December 13, 2010

A look back at the craft fairs

So I participated in three craft fairs this holiday season – it means I was there as a vendor, selling my handcrafted items. This was my first year doing this and let me just say that it was a lot of fun! Yes it was scores of hard work, hectic no-time-for-anything-else days but I would do it again. Why? You ask. For the gratification. When people buy my items I get the feeling that yes others do understand and appreciate my skill. Some people comment that it’s good because I can make some money doing what I love to do. Let me clarify – at this point if anything there’s money going into it than coming out Smile. There are so many fees – license fee, booth fee etc. to cover that I’ve some way to go before I can “make” money out of it.

My DH was there at *all* the fairs with me, right from the setup to the pack-up. A HUGE thank you to him! I wonder how he felt being there because his wife wanted a booth in a craft fair to sell the goods she’s made Sarcastic smile. Let me tell you that he was the best salesman I could’ve had and hearing him talk you wouldn’t even know that he hadn’t made them! He knew how everything was made!

The various fairs I participated in are:

  1. Woodinville Holiday Bazaar: This was the 30th year this fair was happening and my first in this fair Smile. The fair was very well attended and I met vendors who’ve been coming to this fair for years and so were the customers. I could hear customer’s telling vendors “Oh I bought from you last year…yadda yadda yadda”. Our sales were not so decent for the level of the fair but we got an order! I think that was the highlight of the show for me Smile. As my mom says the hallmark of a good crafter is the orders that he/she gets! Being my first fair there were lots of things I did right (thanks to my friends @ SCS) but there were some gotchas. The biggest issue was the display – I had bought bed risers so that it would increase the height of my table. That was good but at the same time I used a shelf and couple of three-tier stands to display my stuff. With the bed riser and the shelf I think the height was a little too much for some of the items. Then the three-tier stands that I got were probably not the best thing – they didn’t make the items easily accessible to the customers. We realized that first and foremost it was important that the items be in full view of the customer; and the customer be able to touch and flip through them. Our display was not conducive for that. Plus nothing wobbly should be on your table. If every time the customer tries to look at some item, something falls he/she will hesitate to do that again and there goes your sale. The bestsellers for me were: gift-card holders (especially the purse ones), Snowman kisses (made using Tic Tac), Cocoa packets with a poem, Turkey place card holders, Mini composition books with pen. The food – there is coffee and lunch items for sale. Not a great variety for vegetarians just a veggie sandwich which had lots of cheese and a slice of cucumber and some lettuce; but it was delicious! My DH doesn’t like cheese so much and even he loved it – we kept thinking what was in that sandwich that we loved but couldn’t figure out!
  2. Mill Creek Lion’s Club Holiday Bazaar: This was their 7th year and I must say for their short term in business they were pretty well organized. I think it was a little smaller than the Woodinville one in terms of the number of vendors. The fees was also also less; but my sales were almost double that of Woodinville. I would definitely attribute our change in display for some portion of the increase in sales. We now used a pegboard towards the back of the table to hang some of the stuff and the rest all was on the table – no stands and no shelves. It looked a lot cleaner and more shopper-friendly. The fair was well attended, it looked almost comparable to the previous. Though hard to say in terms of numbers. The bestsellers for me continued to be Snowman Kisses, Hot cocoa, mini composition books and gift card holders. Once again purse gift card holders sold like hot cakes! Post-it note holders with pen did decently well. Sold one altered clipboard, a couple of magnetic memo boards, Starbucks Via packets, 6 out of 9 greeting cards. The food – they’d a make do pantry and were selling Costco pizza for lunch which was good enough. Coffee was supposed to be available free of cost all day but it got over before noon. 
  3. Redmond Holiday Bazaar: Unlike the above shows this was for shorter duration – from 12-5pm. Not sure how long they’ve been organizing this but I should’ve known. When I asked them the table size they would be providing nobody knew and the rep told me she’d find out and call back!Surprised smileThe fair was much much smaller and there was hardly any crowd as compared to previous fairs. To be fair to them, the fees was quite low (I guess they knew about the crowd). They held it with Redmond Lights thinking that it would draw more people but we don’t think it made any difference. It did draw more people but not the ones who were interested. They were the ones who’d come early and didn’t know what to do before lighting started. As you must’ve figured out by now, the crowd – whatever there was of it – wasn’t too keen on buying hand made crafts! We’d a wonderful lady selling some of the most exquisite christmas centerpieces priced between $20-45. We were surprised that she hardly sold any till she had 50% off! Each of those centerpieces was unique and hand-crafted. Later I saw that in Big Box stores mass-produced centerpieces were more expensive than what she was selling for! So yes this fair was a disappointment. The sales were decent given the fees but it wasn’t so much fun. There were no bestsellers per se, we sold a little bit of everything. There was no arrangement for food; but there was coffee.

Phew! That was a long post! I wanted to write some more but I think I’ll put in the next post for fear of it being over-shadowed.

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