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Advice On An Open House


sherry
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Advice On An Open House Party! I have decided after a year of testing and almost $3.000 thousand spending on supplies it is about time to have a Candleand CP soap open house party. And this is were I need your help. How many scents should I have. And what do I need to know about it do I need food and what Kind. do I need to invite people and all this little things that come along I never had an house party before so any help is appreciated

And before you start asking about Liability Insurance I have one since 2007 when I start selling my soaps :cheesy2:

Anyway please any help will be appreciated

Thank you:)

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My friend, a chandler with 15+ years experience in crafting and selling her wares (who also carried liability insurance and was registered with the state as an LLC), often had home party shows. She lived in a small apartment, so these were always held in the homes of friends.

For her sample/demo table, she always brought a 4 oz candle as a cold throw "sniffing" demo of the 36 scents that she carried. She arranged these on a table with her order sheets and business cards, along with a pretty container filled with coffee beans (to cleanse the olfactory palate between "sniffing" candles). She did dipped bears, unity candles, and novelty pies and usually brought one or two of these items just to show her additional lines, and whatever new "mad scientist" project she was creating.

Product she brought with her for selling at the show, usually included 4 units of each scent, arranged on a table and grouped according to scent type and color:

  • 8 oz jars
  • 4 oz jars
  • melts
  • aroma beads in organza bags

Her primary purpose in the show wasn't to sell on the spot, but to showcase her products and collect orders.

She did the typical party games that are ice breakers, refreshments, and took orders at the end of the show.

She always made sure that she personally thanked each person who came to one of her party shows and that they with a nice little "treat bag" that had something like a packet of tea, her business card, two melts, aroma bead sachet for their car, and a 4 oz candle in a popular or seasonal scent. She was a really congenial lady and everyone who attended a party show always felt as though they'd made a new friend who just happened to sell candles.

Eventually, she moved into a retirement center when she felt she could no longer safely live alone, and became a lady of leisure who brightened the lives of everyone she met until she passed away.

I wish you much success in your shows and hope that everyone who attends places an order with you and leaves feeling as though they've made a new friend who just happens to sell candles.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Disclaimer: I have never sold any candles or home scenting products, but have made them for my own enjoyment and as gifts to family. I swear that I will secure liability insurance and properly register with the state as a business entity if/when I decide to pursue product sales after I have perfected my craft :cheesy2:

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When I hold open houses I would send invites to my customer list (but if you are just starting to sell you probably don't have one). Great time to start one - have a signup sheet at your open house. If you are doing any craft shows make sure you have information for the people who attend the open house.

Offer a special for those who attend the open house.

I also advertise in our local paper and on bulletin boards (and word of mouth).

I try to have a stock in all my products (even if it is just quantity one...lol). So I get all my stock out for an open house.

I do an open house the first Saturday in December. After that date, in this area, sales from handmade and craft shows goes down. It is also the same day as the last big craft show here. I usually discount everything at this open house. If there are products or scents that I will no longer carry, I discount them at just a little over cost. I don't want them hanging around after that.

Trudi

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Cybersix I have the same problem I have to do it in my DD house and it's a small house mine is little bigger but very mesh things all over the place that's why I am thinking of given out Invitations so I can a minimize the amount of people that are coming at my DD :)

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Sherry, the house itself it's not so small, but I was thinking to host it in the living zone, since it's the room with a direct access on the court outside, people would come in easily. But I have a really big sofa, and no table! The table is in the kitchen! So I have to think where I would display candles, and where lay some food or drink. I have a huge basement but it would take months to clean it and arrange it in a nice way!

I won't do tons of candles, just focus on spring/summer scent and have a complete list available for guest, and maybe some order form.

Do you think invitation with RSVP would work better?

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My friend and I used to do them at my moms house in Washington all the time. What we would do is completely clear the living room (take out the couch, coffee table, club chairs), and set it up with our craft show displays. The dining room was attached, so we set that up as the billing area. Two laptops where people could do Visa orders, and a cash register for the rest.

she had a fireplace in the corner with a giant TV on it.. we made a DVD slideshow of our products and played that on a loop on the TV with some good music (norah jones, beatles, and the like. light fun music.) We used existing shelving to display things as well.

We didnt provide any seating because the goal wasnt to have people stick around, with ours. We just had people fill out a form when they came in to win a gift basket worth $200.. so EVERYONE filled it out (HA! HELLO MAILING LIST!!) and we dropped it off to the winner within the next week, they didnt have to be there to win.

We put a small ad in the local paper calling it an "Artists open house", put a listing on craigslist, called the newspaper to try and get them to do a small story on it (Its worth a shot, lol). We sent out postcards to entire neighborhoods in the general area. We put fliers up in the library, community board, and in businesses that would let us, as well. And facebook/myspace/cafemom helped too. Then, like a garage sale, we set out signs at major intersections. We got 200 people one Saturday! My moms house is only 1 block from the beach, so alot of summer vacationers wandered up. Sure makes me miss that!

Essentially we treated the open house like a store, a twice a year store. Once in the summer, and once before Christmas. Since it was only twice a year, the hassle of removing the furniture wasnt that big of a deal. We were walking on eggshells with that though.. we didnt charge tax, we didnt have a license to have people in the house for a retail type setting, and she didnt have insurance (I did..) So, I wouldnt do it here unless I knew the city didnt have strict laws against it. They are OK with me making my candles and soap out of my home... but selling directly out of the home is a whole other ball game.

On the other side of that, I do tester parties every once and awhile where all I have to do is set some of my products out all over the room, add some chairs, and go through the products one at a time. They all get a clipboard, they rate the product and get a sample to take home, and onto the next. It takes anywhere from 1-2 hours depending on how much we chit chat.

No more than 10 women, generally 5 friends and 5 people THEY invite. Someday I hope to have home parties at least once a month... but always hosted by me. I never want to be like mary Kay where someone else does the work. Since I am not "SELLING" to them, I am having them "TEST" I dont worry about what the city says. most of them place orders, but I have people place orders in the grocery store.. so I challenge the city to try and peg me for that. They cant prove when I made the sale.

Edited by LuminousBoutique
edited to add how we got people to the open house
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Stella! My insurance is separate from my house and I specifically toll them that I am working in my house making soap and BB and now candles I just hope that is what you mean if something else let me know so I can call him and ask I don't want to do anything wrong and get in trouble:)

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Sherry, your homeowner's policy is different from your business insurance. It covers your home & contents from fire and other perils. It usually contains a certain amount of personal liability coverage (protection against lawsuit from workers, visitors, pets, etc.). While your business insurance may cover you from product and/or general business liability, your homeowner's insurance may not cover you for liability or loss arising from business activities.

Example: you are having your business party in your home and someone accidentally starts a fire by dropping a match into a trash basket. No one is injured or sues you, but your home is damaged by fire. Will your homeowner's policy pay for the damages? Will your business insurance cover the damage to your home while having a business party there?

You have to read and understand each policy, its limitations & exclusions to be sure. If it's all greek to you, get with your agent or attorney to be sure. I have no idea the coverage you have nor the conditions of that coverage, but if it was me, I would make sure my aging asp was covered backwards and forwards.

Many people never check or prefer to "fly under the radar." I'm real picky about what and how much I am willing to risk! I wanna KNOW what I am putting on the line when I do something and I don't depend on hearsay 'cause if I believe something a friend or acquaintance tells me and they are WRONG, it ain't their butt on the line - it's MINE! But that's just me... :)

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I am wondering .... Kinda thinking out loud here.. So many people host jewlery , candle , and other parties in their home by big companies and we don't ever think about our home owners policy. If you have product liabilty on your own stuff then that is covered right? Why wouldn't your homeowners cover your party (Guests)selling your stuff if it would cover your party(Guest) selling other peoples stuff. Gee am I amaking any sense?

Edited by lrbd
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Why wouldn't your homeowners cover your party (Guests)selling your stuff if it would cover your party(Guest) selling other peoples stuff.
It might or might not, depending on the policy and how it is written. READ THE POLICY! A GUEST is not the same thing as a CUSTOMER (and I'll bet an insurance underwriter would not think a "tester" was a personal guest - I think they'd define a "tester" as someone who was there for business purposes). A private party is not the same thing as a party held to conduct business (Tupperware parties, Avon parties, candle parties, etc.). That's why it is so important to READ and UNDERSTAND your business insurance (general liability), product liability insurance AND your homeowner's insurance policies and their particular coverages and exclusions.

3rd paragraph of the answer at the link below deals directly with the question of covering "guests" or "clients"...

http://www.homeofficewarrior.com/ask-legal-andrew/ask-legal-andrew-does-my-homeowners-insurance-cover-my-home-business/

Many people are shocked to find all kinds of loopholes and clauses in their policies that limit or exclude coverage under certain circumstances. Homeowner's policies are NOT one-size-fits all! READ that boring, mumbo-jumbo sh*t BEFORE you host a business event at your home. AFTER something happens is NOT the time to bust it out and go through it! ;)

But I do know that both of them know that I run my business from my home
Uh huh. READ the POLICY 'cause if there's a problem, it doesn't matter WHAT the agent told you they THOUGHT it covered - make them SHOW YOU in black & white! I prefer to run these kinds of questions past an attorney if I have questions and the agent cannot show me exactly where it says something in the policy...

Found some links about this issue that explain it mo' better...

http://www.life123.com/career-money/small-business/small-business-insurance/small-business-liability-insurance.shtml

http://www.trustedchoice.com/consumer/business/homebusiness.aspx

http://www.insureuonline.org/smallbusiness/topic_home_based.htm

This link is specific to Canadian insurance law, but makes points not covered in the other links...

http://sbinfocanada.about.com/cs/insurance/a/insuranceHBB.htm

Edited by Stella1952
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Regarding insurance I don't have any problem, my house is my property (house and terrain) and I have my own insurance for damages/accident people could have in my property.

Here it's very uncommon anyway for people to sue for anything, if someone falls on my doorstep won't sue me but curse himself.

Anyway I'm covered for this.

Thanks for all the suggestions, I still can't decide wether to host it or not, I plan to invite my neighbours (i live in a horizontal combo, with private court, and only 16 houses) and friends and family.

I will put cards in mail boxes for neighbours, others invitation will go through email.

I really don't know if I should advertise to stranger too. My neighbors are still strangers because it's not so much time I live here, I barely know them, and I know they wonder about me and my candles someone believes I own a shop LOL not yet!!

Thanks again!!

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