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Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

If you have decided to start selling your bears... whether on the internet or at shows... I'm guessing you've had questions about starting your bear business. I know coming up with a biz name has been one, credit card acceptance another. Could you tell me what your biggest questions are/were?

This particular thread is NOT a place to get answers.... I would just like to know what information/help you needed to get your business started. This will assist me with a project I am working on.

Thank you in advance for your helpful responses!  :lol:

Edited to add:

Many of you have PM'd me about shows and about accepting credit cards since I started this thread. Sue Ann reminded everyone about the LIBRARY in a post below but it's worth mentioning here! TT is an invaluable educational resource for new bear makers and experienced artists alike!!! You can access the library just above my post here on the left... see the little guy waving at you? He's next to a drop down menu where some of our discussions have been organized by topic...... by reading through these posts you'll learn sooo much and get the experience, opinons and advice of MANY!!!

Here are discussions on choosing, getting ready for and participating in shows: http://www.teddy-talk.com/search.php?se … 1896351901

I didn't see credit cards there in the list but that's when the SEARCH function comes in handy (SEARCH is in the menu across the top under the TT logo!) Here are the search results I came up with for accepting credit cards: http://www.teddy-talk.com/search.php?se … 2119081288

And if you get hungry after all that reading there's even a recipe category in the library!!! bear_tongue

Carolynn Teenytinyteddybears
Posts: 444

Wow Daphne that sounds interesting. Would love to share some of the stuff I picked up.

Firstly I haven't sold yet. For lots of reasons. But the ones pertinent to you are that there is a lot you have to know before you do. So hats of to you for putting this together.

The obvious thing is to make sure your bears are up to scratch. I did not initially realize there were criteria for size for example.Durability of things like dye and shading. I think in the interest of the craft all artists should ensure that their bears are very good quality and don't disappoint a collector.

A business name is the next obvious. Make sure no one else has it and make it short and catchy. Mine is too long and is a pain to type all the time and difficult to put onto tags. 

With the name comes branding. Your style, choosing a font for instance that you stick with and a theme. Vintage, modern that kind of thing.

The financial side of things. When you start out it isn't too important, but tax implications, Paypal, bank accounts.
Keep records of everything from the start. Easier than trying to figure it out years later.

Customs in various countries. No good putting wood shavings into a bear going to Australia etc. I really mean the customs and excise type thing, not customs of tribes of people.... know what I mean.

Pricing. Very difficult. Cant go by the price per inch on minis, and cant base yourself on more established artists. But also don't under value.

Postage. Not only the price of various options but reliability.

Packaging. Safe and pretty.

Tush tags, hang tags, cards.

Website, service provider, blog. All the internet stuff. Very important, and I think important that you can control it yourself.

Camera and a good place to take pics of the bears. Something in the Pic to show the scale of the bear. I use a ruler and it works. Still trying to find a prettier one though. But not something that you only find in your country. I used to use a coin. But no one else knows the size. A box of matches, penlight battery.....

A system of keeping track of bears, patterns and what sold. Good for marketing but also to make sure you don't reproduce things in error.

Finding a place to sell. Either in shops, shows or internet.

A sense of humor and thick skin.

Ok, my brain gone soggy. Just been back to the dentist and pain pills kicked in..... will see what else I come up with. Otherwise pm if you want me to explain anything. I think this is a very important topic.

FrizzyBear New York
Posts: 198

Wow, Carolynn, for not selling yet you certainly have thought it through and have come up with many things to consider! 

Daphne, thank you for a very interesting topic!  I can't wait to read more.

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Carolynn, bear_thumb

Thank you!!! Perfect! Exactly the sorts of things I was looking for! In fact I believe you covered the majority and most significant issues new bear makers face when starting their business! Your very first point, making sure bears are "up to scratch" is perhaps the most significant - for without saleable, high quality, desireable bears the rest is moot! Your list is a tremendous help!!!

How did you do that right after a visit to the dentist??? Wow! The only thing I can usually think about is a loooong nap until the numbness AND pain wear off!

Anyone else think of something... a concern, uncertainty, challenge, perhaps an a-ha moment, a unique tatic, helpful advice, resource, etc. that was important to you during the start-up of your business.

Perhaps you are thinking of selling your bears.... what questions do YOU have?? (There are no stupid ones!)

I appreciate your input!! :hug:  :hug:

FenBeary Folk FenBeary Folk
Pointon Fen, Lincolnshire, UK
Posts: 2,234

...............Storage, boy do those supplies multiply  bear_whistle  bear_whistle



Selling : Shows

Be sure to visit plenty of shows before you commit to a theme for your stand. It can be very expensive to buy quality material for your table, only to discard it after one show.......................speaking from experience, here.

Reference books!!!!!

lulubears Posts: 280

Be aware of the implications of offering discount coupons without thinking it through first!  I learned this the hard way.

Many years ago, I sent out postcards to all of my customers and offered a 10% discount on the purchase of a bear - basically the amount of tax.  A customer came up, picked a bear, then negotiated a better price on the bear.  After we agreed on the price, she presented me the discount coupon and then pulled out her charge card!  After the price reduction, the discount and the charge card fees, I should have just wrapped the bear up and given it to her.

I learned a very tough and expensive lesson that day, and have never repeated it.

Charge cards - check with whoever will be providing the service and make sure that there is not a minimum amount that has to be charged each month.  If you don't charge a certain amount, they will charge you a flat fee every month.  As every question you can about the equipment.  Will you be purchasing or renting it?  Weigh the options.  Leasing it can be expensive and if you decide not to use the service anymore, you will still have to pay until the lease runs out.  If you are using a charge card service, find out if you will have access to a phone line at the shows you do, as well as electricity.  This can be a very costly adventure.  I do one show where the charge for the phone line and power are close to $600 for the week.  One day shows may charge $100 per day, which is pretty typical.  Some charge card companies have you submit everything over the phone, and they deposit the money directly into your account.  Others will charge you extra for not swiping the card and doing everything manually and mailing it in.  Again, ask all of the questions you can think of.

Luann

dangerbears Dangerbears
Wisconsin
Posts: 6,013
Website

I'm curious about liability. If your bears are not child-safe and you're selling to adult collectors, what's an adequate way to make that fact clear and protect yourself from the (admittedly unlikely) possibility of someone blaming you for an unfortunate bear-related accident?

Jaina Emo Bears
Dudley, West Mids
Posts: 862

I'd like to know information about registering myself as a 'proper' business and what I need to know about paying taxes on my earnings.

lulubears Posts: 280

Liability - If you do smaller shows, I might not be too concerned.  However, if you do large trade shows, liability insurance is usually a requirement.  A number of years ago, I did a large, 5 day trade show and was required to show proof of insurance.  Thank goodness I had it.  I had the customer from hell show up at my table and she had her full fledged, 5 year old, monster in tow.  This kid either lagged behind her or ran way ahead, literally clearing merchandise off of tables.  "Mom" did nothing - and I mean nothing.  He got to my table, where I had 5 pound bags of glass beads displayed on the table.  He touched everything on the table, knocking off as many things as possible, and her still doing nothing.  Other vendors were helping me pick things up, and this kid suddenly poked holes in all of those bags, scooped a handful of glass up, tilted back his head and screamed "Watch this!"  His mother came to life, and started screaming about how I'd better have a good lawyer, because she would "own" me and my business by the end of the day.  Fortunately, another vendor had alerted security, and the kid and his mother were advised to get a good lawyer in the event that either I or the promoter decided to go after her.  They were escorted from the building.  I had a good scare, and have not been without insurance since.

Sheesh!  I could write a book!  Luann

ThomasAdam Thomas Adam
Southampton
Posts: 310
Website
lulubears wrote:

Be aware of the implications of offering discount coupons without thinking it through first!  I learned this the hard way.

Many years ago, I sent out postcards to all of my customers and offered a 10% discount on the purchase of a bear - basically the amount of tax.  A customer came up, picked a bear, then negotiated a better price on the bear.  After we agreed on the price, she presented me the discount coupon and then pulled out her charge card!  After the price reduction, the discount and the charge card fees, I should have just wrapped the bear up and given it to her.

I learned a very tough and expensive lesson that day, and have never repeated it.

This really pisses me off.  Sorry for my language -- but I realise that teddy bears deserve respect both in terms of their character and the time it took for the artist to create them.  Oftentimes, when I am choosing a teddy bear, I do so because it appeals to me, which means I would expect to pay in the region of £80 pounds sterling, if not more.  And to be honest, since I have budgeted and potentially made plans for a new teddy, it wouldn't necessarily matter if it cost more overall.

How some people could therefore not take this into consideration, I don't know -- the point is not about the money -- and I find it annoying that in this example it was -- and as you say, you might as well have gave the dear teddy bear away.    Sigh.

-- Thomas Adam

Carolynn Teenytinyteddybears
Posts: 444

Daphne it is a pleasure,  I still feel like I have something stuck in the back of my mind. If it ever comes out I will let you know. One thing, If your project is not aimed at TT'ers then... important to join a forum like this. Does keep you informed and up to date. As well as making good friends.

Jeanne that is precisely why I haven't sold. I see it as a business. One I don't want to begin the wrong way, it is too hard to go back and fix mistakes you have made. I would rather hit it right the first time. Last year, in my opinion, was a bad time to start with the economy crashing. So I guess you have to read the economic climate too.

The indemnity, good one, forgot about that.

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Sue - you are right.... doing research such as that is very helpful and can save money in the end. (Except that I am forever changing my display theme... I get bored so quickly! I have a cellar full of display props if anyone needs anything! lol)

Carolynn - networking is invaluable!!! Forums like TT and blogging are fantastic learning and support tools! The friendships formed from our love for teddies is very special!

Liability is a good topic. How to register your business and handle taxes will vary between countries but also an important topic.

Good ones!! Keep 'em coming! :dance:

What other things did you need guidance on or have questions about when you first started forming your bear business? Where there any books or websites (aside from TT) that you found helpful?

ScaliWagGrrs ScaliWagGrrs
Denver, Colorado
Posts: 1,157
Website

This is a great topic--for whatever your project is.
I am fairly new to this myself and find it very interesting.
I  would like to add that as a newbie it would be nice to know how to find a good show to do. I did one last year (my first and only thus far) and it turned out to be basically a garage sale of people trying to get rid of their doll collections. I was the only one offering artist bears--Though it was billed as a Doll and Teddy bear show. the only other person selling bears was right next to me selling off their inventory of their World Of Miniature Bears at cheap cheap prices. Hard to compete with that! I didn't sell anything though people said they would have liked to but instead bought loads of the cheap cheap bears. Or else they tried to get me to go down in  my prices which weren't really all that high to begin with.
Then another question is how many bears should you bring to a show? What would be too few? What would be too much? Also what ALL should you bring to a show? Lots to think about on that score as it is very easy to forget to bring something or wish you had something you never thought of bringing til you are there.
Something I have wondered about is if you are traveling long distances to a show and you are flying there how do you get all your bears and paraphanelia to the show? Do you pack it all and check it in to baggage on the plane? Seems that could be very costly these days. Do you mail them all to ahead? That could be costly as well.
If you do a show do you need to accept credit cards? If you don't accept them are you going to lose lots of sales?

Hope this is helpful to your project. I still would like to know the answers to some of these questions myself.
Beth

dangerbears Dangerbears
Wisconsin
Posts: 6,013
Website

Wow! After reading Luann's response to the issue of liability, I'm (1) very glad that I read the post, and (2) thinking that she might write a very interesting book indeed!

Becky

SueAnn Past Time Bears
Flower Mound, Texas
Posts: 20,279

SueAnn Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Beth and others who are interested in information on shows in particular . . . there is a wealth of info in the library.

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Oh, I could write a whole book on shows... bear_happy  participating in, attending them, organizing them..... but one project at a time!!!  bear_tongue

Beth, I think a lot of us have had experiences similar to yours! And there are ways to avoid that! I want to keep this thread like a tick sheet... a list of topics that are of interest to new folks.... not full of answers as I stated in my first post. (I'm reminding myself of this as well as everyone else because its hard for me to resist answering and muddling the the whole thing.) So I'm PMing you!

EvaJ EJ's Crafts
Fort Mohave, Arizona
Posts: 829

Pricing, I don't think has been mentioned.  How too???  Hang tags, adoption papers, packaging, signature..on the bear or on tag?  Labels, business cards, post cards, brochures.

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Good one, Eva! bear_thumb

StarHawk2003 VallierBears
Shropshire
Posts: 270

Well, there are are things like, Am I good enough? Do you accept lay away? If so do you take a deposit? (How much?) Do you accept cheques? What do you do, if you sell a bear online and the person doesn't like the bear as much as when looking at photos and wants to return it? What to do if a bear gets damaged in transit? Would you post a bear uninsured in case of losses? Do you barter or offer discounts?

Thanks about all I can think of right now, I will add more as I think of them!

Richy~

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

More good questions, Richy! Thank you!!! bear_original

ScaliWagGrrs ScaliWagGrrs
Denver, Colorado
Posts: 1,157
Website

Daphne, Thanks for the PM!
Just reading some of the questions can be helpful as some of them are things you might not have even considered. Like the liability insurance.
Daphne also asked us:

What other things did you need guidance on or have questions about when you first started forming your bear business? Where there any books or websites (aside from TT) that you found helpful?

I have found that Nancy Tillberg's book 101 Bears to Make is very helpful to a newbie. I also love Alicia Merrett & Ann Stephens book "The Encyclopedia of Teddy Bear Making Techniques". This is a wonderful book on showing how to make a teddy and how to design a basic pattern.
Beth

Kathleen Pa
Posts: 626

Hmmm, How to go about setting up to accept credit cards,  more detailed info on selling at a show ( tax id, bear content label, cash, check credit card.....)I've heard alot of conflicting info about what is required for shows.

Kathleen

FrizzyBear New York
Posts: 198

I would like to know: how important is it to participate in a show?  This would be something I probably couldn't do. 

This is such a great help to a newbie.

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Beth - thanks for the references! :dance:
Kathleen & Jeanne - guess I better get on that book about doing shows!  :crackup:

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

I've updated my original post at the top of this thread for those of you who have questions they want answered immediately and in response to some of those who have PM'd me!
bear_original

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