Craftsmen By Design

How It All Began
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How It All Began

As many will remember, the Hudson Valley Artisan’s Guild ran a Holiday Boutique in the Poughkeepsie Plaza for several years.  Each year was more successful than the last. After the 2005 Boutique, the Poughkeepsie Plaza offered the Artisans Guild the opportunity to have a year round store.  After much discussion, the Guild decided that as a totally volunteer organization, running a year round store would be very difficult so they decided not to open a Guild store.


Once the decision was made by the Guild that they wouldn’t open a store, several members started discussing the possibility of opening a store on their own. Some of these people had been involved with crafts co-op stores in the 1970’s and 1980’s and were able to use that knowledge and experience in looking at all the possibilities.  Nine craftsmen decided in the late spring of 2006 to open Craftsmen by Design. 


The decision was made to operate a juried crafts store offering the work of Hudson Valley artisans to the public.  With over 200 years of business experience among these 9 partners, we are pleased to be able to say there has never been a problem we haven’t been able to solve.  Only the partners work in the store and each one has their own “specialty” to offer.  For some it is doing display, doing the computer work, doing the financial requirements, minor repairs, etc.  We are happy to say that there has never been a major disagreement and our partners meetings are always sprinkled with laughter.  Each year we have an anniversary dinner meeting to celebrate another year in business. 


Our Dealings with Our Consignors

We are always aware of the welfare of the craftsmen who consign in our store, since all the partners have had experiences—good and bad—in doing consignment.  We are really happy that the vast majority of our consignors have been with us since we opened.  There is a great deal of trust on both sides, as most  had been members of the Guild for many years , are  friends and we have done the same shows  in the past.  We are always looking for new consignors.  However, it would be very easy for us to take in many jewelers or photographers for example.  We would make money, but the consignor wouldn’t, so we limit the number of artists in each category.


When a craftsperson contacts us on the possibility of consigning in our store, we have them bring in their work to be juried by the partners.  Besides looking at the quality of the work, it is evaluated to see if it is in direct competition with another artist’s work.  And it is always evaluated on whether or not we think it will sell.  Again, we don’t want to take a craftsperson’s money if we don’t think it will sell.  However, if we accept the quality of work but question if it will sell in our store and the craftsperson still wants to try, we will not reject them.  We just don’t want to mislead an artist. 


Dealing with Our Customers

 We are very happy with the fact that we have developed a very loyal customer base.  If someone comes into our shop looking for a specific craft that we don’t carry, we will try to find an artist who does that work and give that name to the customer. 


We offer quality work from Hudson Valley Artisans.  Many of our customers appreciate that the work is made locally, by local artists.  Many of the artists represented in our store do custom orders and we allow the artist and customer to work together directly—eliminating a lot of the miscommunications that could happen by not allowing that.  And, we appreciate our customers.  In this economic environment, we know that people are even more careful in how and where they spend their money, and are pleased they shop with us. 


Looking Towards the Future

We are looking forward to remaining in the Poughkeepsie Plaza and selling the work of local artisans for many years.  We are always looking for new artists to consign with us and we also are looking for ways to let more of the public know that we are here.  One of the partners has been working on the website—although we doubt if we would ever be able to do sales off the website, mainly because many of our items are one of a kind.  We have worked with some non-profit groups to have events in our store and will continue to investigate that avenue.  We have been contacted by groups in other parts of the country and in Canada asking for information on how we started and how we operate.  That is a common thread among craftspeople.  They are usually willing to share their knowledge and share information whenever possible.  There is a special bond among most craftspeople—and all of us are proud to be part of that group.