I was just wondering how many NJ Craftsters are doing the whole crafty small business thing. I think there are a few of us are, and just wanted to take an 'official' NJ Survey, and sort of a find a support crew of people who *know* all about the *joys* of running a small business here.
I am doing 3 weekends (yup two day shows) in June. It seems that June is the Renaissance Fair Month here in NJ. I have a feeling that is my 'target customer' so I am going for it. I am painting up a storm and trying to find a helper for the one day of the one show. Anyone got any advise/idea on that? I tried the usual routes that I could think of, but a lot of people are giving me 'the look' when I tell them they need a costume....
I make a lot of mythical/fantasy items, but the first show I did, I sold nothing. I realized it was not the right market for my items, and I think my stuff would be a hit at a Renaissance Fair.
However, there is a couple of things that are holding me back from signing up for the two fairs I have found locally.
1) I am not sure I can get a 'helper' to agree to dress in costume. I am not even sure what I would wear for a costume! My Mom sews, so I figured we could go look in the Halloween costumes and find something for me. But that would leave me alone in my booth for the whole time of the fair hours.
2) The fairs are two days, with setup being a day prior of the event. I have the option of camping right there, booking a hotel, or heading home. If I were to camp, I'd need to get a new tent and stove, not to mention the other camping supplies. I'd have to rent a van to get it all to the site. Now I supposed, I could trust the fair people to keep an eye on my stuff overnight, and just take the cashbox/charge receipts home with me. Yet the idea of leaving my works alone is bothering me some, as I am not sure how secure the security can make a the fairgrounds. But packing up the whole thing to set it up the next day does not seem like a good idea either.
3) I don't own a tent that I could use as shade for my booth (yet) and was not budgeting it for an investment for this year. I am not sure if anyone I know has one I could borrow either.
Part of me really wants to because of the potential exposure of my business to the right market. Yet another part of me is wondering if between the cost of the costume, the tent, and the fees if I should venture this when I am just getting started? I know that the costume, and the tent could be seen as investment because I can get multiple uses out of them.
Any thoughts? Anyone ever did a Fair? Anyone ever do a multiday show and did you leave your work?
What would be the best way to offer a discount? Should I state it in the public message?
Basically, I would give the discount if someone purchased all 4 dragons of the seasons I have for sale in my shop. They are currently listed separately, but I would be willing to sell them all for $150 plus shipping cost (and tax if purchased in NJ), instead of about $170 if purchase separately.
If I do this, should I state it in the greeting message? Plus how would I go about doing this if I did decided to do so?
I am going to be taking part in two shows, one in February and one in March. I have requested information on more shows, and eagerly awaiting the applications and stuff like that to come. I am hoping to do about 12 shows this year.
On Etsy, which my website will link to for purchases, I accept pay pal and also money orders. (I am not sure about the whole shopping cart thing, so I thought this would be the best route for now, without driving my hubby/webmaster crazy. Plus easier for me to update the store than the site itself.)
I am looking into to Thompson Merchant Services Touch Tone to handle credit cards at the shows, as the rate and fees seem good to me.
However, before I set this up, I am wondering if I am jumping in too fast with this? Some of my dragons cost a bit more than what I'd think people would be carrying with them at a craft fair, so I think a merchant account might be a good way to get them to move, plus some of my other stuff as well.
I know I am purposely planning on NOT doing any shows for July and August because of vacations, and to give myself time to paint up a storm for the fall show season. I'd still be paying the fee for those months, which from what I understand is pretty common to pay only the fee for months in which no sales are made. Unless I get some sales on Etsy.
So how do I know when I should set up the merchant account to accept Visa/Mastercard? Is it worth it to accept American Express and Discover? Is it a good idea to have that in place for my first show? How can I guess what amount the transactions per sale/sales per month would be, when I have no idea what my first sales figures would be?
How HAPPY I am that my booth has mostly come together in one day. Its a good thing too as my first show is a 10 foot space, and about 2 months a way but I was worried about the whole booth thing, so this is HUGE thing for me.
I got a sign made at Staples, which is really just a big blow up of my business card. I also got two clear business card holders too, and tags that will be prefect for pricing my items.
I picked up a large easel at a local craft store for the sign to go on. I also got more product to test out and if they work out, I am going to get more. I had to pick up supplies anyway, so this made the trip extra special.
Then when I got home, my mom found an Ad in the Target circular to the six cube shelving units. So I got 2 sets and so now I have a place for the dragons and other larger items to go in.
I hit the dollar store on a whim and got Vinyl with felt backing table cloths.
Based on an idea I saw here, I am using a rolling cart as the means to hold business stuff like the cash box and other odds and ends for the booth. I have folding chairs already and my parents will loan me their table which is is 6 or 8 feet long.
We are going to do a set up in the Garage after measuring out a 10 by 10 space on the floor. Then snap some photos so when the show comes Mom (who is going to be my helper at the first show) and I know what we are doing and about how long it will take to set up!
I am so relieved/excited that the booth is coming together!
Happy New Year! (Tomorrow my business is fully official!! WOO!) Jen
I am getting a booth at the Harmony School Craft Fair in Middletown NJ. Its my first show. And I have a 10 by 10 space to fill. (I best get painting FAST!) The date of this fair is February 24, with a snow date of March 3rd.
I am also going to be doing the Piscataway High School Craft and Vendor Sale. This is on March 24th.
I believe both still have space available if anyone is interested... I can give ya details if you need them. I know I am finding it a bit rough to find shows in NJ, so I though I'd share.