Tuesday, November 11, 2014

10 Things We Learned as Vendors at a Craft Fair

We had the pleasure of working a local craft on Nov 8. Although we share multiple craft talents between the two of us, neither of us had ever rented a table at a venue like this to sell our stuff. In between browsers and buyers, we came up with our top 10 bits of advice for anyone thinking of becoming a craft fair seller.

1. There's no accounting for taste...that is to say one man's trash is another's treasure. All sorts of things are sold at craft fairs and the most popular item week one of the season could be a bust ever other week of the season. It is very hard to peg what will be popular in any given week. So that thing you made that you think is totally tacky? Someone is going to love it and want one in every color. That other thing you made because you love it and think everyone should have it? You'll end up keeping every pair.

2. Pack light. The more you bring with you for props, the more you have to haul out of there.

3. Coffee or tea? Yes please! Don't forget it. Set up is EARLY in the morning and grumpy people sell less.

4. Snacks...you will regret forgetting them and will have to find that brownie the size of Montana.

5. WATER! It gets hot in those buildings once everyone get to setting up and later shopping. The air is also pretty dry. You'll feel like a camel and in the middle of a sale is not the time to go dry.

6. Don't be afraid to slash prices or cut a deal if business is slow. There could be several vendors selling something like what you've got...give the customers a reason to buy your wares!

7. Keep smiling and greet people. Every hour, I liked ot get up and take a tour of the sale to stretch my legs and check out the competition. No matter what someone was selling, I found that few people smiled or greeted me or were even willing to chat about their wares. You don't have to be a pushy sales-person (no one likes that), but be friendly. If you don't wanna be there or really like dealing with people, then why do it?

8. It's not over until the fat lady sings. We sold barely anything, like had $9 profit in the till until the last 60 mins where we then sold a lot. We spent all day talking to many people about the benefits of our wares, offering commission work, talking about anything and everything and nada. It really looked like we'd gone to the bother of paying for a table, investing several hundred hours making things (we met to craft 2 times a week for 4 months AND spent most evenings and weekends crafting alone), to go home craft fair failures. Well, that last burst of business was awesome and we met our modest goal. If you'd asked me at 9am, 10am, 11am, 12pm, or 1pm if I saw the goal happening? Nope. But we did it! We didn't give up, and it paid off. It was rather dejecting to sit there and no one want our stuff. I really think people wandered the show for hours and then bought in the lasst hour after all the best deals were on the table. I can't blame them, but I wish I had prepared myself mentally for hours of rejection. Thankfully I had my BFF to pass the time with.

9. So, given #8, Don't take it too harshly or be insulted when someone bypasses your table. People love to look and touch, but getting them to buy is a hard thing to do. The economy is poorly right now AND the first sale of the season is still WAY before Christmas frenzy has set in. Some people want be done their shopping before the frenzy, but far more people love to look about at all their options, think about it, look at other options, and then buy closer to Christmas. It's the "better" concept. This is a mixture of the desire for a better deal and is not wanting to miss out on a better gift out there. I feel we probably would have had better success at a fair closer to Xmas. It wasn't even cold on Sat and no one wants to Xmas shop when it doesn't even feel like Xmas yet. It's like going into CVS in on the 1st of September to be greeted with light up Christmas trees and Christmas music. Too early to be meaningful.

10. Don't quit your day job. The handful of vendors we talked to made about $200 for the day. That seems like a lot, but consider this: set up was 7am and close was 3pm. Once you factor in the cost of the table, the bother of set up/break down, cost of materials and time to make things....This is not a real way to make a living. It was a nice little bit of side-cash going into Christmas season, but no day job. I like having $200 for our business, but having a "real" job would pay far more faster without the temptation to spend all of my money on other craft booths while i sit and ponder my latest project....

If you've read to the end of this, We've taken everything we didn't sell at the craft sale and have set up a blog store. So look at our yarn addicts shop and see our wares and BUY something! Be aware, we're sell-outs and will totally cut a deal...and often will make a good trade if you've got something cute.

Oink Pen Signing Out

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