In March we, here at Deneen Pottery, decided to do an ad campaign offering a free handmade coffee mug to those that mentioned the add when requesting a catalog on our website… I use the word ‘campaign’ loosely because it was just a single ad, but in a industry leading publication IQ or Innkeeping Quarterly. As PAII is the leading organization in this industry it only makes sense to test the waters with this type of an offer with them. We’ve always found success when working with PAII, and will continue to do so indefinitely! On a side note the president of PAII, Jay Karen, was recently here for a ‘hands on’ tour by our president, and my dad, Peter Deneen. To read up on that tour click here. Thanks for coming Jay, I look forward to seeing you again soon!
Well, the response to that ad? It was good. And last week I began to do follow up calls to those that we sent mugs to. In the course of my calls I came across a property called Harpole’s Heartland Lodge, an Illinois hunting lodge / bed and breakfast located in serene Pike County.
I am a very visual person and one that likes to find connections… This connection hit me when looking at Harpole’s Heartland Lodge was one of a big buck. As I’ve been adopted by my in-laws into the traditions of white tail hunting in northern Minnesota, anytime I see a buck my thoughts turn to the season in which we wear blaze orange and sit quietly in the woods.
The second thing that hit me was that Harpole’s Heartland Lodge had an authenticity similar to one of our most successful Inns located in Gatlinburg, TN – Buckhorn Inn.
Besides the fact that one is a hunting lodge, and one is not, both properties are bed & breakfasts and I figured that Wanda, the owner of Harpole’s, might benefit from knowing a bit about Buckhorn. That’s when I picked up the phone and called Lee, the owner of Buckhorn.
“We love our mugs, – More importantly, our guests love our mugs,” was one of the very first things that Lee said. Since 2005 we have been making Footed Mugs in Hunter Green, at a rate of about 200-400 a year. Pictured below is one of the mugs as it is coming through production – The artwork for Buckhorn prominently features a majestic looking multi-point buck, one that any hunter would sure be proud to bring home.
The difficulty of bagging a big buck was kinda like the decision that Lee faced when trying to find the right mug for her property. “[We] couldn’t find anything that looked as good as your mugs [with the] feeling that they’ll hold up,” Lee said.
“We thought the mugs were too expensive – You’ve got to be kidding, we’ll have to sell them for at least 16, and we thought that they wouldn’t sell.” But that all changed once that first order arrived…
“We’ve just been delighted and the sales have been fantastic – Sure some guests won’t buy them but we are probably selling 375 per year – That is a lot of money for no extra effort.” The secret is that you just serve coffee in the mugs, “you don’t have to build a room, people just have them at breakfast.”
Since we’ve been perfecting the craft of handmaking mugs for over 30 years, ensuring their durability is paramount. “[Deneen Pottery is] known in the industry – I have seen your mugs in some really nice places,” Lee mentioned.
Having a mug with your name on it can be a great marketing tool, but if that decal wears off, or the mug is easily broken, it will end up in the trash. Our mugs are made to be used, handle abuse and still look good! “We love them, and use them for serving morning coffee, we’ve only broken one as the mugs are sturdy, and most importantly they have a great look” Lee said.
Lee also said that she “likes dealing with a small company – We know you and you know us!” It’s been wonderful to have the opportunity to work with Lee over the years and we look forward to continuing that relationship in the years to come.
At the end of our conversation I suggest that Lee try a new glaze color on her next order… Be it known that there will be 20 Footed Mugs in a new color – Our Marble Hunter w/Blue White Top going to the Buckhorn Inn. If past performances are any indicator of future results, then we had better get another order of Marble glazed mug into production! I have a feeling the new color will be very popular this summer!
In closing I’ve pictured the home page of Harpole’s Heartland Lodge – As you can see the prominence of that buck is what sparked this blog. Hopefully the similarities that I see will be noticed by others… It’s never fun to extend trust and open yourself up to a new relationship, especially a business relationship in these economic times… Hopefully this blog will help ‘others’ know that with Deneen Pottery is worthy of that trust!
Thanks for reading our Pottery Blog!