I agree, craft shows/fairs aren't for everyone. But when I can make more money in one weekend show than most people on Etsy make in a year....
I have never understood so many people trying to sell on etsy. Why do newbies even try it whe it's already so oversaturated with every kind of craft?
Don't misunderstand me, I'm not bragging. You can go to my website link and see for yourself my product is nothing spectacular. But it is useful. And I'm always the only one at the show doing what I do.
I think you hit it ... find something you can do well, that no one else is doing. Getting both of those down is hard. For me, I know others are selling coasters at some of the craft shows but no one does what I do. If that sounds confusing, I agree! The others are not offering the same quality (see below) or are adding unnecessary steps, etc. Mostly it's the quality that is lacking and self confidence in their work. At one show I saw some coasters that someone had done (or was a buy/sell) that is probably a copy right infringement. I didn't bring it up because eventually the "powers that be" will catch up with them anyway.
As far as others undercutting prices, that's amateur stuff. It means they have no confidence in their work. I don't play that game. But a long time ago I did get back at another crafter.
I was making house numbers with ceramic tiles in a wood frame. They were priced from $18 on up. Another crafter who was next to me at another show who was selling candles saw how good I was doing, so he decided to do them too. But his prices started at $15.
Sure I was upset, but I believed I made a better product, so I didn't reduce my prices.
A customer came by with one of his pieces, so I asked to see it. I noticed he didn't paint the back of the wooden frame, and told her to make sure she painted the back when she got home, otherwise the wood will warp in the weather. She got upset and stormed off. I guess she didn't like what I said. Ten minutes later she was in front of my booth again. She went back to the other crafter and demanded a refund because he was selling "crap". She bought one of mine instead.
Good going, Chris, on handling the competition!
Since I have figured out how to build a better mousetrap, that is why I spend a short time educating customers in my booth about my coasters' benefits, etc. Customers usually respond with a positive response about how mine are better due to the things I "build" into it, so to speak.