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Friday, May 26, 2006

Three Days of Visits with Handmade Book Participants

In three days we drove 554 miles, visited with 16 Handmade GuideBook participants at their business sites and presented one Marketing Toolkit workshop. Everyone we meet with received free issues of two trade magazines; two Craft Reports and one Country Business, and one regional ANCA map. Most businesses received a copy of the Marketing Toolkit and the Handmade Guidebook reorder form. Business owners, when surveyed about their business needs, answered the most often with “More customers!” Each participant listed in the Handmade Guidebook was asked if they had received their free Handmade Book. All said they had.

With a departure time of 6:15 am from Saranac Lake, misty rain most of the way, we arrived at the Indian Lake Restaurant for an 8 am Marketing Toolkit Workshop. Brenda Valentine, head of the Indian Lake Action Tourism Committee (and also coordinator of the 2006 annual Indian Lake Studio Christmas Tour), organized the workshop and recruited five of the seven attending shop owners. ANCA, via the email group announcement, brought two more to the table; Judy Brown, of J&J Brown Garnet from North River, and Saundra Villafane-Laramus, of Random Arts Studio/Gallery in Tupper Lake.

Judy, a bench jeweler for thirty years with many accounts throughout the region, had her official grand opening of her new studio/shop at 68 Casterline Road in North River the weekend before. Judy, shortly after the workshop, also signed up for the soon to be released Scenic Byway Trails publication, the perfect venue for her to get the word out about her retail location.

Saundra is opening up her studio/gallery on Park Street next to Adirondack Gift and Flowers in Tupper Lake soon. She is looking for artists and artisans who wish to sell on consignment.

Jeannie Puterko, owner of A Portion of Thyself shop in Indian Lake where she sells work made by local craftspeople on consignment, is also owner of an RV park which she is expanding in a number of ways; more sites, a mini golf course and bait sales. Brenda Valentine, collector of antiques and collectibles, is exploring the idea of opening up a shop.

Tim Pines, of Pines General Store, at the main intersection in Indian Lake, graciously allowed us to critique his shop. Tim in return received everyone’s written suggestions at the end of the twenty minute critique. Tim’s family business is a true General Store with an incredible assortment of gifts, collectibles, clothing and work by regional artisans upstairs in room after room. Thanks, Tim!

Nicole Carbone, diagonally across the street from Pines General Store, opened her eclectic mix of antiques, gifts, and collectibles, Hutch N’ Things, six years ago in the front of her family’s thirty year old floor covering business. Gross sales have increased every year. She stated that the shops in Indian Lake were complementary to each other particularly because each sold works from different regional artists and each have found their own product line niche. Visitors to Indian Lake appreciate the little village’s relaxed, non-commercial feel.

The new director at the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts in Blue Mountain Lake also attended. Kris Sorenson said the center is considering reopening the giftshop on a consignment basis only.

Workshop attendees reviewed the 47 page Marketing Toolkit, exchanged information about their own practices and then did the critique. Judy Brown enjoyed the workshop because as she said, “It reaffirmed that I’m on the right track.” Another wrote in her workshop evaluation that she had gotten ideas. After the workshop finished at 10:30 am, Sharon O’Brien, Scenic Byways Coordinator/ANCA, and I set off for Rte. 28/Central Adirondack Trail with Sharon looking at existing signage and shoulder condition with bicyclists in mind.

We stopped at the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts where we left trade magazines for Kris to disburse to their members and admired the three exhibits, next it was the Black Bear Trading Post in Inlet and then the Arts Center of Old Forge. Here we were photographed by a reporter for the Adirondack Weekly as we admired the art on exhibit. We note that the reporter placed Sharon’s article inviting interested parties to the June 22 Central Adirondack Trail Corridor Planning Project Meeting and ANCA board meeting at the Woods Inn in Inlet. What a gorgeous place on Fourth Lake! Huge wrap around porch overlooking the lake and high original tin ceiling and wood floors, all warm in tone.

We talked briefly with Dale and Barbara Ferris from Creekside Gifts and Antiques located between Woodgate and Boonville. They were working with someone to bring in a bus tour. Art Baird received us in his studio, surrounded by lilacs and apple tree in full bloom, where we admired his latest new work, wall murals of sinuously curved leaves and flowers.

Leaving from Barneveld the next day we entered Rome to arrive at the terminal of both the Central Adirondack Trail and the Black River Trail which we would be following today. Fort Stanwick and the new Visitor’s Center
are impressive. Heading north along the Black River Trail Scenic Byway we stopped at The Quilt Shop in Port Leyden which was closed with the property for sale. In Boonville we visited the Dodge-Pratt-Northam Art Center and left them with trade magazines and Marketing Toolkit.

At Southern Cross Trading Co. in Lowville, Pat, the owner, received us graciously and toured her showroom of coastal island cherry wood furniture with us. She has sold 6 new copies of her large coffee table from walkins since a customer requested the display alteration last fall yet 99% of her sales come from wholesale accounts. Www.Adirondackcraft.com is one of her top ten accounts. Pat also mentioned how well Carl Golas, Wood Product Specialist/ANCA, has helped her with attracting customers into her booth at the New York Gift Show the last two years.

As we traveled west from Lowville to review the Henderson Harbor boat launch site, we were amazed at the size and shape of the windmills on the Tug Hill Plateau. In Alexandria Bay, we left a package at Cornwall Brothers Museum and Shop on the St. Lawrence River. Just south of Ogdensburg we spent the night at the Gran-View Quality Inn on Rte. 37. They are listed in the Handmade book as a complementary service business. The front desk receptionist made copies of the book cover and page because she was unaware of the listing. Great place to spend the night. What a view over the St. Lawrence from our balcony!

On our third and final day of the trip, we started at the Frederic Remington Museum where they were pleased to receive reorder forms for the book and had 30 copies of the book on display in 3 different locations in their large giftshop. We left them with copies of the trade magazines and the Marketing Toolkit. The architecture, interior and exterior, at the Museum, is historically correct and very rich in design. From there we drove to the Heritage Cheese House, in Heuvelton on Rte. 812, to find that the Amish have their own parking lot for their horse drawn carriages and that the owner, though he loved being included in the book, had no idea how he had gotten in. We told him to thank Hilary Oak, from the St. Lawrence County Arts Council.

Our next stop was with Kyle from the River House Wares & Restoration/Ladies First/Gallery of Art, river in back, in Rensselaer Falls. They were having an open house later that day. We left him with trade magazines and maps and invited him to join the Black River Scenic Byway planning effort. We left a package of materials at the That Stamp Store, on Rte. 58 east of Gouverneur. Great stately barn in back. Our last stop was in Natural Bridge with Gary, the owner of the newly opened North Country Artisans. We gave him trade magazines to give to his artisans at his open house scheduled, I believe, for Memorial Day weekend.

As we admired the attractive shop fronts in the hamlet, Sharon talked with Gary about ANCA’s promotional efforts to bring more visitors along the Olympic Byway. With The Natural Basket, Treats & ’Tiques Soft and Hard Ice Cream, the Natural Bridge Café, Adirondack Artworks and now North Country Artisans, visitors can enjoy an afternoon of visiting and shopping in Natural Bridge.

We took photos of Gary in front of the shop to go with his listing in the soon-to-be released Scenic Byway Trails publication. Guess what, Gary, your photo was also selected to be on the front cover! To those of you who signed up, you’ll be receiving in four packets, a total of 100 copies. The full color publication with a updated Scenic Byways map in the interior and a great new design is being bulk mailed to 1600 locations across the Adirondack North Country region. Contact ANCA to receive Scenic Byway Trails at 518.891.6200 or anca@northnet.org.

Thank you all for taking the time to speak with us about your business lives. I am, as always, impressed with your motivation, successes, and the beauty of the works created and sold.


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