Interview with John Goodrich of Land and Sea Glass Etsy Shop
My name is John and with my spouse Trisha we operate Land and Sea Glass at Etsy and the websites catscratchbox.com and merlinsstore.com. We both started working in stained glass over twenty five years ago and I stayed with that medium while Trisha now is more involved in the prevention of cat declawing, book sales, weaving and managing the websites.
I am retired after 21 years as a purchasing agent at Tufts University and about five years as a handyman having everything to do with home repairs. We live on three acres of heavily wooded land in a suburb north of Boston, and I also own a house and land in Jamaica with a website at: http://users.rcn.com/johnnycakes
I do a lot of work in and around the house and the three surrounding acres of land, feed most of the local populations of birds, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, feral cats, mice, coyotes, deer (who eat up the garden). Indirectly, with this abundance of small mammals I provide (unfortunately) prey for a few hawks and a resident pair of great horned owls, but then it is a part of nature. I also do quite bit of political writing.
Etsy Shop: Land and Sea Glass
All answers are copyright of John Goodrich.
1. How did you get interested in cats? How old were you when you had your first kitty?
I have always been fascinated by animals of all sorts including reptiles, insects, fish, birds and have even had jumping spiders as pets as a boy. I have a deep respect for all life from humans on down but have a special affinity for cats because of their grace, beauty, independent attitude and both their predictability and unpredictability.
My family always had dogs and the occasional cat but it wasn’t until I had my own apartment on Beacon Hill in Boston back in the hippie days (70’s) that cats became permanent and beloved companions. Since then every cat I have lived with has been adopted or has adopted us and adoption is what we urge everyone to do since there are so many cats waiting at shelters for a home.
2. Please describe your creative process.
As you can see from what I sell at Etsy, stained glass work is a main product and the one requiring constant creation since all my work is original. It is the cat scratch box however that means so much more to Trisha and me because it has helped so many people. It has stopped their cats from tearing up their homes and furniture thereby obviating the need to declaw the cat or send them off to a shelter. At the same time cats love “their” box!
Some eight years or so ago when we decided that our (new) cat needed a better scratch pad than what was offered at the store and not wanting or having the room for one of those cat towers, we set to work
developing a better cat scratch box. I began by rounding up large sheets of the heaviest corrugated I could find which turned up in the recycle bin at my local lumber yard. Using a table saw I cut the cardboard into strips about 3″ wide and about two feet long, glued them together and then built a wood frame around the one foot by two foot block of corrugated and thus the forerunner of what was to be many hundreds of much evolved cat scratch boxes was created.
This processes went from making a box here and there for friends and relatives who wanted or needed one to the making of a great many. It took us some five years of work and creative changes to get the final configuration of the boxes and the assembly process perfected.
Lastly we created a website dedicated to stopping the barbaric practice of declawing cats and to selling the boxes to those who needed them. We still sell the boxes at catscratchbox.com as well as our sales through Etsy. We do send all Etsy buyers to catscratchbox.com for the invaluable information we have on the site such as NOT declawing, how to stop unwanted clawing and a great deal of other useful and humorous information on cats in general that is far too lengthy to put on Etsy but very useful for all cat owners.
3. How did you discover Etsy? Did you consider other ways to sell your products?
I discovered Etsy through a charming woman named Emily Worden who sells custom purses and pocketbooks at Etsy and whom I met at the Friday Downtown Crossing craft shows in the heart of Boston. I have enjoyed better success at Etsy than at any other venue but I still do craft shows in and around the Boston area and have sold the cat scratch boxes to the MSPCA and to a pet shop in Newburyport. I much prefer the one-on-one sales at the craft shows but Etsy is just too marvelous and easy a way to sell to pass up.
4. Do you sell your products in a local store in your area?
No. Most pet shops are national in nature and it would be impossible for me to produce in the quantities they would need to supply all their stores. In addition, we don’t make a profit and could not wholesale them. The work is neither easy nor profitable but rather is a labor of love for cats.
5. Have you been successful at selling your products on Etsy? Have you always been successful, or did you end up getting a lot more traffic after being featured on a specific blog?
I am very pleased with Etsy so far. My cat scratch box sells best when I can explain it to the prospective customer face to face and that ability is somewhat limited by the format but still I would say that my sales have doubled since going to Etsy just about four months ago.
6. Do your customers ever give you new ideas for products?
I make only the one cat/pet product and while I know I could make and sell some cutesy catnip mice and other cat toys, I prefer to concentrate on making the best cat scratch boxes and leave the cat toys to the many people already doing that. What I make is unique in many respects and is the best product I am capable of making. I do not feel the need, have the time, or the interest in making other products.
All of my stained glass work is original but I am always happy to work with somebody who wants something that is custom made. Many people have room “themes” and need a design that fits the setting.
7. Have you thought of featuring a Ragdoll cat in some way? (Had to ask.)
Sorry, but we have but one cat and he is a big necked (now neutered) tuxedo whom the vets handle with some trepidation due to his size and fierce appearance. I’d have 30 cats of every breed and color if I could but Merlin, our website model and quality control manager is FIV positive and about all we can handle as far as space and finances go. He adopted us eight years ago . He used to visit over a month long period after he was apparently abandoned and one day he showed up with a good sized bite out of his shoulder. We took him to the vet and were told it was a coyote bite and that he was lucky to be alive. Since then he’s been our sweetheart and an INSIDE cat for life. We do put up pictures of cats whose owners are nice enough to send them to us after they buy a cat scratch box, all of which you can see at catscratchbox.com.
8. Are you a one wo/man show?
While the actual making of the boxes is strictly my domain, my wife Trisha is due all the credit for the very professional website she created from scratch, hooking up with Fed Ex. and handling the financial end of the business. We are a team and could not have done it without each other. She is also the person I go to very often for color selection in the stained glass work.
9. Do you have a blog?
No. I am somewhat of a Luddite. I don’t Tweet, use Facebook, or even own a cell phone. That old crank phone on the wall was good enough for my grandfather and it’s good enough for me…… and get those damned kids off my lawn!
10. Do you do custom ordering? Can someone return it if they don’t care for it?
Hmmmmm. The boxes could be made wider but not any longer than 28″. I’ve never had a request for anything different maybe because what I make is unique to begin with and works just fine as is.
Returns can be made but not encouraged since:
a. The boxes weigh between 10 and 13 pounds and cost almost $20.00 to ship.
b. We don’t make money on the boxes over cost since we want people to use them and not declaw their cats.
c. We ask rather that they donate the box to a shelter or give it to a friend with cats who might need it.
d. We have had only two buyers in the past eight years tell us that their cat did not use the box.
BUT… all that said we will take a scratch box back if it is still in salable condition and refund the box price.
11. Can you share a story with us behind any of your products that you especially enjoyed working on? Maybe because of the story behind the kitty?
I just love this story:
About three years ago my wife and I were doing a two-day craft show in Newburyport selling stained glass art and of course, the cat scratch boxes and a lady from a town at least 30 miles away stopped by the booth, chatted pleasantly for a while as is usual with fellow cat lovers and and bought one of the cat scratch boxes.
The next day started out drizzling rain and since we cannot let our scratch boxes get wet we waited until we could see that the rain was going to stop before heading out for day two of the show and arrived about an hour late .
As soon as we arrived at our specified tent site, a neighboring vendor told us that an anxious woman had stopped by earlier looking for us, that she had left to get coffee and would be back later.
Sure enough she returned in about twenty minutes and it was the lady who had bought the box the day before.
“Oh, thank God you’re here. ” was the first thing out of her mouth.
It turned out that she had two cats and as soon as she put the box down on the floor a war erupted between the two cats over possession of the new and wonderful (to both cats) cat scratch box. She said that the fighting kept her up all night (and she did indeed look haggard). She bought another box on the spot and left immediately to make her two cats happy at home and to get some sleep!
We still laugh at this story.