Even an October event would be nice, and I could even have the tent outside, and then do another in mid-December for late shopping. We’ll see, but we all enjoyed everyone’s company!

And I just have to figure out the best way to set this up so that those of you who aren’t local can also take advantage of the sales and the clearance items during the open house, but for now the best I can do is offer a few discounts here. You’ll see them in the next few days.

Get on my list

If you are local, please let me know if you’d like to hear about my open house events. These are separate from my other newsletters and mailing lists.

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