I had a fun and enlightening weekend selling my little goodies at the Flemington Craft Fair!
I met some amazing people (vendors and customers alike) and really enjoyed talking with people in person about my craft, what it means to me, where my inspirations come from, etc. It was great to see the set-ups of other vendors (I have been to craft shows before but never really took the time to notice what their booths looked like). I handed out business cards, made kids happy by giving away free mints and Tufted Bird stickers and made back 3x my registration fee (not too shabby!).
Most of my sales were from family and fellow vendor friends, but hey, a sale is a sale! I also had some new customers as well and I loved getting to know them a little more.
Handmade booty from fellow Etsians …
Sweet sugar scrub, heavenly-smelling lip balms and plenty of soap from Little Batch Botanicals! The pumpkin spice soap smells good enough to eat (please don’t actually try and eat it, trust me, it doesn’t taste as good as it smells!) and lathers like no other soap I have used.
I also picked up a couple sets of delightful and beautiful earrings from New Hope Beading. I am keeping this set for myself – I just love the turquoise and garnet color pairing!!
I have been on the hunt for a lidded bowl for kosher salt for about a month now and have had little success searching on Etsy for one. Lucky for me, Burnt Mill Potters had a booth across the street and I bought a lovely, rustic jar that will work perfectly!
… and lessons learned.
What I realized as the end of my second day drew near was that this show was really a huge learning experience for me. I had hoped to draw in more brand new buyers, and though I had some, I was a little surprised that I didn’t attract more.
I got feedback from my family and listened to their opinions of my set-up and suggestions they gave concerning things that they thought could be improved/modified. At first it was a little overwhelming, as I just worked my ass off like crazy to prepare for this event and I found myself getting defensive at their critiques instead of listening, but then I took a deep breath and made a list of things that I should work on for next time, here are 3 of my main ones:
Problem: Your prices can be too visible. I have constantly read in the Etsy forums that your item prices should be visible or easy to find. My solution was to make big signs for each type of item so I didn’t have to individually tag each piece (as a way to save me time and stress). Jim mentioned that people may have been turned off by my prices because it’s the first thing they saw when they came to my table and didn’t have the chance to learn about the hard work, time, love and care that went into making each piece before looking at how much they cost.
Solution: Make item pricing readily available, just not in-your-face! I plan to individually price more items (brooches, DIY kits, etc.) and create a tabulated list of prices for other items (pet rocks, ornaments, keychains, etc.) that I can put on a smaller sign. This way, the prices are easily found by customers if they want to know, but the numbers aren’t jumping out at them as they casually walk by, scaring them away. This will give me a chance to talk about what I do and build the value of my items.
Problem: Some just didn’t “get it”. Customers seemed to belong to 1 of 2 groups: they either “got it” or they didn’t when it came to my geeky goodies. Lots of people walked by and stared at my microbe magnets and keychains with a seriously confused look on their face and kept going. I admit that when it comes to science stuff I can have a tendency to assume people always know what I’m talking about and this is no different. On Etsy, when people are using the search terms “laboratory” “microbe” or “biology” to come across my shop, you can assume to a point that they already have some understanding of what an amoeba or a paramecium or a petri dish is. At a craft show, you are picking up casual shoppers, not people actively searching for science-related goods so many really didn’t understand my Dopamine Hearts or Chlorophyll Tree or Microbe Magnets until I told them what they were.
Solution: Provide more information about what your items are and how you make them. I plan to put up signs with mini-descriptions of what microbes are and what the different chemical structures stand for. I also want to bring my microscope, beaker and atom magnets with me next time because they are easily identifiable objects that can draw people in and then they can take the time to read and understand and talk to me about why I make and sell what I do!
Problem: Too much inventory on the table. I had my baskets filled to the brim with my items and had little restocking inventory hidden away. I wanted to provide customers with a lot of choices, but I think it ended up looking like I could churn out a lot of items in a short period of time (it actually took me months and months to create my inventory!), which made each piece appear less special and less valuable.
Solution: Put less out on the table for a cleaner and more minimal appearance, this can build the value of your items. I want to hang up my keychains next time on a cork board (similar to the board that held my brooches) and have less magnets stuffed in the little magnetic tin I had them in. Reducing the amount of stuff on the table also focuses the attention on the detail of each piece instead of being overwhelmed by so many options.
Those are three of the main issues I wanted to share with you. I have a couple other ideas floating around my brain for next time that I want to try out too … I can talk about those at a later date!
I hope that sharing my experience helped any craft show newbies out there a little bit!