You know Percy… sometimes I just don’t know what to think?

Photo by Vanessa Kaukonen

 

Being on Planet Earth for a couple of 24 hours just never gets old and there is always something to make me say, ‘WTF’ on an almost daily basis. Vanessa, my life partner, is always up to something… ever involved, the grass never grows under her feet. We have been together for three and a half decades and in addition to her managing Jack and myself (which should be enough for anyone) she has always wanted her own retail outlet. Now as a performing artist I have been fortunate to have become a retail commodity. Over the years I have pretty much been able to support myself without compromise. I say ‘pretty much,’ because no one is perfect, but my percentages are pretty damn good!

Again, as a road worthy musician whenever possible I sell merchandise. We all do. It could be music, clothing, fly swatters or yes… Jorma’s Choice CBD products. Every little bit helps and fuel on the road ain’t cheap… actually, life ain’t cheap!

Photo by Vanessa Kaukonen

Where am I going with this? I just got back from having my Jeep serviced as Vanessa was finishing a reply to this gentleman from Norway who weighed in after she posted the new Fur Peace Ranch Newsletter. Here we go with a note from Greg writing us from Norway.

‘Really, you marketing guys are missing the point. You merchandise everything under the sun with a Jorma label—except the music which —surprise, surprise—is why we tune in.  Instead of wasting space, time and effort hawking Jorma honey, Jorma dishcloths and Jorma shoes, why not show some intelligence and market what will sell:  cds with new Jorma concerts/music available only by mail order from Fur Peace.

I mean like, can you really earn your salary selling Jorma honey?

greetings Greg from Norway’

Well… what to say? I consider myself a relatively uncomplicated guy. The guitar has dominated my life since I was a teenager. Had I not stumbled into being a founding member of Jefferson Airplane I would have been happy as a local guy with a little music store like, well, The Blue Eagle Music Company here in Athens, Ohio. You YouTube music history buffs can dig up the Jefferson Airplane White Levis series of ads we did in the mid to late 60’s. We caught beaucoup flak for that and that was OK. We laughed it off, got paid and wore free jeans for a while. In any case, it was the dawn of a career and one does what one has to.

Along came the Fur Peace Ranch twenty five some years ago and with it came the Fur Peace Ranch Company Store. We started with bragging rights items in a corner of the Campus Library and wound up with a full shop in the Psylodelic Gallery next to the Fur Peace Station Music Venue. One thing led to another. Vanessa briefly opened a River Of Time Boutique in Pomeroy down on the Ohio River not far from Darwin and the FPR. Fates conspired for her to move the River Of Time to Washington St. in Athens, Ohio between the Donkey Coffee Shop and the ever delicious Salaam Restaurant where it lives today. Hey, it’s a very cool little shop with an art gallery which is about to show a Grace Slick collection and houses a fairly complete set of original Fillmore posters that I still have thanks to my mom never throwing anything out.

Photo by Vanessa Kaukonen

Commerce and art are not mutually exclusive. No one gives Mark Wahlberg crap for having his name on an RV company in Columbus and it certainly does not diminish him as an artist.

If you can’t work with family, who can you work with? River Of Time is more than a niche store. Sure the gallery (so far) has focused on me and my cohorts from the 60’s. That’s where I come from. Why not use it? That being said, it won’t always be thus. Time marches on. At some point Jack Casady and myself as Hot Tuna as well as me as a solo artist will think about releasing some of our evolving music and when the time is right that will happen. In the meantime, does my identity appear on some of the merchandise in the shop? Of course it does. Is it everything? Not even close. I wonder if someone who buys an RV from Mark Wahlberg Airstream & RV is upset because Marky Mark And The Funky Bunch broke up. (Don’t go off the deep end. This is intended as humor.)

Well, think I’ve gone as far with this one as I can. River Of Time in Athens is a really cool little boutique. We are fortunate to be part of the community here and, btw we do free music shows in the ROT Gallery from time to time. Check the website.

The vintage vinyl room with Dad’s old stereo for demos

Photo by Vanessa Kaukonen

As for Greg over there in Norway… Thanks for stirring me up and keeping me warm on this 18 degree Fahrenheit day and remember, every day is a day closer to spring!

That was exhausting. I think I’ll walk the dog.

PS Oh, I almost forgot… here’s Vanessa’s reply.

Dear Greg,

Thank you for your thoughts. Surprisingly, when Jorma and Jack opened a retail outlet to sell their music, people were asking for more. We cannot keep their music in stock so of course we sell it online and in multiple outlets and at shows. Also, since you pointed it out…yes, our retail shops make sense financially. We have only had the River of Time Shop up since October and again, we are ordering weekly. We have an audience of buyers that not only buy the music and are fans, but they also buy the products we sell. The new shop is also home to our extended gallery, and we are in a college town so you can imagine the impact we are having. It is off the charts. We also do free shows in our gallery outside of what we do at Fur Peace Ranch. So, it is possible that you are missing the point. I not surprised as you are in Norway and don’t see what we see. We’ve been doing the retail thing since 1998 at our home base.

To assume that we did not use intelligence when going into this is just ignorance on your part. Our market research happened long before we made the move to retail. River of Time Boutique is not just an outlet for music clearly. Our music outlet that we personally manage for Jorma and Hot Tuna happens through the Fur Peace Ranch website and online store. We don ’t really have to do it because Jorma/Hot Tuna/Jefferson Airplane still sells an enormous amount of product through their music catalogue which is another world unto itself. Our publishing representation is great. We do it for the fans that visit our shops and want to support our ventures.

Since, I got a good chuckle out of your letter, I showed it to Jorma this morning over coffee…his coffee in fact… that we sell which is roasted locally helping to keep everything we market with his name on it sustainable.  His words exactly for you were, “Yeah, what she said!”

Thanks again. Happy New Year.

Vanessa Kaukonen

Owner, CEO

Fur Peace Ranch, Inc. &

The Psylodelic Gallery

River of Time Boutique & Gallery

39495 St Clair Rd

Pomeroy, Ohio 45769

Nuff said…

As Bugs would say… ‘That’s all folks!’

Photo by Vanessa Kaukonen

 

 

 


Comments

  1. Comment made on January 13, 2024 by Tricia

    This fan appreciates being able to purchase some awesome items, online, from your FPR store. I’ve ordered tshirts, magnets, seasoning, your cbd products and of course your music! I keep hoping to be able to get to FPR for a show, and to stop in at the River of Time Boutique. Until then, I will continue to buy tickets to see you when you are playing near by. Hopefully your May tour will stop here in my hometown of Iowa City. I have seen you and Jack play at The Englert many times, and you playing solo. It would be fantastic to see you and John Hurlbut here! I have the double cd, you both made and I love it. I also want to thank you for streaming all the shows during the pandemic. It helped to get me thru the worse time of my life, as my husband, the love of my life for 45 years passed suddenly at the end of 2019. When we first started dating in ‘75, he loaned me his copy of Quah. Your music is a huge part of the soundtrack of our lives. ☮️❤️

  2. Comment made on January 8, 2024 by gregg

    J radio station i listen to wfmu,nj played a song by a band i never heard of the vejtables and after the song the dj stated the band was neighors of jefferson airplane do u recall that and this band g s.i.n.y.

  3. Comment made on January 7, 2024 by Bob Sinclair

    My wife and I travel about 600 miles (easter Long Island) from time to time to enjoy a concert or workshop at the ranch. We kinda dig spending a few bucks at the shop to support the cause. I’m still wearing my Jorma guitar string bracelet from 2021. @Jorma – Are these really your up-cycled strings? 😀

    • Comment made on January 7, 2024 by Jorma

      They are absolutely my up-cycled strings. Our good friend out in Colorado, Sheila Hochberg laboriously makes them by hand. Indeed, I have one Sheila made for my 80th birthday I wear when I’m not taking out the trash. For the most part these are Martin Authentic strings from my acoustic guitar but there are also some GHS strings from the ES-345.

  4. Comment made on January 6, 2024 by Art

    As a marketing professional with 40 years of experience on some of the biggest brands in the world (and at some of the most renowned ad agencies in the world) let me say that you seem to me to be doing perfectly fine in the manner in which you sell wares associated with your renowned musical career, and importantly, you are doing it in a manner that we ad professionals call “on brand.” It’s tasteful. It “resonates” with the music (yes, we actually use that word at ad agencies). It’s the right merchandise with the right style and message, and It makes sense. It works. Marketers get all kinds of mail from consumers. Some of it is helpful, and we appreciate it. Why else would we spent large sums of money on focus groups? On the other hand, some of it is just cranky crackpot mail, and we file it appropriately in a container under our desks.

  5. Comment made on January 6, 2024 by Pat Malboeuf

    Dear Jorma & Vanessa – Happy New Year!!! – I’d like to add one more item to the list – and I’m dead serious – It sure would be swell to see “Blue Country Heart” on vinyl – I know i’d buy one !!! – Cheers and many blessings in 2024!!! yer pal, PM

  6. Comment made on January 6, 2024 by alexander pepiak

    Haters gonna hate….

    I am far less successful than Jorma and Vanessa yet I’ve had folks stealing ideas and info which I stupidly volunteered even stealing customer lists etc… but I kept on moving forward for that’s the only way…and reinvented myself many times

    Jorma capos
    Scarves
    Condoms
    Boots
    Energy drinks
    Pizza
    Leather jackets
    Ice cream
    Guitar tuners (hot tuners tm)
    Pop corn
    Hot tuna hoagies
    The opportunities are endless

    Carpe diem

  7. Comment made on January 5, 2024 by BrendanC

    I would run with the footwear idea – kicks airbrushed with hotrod flames and autographed by Mssrs Cassidy and Kaukonen. You know – at the merch table.

  8. Comment made on January 5, 2024 by Phil

    I would never by an RV from Mark Wahlburg…….not that there’s anything wrong with that!!🤣🤪

  9. Comment made on January 5, 2024 by Bill from Wisconsin

    A very measured and thoughtful response to the inquiry. Of course, we’d all like more music but the real question is, when is the Hot Tuna Brand canned tuna and the Jorma Holographic Action-Figure collector cards coming out? Seriously, thanks for all that you, Vanessa, and the folks at Fur Peace do. For example, how about those 50+ free quarantine concerts!

  10. Comment made on January 5, 2024 by Ed

    Norway? The poor guy probably hasn’t seen the sun since October. Could make a person a bit tetchy.

  11. Comment made on January 5, 2024 by Tom

    I guess now I have to go to Athens as well as Darwin when I come up from Texas to visit Point Pleasant, WV!

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