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Is there a market out there for high end coffee table

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by Cecil, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    fish displays? With access to some phenomenal size yellow perch, bluegills, and trout on my farm, and large crappies in the future, was thinking of doing some casting and placing them in ice fishing scenes, etc. I have local Amish craftsman that can produce the tables and glass at very competitive rates. Also have a nephew that makes cabinets for a living that might be interested.

    I've done these with skin mounts for customers, but wondered if there is a market if the fish casts are exceptional like 15 inch + 2 pound yellow perch, and pound and half bluegills. Also 5 pound + brook, brown, and tiger trout. Will start raising largemouth bass again this year.

    If you did this how would you market it? Do any of you do something similar? I have ideas but just like to get other's take on this.

    Part of my impetus is to get my twin brother involved in the business that is really good at detail work (he builds scale model railroad cars from scratch). I don't think he'd have any problem with the casting if I get him trained right. My brother has two college degrees and has never gotten back into the accounting field since he was canned during the last recession. Seems no one wants to hire a 60 year old even with an exemplary work record. He's been doing temporary jobs ever since.

    I have big tourist trap within 20 minutes of me that would probably sell for a commission (Shipshewanna, Indiana).

  2. Perk

    Perk Deuce, My grouse dog

    I don’t know why it wouldn’t work. I would talk to some store owners and see if they are interested and find out what they’re cut would be. Maybe do one and see how long it takes to sell.
    Being the hermit that I am I would only do it through a store like you are talking. I don’t want anymore traffic then necessary in my showroom.

  3. fishmaster

    fishmaster Well-Known Member

    Cecil, There are a lot easier ways to make money. It becomes a high dollar piece of furniture. Women get 80% of the vote when it comes to furniture. Most women are not thrilled with fish. Throw in all the variables of styles of furniture, wood, end tables having to match and it's a big crap shoot. Then if you sell them thru another business the product gets marked up 30-50% or you have to discount it by that much. Figure out how much you'd need for one of these to make a decent wage , double that amount and ask if anyone is going to be interested.
    FishArt likes this.
  4. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    I agree with FishMaster. With that many mounts and the table you're talking big bucks and that right there drastically limits your market. Toss in shipping costs (and glass!) which would not be easy or cheap to ship and you've priced yourself out of most any market. I'm near a very high end tourist area now (Galena, IL) and I cannot see too many people willing to pay here what you'd need to get to make it cost effective The only way I see it working is if you were in or near a big city with more potential customers and get into a high end outdoors related furniture store (do those even exist? lol). I actually was considering doing a fish/coffee table here for our new lake house. But, the cost and work involved and then I realized as a coffee table it's going to be quite low. Not being at or near eye level means one is not going to see very much of the details. Unless you do ice fishing scenes with the mounts laying on the "ice" that is (further limiting your market). Then, lighting??? You'd be better off cranking out a bunch of Jack-A-Lopes instead as the market and profit would be much better - lol!
  5. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    O.K. I hear you guys but you seem to be excluding those people that have more money than they know what to do with. You know the 1 percenters. ;) Whatever happened to not worrying about the people that can't afford you? And it's not like you have to mass produce these if the mark up is high enough. I have a few customers like that and the local tourist trap Shipsewanna gets people by the busloads from the wealthy Chicago area and all over the country actually. I am amazed at the people I meet from all over the country that know exactly where that is. (20 minutes from my studio). They sell a lot of Amish made furniture and my parents were delighted to find the shipping to Florida wasn't that bad. They have their own private trucks.

    What about approaching Cabelas and Bass Pro Shops? I would produce them as is -- no alterations etc.

    Think I might built one or two and approach some of these retailers. If they don't want to play ball so be it. And there's always the Internet. The Internet is a gift to our generation for a retail sales that works well if you know how to use it.

    I'm not disagreeing with any of you and really appreciate the feedback. Just playing a little Devil's Advocate.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  6. Monty Python

    Monty Python New Member

    Hi Cecil, one thing you could do is have a prototype set up in your display room and guage the interest. I have done a few coffee table mounts in the past and it does seem like the clients like to have a hand in choosing wood type, stain, scenery etc. Sometimes that can turn into a pain in the butt. As long as you are getting paid well for it , it doesn't matter. You could also post one up on the many Facebook fishing sites.
  7. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Also just playing the advocate here, it couldn't hurt to try. You simply don't know for certain if you don't give things a shot. That being said, Chicago is really a terrible market for fish work in general Cecil. The 1 percenters will gladly fork out tens of thousands of dollars on a hunting trip and some will spend the big bucks on big game mounts. But, I think you're narrowing your market even more when it comes to fish and coffee tables or high dollar fish items.

    Cabelas and/or BPS might be a good "in" if you can convince the person in charge to place your displays in new stores (decoration). It's a whole bid process with BPS and a time consuming pain in the arse! I would think that your product is so custom (and fragile) and takes up a huge footprint that it would be tough to sell them in their stores, online or their catalog. And I'm certain I'm forgetting many hurdles I don't even know about! Shipping will add at least a hundred or two to the price or maybe more depending on where it's going. Unless you buy your own shipping truck - lol. Then, sales tax again? Lots of expensive issues to think through and work out.

    Shops in your tourist area are going to want a commission or consignment fee if you can find a shop to offer your work. Expect to pay a minimum of 25% of your asking price. Then, you'll probably also have sales tax to deal with too. And add in shipping costs b/c I doubt too many folks that see and buy a piece of fish furniture have the room to take it home right there!

    Lastly, yes the internet can be a powerful tool. So, you create a fish table/display and you want to use the internet to help sell it. So, now what? Yeah, it goes in your display area and on your website so that's a start. But, how are you going to reach people outside of your location and outside of your base referrals and repeat customers? How are you going to reach the 1 percenters Cecil? It's not like your website is a one lane highway for 1 percenters! What are you doing currently to get higher hits on search engines? Anything? There's ways but they take time and effort and a web designer, host (somebody) that knows what they're doing. And Google ads are expensive as are other ways to get your website traffic quickly. And even if you know what you're doing to try to get high on the search engines it'll take plenty of time to get there and probably more money. My money says you'll be lucky to sell one or two in the next 10 years and those will probably need to be tied to a customers actual catch(es). The sentimental value vs. decor angle would be best I think. Again, can't hurt to try as long as you are fine with the possibility that you may not sell them. I think you add all the stuff up and it's going to be expensive and a tough sell! JMO!
    Cecil likes this.
  8. Sotired

    Sotired Active Member

    Don't limit yourself to coffee tables Cecil, try something smaller as well. Give a choice, variety in size as well as price.

    FishArt and Cecil like this.
  9. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Guys I used to do business with BPS. Sold them a slew of huge live yellow perch for their aquariums. Price wasn't a limit with them and they even bought me a seine and sent a fish hauler from Oklahoma to pick them up. Ended up hauling myself to Missouri at their first and biggest store.

    I have no problem selling something to someone if I believe in my product. I no longer sell to them supposedly because their musky were eating them. I think what happened was the feds *ucked it up for me. Starting about ten years ago I needed to do expensive health testing for a pathogen that didn't even exist on fish farms. BPS probably found someone outside of the Great Lakes that didn't have to do the testing, hence a lower price. If I had the money I should have sued for obstruction of commerce.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
    FishArt likes this.
  10. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    The hard part Cecil is convincing others to believe in your product - I like the smaller, less expensive idea "SoTired" mentioned. Good luck and let us know what happens!
  11. joeym

    joeym Jeannette & Joey @ Dunn's Falls

    There is a buyer, but it will be a slow sell. We go to lots of art & craft shows. The high end stuff just doesn't seem to move very fast.
    FishArt likes this.
  12. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member


    Wouldn't bother with the arts and crafts shows. Same goes for Ebay. Not where the high rollers go.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
    FishArt and joeym like this.
  13. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Personally, I think it would be more of a marketing deal than anything Cecil. It shows your abilities beyond "just a wall mount". It shows that you can take things to that next level that you can offer it to your potential customers. I still think the personal tie to an actual fish caught is your best bet. Fyi, I get a fair amount of custom habitat work from folks seeing some of my more complex displays. Most do not spend the money that the few have for something too elaborate, but they are fun to do. Not as profitable as a base wall mount, but a nice break! Except for a handful, there's almost always a budget in mind for most. Multiple or large mounts/replicas plus a custom di$play ad$$ up quickly! But, anything to separate you from everybody else - to get them to stop and take a longer look might mean more wall mount work, more custom habitats and perhaps sell a table or two!
  14. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Marty I hope I don't sound like I'm bragging but I really don't need to market myself as far as the commercial fish taxidermy is concerned. (I only do fish). Been in the area 35 years, no advertising, no website and they still call and show up and say, "I was told you're the best." It's all word of mouth and I honestly hope for slow periods so I can get caught up. Of course it helps I have 100 lakes in my county, and so do the neighboring two counties more or less. And I have two taxidermists sending people and their fish my way and two more have retired. I gave up on wholesale for others a few years back. Stupid, stupid, stupid, on my part. Why did I need to do it for less money when I had plenty of work? :rolleyes:

    Right now I'm on a kick where I want to get everything out of the freezer while simultaneously immediately mount everything that comes in vs. putting it in the freezer. I'm hoping and praying the sucky winter weather this spring holds up for a while so I can reach my goal. I have about 20 fish to go and my freezer will be empty!

    Here's pic from a couple of weeks ago. I have since added 9 more fish. The reproduction blanks are not shown.

    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
    FishArt likes this.
  15. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Not hard for me. I think I could sell ice to an eskimo. Ironically my twin is the opposite. He's not a people person. More cerebral and introverted. He has an accounting and marketing degree and numbers appear in colors to him (synesthesia).
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
    FishArt likes this.
  16. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Same here Cecil. But, my point being is you're not going to sell too many of these things to your existing customer base. And, how many of those folks simply call you and don't even bother to look at your website? As it stands you're not going to reach out to others w/o some marketing for this higher end product. And if you're serious about selling some of these things you'll probably need a website upgrade too. (Getting to my main point here, I promise!) The added benefit of reaching out with more marketing is you get too many requests for your regular work (translation: you get to raise your prices to slow down the workload). Ultimately, it pays for the added advertising and you may sell a couple of these coffee tables too! JMO!
    Cecil likes this.
  17. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Well, I too think I'm excellent at sales. And, I think what you're proposing is a tough sell. But, I also think the best motivator for me is for somebody to tell me I CANNOT do something! So, in that vein I'm saying to you - "prove it Cecil"!!! Maybe I'll learn something here! I just don't see much of a market and reaching the right folks isn't going to be easy. Good luck - I hope you prove me wrong! ;)
    Cecil likes this.
  18. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Marty I see your point; I get it. And yes a website will be needed etc. for this kind of market. That said I doubt I will sell these to my local customer base with a few exceptions, as I do have a handful of customers that are extremely wealthy. One of my regular customers invented the MRI and lives on a lake in the area. Another guy here gets royalties for every aluminum can pop top made as he invented them. He's not a customer but these people are around. A friend owns a company that makes prosthetics and has more than one factory.

    My marketing idea is to sell very few at a very high mark up. Market them as a one of kind that can't be found anywhere else. No pressure on me as it's just a sideline. Don't care how long it takes. If you can't afford it, but want it, it's not my problem. Either come up with my price or I'll wait for someone that can. What's counterintuitive is some very wealthy people get an ego trip out of paying lots of money for something.
    FishArt likes this.
  19. hambone

    hambone Member

    Follow the money, your potential customers are the ones booking high end fishing trips they need to see samples of what your offering, either pics or displays at sport shows, you will have to have a relationship with the outfitter, and the customer will probably want fish they caught or a replica rather than your fish.
    kperry1963 likes this.
  20. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Cecil, a marketing angle for this potential customer could be using artificial (prosthetic) fins - lol! ;) Have fun! I know I really enjoy the break from the "same ol, same ol"!!!