It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas - The Preparation Began Months Ago

December 2022, by Scott Obernberger

One thing I learned as I transitioned from lawyer to artist/retailer is the Christmas season does not start at Thanksgiving. It starts somewhere around August. Not kidding. 

You start checking inventory and estimating what is needed to carry you through the rest of the show season. What are you low on? What are the hot colors this year? 

What do you need to make so you have what everyone wants when the Christmas and holiday sales pick up between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Am I ready for the Christmas and holiday shows? Lots of planning. 

There are also the decorations. You need to get the store (or your road display, if you do Christmas and holiday shows) all gussied up to make sure buyers are in the mood and are thinking about how your art will make the perfect present for their loved ones. If you have retail space, you are decorating it no later than mid-November, so you are planning it well in advance of that. 

And then the Christmas music. Who doesn’t love Christmas music? I certainly do, though 45 days of it in the studio may be a bit much. And never, never “Santa Baby.” 

Twice Baked Pottery was decorated for the holidays last year. 
Photo courtesy of Scott Obernberger 

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas for artists and retailers is a lot of work. It is also a ton of opportunity. Between one-fourth and one-third of all retail sales (depending on your product) occur between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Last year, retail sales in the United States were a whopping $843.4 billion. 

There is a reason the Friday after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday,” and no, it’s not because anyone is in mourning for all those turkeys. That’s the day most retailers go from being in the “red” to being in the “black.” They have paid all the bills they must pay and are finally in profit territory. 

For all our businesses, this is a great opportunity to be able to make what we love to do profitable. Tap into people’s desire to find great, personal gifts for their friends and family. 

As I finish up the fall shows, I try to mention how certain things make great gifts. Be sure to have lots of stocking stuffer-type items. 

They might be low-priced items, but you will be amazed at how quickly sales numbers add up. We are in business, and there is nothing wrong with working hard and trying to maximize our sales. 

If you can, do some of the Christmas/holiday shows. Find out which ones have a good reputation and don’t be afraid to do them. 

Many of us are so tired by the end of the “traditional” art show season that we just run out of steam, but the shows don’t stop in September. There are many great shows throughout the fall and early winter. 

In fact, most of my best shows are in the last third of the year. There are usually a ton of people looking for unique, handmade gifts, and this is a great opportunity to connect with customers, both new and old. 

By doing the fall and holiday shows, you also start to develop new customer bases. There are different crowds that come out for the holiday shows than the traditional art show crowd. 

Why limit your sales opportunities to just one group? The more diversified your customer base, the stronger your business. There is also a great feeling you get when you know something you made is liked and respected so much that customers want to give it to someone they love. 

Silent Night

With all the work and opportunity this season presents, it is easy to lose perspective and get lost in all the chaos. That is something I have struggled with in my transition. 

Try to retain in your heart the reason for the season. Carve out time that reminds you what the holidays are about for you. Spend time with and enjoy your family. 

Find time for gratitude. Thanks to our loved ones who put up with our crazy schedules and support us in so many ways, we can do what we do. Thanks to our customers, we can turn what we love to do into a career. And thanks to God, we have the gifts, talents, and opportunities to continue. 

Slow things down, even if for a day or two. Turn down the lights and light up the tree. Turn on the Christmas music. Have a glass of eggnog or cocoa. 

And have yourself a merry little Christmas! 

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