Tuesday, November 5, 2013

2013 Craft Show Lessons Learned, Part One

We found some awesome cardboard risers that knock down flat and, when covered with fabric, look pretty darn nice for showing off Scott's work. :-)

We had our first craft show of the season last weekend, and while it wasn't a financial success, it was a good educational experience.

The booth sizes were a little odd, 6 feet by 11 feet, with 8-foot tables. So while I knew we needed more space than a single booth, I wasn't sure how we'd fill two. Turned out, we did pretty well, I thought. Although if we'd been mobbed by buyers, we didn't have a lot more to put out to fill in the empty spaces ... but that wasn't a problem.

Turned out I probably should have done some market research into the demographics of the middle school where the show was held and its surrounding neighborhood. It wasn't a "bad" neighborhood, but is wasn't an upscale neighborhood either.

As always, Ellie was an excellent saleswoman.

Our goods are kind of high end, especially Scott's woodworking pieces, which range in price from $25 to $750. So we really need to stick to shows that draw customers who can afford our products.

I chatted with other vendors, some of whom I knew from Facebook or our previous shows, and it seemed almost universal that sales were minimal despite the fairly good traffic at the show. Our sales totaled nine notecards and two dragonfly magnets. I'm pretty sure it's not a coincidence that all the goods that sold were at the table manned by Ellie. It is really tough to say no to a cute, engaging 8-year-old. :)

(It may be that the engaging part is more important than the cute part or the age; one of our booth neighbors was a mom-daughter team and while the girl looked to be a couple years older than Ellie, what really stood out for me was that the girl never seemed to smile or say a word to anyone other than her mom. I also didn't seem them make any sales, although they had browsers and very affordable items.)

The apparent low sales pretty much across the board at the show made me wonder if the Nov. 2 show was just too early in the holiday season for people to really be thinking about buying gifts. I had printed up some postcards with photos of our work as well as our holiday show schedule and we passed them out as much as possible. I have hopes that maybe some of the people who admired but didn't buy our wares will either shop our Etsy store or come find us at one of the other shows we'll be doing.

This show also debuted our floor easels. I really liked being able to get the bow boards off the table and put them at eye level. But I think I need to fix the ribbons before our next show and put out more brooches at a time.
The show was also not exclusively handmade, which meant that my brooches -- with each petal individually cut and curled, assembled and handsewn -- were competing with a seller who bought ready-made imported flowers and simply glued them onto findings. She could sell them for $3 because they're cheap to buy and quick to assemble. Mine had a lot more time invested and were, I like to think, higher quality.

Handmade-only shows not only level the playing field on costs, but they attract the people who are willing to pay extra for an item that they know was made by the person selling it.

We also had a lot of people tell us that Scott's woodworking belongs in art galleries, and I think I now have him persuaded that we should explore that route. :)

Our next show is the MJCC/Hadassah Chanukah Gift Fair on Nov. 17, and I'm sure that will also be a learning experience (but we're also hoping for a more financially rewarding day!).

Meanwhile, if you are starting to think about your holiday shopping, please consider browsing Foster's Beauties to find something perfect for your friends and family!

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