Back in June I participated in the Village Square Art and Craft Show in Highlands, North Carolina and I promised to give you an update on how the show went and my learnings from the show.
I really did not know what to expect as this was my first craft fair. My only in-person (not online) sales experience had been participating in my quilt guild's boutique at our quilt show last year. I did well there selling a good number of thread catchers, pincushions, and patterns because almost everyone that came through the boutique was a quilter. I had always been hesitant to enter a craft fair because I always figured that people at craft fairs wanted to buy finished goods, not sewing accessories.
My friend was having a booth at the show in Highlands NC and asked if I wanted to add some items to her booth so I figured that I would give it a try. I spent the good chunk of May and June making items for the craft fair. This had the added benefit of filling my Etsy shop which had been a little low in inventory since the Christmas season. Here were all of the combined thread catcher / pincushions I made:
For pricing, I went with my Etsy pricing on all of the pincushions and pincushion/thread catcher sets. It was a little tougher deciding on pricing for my quilts, but I settled on what I thought were fair prices. For price tags I punched a hole in the corner of my business cards and attached the cards to the items with embroidery thread and a safety pin. I thought this was a good idea because it was good advertising/branding and was cheaper than buying hang tags. I was not able to actually attend the fair due to family commitments.
Here are my key takeaways from the fair...
1. Know thy fair audience. I had good reason to be leery of selling sewing accessories at a craft fair, they did not sell well. More surprising though was my friend did not sell any of her beautiful purses or bags (I figured these would have a larger market at a craft fair). My friend said that the crafts that were selling were mostly rustic and outdoors related like stumps cut into sculptures. Had we done more research on the fair we might have picked a better fair venue to have a booth.
2. Mind the weather. The weather during the craft fair was very, very hot (much hotter than typical for the mountains of NC) and very windy. This made for less crowds than usual. My friend did not bring my quilts to sell due to the threat of rain.
3. Beware of customer coffee. A passerby placed their coffee on the table when perusing our booth and spilled the coffee all over 9 of my pincushions. I had considered selling little to no merchandise but I had not figured in getting a good chunk of my inventory ruined. (My friend actually secretly replaced the coffee pincushions with pincushions she had purchased from me the previous year. She felt awful but it was totally not her fault, it is just one of those risks you take when bringing your items to the public.)
Results by the numbers:
- Number of items for sale: 59
- Hours spent driving to drop off items to friend's house and pick them back up: 4 hours
- Hours spent determining pricing and adding price tags to everything: 2 hours
- Number of items sold: 4
- Money earned: $88
- Amount of inventory ruined: 9 pincushions (but were replaced)
The numbers all add up to a good learning experience and one I do not think that I will be repeating. The main issue is that my type of item is for a very specific customer and is better served in an online shop like Etsy where I can find customers looking specifically for pincushions and such or at a venue specific for quilters and sewists like the guild quilt show.
I hope that you got some learnings out of my experience :)