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Craft Show Conundrum - Sorry it's long but input appreciated (Read 361 times)
 
Ricc Havens
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Craft Show Conundrum - Sorry it's long but input appreciated
Jun 16th, 2018 at 10:19am
 
OK - First off let me state that I did post this on another forum so I could reach a broader range of experience.  So if you have already seen this sorry for the duplication. 

Also,  know things sell at different prices in different geographical locations. And, I know what items sell in some area won't have a market in other areas. So what you sell may not sell in my Northern Central Indiana region. And, I know the prices will vary by region also.

That being said - I did my first arts/craft show of the season on saturday. It was my first time at this particular art fair along Lake Michigan. The other vendors around me that I talked to did say they felt foot traffic was a little lower than in previous years.

I make and sell decorative bowls, some hollow forms, and boxes I also make and sell utilitarian items such as wine stoppers with Niles stainless "corks", coffee scoops made with the Woodcraft chrome scoop kit, multi-tip screwdrivers from the Woodcraft kit birdhouse ornaments, travel mugs with the stainless inserts, pop-up toothpick dispensers, yarn bowls, and yarn buddies (this is my first season with the yarn items.)

Last season wine stoppers, coffee scoops, birdhouse ornaments, screwdrivers, pop up toothpick dispensers sold really well at the craft shows. Coffee scoops I price at $20, screwdrivers for $20, wine stoppers with the stainless "cork" between $20-$40, birdhouse ornaments and toothpick dispensers for $35, travel mugs for $40, and wood bowls from $25-$60 depending on size. But, this time things that sold well for me at arts/craft shows last summer, fall and at Xmas bazaars did not sell well at all. Did not sell a single wine stopper or coffee scoop and they sold really well last season. Sold only a couple toothpick dispensers, one travel mug, a natural edge bowl, a red cedar bowl, some yarn bowls and yarn buddies. I sold enough to cover my costs and time and make a little profit but was disappointed overall.

So I'd like a little input from forum. Are wine stoppers a rapidly fading fad (I forgot to mention I have some in a small winery and the sales there have dropped too)

- I can't do live demos at this time as I don't have the money for a mini lathe. Plus, our small station wagon was almost filled with the canopy/tent, tables, and boxes of items to sell. I don't think I could have found room for a mini lathe and stand.

- What are you seeing as the hot item to sell this year?
- What's selling for you?
- should I consider items made from kits like keychains, game calls, shaving brushes, etc?
- Are my prices too high on wine stoppers and other items?
- do I need to lower my prices some based on what is selling in your market/region?
- I know a lot of you sell on Etsy and I do as well. But, again what sold last year isn't selling well this year on Etsy.

Things I have thought about trying are:
- peppermills. twist style or "antique" crank style? The antique crank style that suppliers sell look kind of cheap to me but I assume the sell if the suppliers keep stocking them. But, what should an 8" twist mill sell for? What should a antique style sell for?
- tops - the basic top that can be quickly turned in bulk quantities to sell cheap
- I'm not really wanting to - but do I add other "flat" woodworking items like cheese boards, cutting boards, kids pull toys,

I know pens are an option. But one guy that I know locally who only turns pens said his sales are dropping on Etsy and at the farmer's market he does weekly during the summer. So he wonders if the pen trend is losing appeal.

Thanks for your patience and input!

Ricc Havens
Elkhart, IN,
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« Last Edit: Jun 16th, 2018 at 10:23am by Ricc Havens »  
 
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chris lawrence
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Re: Craft Show Conundrum - Sorry it's long but input appreciated
Reply #1 - Jun 16th, 2018 at 2:35pm
 
Your lucky my first 2 shows were total busts.  I sold enough at each to barley cover the cost of the entry fee.  The one thing i did do is make sure every person that came into my booth left with a business card.  Crossing my fingers that i can at least get some business from a few of those cards.  I bring an assortment of things with me from eye candy bowls and hollow forms that rarely sell to $15 items.  The eye candy is to draw them in and right next to it is a cheaper item.  Spring summer shows its hard to say what will sell the best but fall its ornaments.  Last october i made a ton of round ones with long fragile finials and they were my hottest item.  Most were made from a piece of 3x3 spalted maple  that i got dirt cheap from the lumber yard.  Most were amazed when i told them the figuring in the wood was made by a fungus.
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Don Stephan
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Re: Craft Show Conundrum - Sorry it's long but input appreciated
Reply #2 - Jun 16th, 2018 at 5:28pm
 
Did you visit all the booths to see if others were selling the same items for less?  If this was a new venue for you, you don't know what if anything would have sold there last year.  Repeat one of last year's shows, so you have a year-to-year comparison, then ask some questions.

My thinking is if things are priced below what people expect a well made one would cost, they wonder if there is something wrong with the item and walk on.

What do you think you are making per hour, and what is the minimum you want to make?  Don't forget to factor in the out of pocket costs for each show, 8 hours to pack, travel time back and forth, time at the show, and 8 hours back home to unpack.
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Ricc Havens
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Re: Craft Show Conundrum - Sorry it's long but input appreciated
Reply #3 - Jun 17th, 2018 at 8:51am
 
Thanks for the input guys! 

Don, in reference to your question of me visiting the other booths I did walk the whole art fair.  I was the only turner.  The only other woodworker there had mostly cutting boards and simple signs that said things like "man cave"  Everything he had looked like it was all done on a CNC machine as everything was the exact same size and dimension.  Only changes were type of wood or what was lazer cut onto the sign.

I'm not sure about your thoughts on pricing being too low and people not buying because they thought is might to be well made.  I noticed some people picking something up and looking at the price and you could tell by the body language they thought it was too expensive.  My wife over heard comments a couple times people saying things like "that's too much" or "I'm not paying that much". 

I could imagine what you say may be true on the more artsy pieces but those comments were on the little gift or utilitarian items like wine stoppers and coffee scoops.

I will be doing the same venue in September.  But won't compare sales between the two events too much as they are at different times and that event also Labor day weekend so it will be busier at the beach art show.  I will consider doing it again next spring but that's a ways off.

Thanks!
Ricc
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Al Wasser
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Re: Craft Show Conundrum - Sorry it's long but input appreciated
Reply #4 - Jun 17th, 2018 at 9:05am
 
The only thing I will tell you is to stay away from craft shows that allow Elvis blanket, Tupperware, old buttons and various manufactured goods.  Try to get into the Art shows
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Ralph Fahringer
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Re: Craft Show Conundrum - Sorry it's long but input appreciated
Reply #5 - Jun 17th, 2018 at 9:14am
 
Here's another thought.

The QUALITY of the show has alot to do with what sells.

If you are in a show that has things like those CNC pieces and mostly crafty stuff, you aren't going to sell very many quality pieces with the price you want/need.

People coming to those shows are already primed to NOT spend much on any one item.

When I used to do shows with my photos, I sold the best when the show was advertised as an ART show... not giraffes out of 1x pine for measuring your grandkids growth.

My worst show... an extremely good stained glass artist and I were the only ones selling "art". Everyone else was craft of the month garbage.

Neither he nor I sold anything that day but the others were selling that junk hand over fist.

Best idea is to google "art" shows.. outdoor art shows, etc and find the ones where people EXPECT to spend good money for good work.

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Ralph Fahringer
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Re: Craft Show Conundrum - Sorry it's long but input appreciated
Reply #6 - Jun 17th, 2018 at 9:15am
 
Al chimed in while I was typing!!  Smiley Smiley
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Re: Craft Show Conundrum - Sorry it's long but input appreciated
Reply #7 - Jun 18th, 2018 at 8:50am
 
One other thing that I've noticed.
I've been going to (not selling) an area not far from my home that has a craft fair every weekend during the summer. This area is considered a tourist destination, at least in this part of the state. It brings in folks from a broad area,many of them return each year.

Acting as a customer, you notice that many of the vendors have the same items year after year, this is a double edged sword.

Having the same items can be beneficial in a tourist area where you get different customers each year and you can focus on the same product.
In an area where people return yearly and product s don't change, I have seen and heard people glance at the "same old thing" and walk by.

I would rather rotate products yearly and have people come to me and ask "do you still have X, rather than glance and go.
My personal belief is to have as wide a variety as you're comfortable with, offer X amount for sale at any one time and be willing and able to change when necessary.
I will change the variety for the customer not the quality or price.
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Re: Craft Show Conundrum - Sorry it's long but input appreciated
Reply #8 - Jun 18th, 2018 at 1:21pm
 
alot of how you do is the promoter..we have one that advertizes like crazy and even though half the people that go arent into"wood things" we always have a decent day worth our expense and time...there are other promoters in the same area that just do not know how to draw...same county, state, etc...talk to the other  vendors alot alot of the older ones have probably been doing it for awhile and have precious knowledge on what are the better shows/promoters...we are in our 5th year and have learned so much from the other vendors its not even funny...its become like and extended part of our family...have a facebook page???get one...leave out a pad and collect email addresses and ask them to like you on facebook....then you can post something you just made and remind them about you...you can also post what shows you will be at...your pricing is fine...we have items from 5.00 all the way up...price everything...dont jump on them as soon as they walk in say hello and give them a sec to look around then ask if they have any questions... sorry for the long post...hope some of this helps...message me anytime
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Lee Watermann
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Re: Craft Show Conundrum - Sorry it's long but input appreciated
Reply #9 - Jun 18th, 2018 at 9:18pm
 
If the higher end products are not selling you better have a lot of ten to fifteen dollar things to sell. I look around my shows and often find that's what people are carrying. I sell a lot of bottle stoppers but can't afford to use the stainless. I can sell weed pots cheap and still make money on them as they turn fast. You have to produce items under an hour. I do sell high end mills but they are beautiful being resin and wood and they do sell.. I sell a lot of spatulas and can make them in forty five mins and under. I find bowls don't sell. If I have an under eight hundred dollar show I'm not all that happy. I only do three shows a year and do sell privately. I try to do two day shows and three hundred to get in is my limit. Giving my cards out did bring me one customer that has bought ten high end mills from me.
This is what I do and may not be your thing.
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Ricc Havens
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Re: Craft Show Conundrum - Sorry it's long but input appreciated
Reply #10 - Jun 19th, 2018 at 8:39am
 
Al Wasser wrote on Jun 17th, 2018 at 9:05am:
The only thing I will tell you is to stay away from craft shows that allow Elvis blanket, Tupperware, old buttons and various manufactured goods. Try to get into the Art shows


Al, I agree.  this show had a restriction on anything manufactured or mass produced.  It all had to be handmade.

Ricc
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Re: Craft Show Conundrum - Sorry it's long but input appreciated
Reply #11 - Jun 19th, 2018 at 9:27am
 
To find art shows go to Zapplication.org     You can find hundreds of higher quality shows in your area (or an area you'd like to go to).  They have all the application info for each show.  You can upload photos of your work so that you can apply.

Figuring out what sells is a crap shoot.  One show bowls sold, another pretty much bird houses and ornaments, another a combination of things.
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Re: Craft Show Conundrum - Sorry it's long but input appreciated
Reply #12 - Jun 19th, 2018 at 11:39am
 
1x giraffes to measure your grandkids could still be considered handmade in the sense that it isn't made in China.

When you go to a show vendors website, look at their photos of items from previous shows.

Ask very specific questions about the level of quality of what they are loooking for.

I used to love any show put on by Rose Squared Prodictions. Very well produced and high quality artists. i always did well at their shows..until the recession (1990-ish) hit and then no one was doing well.

Google their name and see what their shows look like.

Most are in the North Jersey are but I think they do some down south as well. Been a long time since I showed with them.
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« Last Edit: Jun 20th, 2018 at 8:36am by Ralph Fahringer »  

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Ricc Havens
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Re: Craft Show Conundrum - Sorry it's long but input appreciated
Reply #13 - Jun 25th, 2018 at 9:08am
 
thanks guys for all the input!  Gives me a lot to think about.  If anyone else has anything to add please do so.

Ricc
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