Finding a Manufacturer of small community event artifacts?
by Michael Smith
(Weldon, NC, U.S.)
I was recently asked to serve as a volunteer, on the Recreation Advisory Board (5 board members) in our small rural community of 1900 people. Someone came up with the idea to find a manufacturer of small artifacts, (specifically, a wooden fish replication of a Striped Bass) small enough to fit on a standard mailbox, whatever that means. If I sound a bit frustrated.
It's because I didn't come up with the idea, and if I did, I would have done my research before raising the idea and answered the question whether the idea is doable or feasible. I didn't come up with the idea but it was passed on to me to find a manufacturer which I don't agree with, but never-the-less, I decided to give it a try. Maybe the members think I'm the best person to get the job done.
I've searched the internet for small wood artifacts manufacturers without much luck. Most are individuals who make beautiful detailed wooden fish carved plaques or replicas of fish but they are extremely expensive.
The idea is to sell small fish replicas at our annual July 4th celebration, when most of the town residents come together to celebrate. Our chair person said, we could take orders on the day of the celebration and collect the money but we'd have to have a sample.
This project is to further promote Weldon, NC and it's community development program, as the "Rockfish aka Striped Bass Capital of the World." I've shared pictures of our "Rocky" who is possibly the 2nd largest Striped Bass sculpture or statue in the U.S. (approx. 8'Lx6'H & 4000lbs).
My question is do you know of any manufacturers that make small wooden replicas of a Striped Bass in bulk and at a reasonable cost?
A wooden replica of a particular fish sounds like a fairly expensive proposition, but there are so many promotional items being made today, who knows?
Rather than searching for small wood artifact makers, since that hasn't helped you, here are a couple of other idea that apply generally to communities trying to have a unique branding system for their town.
1. Search for "promotional items" suppliers in your state. Then call one or two, and explain your dilemma. While I'm doubting that they will have an off-the-shelf wooden rockfish, they might have a plastic or resin item that would be close enough. It's a bit of a long shot, but these sales reps tend to know more about sourcing than anyone else.
2. The second approach is to see if you can find someone in your state who is a wood carver and who would like to make a deal with you either for a certain number of similar products, or who would make a prototype that some other type of manufacturer can imitate. Ask your state arts council for referrals.
You may be on the right track in thinking that this isn't a very practical idea. If people eventually come around to your way of thinking, you might be able to have a decal or sticker made for mailboxes for much less money.
Since you've written to this site before, we think that you're in a rural area that isn't especially wealthy, so special order wood products aren't likely to be a reasonably priced way to promote yourselves.
In the future a new development called 3-D printing will begin to provide a way for communities to solve a problem such as this. For $1200-1500 you can purchase a printer that actually builds up a three-dimensional object using a drawing as input and a variety of materials, perhaps including a wood by-product, as the medium.
Maybe a nearby university has this gadget and would make it available for a civic purpose.
All of these are long shots.
That could get very interesting.