Craft Show Booty & Lessons Learned

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.

ProblemSome 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!

ProblemToo 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.

SolutionPut 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!

What have you learned or had to change about your craft show set-up to encourage more visitors?

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12 comments

  1. Loved your blog today! I found you, from a post on FB, by New Hope Beading. I am thinking of doing the Christmas craft show this year in my town, but get so worried that people won’t buy, or might not like what I do… Your insights have been so helpful. Can’t wait to read your next blog.
    Karen

    • Your baskets are so cute! Definitely a good idea for gifts during the holidays – I never really considered doing a show until a fellow Etsian told be about this one. The registration fee was affordable so I jumped in and gave it a try! It was a bit nerve wracking preparing for it and making sure everything was just so, but I met some really great people (like Caroline from New Hope Beading) and had a lot of fun. Even though I didn’t get the swarm of fanatical buyers like I hoped :P I learned so much and now I know what I can improve on for next time!

      If you decide to go for it then good luck to you!!

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m TTHHHIISS close to signing up for my first fair in early November. Will keep your tips in mind — especially about not putting everything out on table. I will definitely remember that one — makes a lot of sense.

  3. I did a few shows last autumn and was very disappointed with them, so it’s great to hear success stories like yours! I like some of your ideas — I think the too-available prices and also the cluttering thing were problems for me too. I know one vendor at a show I did compared my booth to WalMart because I had such a wide variety of items. IF I do shows again in the future, I plan to concentrate on one or two mediums (just crochet and sewing, for example) and leave the more eclectic mix of things to my Etsy store.

    (I found your blog thru New Hope Beading’s FB post too. I’m liking what I’m reading!)

    • Thanks for popping over to say “Hi!”

      Glad I could help out a little – In looking back some of my table “problems” seem so obvious and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t fix them earlier – But O well – Now I know for next time! :)

  4. Thanks for the shout-out, Sasha! I look forward to doing more craft shows with you and Caroline… maybe we should come up with a superhero-type name for the crafty trio we’ve become…
    Am looooving the pumpkin pin! I wore it to school and the teachers & students really dug it. There’s an amoeba that’s settled in nicely on my fridge, a stuffed bird that’s perched in my kitchen window, and two more little felties are wrapped up and waiting to be given as gifts.

    • Haha – I love the idea of a trio name! I’ll have to start thinking about one … hmm …

      I’m so glad you love all your goodies! I am enjoying yours as well – I am stoked to take a shower now (I’ve stopped licking the bar of soap) and Jim and I are using your lip balms like crazy (we both think the Winter Frost smells like peppermint bark – Mmm)! I had to hide away the scrub so I actually reserve it as a gift as opposed to breaking it open myself …

      I hope I’ll be seeing you in October!!

  5. Thanks for the insight Sasha! This is all good information… because I just signed up for my first show that’s at the beginning of November… and at freaking NASA! Yikes. And since it’s my first… so I have absolutely no idea what to expect.

    Really… I’m so glad you took the time to share your experiences! I was worried about the same thing with my soaps.. because they’re also not something that absolutely everyone understands. We’ll see how this goes :)

    Maybe one day we should sign up for the same show… if somehow that could ever work, they would be the greatest.. and dorkiest.. two booths ever. haha :)

    • NASA!?!?! That’s awesome!!

      There should be more science-oriented minds there so I hope you have a profitable experience (even if people have no idea what bacteria or a petri dish is, your soaps are pretty sweet-looking)!

      And yes, if I’m ever in Texas – We definitely need to do a show together :)

  6. First thing I have to say is I love your goodies! They are brilliant!
    Wonderful tips, I have done 2 small shows so far and am still feeling a little clueless about set up. My first show, I did the signs with prices and had many questions about price that day; my second show I priced and tagged my items individually, for some reason it made my booth look more professional.
    Most definitely include a microscope set-up in your booth. I love that idea!
    Good luck to you with future shows.

    lisa


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