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Thread: What to make to sell at craft shows?

  1. #1
    Super Member Central Ohio Quilter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Central Ohio

    What to make to sell at craft shows?

    I am suddenly finding myself retired, and trying to decide what to do with my time. One of my ideas (I have lots) is to make some kind of quilted items to sell at craft show.

    What have you made to sell that sell well and make the best money for the time it takes to make? I am thinking that bed sized quilts take so much time to make compared to the amount of time they take to make! What sells well? Purses? Wall hangings? Pot holders? What other ideas have you made to sell that sell well?

    Are there any other considerations for selling items at craft shows?

    Any other ideas would be appreciated!


  2. #2
    Senior Member Little RoO's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    England. UK
    Sometime ago Belmer (I think) posted a design for microwave bowl protectors......I thought they were a briliant idea....and would certainly sell well at craft fayres.
    You could really expand the idea as I think they would help keep the food warm and you could make casserole covers etc......anyway just a thought.
    I have just searched and hopefully this will take you to the tutorial
    Microwave Fabric Bowls

  3. #3
    Senior Member lvaughan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Not a quilt idea but something my sister, retired recently, is making and getting lots of orders for. She has had $400 of orders just in the last three weeks, posting them online, (FB), and word of mouth, church, friends and such. She is making tissue cases on her embroidery machine and blinging them out with rhinestones. The design she is using comes from GGDesigns. I have made them on my embroidery machine as gifts, I'm not as artistic as my sister, she makes them special with names and initials. By the way you can get names free to embroider, and they are the perfect size for the tissue cases from this site http://www.heartstringsembroidery.co...ndex&cPath=231

    Thank You Heartstrings Embroidery for your generosity.


  4. #4
    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Small town in Northeast Oregon close to Washington and Idaho
    Blog Entries
    I love appliqued wall hangings. You could hang them in your booth. They are very eye-catching!
    "Be yourself...everyone else is taken."
    Strong people don't put others down...they build them up."
    "Remember that your instincts are more important than rules"

  5. #5
    Power Poster
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Ontario, Canada
    Craft show sales have not been doing very well here. Small items go better but you make very little money on them. Things that are still selling are baked goods, handmade jewelry, soups and lotions. I hope you have better luck in your area.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Hen3rietta's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    SE Pennsylvania
    Before you rush headlong into doing craft shows, sit down and work up a business plan. I make quilt related stained glass pieces and have done everything from major shows to small community ones and it is a crap shoot. The last 4 years have been very hard in this economy. One show we sold nothing over $10. This is not to say don't do it, but think carefully about ALL of the ramifications before jumping in.

    Most importantly, price out our items and see if they make you a profit after including cost of materials, time ( and that is an important one), cost of show including cost of transport to and from, consumables (receipt blanks, bags, cards. etc.) show materials (cash box, table, table coverings, display materials, etc.) Another thing to consider is if you are making something that a)people want and b) they won't necessarily make themselves and or c) your price is cheaper than what they could do themselves. Lastly, shows can be exhausting. On 1 day shows you need to show up a crack of dawn to set up, listen to people saying how they do the same thing and/or they do it better and afterwards break down and drive however long home. With a good show you do well, on others you are lucky to break even with expenses. And one good show does not indicate that the next year it comes around will be the same.

    Some other considerations are sales tax reporting and insurance. Most good show require tax numbers and proof of insurance in advance.

    So, if you age going to do crafts, pick something you love doing for the sake of doing it and not making needed cash. For that I would take a part time job waiting tables. Far more reliable.

  7. #7
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    I have been doing shows for over 20 years , along the way I learned some lessons the hard way. I can share a few tid bits of info
    1. Fall shows typically have better sales
    2. The best fall shows applications are out now. and if they have not already closed the application process they will soon
    3. Do not be afraid of juried shows. These shows typically have a good reputation and following so they can be picky about who they let in. The last thing you want is to be in a show that lets any one who comes up with a table fee.
    4. Have a variety of items priced in different price ranges.
    5 Some have had success in selling bed size quilts . I have not . Enevitably someone what that quilt but larger , and without a certain fabric , and with fabrics that are no longer available . They also take up alot of room when it comes to transporting.
    6. Its the fabrics that sell the goods . Always pick fabrics that you just can not resist. Remember what prompts you to buy .
    7. There is a larger market for items under $20.00 than over
    8. Shows that are closer to gift giving holidays will have better sales . A show a week or two before Mothers Day is a good spring show .
    9. Wearables do sell well if made from irresistable fabrics.
    10 . Do your homework on colors... look at current trends ... I always look at the furniture ads to see what color couches/sofa are current . Thats what colors I look to coordinate many of my table runners. Look to the most popular cothing ads for colors in wearables. That does not mean to completely avoid some stunning fabrics, there will always be that person who wants the unusual. I love to go to Kohls and just look at the towels and bedding they are selling for color trends. Remember these big companies spend alot of money researching colors before they commit to spending big $$ on inventory.
    11. Sew what you are good at , poorly made goods have no market.
    12. Make proto types and test market , have a few of a proto type in your booth, before making lots of any item. Listen to the comments , is it the fabric they like or don't like, is it the size... don't take these comments personal they will help you from making costly mistakes.
    13. Research what sells in your area, by going to shows in the area you are thinking about selling in.
    14. The research of what sells should not be your only guide .... Be original . There is nothing worse than going to a show only to find alot of people selling the same goods. The only thing left for the consumer in choosing is price.
    15. Well displayed goods sell better than poorly displayed goods, do research and homework for getting your booth space designed. People always linger longer in the better booth displays. They are more likely to just keep walking if your display is not inviting.
    16. Do not be afraid to have a clearance bin , once an item has gone through a season of selling and its still in your inventory .. move it out . It is taking up valuable space in transporting and booth space. We have all made some duds in our time ... move them out and recover what $$ you can for purchasing supplies .
    17. The most important .... PICK YOUR SHOWS CAREFULLY! just because you paid a fee for a table is no assurance there will be buyers. Pick shows that have been around for a long time , they continue to exist because they have a following both from buyers , which makes the cafter want to come back.

  8. #8
    Super Member Bonbonary's Avatar
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    Sep 2010
    Blog Entries
    Lori S - You have some great tips. I like your idea of checking color trends. That seems to be something a lot of people don't consider. Thanks, too, to Ivaughan for sharing the embroidery website.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    york county, PA
    Yes, Lori has some wonderful tips! I don't do a craft show but I am chairperson of our church's Christmas Bazaar. It's held the week before Thanksgiving but we have learned that by then, everyone has their Thanksgiving decor out and it won't sell. Christmas things sell like hot cakes! I made microwave bowls as per the link in Little RoO's post and sold all of them. I had given one before hand to a friend and she told everyone how great they were. I wanted to sit a bowl in one of the fabric bowls as a visual but that day when I thought of it, they were all gone! I have sold some lap quilts too. Good luck however you decide!

  10. #10
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Having been a vendor at craft shows (local) it is a difficult thing to pinpoint what goes and what does not. Each area of the country is different. I recommend you go to a few first, see what there is a "glut of" and see what seems to be the most popular......or what isn't there. This year seems to be ereader covers, flashdrive covers, small change type purses........there was an overkill of jewelry.......and quilts are not sellers. I watched one lady who had a boatload of handmade aprons and I think she sold 3 all day.........but her price was what I consider high end.....one jewelry lady was busy all day selling because her jewelry was "gently priced" I even bought something....and I could have made my own.......another good seller,and inexpensive are those little finger oven mitts.....love them........good luck and let us know how it works for you.....

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