Friday, March 26, 2010

Buy! Buy! Sell! Sell!

I admit--not my photo. But I like pics in posts so I borrowed this from the quilting page at  Fun, no? Cheery, yes?

My to-do list has been knocked in half.  This is the part of the list I'm aware of that sits at the forefront of my brain.  In reality I'm probably only a quarter done...but I don't know where my actual list is so I can't check my math.

Anyhoodiddleywho--I've learned a LOT in the past six months since I started trying to make some money from my hobby.  I haven't done a ton of craft fairs but each one brings with it a fresh perspective and new ideas.  I thought I'd list a smattering of those things here in a friendly bulleted list.

  • Have something pretty for your goods to sit on.  My first show I used brightly colored plastic tablecovers. Alone it was cute. But next to the tables from craft-show-lifers with their fancy tablecloths it looked pretty generic. The one I did last week I used a springy quilt and it really made everything look cheery and cozy.  Once I forgot to bring anything at all--I sold things but it looked like I just stuck things on the table instead of arranging them lovingly.

  • Make it visually interesting. I'm still working on this one and it can take some fiddling.  My dad made me some "trees" to hang bags on for my first show and it really looked cute.  The entire show that day had a poor turnout. I thought I would never do another so I tossed them.  Needless to say--I really wanted them last week.  Also, I love the look of items that are staggered in height--they can sit on different sized boxes or specially made platforms underneath your tablecloth.  Makes it look much more boutique-y than just spreading them out.  I saw one idea last week that was pretty unique. Generally there are standard folding tables provided--one vendor used table-risers. One under each leg of the table and she instantly brought her product closer to the customer.  Nifty and easy.

  • Put things in baskets--little things like tissue covers, cell phone cases, change purses, etc.  I think it's human nature to see a basket full of goodies and want to rifle through them and see what's what, especially if the colors are bright and inviting.  But don't overload it--if people think they might mess up your display they also might not want to dig too deep.

  • Have your information available.  I keep my business cards on the table for anyone who may not want to buy something today, but likes my stuff and may want something in the future.  And each of my items has my business card tied to it (hole punch, cute ribbons--easy peasy).

  • Post your prices.  People prefer having the price readily available.  Speaking personally, when I have to ask the price I feel as though the seller may expect me to buy something.  This is most likely untrue, but I still feel awkward. I would much rather just be able to view the price. Especially now that I'm on the flip side of the transaction and when someone shows that bit of interest you get a tinge of excitement--when they don't buy it leaves you wondering if you're priced too high, if they have a problem with your goods, etc.  I like putting it out there and then feeding off the customer if they seem interested, or letting them go their merry way if they're not.

  • Have a nice range of products. Some people might not be able to afford something pricier but would love something handmade, even if it's just a little change purse.  Or, they may buy a gift for someone else and would buy something small for themselves--but only if that something small is available to buy.

  • Network.  Take other crafters' cards and leave them with yours. Ask them to contact you if they learn of any other craft shows, and tell them you'll do likewise if they're interested.  Some areas don't advertise very well so there may be several untapped venues nearby that someone else may know about.

  • Be a good neighbor. Don't infringe on someone else's space (they paid for it too!) And don't pull people from someone else's table over to yours--if they're interested they'll stop by. 

  • Be genuine.  People sense your enthusiasm for your product and your craft.  I was very nervous at my first show, a little less at my next, and by last week I had no nervousness whatsoever.  It definitely makes a difference in sales.  And smile.  Not that crazy-lady smile that makes people smile back and edge away with worry on their faces, but that warm inviting smile that says "Hello, dear. Want to chat? I'd offer you some tea if I could in this school gymnasium. Now let's find you a bag, shall we?"
I'll admit--I was mopey after my first show.  I felt like no one was interested in my goods. I went in thinking I'd sell out and have some nice bank after spending an entire Saturday doing this. Now, it really wasn't all that bad unless compared to my high hopes. I did better than some more seasoned vendors who were happy just to get their table fee back.  It just took some time for me to see this.  Last week the show was only a few hours and I made the same amount as a show more than twice that length.  Of course, I had better products and more enthusiasm.  The thing that can be a little de-motivating is how much time it can take to build a following, either with an online shop, a blog, or at local fairs.  But if you're enjoying what you're doing good things will come.

One final tip: don't be the person who tells EVERY person who stops by that you're broke and you're selling everything at cost because you need to earn bridge tolls and gas money so you can get home.  And don't tell that tale to your neighbor who knows you just spent $100 on a bracelet on ebay because she heard you coordinate with your friends to place the winning bid.  Just saying...not that I was ever the lucky neighbor...ahem...

That's all I have for now.  I hope it's helpful in some regard.  I'm in the midst of a good mystery, so I'm going to go curl up under the covers and try to figure out who-dunnit.  I'll catch you on the flip side.


  1. I haven't done craft fairs. I just don't have enough stocks to actually join one. But when I do join one, I'll look into these tips :)

    You look really pretty in your site photo, by the way ;)

  2. When I do fairs I feel like a one-person factory. It can be exhausting. But I like doing them... But I like doing one-off stuff even more.
    And thanks for the photo kudos :)

  3. Thanks for the tips! I'm doing my first fair in May so LOVE reading other peoples tips from experience. I like the idea of having cute baskets for people to rummage through - I can't resist that kind of display when I'm shopping, so it makes sense to replicate it when i'm selling! Hope you're enjoying you books - I love reading a good mystery or thriller. Jen x

  4. Great tips Bethany, I think i'll keep all this in mind as my Mum is going to do a craft stall later in the year and is trying to persuade me to come and sell some bags.
    Love the blog x :)

  5. I hope those tips prove useful to you ladies at some point :)
    Rebecca--if you can tag onto your mom's stall go for it--you can start small and see how it goes instead of trying to fill a whole table by yourself. thanks for stopping by :)



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