Every once and awhile I will go back and read Clinton Detweiler’s blog. For those who don’t remember him (and there are some) he was owner and operator of Maher Studios. He closed the studio in 2006 because it was no longer profitable. Although he continued to build and sell figures, along with the Maher Course of Ventriloquism, Maher Studios was gone.
These two posts from shortly before his passing caught my attention:
So on January 27 the USPS is raising postage rates again. And while they hope to have the public distracted by a 1 cent increase on postage stamps and postcards (my assessment), they will raise the priority rates some 10%! My goodness – so that’s how you do it – when business drops off, just raise your prices! I could still be in business!
Well, I just sold another book on ebay for 99 cents that will cost $1.61 in postage to ship. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to afford my retirement hobbies!
When Mark, Ken and I revived Maher Studios, so many people asked if we were bringing back the dialog books. We realized they were not profitable. The profits didn’t justify the effort involved or the expense of printing, storage and shipping.
People wanted hard printed copies of the IVS Spotlight. Printing and shipping costs have gone through the roof. With the number of ventriloquists worldwide, the expenses didn’t make sense.
We knew these postage trends and the worldwide reach of the Internet wouldn’t mesh. I took it upon myself to pull Mark & Ken away from physical product to create information products. And both the IVS and the vent courses lent themselves to that perfectly.
Although there are less ventriloquists than magicians, jugglers or clowns, we have a dedicated base of practitioners. Unfortuantely the base doesn’t always support the art. People have complained about the prices of Maher courses. They have walked away from the IVS due to a $10 increase for non-subscription payments.
And honestly, I am at a loss. Folks, physical product just can not be done at a rate you’d be willing to pay. And I’m not getting rich on the time I devote to Maher Studios and the International Ventriloquist Society.
I love the art. I love what I do. I love helping to carry on the tradition. But there are times I can sympathize with Clinton’s frustration.