Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Craft Fairs....The Do's and Don'ts

How many of your have every thought about taking your scrapbooking, card-making, or altering of projects and venturing out in world of the craft fairs/holiday fests? For the past three years I've thought about, started it, quit it, thought about it some more, and now I can finally cross it off my bucket-list to say,--I've done it! I am far from pro, and consider myself a "stage one amateur craft fair lady", but I thought it would be fun to share my experience with you all and maybe inspire someone to take that plunge and get out there.

A lot of my friends ask me, "what motivated you to do this all of the sudden?" That was an easy response, " a $4,000.00 bill to send my son 10 year old son on a student ambassador program." That was the kick start for me! I wanted to give him this wonderful opportunity he'd been given, but I didn't want to pay for the entire trip out of my pocket. We sat down and were brainstorming some fundraising ideas and it was my 10 year old who said to me, "Mom, why don't you sell some of those projects and cards you make--everyone loves them!" The first thing that went through my head was "oh no, not this again." After thinking about for a couple of days I decided that "we" were going to do this because "we" need to. I say we because after all, this was my son's trip that he wanted. I would do what I could to help him, but I wasn't doing it alone. The deal was mom would create her projects, but he would have to help with the packing/unpacking of the car, help set up at the tables at the fairs, and give up his Saturday's to be there all day at the table to help sell and talk to people.

Where is this story going? You may not have a $4,000 student ambassador bill to pay for, but maybe you have a $4,000 family vacation to Disney you've been saving for or your have a $4,000 credit card bill that has to be paid off in six months before you get hit with some major accrued interest. The key for me was finding that motivation factor outside the fact just wanting to do the crafts fairs, but putting the label of "I need" to do this craft fair.

Know Your Market
I'm going to help you out and share with you my biggest mistake that I could have made. I did NOT know my market. Even though it was something I had thought about so many times, I never visited the place where the first craft fair was being held in it's previous years. I walked in there with no clue what the other vendors were selling, what kind of area I would have, or even if it was a show that has a good turn out. Guess you could call it "jumping in head first". I paid the price for it, too. The first show, I made $78.00 in 6 hours. It covered the $15 table space fee, lunch for my son and I, and $50 went to his fund. On the positive, it was $50 we didn't have. I had done pretty well only trying to only supplies that I had on hand, but I spent $40.00 on my bottom line was $10 profit.

The second craft fair was a week later, but I had been to this one before, and knew what I would be dealing with...and it showed. I walked out of there with a bottom line profit that day of $350 in 6 hours.

Here are some picture from my successful craft fair:

Some Other Basic Do's and Don'ts
1. Know your products. Don't go crazy making lots of different items and only having a few of each. Find 8-12 that you are comfortable with making and make enough product of each.

2. Don't limit your product to just seasonal items. I made this mistake, too. Just because it is a holiday fair/Christmas bazaar you should have products that you can use for those "just because". I could have made a lot more sales if I would have thought about making birthday cards sets and thank you card sets. When people saw I was a card-maker they asked, and I told them "sure, I can take an order for you". They want them on the spot and want to walk away with them.

3. Don't over-crowd your table. Placing everything that you made out at one time will become very over-whelming and crowds your table. Try to go vertical and get your items eye-level rather than spreading them all out.

4. Price each item. This was something that I did not do. I feared placing a sticky price tag on my paper items so instead, I make a pricing sheet and placed it in a frame. I found that many people picked up items, flipped them over as if searching for a price, then set them back down. People don't want to ask how much something is, it makes them uncomfortable if they have to ask you for a price, then set it back down because that price may not be in the range they were willing to pay.

5. Stay involved with your table. Don't be talking to other vendors/helpers. Engage your customers and be there to answer any questions they may have. If this is an area you struggle with you can bring along more supplies to create product. Remember that marketing rule "activity attracts activity". It interests your customers walking by and will get them to stop and look at your table. If those two fail you can always arrange/re-arrange your table to draw people in.

6. If you are doing this as a fundraiser, label it. Again, this was a mistake I made at the first show, but corrected for the second. There I had my adorable 1o year old son to help me and yes we were telling people that this was a fundraiser, but it didn't help sell our product. I corrected this mistake by adding a picture frame with his picture, and a little blurb about his fundraising with a jar for donations. On top of the profit I made from the second show we also received another $72.00 in donations. People may not find something at your table for them, but they are always willing to help out a good cause.

7. Always have business cards ready. I set mine in the front of my table for people to take as well as have a stack by my bags. Place a card in every sale you have. Also, something I like to do...if they stop and ask about something grab a business card, write down on the back what it was they were looking at so they remember you.

I hope you enjoyed and learned something from my experience in holiday craft fairs. I actually have my space reserved for both of the fairs I did for next year already. I am going to give them both a try again and hopefully learn and be more successful from my mistakes. Please, if you have taken that step and ventured out into the crafts fair leave us a comment and share with us some of your do's and don'ts. We would all love to hear them!


Anonymous said...

Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave in the Cutting category today [18 Dec 01:00am GMT]. Thanks, Maria

Brenda said...

I also found that a guest book helped me I send out postcards or emails to let my guests know of another up coming sale.... repeat buyers now come to me for ALL of their gifts...and freebies always helped me when I sold a stained glass bird house I included a free hanger wrapped with ivy free....a 89 cent investment but sold every one of them! My kaleidoscopes came with a free stand($1.25 investment)....every one was a sell!!
I always dressed professional never wore fanny packs....seen sooo many crafters wondering why they were not selling all the time they sat there reading a book...get excited about your product!

PenLight said...

Great info Kerri! I've always wanted to do one too, butttt......... guess i need some motivation

Martha said...

great tips, I so want to get into doing some next year.

Samantha J Designs (Wife2TJ) said...

Thanks for the tips!!! I'm hoping next year to do a craft show :-) TFS!!! -Sam :-)