Making the decision on what products to carry for the next year can be a daunting task. Every year this is a huge undertaking that some of us here at Meadowbrooke Gourds go through. It is a task we do not take lightly but we always have fun picking and choosing from some very interesting gourd design that get presented to us.
First we set up several tables and load them with our current products. We also set up a few tables for all of the new ideas that employees, customers, or local artist have given us to consider for the next year. We look at all of our current gourds to see how they sold, how easy or hard they were to craft and overall, do they still fit our line. We get input from Darren on the wholesale side of the business and from me, Dori, on the retail end. We go over customer complaints and recommendations at this time as well to start weeding out products we wish to retire.
Now it is time to look at all of the new ideas that were submitted. These designs can come from anywhere. We consider many things when we look at them. Do they fit into our Meadowbrooke look? Can they be crafted in our system? Can they be part of an existing family or are they a family by themselves?, and the list goes on and on. We also look to see if any changes need to be made to the design. A lot of times, the design may need to be made from a different size or shape of gourd because of supply. All these things need to be considered. Our team then filters though all of the new designs and places them on the displays with the gourds currently in our line. We then put sticky notes on all the products that need to be tweaked or remade because of size changes or design changes.
We are still are not done at this point, even though this has taken hours from setting up, to weeding out, to adding new designs. For Ben, the owner, this is where hours and hours of work begin for him. All the designs we felt need tweaked or as we put it “Meadowbrooked”, he must go through and rework to fit our crafting system and our look. For those who visit the store in the fall, you can see him working diligently in his corner of the store. He has a week to complete this and is usually working up to the last minute. He is very particular about the look of our products and the quality we put out.
After all the “Meadowbrooking” has been completed, the products are either accepted into the new catalog, or they put aside for further tweaking to make it in years to come. We constantly are looking for better products and better ways to craft them. During this time, we may find new tools, jigs or products to help make our new line just the way we want it.
Like I said before, this is not a task we take lightly but I personally really enjoy doing it. I love to see what new products we come up with each year and to see it is out there is great. Most importantly, I like to see our customer’s faces when they see the new designs for the first time.