Saturday, February 11, 2006

More shipping - to exotic (for us) places

We recently shipped a pair of Australian Aboriginal "mimih" figures from our web site at Tribalworks to a collector in Italy. It was a packing challenge due to the long, skinny nature of the pieces - and the destination.

Mimihs are part of Aboriginal mythology, representing spirits that live in the cracks in the rocks of the escarpment. They are often used, as are koshares among Native Americans and "boogeymen" in pop culture, to scare youngsters into the proper behavior.

This collector acquired them for a traveling display of totems that he has put together.

We also have fetish carving collectors in the UK who buy regularly from us. Shipping there is no problem.

Headed in the other direction we have shipped Native American jewelry from our Native Jewelry site to Australia and have shipped repatriated Australian Aboriginal paintings and aritfacts to "downunder." Come to think of it, we have shipped several items of Native American jewelry and Zuni fetish carvings to Japan and Hong Kong.

It is exciting to be dealing worldwide, and to know that material culture from tribal societies is going out around the world to advance the spirit of artistic appreciation and cultural understanding.

Shipping charges and other matters of cash

A discussion group to which we belong has seen a recent rash of messages about shipping arrangements. It's something attached to almost every Web transaction, whether from a web site such as ours or on purchases via eBay or other auction sites.

When posting items to eBay - we have a store their under the name "Art of the First Person" - we are confronted with the question of how to include shipping charges. Customarily we have offered a flat fee. That way the bidder knows the most it will cost to ship to anywhere in the US. We estimate the cost - even for items bought from our web site - since we don't live next to the post office and can't provide the weight and postage for each package before hand.

If we are over on our estimate, we usually include a check in the package with the goods so that the buyer doesn't pay for our overestimate. If we are under, we usually just eat the difference as a cost of doing business. There are exceptions, of course, but they are rare and based on individual cases.

We have considered factoring the shipping cost into the price for the goods and shipping "free". Of course, it isn't free because it means the cost is covered in the price for the item. But it is finite and predictable. We find those two considerations are important to some people. We do offer free shipping on web items as a special promotion at certain gift-giving times of year, in order to provide an incentive for action.

The other mode is what eBay calls calculated and we call actual cost. When we are dealing with odd-sized and shaped items from the web site, we will agree to bill the buyer the exact cost for the shipping, after the fact. We can do this if we have acquired their credit card information and they consent to that way of doing it. On eBay, we indicate that the shipping will be calculated based on the desired mode and the destination.

We doubt that anyone buys an item because of shipping charges but we suspect, at least on eBay, they may decide not to bid if they feel the shipping charges are out of line.

How do you feel about this part of buying and selling? We'd love hear some other opinions.


We update this blog when events suggest or available time allows, usually both. We also use it as a way to alert readers to new items available at our web sites - Native American Jewelry , Native American Pottery , ZuniLink and Tribalworks .
At the first, we have just added some beautiful pieces by Calvin Begay of the Navajo (Dine') Nation. At the second, we have just reorganized the entire site according to tribal origin of the potter. At the third, we have some carvings about to go up from various Zuni artists. And at the last, we have just added a bunch of fun Australian Aboriginal pottery pieces, some at prices below $40.

You can subscribe to this blog by clicking on one of the feed buttons to the right or by selecting "TribalArtery" within whatever feed provider you now use.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Nifty Australian Aboriginal pottery creations

Our last post was about Native American pottery and Native American jewelry.

Tonight, we announce that we have added several pieces of Australian Aboriginal pottery to our site at . If you use this link, navigate to the Australian Room and then click the button for "pottery".

Australian Aboriginal pottery? How can that be? They have been essentially nomadic in the desert, limiting their interest in anything more difficult to carry than baskets and wood implements, and without a potting tradition in north, except for some Tiwi work.

This story is about a company in Alice Springs called Walkabout. It was formed by a European woman who acquired clays, slurried them and poured them into molds to be fired as pieces of pottery.

After firing they were painted by local Aboriginal women using traiditonal dot techniques and traditional iconography. We understand that the painters were on their own for the patterns and subjects they added to the pottery.

When we first met Simone in Alice, we were struck by the charm of these pieces, which are molded as boxes and creatures - koalas, kangaroos, wombats, birds and frilly lizards. On later trips, we made a point to find her and pick up additional pieces. Our last trip to Alice, Simone was making sounds of selling out. So we bought a ton of pieces. They are now almost all gone. We found the latest items to be posted in box that we put away and forgot.

These pieces are an extraordinarily inexpensive way to get a bit of Aboriginal Australiana. To go directly to the page
click this link.

We think you will find them fun to look at.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Web sites redesigned for easier navigation

Life is an evolutionary process. In that respect, web marketing reflects life.

After spending many hours putting up not one, but four, Web sites, it finally dawned on the Web master that navigating them wasn't very shopper-friendly.

So now, two of them, and , have been reorganized for more convenient shopping.

For the jewelry site, we have organized pages by category and listed the menu so that people seeking bracelets can find the pages they are on and only visit those pages if that is their preference. The same is true for people seeking necklaces, earrings, pendants and pin/pendants.

Within this structure, we also created pages that feature the works of one of our favorite Navajo artists, Calvin Begay. So that fans of this phenomenal inlay artist and jewelry designer can go directly to pages that have his versions of the above jewelry items.

The results have been gratifying already with significantly more "conversion". That's a trade talk word for people who visit the site and actually buy something.

Today, phase two was completed with the posting of the newly reorganized pottery site. Now each tribe's potters are represented on their own pages, within the bounds of available work. Looking for Navajo pottery? Visit the Navajo page. Looking for Hopi pottery? It has it's own page too. Some Pueblos, whose work has recently been reduced by sales activity, must share their pieces with other Pueblos. For example, Acoma and Isleta. Another example is a single page shared by and devoted to the work of Wayne Snowbird (Santa Clara) and Andrew Rodriquez (Laguna).

Since the dealers day is never done - hence, the scarcity of these blogs - it now is time to photograph and post some new arrivals. In the meantime, Valentine's Day is just around the weekend and we can still ship to someone you love. Why not pay us a visit?