Where do I begin. Well lets just say I felt really out of my element at my first craft fair. I have been to many farmers markets, antique malls and road side shops in my lifetime, but craft fairs I have always avoided them. Mainly because I always felt so much pressure from vendors. “Hey buy this or let me tell you about that item”. Also for some reason there are always some gimmick vendors trying to push some as seen on TV product. So when it was my turn to stand behind the table I had a hard time pushing my products. For the most part I simple said let me know if you have any questions. But before the end of the day I was letting people know I could also make them something custom if they didn’t see anything there.
I had one sign that was very popular and of course I only had one on hand. Several people said they wanted it but would wait until they came back by because they had to go that way to get to the car. As they came back they were disappointed that it sold but didn’t want me to order one.
I spent several weeks trying to figure out what to make, what was trending and how to price the different items. Do you know what I found. People who appreciate quality will gladly pay, people who want cheap products will act offended at the prices. My prices by the way are way below what those same cheapskates will pay on Etsy.
The Hot Ticket Items will Surprise you
At the last minute I took a suggestion from a friend (thanks Stephanie) and made some magnets with local towns engraved on them. I wouldn’t say I sold a bunch but I sold enough. These little things probably paid for the plywood I used for all the signs at the fair.
My wine and coffee coasters were also a big seller. Again easily paid for the box of cedar these were made from, and then some. I probably pushed these coasters the most. They got a lot of chuckles from the customers. I still love how beautiful the coloring of this wood came out when I sealed them.
So what did I learn
Well for starters, craft fairs are very draining. I give a lot of credit to those who travel from event to event trying to make a few bucks. I feel for my first one I did pretty good, but I honestly don’t know how people make a living off just vendor booths.
Next I learned there are a lot of great people at these events. Super helpful, friendly and just as hopeful as I was that people would take an interest in our work. There were several wood workers like me and all of them were very willing to share how they made something or to tell me about their tools. I met one local vendor, Chris from 618 Sawdust who actually knew my work and had read my article about lasers. I was blown away by the work he did with just an Ortur Laser. Be sure to check out his work if you have time. I hope to see him around at more events and will definitely be watching him grow his business.
Plan Ahead. I signed up for the event in March and still wasn’t ready. Thankfully it was local I had easy access to resources if I forgot something. Below is a quick list of items I brought with me.
- Popup Tent you need to know the weather, wind is not kind to these things. They help protect your merchandise and also protect you from sun and rain.
- Folding Table or maybe 2. Make sure it can fold in half so it fits in your vehicle. We have plenty of these around the house so I don’t need ones dedicated to the business, at least not yet.
- Tall Portable Chairs You want to be at eye level with your customers, its difficult to constantly stand up for every person that walks within speaking range. I used a tall rolling task chair but I am definitely getting the ones I linked here in the future.
- Cooler of water or drinks and snacks. Its a long day and you dont always have a chance to get away from the booth. Thankfully I had a helper.
- Tool box, just the basics. I had side cutting pliers, Battery powered drill, scissors, tape and CA glue for starters. Make sure you have items you will need to repair your products if necessary. I think next time I will bring small containers of wood stain or paint to fix scratches etc.
- Business cards, I handed out a lot of cards, hopefully they lead to some custom sales. If you need business cards MOO (not affiliated) has some great prices and they are easy to work with.
- Bags or something for your customer to carry the products in. I was surprised to see people asking for bags for a magnet.
- Dolly or cart It might be a long walk from your car. Not all vendor fairs are on a street or close to parking.
This list just scratches the surface of things to bring. The key is to make a list of what works for you.
I dont know if craft fairs are in my future but for now I will keep them in mind. This is all new and I need to get the word out that on what I can do.
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