Business Stuff: Craft Fair – Post Observations

Exhausted.  That’s exactly how the hubby and I felt both Saturday night and especially Sunday night.  (Very) early mornings and because the fair was outside, we decided to completely tear down my booth Saturday night and reset Sunday morning.

Saturday  morning was filled with mud from the rains of prior days until it dried in the late afternoon.  It was cold and dark clouds taunted us to the days end.  My fingers were stiff that morning trying to set up my booth and the cold breeze kept knocking down all my signs.  Traffic was slow, with more visitors later in the afternoon, but luckily I had realistic expectations going into the weekend of the fair.  And from the look of Saturday, we weren’t quite sure what to expect for Sunday, but the weatherman forecasted for clear skies and warmer temperatures.  Plus, it didn’t rain Saturday.  So God is good.

Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day.  No mud, clear skies, warm.  Once the afternoon hit, the crowd grew a little bit more from Saturday, so it wasn’t quite so slow.  Sunday was also a ton of fun since a few of my friends and some family came to visit too!  On top of no rain and a beautiful day Sunday, we had a gorgeous view of the hills and lots of greenery at the Sanctuary.  All in all, a great weekend outdoors!

For a little more insight, one of my financial goals was to at least make enough profit to cover my booth fee.  One goal reached, yeah!   But, one of my naive hopes for the weekend was to (almost) sell out of stock.  Naive was right, but hey, a girl can dream right?  So, my expectations were beat, but my hopes not nearly met.

On the other hand, though, the craft fair exceeded both my hopes and expectations in other ways. I learned quite a bit and I met some of the friendliest people who didn’t hesitate to give me advice, encouragement and resources.

One of those people who most definitely went out of her way for me is Tania Marien of ArtPlantae.  She had a great booth filled with beautiful botany books and cool sketch pads for the kids.  She went above and beyond, visiting me throughout the weekend giving me little tidbits of resources when they came to mind.  The next day, she even emailed me a long list of more helpful resources.  Her big heart shines through and I can only imagine the love and passion she puts into her own business.

Another great lady, my booth neighbor, Julie Williams, was so sweet and fun to get to know.  She creates wonderful clay goods related to ceremonial arts and they are awesome!  Plus, I loved her display with tree stumps and the old wooden crate!  No website up currently, but you can usually find her at the Silverado Country Fair & Art Festival.

Another friendly gentlemen, Arturo, also gave me tons of information here and there about other fairs I should check out.  And, to our surprise, while the hubby and I were packing up on Sunday, he came over to give us each a fossil necklace and he also gave me two fossilized rocks.  Cool!  You can sometimes find him in Venice Beach on the boardwalk among many others.  You can spot his booth by the hanging shell decor!

Many more wonderful people come to mind and I can’t talk about them all, but please check ’em out online:

In addition to networking and creating relationships, part of the experience for me was to learn and grow, so what exactly did I learn this weekend?

  • More effective ways to set up my booth and displays;
  • People do notice the love and passion one has for their art and that it’s reflected in not only the creations but the whole theme of the booth;
  • While people will be interested in your work and tell you they want to buy something, sometimes they would rather take your business card and shop online (funny because it would seem more of a hassle to buy online if you’re already there, but I know, they were probably just being nice!);
  • The most unexpected people will admire your work;
  • It pays off to be ultra-prepared and to go all out with displays and booth set up (I put a ton of time, energy and love into my booth display and was encouraged by the compliments from fellow vendors and shoppers);
  • What I do and do not need to bring as backup/emergency items;
  • People do like to see you in action and they also enjoy on-the-spot customizable items;
  • Investing in a canopy was a great decision!
  • Indoor craft fairs might be a little easier with regard to set up and take down for multiple day shows (they usually have security guards so you can leave certain items overnight and you also don’t have to worry about the weather while you’re gone).

Some questions I’m left with:

  • If I accepted credit cards, would I have made more sales?  The reason I ask this is because not one person asked if I accepted credit cards (and that may be because I printed ‘cash only’ on the pricing signs, but I don’t think that’s the reason because not many people seemed to read the signs!).  It may also be because at an outdoor, more rustic craft fair, people may assume we don’t accept credit cards.  But if I were to vend at an expo or something similar, a credit card machine would seem obvious, right?
  • Since not many people seemed to read my signs, pricing or otherwise, is it worth the time and energy to prepare and use them (especially when it’s windy outside and they just blow over)?  I’m pretty sure I know the answer to this is yes, you need them.  But it still irks me a little that people don’t just read the signs!
  • Are my prices right?  Too high, too low?  I am sure this is something I will struggle with time and time again, but I can’t help but wonder if my price points (too high) are what kept sales low.  But, on the other hand, you can go to your local Target, pick up a random, plain card and it will still cost more than my handmade ones!
  • Is the reason so few people showed up to the fair a result of location (it was in the canyon), a result of marketing efforts on behalf of the Sanctuary and myself, because of the weather, a combination of these or something completely unrelated?
  • How often should I be vending at craft fairs and events?  Some people do one every weekend and others maybe once a month. Even still some others maybe two or three times a year.
  • Is this the right venue for my craft?  Maybe it was the weather or a result of marketing efforts, but so few people showed up and few people bought, that it only seemed worth it to me because (1) I made enough profit to cover my booth fee, (2) I still need major marketing to even get my name out there, and (3) this was a great learning experience and I made some great connections.  But would it be right in the future?  Where should I be looking for opportunities?  Boutiques and stores?

So I’m left with some unanswered questions and I walk away with great advice and a few learned tidbits. I had a great time vending at my first craft fair and I’m excited for what’s to come.  Thanks again to my friends and family who visited and supported me.  It means so much!

I would love to get your feedback, advice, encouragement, or whatever you have to offer in response. Have you ever been a vendor at a craft fair?  If so, what did you learn and how would you improve what you’ve done in the past?  Feel free to comment and/or send me an email!

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Business Stuff: Craft Fair – Post Observations

  1. Pingback: Craft Room Before + After [the desk] | tiffanylanehandmade

  2. Pingback: (Some of My) Favorite Things | tiffanylanehandmade

  3. Your booth looked great! I love that sign you made…you seem to have developed your brand look well 🙂 congrats on the fair….how exciting!

  4. Thanks for the encouragement and advice, Katie! It’s much appreciated and well taken 🙂

  5. From a few of the other booths I walked by when we visited you, yours definitely stuck out as more delicate-crafty. And what I mean by that is you may be better served at a craft fair that is more boutique-y and inside; where other paper goods and fine art materials are and where you’d expect women to be browsing 🙂 but this one was definitely a good place to start, since you still match that rustic, earthy tone as well. Overall, I think all the work you put into your booth (even the price signs!) definitely added value to your brand and craft. I think people notice and appreciate that sort of thing. I’m excited to see what other places and fairs you show up 🙂

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