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Topic: First time selling at market / craft fair (kinda long)  (Read 10729 times)
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sarah_1980
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« on: April 24, 2004 03:12:15 AM »

I'm considering going to a market to sell my handbags right?

So I drove there today to see what kinda things were being sold there and its all really kinda hippy things (flute music, bongo drums, incense smells, etc).

There were a handful of stalls selling funky clothing and handbags but not really like mine so I *think* there may be a niche there for my kinda handbags.

The problem is, I am really scared about getting out there and doing it. Like, what do I take along, what do I say to people when I get asked questions, do I actively *sell* the stuff to people? I'm kinda shy and timid so I'm not really sure if the market thing is for me.

Any ideas from anyone who has been through the first time nerves or anyone else who can offer some wise words of advice in terms of how to do the market thing?  Roll Eyes

Oh and sorry this is a bit looong.
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2004 06:36:59 AM »

Sarah~ first of all, swallow that timid being you think you are and sign up.

Then, enlist an outgoing friend to help you at the actual fair. Then, start working your butt off getting stuff together to bring to the fair. Remember, presentation is everything! When people ask questions, answer them! It's your stuff - you know it the best! Don't let anyone brow beat you and remember to stand up for yourself, your bags and your integrity. Don't undermine yourself because this is your first fair ~ be strong. Bring lots of cards for those that don't buy, but might later.

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

Carrie
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2004 08:16:56 AM »

i know at the fairs and markets around me it's not uncommon for people to try and talk you down on prices, so be prepared in the event that someone tries to talk you into taking $5 for that $20 purse.
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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2004 10:46:54 AM »

Yes, you need to be strong and not back down on prices. my friend once sold a 50 dollar bag for only 20 because she didnt want the custumer to be angry.  So you just need to be careful to not let that happen to you.
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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2004 11:34:59 AM »

You could always increase your prices a little... Like, if you want 20 for them, price them for 25 so that people can haggle and if they talk you down to 18, big deal..  

If they ask anything, it'll probably be fabric care instructions.. You could always just print up a little thing that says what fabrics are used and how to clean it for each bag..  

Not sure how busy the place you're looking at are, but you should have a few dozen bags at the very least

Oh, and not to scare you or anything, but watch your stuff!  At flea markets and places like that, things have a way of sprouting legs and walking away... Take a friend, if for nothing else than you gotta have someone to watch your stuff if you need to go to the bathroom.
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« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2004 09:56:35 PM »

hi sarah, and congratulations on being ready to take a big first step into the marketing world! many of us have been there and done that, and even though i was barely out of 6th grade the first time i tried setting up a stall (yes, really!), it gets easier each time you do it. btw, i made a whopping $3.46 at that stall back in about 1968 or 69! [that bought me a few candy bars and some more supplies so i was actually a happy camper! *grin*]

ok, for what to take ... do you mean in the way of "supplies & equipment?" i trust that you know what you'll take in the way of inventory!  Grin  do you have a way to display your handbags? that's probably the first thing you need to come up with. and probably a chair to sit in; if you can find one of those tall directors chairs, they're great, cuz you can sit and be almost at eye level with your customers (and they're comfy on the ol' bum!). take a receipt book (and pens) so you can write up sales, some bags to put your customer's purchases in, and a tax chart if you intend to collect sales tax. and maybe a calculator, esp. if you find math challenging.  Lips sealed  if the show is outside, some sort of shade cover might be good (a market umbrella is cheaper than a canopy, since you're just getting started!), and sun lotion with a high SPF, of course, cuz you'll nearly always get sunburnt no matter how hard you try to stay out of the sun! [i have what i call an "office basket" that i keep most of this stuff in from show to show, so i don't have to round it up every time i need it!]

as for what to say to the shoppers, i'd just greet them with something like "hi, let me know if i can help you!" and then not bother them again unless they have a question or simply look perplexed. be aware that they're there (both so you can help them if they need it, and also so they don't walk off with the store ... which happens, i'm sad to say!). they're apt to ask questions about how your products are made, and only you can answer that ... or know if you want to answer that! there's no need to share any trade secrets, of course, and if they try to pry, just smile real big and say "that's a trade secret, sorry!" (i've done it!). when they buy something, be sure to thank them, and make sure you give them a business card or flyer with your name, phone, email, web site (whatever you have for contact info) so they can share that when their friends ask "where did you get that COOL bag?!"  Grin

hope this helps! good luck!

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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2004 01:24:35 PM »

I have been selling at Craft Sales/Faires since high school. Things to remember:

1. Bring a friend or two. Do not do it alone, especially if it is your first time. Friends can help a ton, even if it sitting at the table while you run off to get a bite to eat. Plus I agree with the earlier comment that if you take an outgoing friend they can help make you feel more at ease.

2. Believe in your stuff! You know that you made it and that is good, no
GREAT! When people ask questions just answer honestly.

3. DO NOT LET PEOPLE HAGGLE. For a while my friend and I sold handmade books. Our avarage price was $20, (which was dirt cheap considering what we were selling) and people would always try to talk us down or complain about the price. Believe me you don't want these people as customers, (they will bring their cheap friends the next time). Buy sticking to your price people will respect you.

4. Make sure you have tags that have your e-mail on them. That way if people love the bag they got, and want to order one they can get a hold of you.

So that is what I have learned from my many years of craft sale/faire events. I actually make most of my money with my creations at craft sales. I say take a deep breath and plunge in!
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« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2004 03:19:54 PM »

I hope it all goes well, don't be too scared!! I just wanted to add that you don't need to worry about being really outgoing to sell your bags, if it was me I would much rather buy something off someone who wasn't pushy and in my face. Just be yourself and people will realise you really care and have devoted a lot of time to your items. Have pride in your work and don't let anyone haggle with you, these bags are made with love!!! Cheesy
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« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2004 04:30:20 PM »

a friend is definitely a good thing to bring to a show! i go back far enough in this biz that i can remember asking the person in the next booth (a total stranger!) to keep an eye on my stuff while i ran to the potty or to get some food. would i do that today? no way!!!

do be careful, however, that the shoppers don't get the impression that you and your friend(s) are too caught up in your own conversation. this is apt to make them feel like you'd rather chat with your friends than to answer their questions, which in turn may cause some shoppers to walk on by your stall/booth.

you might think about bringing your own food & water; there's nothing worse than sitting at a show, stressing about making enough to cover the booth fee ... let alone a little food & water or soda.

oh, and keep your money on you!! when i lived in the midwest, i always used a change box; of course i kept it sorta concealed (under the table). but the first show i did in california, the vendor on one side of me said that was a baddddddd idea. so i started keeping my change in a fanny pack. or since you make bags, make a little bag that you can wear across your body (over your head for security!) and use that for change ... and advertising!

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« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2004 11:32:11 AM »

I think that Fly's idea to mark the prices a tad higher than you would like to get is probably good advice.
I don't think that you need to be too talkative or pushy (which usually scares people away) just be yourself, be attentive to people and their reactions and let your products speak for themselves.....
 
Good Luck!!!
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sarah_1980
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« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2004 07:14:13 AM »

 Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy

My goodness! What excellent, complete and thoughtful advice you guys have given!

This has certainly given me that *oomph* (or kick in the bum) to get out there and have a go.

Actually for the next couple of weeks I'm going to attend a few more markets in Sydney and pick the one that I feel most comfortable with and then book myself in for a few months down the track (late July).

Thanks again guys - I reeaaaallly appreciate the kind advice. Kiss
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« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2004 01:14:51 PM »

Yeah, I just read this thread and want to thank everyone who replied. My first show is in November. Though I do consider myself quite the savvy buisnesswoman, I must admit some of the advice given was helpful to me. Food won't be a problem, though, because last year I ran the snack cart, where I had to push around a cart with sandwiches, sodas, chips, etc. for the vendors to buy.

Thanks everyone!
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« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2004 01:52:32 PM »

Just a word of advice for the bad days........my first attempt at selling my wares at a craft fair or similar event was pretty much a disaster.  I sold handmade silk flower pins and jewelry.  My items were vintage inspired with semi-precious stones and I EXPECTED them to sell because it was a large home tour of a historic neighborhood.  It seemed like a good fit. I had lots of lookers but my ONLY sale was five flowers to a friend who came to buy gifts.  I was devastated.   

There were tons of other jewelry sellers there with lots of sales.  They primarily had chunky and/or southwestern-esque items.  Or they were really inexpensive.  I felt awful and really wondered if my designs were worth a thing and questioned my product.  It was tough.   

I was finally able to recognize that it wasn't a reflection of my pieces being ugly or poorly made.  I had a bad day at an event with people who preferred a different style of pieces.  I am going back again this year with my new hair pins, jewelry and knit items.  They all still have a girly vinage feel and I have more confidence in my work.  If I don't sell.......I won't do any worse than last year but at least I still get to hang out with my two crafty friends all afternoon eating snowcones and chatting.  sometimes its about going back even after a bad experience.   
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blunderwoman
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2004 07:48:34 PM »

Whew! I just did my first craft fair last Saturday! I think it went really well for our first one....I'm excited to do another one now. Looong, looong after I move next month, of course.
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RedStitch
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2004 08:14:46 AM »

Quote
my first attempt at selling my wares at a craft fair or similar event was pretty much a disaster.  I sold handmade silk flower pins and jewelry.  My items were vintage inspired with semi-precious stones and I EXPECTED them to sell because it was a large home tour of a historic neighborhood.  It seemed like a good fit. I had lots of lookers but my ONLY sale was five flowers to a friend who came to buy gifts.  I was devastated.   

It sounds familiar! My first craft show was awful, a lot of people stopped, looked and made nice comments. But the only persone who bought a hat was my mother-in-law! I was so disappointed, so I was going to stop knitting.

My husband said that it does not mean anything - first of all it was cold, and the only thing people wanted to buy was HOT coffee.

The second - it was in April, and the winter season was over. You can not expect people to buy hats.  He also said - we should come there every month so people remember you and come to buy hats in fall. But the next fairs were much better, I sold a lot of baby's hats and was happy.

 
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ShelbyAD
« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2004 05:52:29 AM »

I am doing a craft fair for the first time also next month, in 3 weeks to be exact.  My problem is that I only have 1 of everything I make.  I don't know what will sell so I don't know what to make more of.  Some of the stuff I have made was costly (to me anyways) to make and I don't want to spend that kind of money and not sell it.  IF I do sell some of my stuff, then I will make more for my next fair.

I make/design grapevine wreaths, styrofoam ornaments, plastic canvas crosses (do have several of those), painted/decorated terra cotta pots, a couple of floral arrangements.  Stuff like that.

Also, since I am not a "business" I can only accept cash and checks.  What has your experience been with accepting checks?

Any advice on this?
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simply
« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2004 06:03:14 AM »

shelby- maybe you could put together a little album of all the stuff your selling, that way if at the end your running out of product, people could flip through the pictures and see what you had. who knows, someone might even try to place an order  Cheesy
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ShelbyAD
« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2004 06:08:56 AM »

I was thinking of putting together a brochure with an order form for anyone who wanted to order something.  I even have a receipt book, if anyone requires one and an order book (the one with a yellow copy underneath the white original) that way the customer can keep track of what they ordered and I have a copy.
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simply
« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2004 06:12:23 AM »

yay!! Cheesy  your ahead of the game, way to go  Wink
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ShelbyAD
« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2004 06:14:49 AM »

Do people really order stuff from a vendor at craft fairs?
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simply
« Reply #20 on: September 17, 2004 06:22:32 AM »

well i saw this guy at one that did custom clocks and he took orders...do you have a website they could order off of? you could put that on a brochure.  if you allow a little customization (choice of flower/ribbon color/ etc) i don't see why they wouldn't. ya know," oh that's nice, but i really wanted purple, not yellow...what's that? i can customize an order? sign me up!" never know unless you give it a shot  Smiley
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ShelbyAD
« Reply #21 on: September 17, 2004 06:48:32 AM »

Unfortunately I don't have a website.  I've been asking my husband for MONTHS now to set one up for me.  Well, he's a man and hasn't gotten around to it.  For course I guess it would help if I took pictures of my stuff  Cheesy

I will make up cards for them to take with them.  I can't really call them business cards, because I'm not a business.  I will give my stuff a title with my name and cell phone number.

I have ALOT to do in 3 weeks!!!  HELP!!!!
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simply
« Reply #22 on: September 17, 2004 06:57:03 AM »

i sentence your husband to 30 lashings with a wet noodle.  why not set one up yourself? they're really not that hard, and if you need any help, i offer what i know. even if it's just a simple thing with pics and contact info for the moment.
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RedStitch
« Reply #23 on: September 17, 2004 08:51:13 AM »

Quote
why not set one up yourself?

That's what I was going to say too. Check out my site - it is my first try ever, it took a lot of time and brain storm, but I am happy to have it! Technically it was not hard, there are tons of step-by-step guides, and my native language is not English, but it was easy anyway... A web-site is very helpful.

Quote
My problem is that I only have 1 of everything I make.

Is it a problem? Everything is ONE-OF-A-KIND!!! There is no one alike!!! Make a sign and raise your price!

Quote
Do people really order stuff from a vendor at craft fairs?

'I love this scarf! I wish it was blue. Do you have a blue one?'
or
'I would like to buy a poncho for my daughter for Christmas. Do you have one with bigger holes on it?'

The first lady even paid right the way.

Quote
What has your experience been with accepting checks?

I have never hade bounced checks. But... Cash or deposit them the very next day. And if you feel that you do not trust the person, ask for ID, like in any other store.







 
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ShelbyAD
« Reply #24 on: September 17, 2004 10:50:40 AM »

THANKS for ALL of the great advice.  You guys are the BEST  Grin

I'm sure I will have more questions as the craft fair date grows closer - which btw is October 9th
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RedStitch
« Reply #25 on: October 10, 2004 08:50:04 AM »

Quote
I'm sure I will have more questions as the craft fair date grows closer - which btw is October 9th

Shelby, how did it go?
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ShelbyAD
« Reply #26 on: October 10, 2004 10:39:50 AM »

It sucked!!!  Angry  Did not sell a thing.  But after talking to some of the other vendors, they did not do too well either.  Some only sold 1 or 2 items, some sold none.  Right now I'm in a craft fair depression.  Sad
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« Reply #27 on: October 10, 2004 05:02:49 PM »

It sucked!!!  Angry  Did not sell a thing.  But after talking to some of the other vendors, they did not do too well either.  Some only sold 1 or 2 items, some sold none.  Right now I'm in a craft fair depression.  Sad

Aw. But don't let that discourage you. They good thing is that now you know what you did wrong. Maybe it was the crowd just wasn't into the kinds of things you had to offer. Your items sound awesome by your little description, so I doubt it was the quality or anything.

Whatever you do, don't make it your last craft fair. Keep looking out for more events and keep learning from your mistakes. You have the interest in craft fairs and just because you have a bad day doesn't mean you should give up. The good news is that you already have some items that you can sell next time, so you don't have to go crazy re-stocking. You also have a better idea of what the experience will be like so you'll respond better to your surroundings. Bottom line: Don't give up!
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RedStitch
« Reply #28 on: October 10, 2004 10:19:59 PM »

I know the feeling. I posted a story about my first experience on the first page. Do not give up. It might be a wrong fair for your product. I've been at a couple wrong myself... As a customer. I did not know that fairs and festivals can be THAT different...

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madebykris
« Reply #29 on: October 11, 2004 12:27:32 AM »

Want to feel better?  I did 3 regional wholesale markets (much more expensive than retail markets) because I had heard how great people do with wholesale shows - and didn't sell one item.  It's hard to sell when you have 3 or 4 people walking by in an hour.  I've done one retail craft fair, on a terrible, cold, rainy weekend outdoors, and sold a slew of stuff.  It's just a matter of where and when, dumb luck is much more important than probably any of us would want to admit.  I almost quit after those first few shows, but do one show where your stuff sells well and there'll be no turning back, you'll be addicted ;-).  Good luck!
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ShelbyAD
« Reply #30 on: October 11, 2004 05:42:52 AM »

Well I'm not giving up yet.  I have 1,  potentially 3 more craft fairs to participate in.  Most of the people who were there, were there for the free games & blow up rides for their children.  It was the first year for this festival.  They had some flyers up and advertised on an AM radio station - they needed to do it on an FM station.  Plus (this might sound rude) the county that it was in is not a "well to do" county, plus the town it was in only has 1 major business. 

I'm hoping to get into one that's this weekend and I'm signed up for a booth at one on Nov 6th.  I'm trying to get information on 2 more, but so far no one has returned my e-mails about it.  I'm going to keep trying.

Alot of people liked my stuff, said it was nice, cute, creative, but didn't buy it. 
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« Reply #31 on: October 11, 2004 08:42:55 PM »

Thank you again to everyone that replied to my original post. Its been good to hear all your stories (good and bad!).

All of the nightmare stories are quite depressing Undecided

Nothwithstanding the depressing stories, after months of thinking about it I have finally signed up for a market to be held on the 23rd of October (beginning of the summer here in Sydney so it should be a beautiful Australian summer day).

I get a 3 yard frontage (I have to supply my own table) for $45. The organiser said that she is letter dropping to 3,000 homes in the area, advertising in the local newspaper, at malls, etc and she expects a huge turnout. She says there'll be 50 other stalls there. I just hope it doesn't rain!!

I am now thinking it might be better for me to sell my craft supplies, rather than my handbags. Does anyone have any ideas for displaying supplies? It would be much easier displaying handbags but there are sure to be other handmade handbags there at the market. I'm really torn and I guess I need to make a decision one way or the other!
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« Reply #32 on: October 15, 2004 02:19:17 PM »

Sarah, do you have enough room to sell both?  I use a hat stand that my uncle made to display my bags. It doesn't take up much room and then I have the whole table to display other stuff.
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« Reply #33 on: October 15, 2004 06:54:46 PM »

Hi Elwood,

I guess there's no reason for me not to sell both huh?  The hat stand is a great idea - I could possibly use a coat stand also and put that to the side and then use the table for my other gear.

Thanks for your help.
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RedStitch
« Reply #34 on: October 15, 2004 07:06:03 PM »

Quote
do one show where your stuff sells well and there'll be no turning back, you'll be addicted ;-).

God, it feels great, wenn your stuff sells!!!!!
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sheriffkarli
« Reply #35 on: October 24, 2004 11:28:59 AM »

I'm going to be attending my first ever craft fair to sell my wares this November. I make hemp, and other jewlery, but i'm really worried that i might not have anugh to sell, or that my things won't sell. If anyone has any display ideas or and advice to offer at all, i would really appreciate it. Tongue
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nutritiongal
« Reply #36 on: October 24, 2004 12:08:07 PM »

I went to a craft fair/show thinger yesterday and there was a person who had some hemp necklaces up. The way she displayed them made me stop and look at them. To display them, she had taken a piece of white cardboard and put slits where she put the ends of the necklace/bracelet, so they were standing vertical. Then the piece of cardboardwas propped up so you don't have to look down to see them. I think that was a good idea. I hope you understand. I think I used more words than necessary to explain a simple idea.
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« Reply #37 on: November 01, 2004 12:19:26 PM »

I am going to sign up for a teeny tiny show at my Temple....it is called the Hanunukah Boutique and will last only three and a half hours.  I am going to sell flower pins and maybe soaps.  It is tough b/c if only the older folks ar shopping......I doubt my stuff will appeal to them.  I only have to pay 15% of my proceeds which benefit the Sunday School Program.

Any suggestions?HuhHuh?
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« Reply #38 on: November 02, 2004 12:17:04 PM »

I am going to sign up for a teeny tiny show at my Temple....it is called the Hanunukah Boutique and will last only three and a half hours.  I am going to sell flower pins and maybe soaps.  It is tough b/c if only the older folks ar shopping......I doubt my stuff will appeal to them.  I only have to pay 15% of my proceeds which benefit the Sunday School Program.

Any suggestions?HuhHuh?

What your selling may not appeal to the buyers, but it may help them with gift ideas. Make signs that say "Looking for the perfect gift? Look over here!" ot something like that. Also, remind customers that a portion of sales helps the Sunday school children. They may want to dish out a few bucks to help the children or to solve that last-minute gift issue. Good Luck!
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« Reply #39 on: November 04, 2004 09:43:02 AM »

I am going to sign up for a teeny tiny show at my Temple....it is called the Hanunukah Boutique and will last only three and a half hours.  I am going to sell flower pins and maybe soaps.  It is tough b/c if only the older folks ar shopping......I doubt my stuff will appeal to them.  I only have to pay 15% of my proceeds which benefit the Sunday School Program.

Any suggestions?HuhHuh?

i think the older folks might go for the soaps! it's good, though, that you only pay a commission on what you sell. just in case and all. good luck!
THIS ROCKS   Logged

PrairiePrimitives is my eBay ID. I tried to put a link here, but it didn't work. Sad
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