Craft Fair Exploits: Lessons Learned

It was on April 16th that I had participated at this craft fair at a private school upon the invitation of a co-worker of mine which was a very good learning experience for me as a small business owner.  I consider it a fair success considering I did earn the fee back, and there were a couple of  sales which made the effort worth it.  But after all was said and done, I chalked it up to experience  and am now seriously thinking about participating in another craft fair.

Here goes my list of lessons learned from my first ever craft fair:

1.  Items for sale should be packaged and more importantly, PRICED, way ahead of the event date. I had 4 trays of earrings already strung up and ready to hang.  My first dilemma was although I had spent hours putting them on the display tray, I failed to price them.  Also, I failed to plan the placement of my display trays, so I ended up displaying only 2 trays at a time.  I know… that was a loss… but the alternative was to display everything, and price them uniformly on the low end.

2.  You need to plan the placement of your display before the event date. While a 3 feet by 6 feet space can seem big, it actually wasn’t and I needed to crowd things together to make them fit.  I didn’t purchase any special sales paraphernalia except for one bust which I hope to “duplicate” using paper mache before the next event.

3.  Packaging and other sales paraphernalia should be organized in one box to make it easy and faster once a sale is made. Although I had managed to create my own paper bags, there were times when successive sales made it difficult and I ended up panicking.  Buyers were in a hurry, too, so it didn’t help when I was scrounging around for the correct-sized envelope or sticker.

4.  Calling cards must be designed and cut ahead of time. I had designed the calling cards, but cutting them proved to be quite a struggle so I ended up not using them. (I know, not good.)  I am hoping, though, that I will be able to do them in time for the next event.

5.  What you think will sell will not always be the hot items on your rack. So I thought (mistakenly,) that my domino pendants would sell like hotcakes.  Not.  Alan made a point of ribbing me about this no end, so I think I will concentrate more on the bracelets which sold better, as well as creating displays for my necklaces.  (Only the ones that were actually displayed hanging instead of laying flat on the table really sold.)

6.  You should hand-make what you can instead of spending for the display trays. I actually created around 3 of them using heavy-duty shoe box tops and unused large picture frames.  (I will post how-to’s) next.  This saved me a lot of money and allowed me to concentrate my expenditures on materials for more wares to sell.

7.  Do not ignore browsers, but do not be overly solicitous either. In this instance, I try to place myself as a shopper and try to accord the browser the same kind of attention I can tolerate without being intimidated.  It is good to say hello but not good to be too pushy.  I know I hate being ignored when I walk into a stall, so I try to be welcoming without being too cheesy.

All in all, it was a fun experience.  I did not exactly get anywhere close to selling out, but I think the sales for the day made it worth it.  They certainly exceeded any one-day sales I’ve had online, and seeing people actually purchasing what I made really made it worthwhile.

Although I did not feel confident enough even closer to the date of the actual fair that I had what it took to actually put up a store, having been able to do just that now gives me confidence about doing it again and trying to do it better this time around.

Monday.. and hoping to see Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe is doing a book signing at the Barnes & Noble on Fifth Avenue today as part of his book tour for his book, Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography.  I am writing this before I walk down to 47th street, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there is not too huge a crowd to hussle and tussle with to get this book signed.

Rob Lowe is very much a part of my generation’s coming of age, and (1) I would love to see him in person, (2) I have a small collection of autographed first editions, and (3) I have heard good reviews about the book.

I always try to catch the events in the nearby bookstores although I haven’t paid that much attention to this in recent months.  On Wednesday, there’s Shania Twain, but I’d take Rob Lowe over Shania anytime.  More later…