It's been five years now since a City Of Warsaw snow plow took out my road sign. At the time I didn't worry too much about it. It had been quite a while since I'd intended to do retail out of this shop. The plow-wrecked sign was but a vestige of the past Bauman Stoneware gallery on Zimmer Rd.
Back twenty years ago I had a local mailing list of about 1,000 folks interested in my pottery. It seemed the logical thing to do to open up a local retail gallery. So we sold our little bungalow in town and moved out here to the edge of town. Here we could not only have our gallery (with a zoning variance), but we were also zoned "I3" (heavy industrial). We were finally comfortable with our kilns -- not worried about whether disgruntled neighbors would demand that we take down that fire-hazard of a kiln.
But within a short year or so of opening up that gallery, art fair sales just exploded for us. Suddenly we were selling out -- or nearly so -- at most of our summer shows. And preparing for the next show was a more efficient use of our already short time. Certainly it was more efficient than keeping store hours and trying to stay ahead of the next-new-thing demands of a local customer base. It was simple numbers. Hundreds of thousands of potential customers at the art fairs vs. hundreds of local customers.
Still, those locals were faithful customers before I finally shut my gallery doors a dozen or so years back.
Enter the internet!
Suddenly, through the magic of the internet -- and the visibility of a sign -- the local pottery collector/devotee can peruse my virtual gallery, order online, and driveby pick-up.
And so it was that I ordered up the new shingle that I hung out by the road yesterday afternoon. Welcome, Warsonians, Fortwaynians, Southbendians, Goshenians, et al! Maybe it's time we got re-acquainted?