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Topic: where the f did i go wrong?.....or...... why was my booth such a failure?  (Read 3108 times)
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ivoryh1632
« on: October 27, 2013 07:01:49 PM »

So after years of selling to friends of friends and people telling me i should sell my stuff ive finally started into the world of craft fairs. ive decided to sell baby blankets (swaddlers, taggies and lovies), machine embroidered onesies, tutus and bath salts/sugar scrubs. I did a small show at the library where i was the only one selling any of those items. I sold half my stock of salts/scrubs but nothing else, every one that stopped by said how  my baby stuff was great but all their kids were grown or i had too much girl stuff (apearantly having a flower sitting on the lillypad of froggy fabric automaticly makes it girly Roll Eyes ). So i took all that into consideration and the next one i did was at a family  event aimed at a younger crowd. I improved my overall display and i also added a bunch of boy themed items and made a few items special for the zombie/halloween theme of the event. I had tons of people stop by. Everyone loved my halloween themed stuff, commented on how it would be great for so and so and then walked off. Everyone was impressed with how i could make bath products that smell so good by using natural products. And my baby stuff was a huge hit people would spend 10-15 mins in my little booth going through every item trying to decide which one they liked best. The only problem is that of the entire 8 hour event i only sold 2 items.
Can someone please help me figure out what the heck i did wrong? I was standing in front chatting with potential customers the entire time. I kept my prices in line with the other booths there, in fact numerous people said they were surprised at how reasonable my prices were. I had pricing readily displayed ans my display had variety without being over crowded, i actually even got some comments on how cute my display was.
Id love any feedback/advice/suggestions. The only thing i dont need to hear is the whole "ive been doing craft shows for the past 50 years and you just gotta let time take its course and after 50 more tries you'll find something that works" speech. its incredibly hard for me to get a saturday off from work (which is when all the fairs are) and i dont have a ton of money to be throwing at registration fees when im not making a profit so if im going to continue doin fairs i need to be very proactive in changing things to make them work.
Thanks in advance for any help you may have
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Chris in VT
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2013 04:20:05 PM »

OK, you don't want to be told to keep trying. What do you want to hear?

There is no magic bullet that will solve the problem you're having, because it's the same problem every new exhibitor has. And only time and experience can solve that. Evidently you don't have the time, so maybe craft fairs aren't your thing.

We old timers are your best resource, but evidently you don't want our help.
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There's NOTHING at a craft show, or on Etsy, anybody NEEDS. NOTHING.
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« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2013 08:44:04 PM »

Speaking as someone who frequents craft fairs, I can say that the main reason I will spend lots of time looking at a booth but not buy anything is that there is just too much good stuff at the booth. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but it's the way it goes for me and for other people I know, too. I'd say next time start smaller. Pick -one- thing to focus on, such as just baby things, and arrange a few of each thing on the table, with more kept under or behind the display for later.

I am not guaranteeing this will work, as there are no guarantees in this business. Sometimes you just have a bad time because you do. But, that's the one practical thing I can think of to try next time.
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Chris in VT
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2013 03:56:33 AM »

You are correct. The successful crafters concentrate on one medium only.
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ShandyJo
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« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2013 05:10:12 AM »

My only suggestion is focus on the stuff folks are buying and bring smaller amounts of the other things. Or just focus on one medium. From experience it seems to be a lot of trial and error. Good Luck!
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shadojake
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2013 07:03:31 PM »

I started doing craft shows this year, back in the spring.  I do custom coasters and trivets.  To view my work go to www.customcoastersb ycindy.com to get an example of what I do.

I've had people I know suggest that I "should" do "this" or "should" do "that".  I simply thank them for the idea and that I'll "look into it".  What I have decided is to concentrate on one thing and try to do it well.  You might want to do the same ... blankets/clothing or bath products.

In our area there are three things I would not want to be selling .... children's clothing, hair bows, and jewelry.  There are sellers of these items EVERYWHERE and there is intense competition.  Around here it is hard to stand out selling those items.  It sounds as if you have a good response to your product and price and it's just "closing the sale" that is the issue.  Possibly you could have a friend who works in sales work with you at the next couple of craft shows you're in and help you evaluate the process.  Maybe you could pay your friend in "trade" and give your friend a couple of items for working for you.

As far as product, display, interactions, etc.  I bring 200 coasters and over 20 trivets to the larger events in our area.  However I may only have 75-85 out at one time.  The ones I don't immediately put out are back stock.  I have duplicates of most but some I don't.  I am learning---still---after all this time what sells and what doesn't.  For example, I am learning that tumbled marble doesn't sell as well at tumbled travertine.  Fortunately I have 90% or more of my designs on travertine.  Maybe you need to look at what is selling, as someone else suggested and concentrate on that.  If you decide to go with the clothing/blankets you could more evenly split it between girls and boys.  I have learned to make some coasters that are not all 'frufru' and girly.  I make some that can be more masculine so they can be given as gifts to men or used in a man cave, camp, etc.  I am also learning that more neutral colored designs can be better sellers on some items.

You may want to make multiples of the best sellers and put out only a couple at a time of them.  Let customers know you have back stock if needed.  When one sells, just pull another one out.  The thought occurred to me that if you have all your stuff out, it feeds the idea of abundance and people think, 'oh, there's plenty here.  I don't have to buy now.  I can come back later.'

There are people at craft shows here who make the rounds, visiting most, if not all, of the booths.  For many the first round is to see what's out there and weigh their options.  Then they make another round to make purchases.  I wonder if something like that is happening and they have run out of $$ before they get back to you.  Possibly presenting a "scarcity" of your items will induce more impulse purchases.  IOW, go back to the idea of putting out only a couple of each item instead of a dozen.

We have floor/ground length table covers and store the back stock under the tables in boxes.  The table covers make the area look neat and allows plenty of storage for extras without having to put it all out on the tables at once.

When someone enters my booth and is looking and lingering, I say something like:  "If you have any questions I am happy to help you."  I do greet everyone who comes in with something like "Hi, how are you" or "Isn't it a beautiful day" or something like that.

If I hear two shoppers talking about one of my designs or my stuff in general like they are trying to figure out a particular quality, I'll throw out a little fact or characteristic about it.  Not a long drawn out dissertation on it but something like .... 'No, I do not seal my coasters but you won't loose your design when your drink condensates because the ink is waterfast."  It provides some education about my product without taking too much time.  It opens the door for more information about my products but doesn't force the issue.  Some people were chattier than others.  Some simply looked and took my brochure and card.

Not sure if this helped any but I hope you have better success at future shows.
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Kip
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2013 01:03:35 PM »

I'm glad you posted this as I'm considering craft fairs next year also.  I'll be watching this thread.

Kip
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Chris in VT
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2013 04:57:59 PM »

If you're considering doing craft fairs, the very first thing you should do is go to as many as you can as soon as you can to actually see what's out there and how things are priced. Become familiar with the workings of the events from an exhibitor's point of view.
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There's NOTHING at a craft show, or on Etsy, anybody NEEDS. NOTHING.
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shadojake
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2013 05:13:59 PM »

I came across this article I read a few months back and thought it might be helpful ...

http://voices.yahoo.com/becoming-craft-show-vendor-part-1-vending-right-7104688.html?cat=31

It's part of a series so you might want to take a look at the others in the series.
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God Bless,
Cindy

Given enough coffee, I could rule the world!
Chris in VT
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2013 03:40:00 AM »

I read the article and completely agree with what she said, especially about weekends and holidays.
If you don't like working weekends, this isn't for you.
If you don't like working Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, and the biggest weekend for craft shows, Thanksgiving weekend, this isn't for you.
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There's NOTHING at a craft show, or on Etsy, anybody NEEDS. NOTHING.
www.shadypinestudio s.com
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