Thursday, March 12, 2015

TEN Tips for Finding the BEST Miniatures in Your Pajamas. (and at a bargain)

I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best. Oscar Wilde

You don't need the expense of traveling to miniature shows when the very best miniatures are no farther than your keyboard. We all came to earth with gifts and one of mine I know for sure is that I can find the best things in just about anyplace. And I know who has what gift. So when it comes to miniatures I am pretty good at ferreting out great stuff. To add to my own collection. And here are some tips to help you find treasures of your own:

1) Don't Overlook Ebay.
There are wonderful artisan miniatures available there every day often going for way below original cost. Check under 'Artist Offerings" in Dollhouse Miniatures (under Dolls and Bears). But don't neglect the larger category because many things there are not followed by most.

2) Check out the Artisan.
If you see something on a popular miniature website and are not thrilled with the prices, go directly to the artisan (Google) You may well get the better price. Plus you can find wonderful things from artisans who might not be dealers at the shows you attend.

3) Auctions.
For years I thought I would never be able to afford the wonderful miniatures that were coming up for auction. I did not even know how to sort out bidding on those auctions. So, sadly, I passed up bidding. Eventually when an auction got to be too tempting, I jumped in.  While things are usually sold in lots and you might be interested in only one item, charge in and get the lot. You can later sell off the unwanted bits and in the end come out ahead with your prized item costing nothing.

4) ETSY.
While I find ETSY to have a lot of miniatures less than top, artisan quality (lots of decal-ed plates and crockery, computer printed books, paper watering cans etc), there are quality pieces there, you just have to look.  As new artisans emerge with wonderful things you can score amazing miniatures for great prices. These artisans eventually move on for some reason, often showing up on eBay where there is great competition for their work. Strike while the iron is hot. (And hey, nothing wrong with decals and computer printed stuff, I use and make it myself,  but that stuff will not bulk up the pocketbooks of your heirs)

This is a Yahoo group consisting of over 1800 members at the time of this writing. Its a great place to share anything about miniatures and ask for help with your projects or locating a item. Lots of help from many well informed artisans and collectors. When one finds something fabulous it gets shared and you can find great deals and great artisans by word of mouth. I believe it to be the ultimate miniature online group. Join HERE.

6) Facebook. 
While not for everyone because I have heard that joining scares some people into believing their information might be shared, its still one of the biggest if not the biggest social media sites. There are many miniature groups there and you will find wonderfully talented artisans coming out of the woodwork from all over the world and many sell their work. I would start with IGMA: The International Guild of Miniature Artisans.Go HERE.

7) Pinterest.

Another social media venue full and I mean FULL of miniature eye candy. Again, you can find wonderful creators of minis there and many do sell their work. You can also leave a message asking to place an order.

8) Blogs.
Yes, there are millions of blogs these days. Just another sign of the times that the internet is where it's at. It can happen this way; you find something on Pinterest that links to a blog. That blog lists favorite blogs they happen to follow - miniature related, of course, and you can scroll through several at a sitting, see what the owner is doing and how they do it. Many show step by step photos of their own personal projects. But in and among this information is reference to items they collected and where to find the artisan.

9) Show schedules with dealer links.
Whether you go to shows or not, you can always visit the show's website. There posted are dealers for upcoming shows with links directly to the artisans. Click around and you will find something to please you in your budget directly from the artisan. Since you saved a pile of money not traveling to the show, spend away.

10) And last but not least THE IGMA Fine Miniatures Forum. This is an online forum of the very finest miniatures but anyone is welcome to view and post their work. You need not be a member to participate. But once there, you may well be inclined to be part of a group promoting miniatures as an art form. Which indeed they are. Check it out.

Did I miss anything? Found anything wonderful yourself off the beaten path? 
Tell all below.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Perfecting the Art of Customer Service, (or how not to treat your customers.)

"Take good care of your customers and they will take care of you".
 Biju Paulose

I am a miniature artisan and I do sell my work and have been selling it for over 30 years.  I pride myself on the quality of customer service I deliver.  I have rarely had an issue with anything I have made, so, grateful for that. Rarely, something arrives broken and I either repair or refund according to my customer's desire. Once a customer, who purchased something years, YEARS, earlier told me that a piece had warped and I actually gave them a full refund. A pricey piece. And, yes, they did return the item.  Miniaturists tend to be so pleasant and always happy with their purchase because miniatures so delight in them and making a customer happy is pretty much THE NAME OF THE GAME.

BUT I am also an avid collector and have been for even longer.  In all that time in dealing with artisans and dealers at shows and through catalogs and now via the Internet I have to say that miniaturists in the business of selling miniatures are the nicest, sweetest and happiest of business people. I don't think many of you could disagree.

Way back a good many years ago I did run into a less than pleasant dealer at a show.  She was not nice and I never purchased from her again. But recently I have run into a few nasties and thought I just might out them here.  I hope its not some kind of Karma following me. I tend to be a picky consumer. And I have every right to be. Maybe its just some sellers think they know better than their customers.

I purchased some flowers from an online miniature show and when they arrived they were not much like the photo, very messy and sloppy and well, I let the 'artisan' know. She went crazy. First telling me how wonderful everyone thinks she is, then turning it up to disparage my work and then for some odd reason IGMA as well.  Then claimed she was reporting me to IGMA so they could revoke my Fellow status. Remember here, it was me who was the CUSTOMER. She gave me one day to return them and would then refuse the return and my refund. I figured I had better steer clear of crazy. I have plans for those flowers...

Next comes a doll maker. In fairness, I purchased the doll a few years ago. It arrived broken and I suspected something was wrong with either the polymer clay or the baking time. I let the seller know and she did offer to fix it, but it was an easy fix and easily hidden so I fixed it myself. Problem was it broke every time it was touched. I have had it lying around for all these years and finally contacted the seller. Who said she would make me another one if I paid for it. A bit testy, too, I might add. We went back and forth and finally I came here to post this. I am unhappy. I will never be a customer for either of these two ever again. Serious examples of BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE.  I have had other dolls break and the makers happily fixed them and for FREE and guess what? I went on to purchase more dolls from them both.

 If you are not a fan of great consumer service, then you are not a fan of business ultimately not making you a fan of money. K. Abernathy

What's wrong with, "I am sorry you are not satisfied. Please return the item"?

How about you? Any frightful experiences? Do tell. 
And do you think I should post photos? Call them out by name? Surely they deserve it.

*** I welcome your comments, but if you post anonymously as a troll or claim to know the parties involved, your comments will be deleted. 
This blog is about CUSTOMER SERVICE.  Not individuals which is why they are not named.

Here's a great video about bad customer service. Consumers of anything deserve to get what they pay for, be satisfied and not treated like shit. Enjoy.