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Thread: disappointing day vending at a craft fair

  1. #1
    Senior Member alisonquilts's Avatar
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    disappointing day vending at a craft fair

    I was a vendor at a craft fair today organized by a local lady in the next town over from mine. There were 70 vendors (!), the weather was great, we were inside a nice building with lovely amenities and good parking...and everyone's sales were abysmal. I made four sales, all to friends. The ladies at the tables around me made one or no sales...even the lady who organized the whole thing didn't sell anything! There were lots of people wandering around looking at stuff, but only the two cupcake vendors seemed to be moving any product. (Mmmm...cupcakes.)

    This was my first craft fair, so I don't have anything with which to compare today. There were lots of different types of crafts available, most of them looked like good quality stuff, and there wasn't an overload of any one kind of craft - people just weren't buying. I didn't really pay that much attention to how this event was advertised. I told my friends about it, none of whom at heard of it through any media sources. This may have been the real problem - not enough marketing. (This was also the first year for this event.)

    I am posting this rather dismal note so that anyone who is gearing up for a craft fair in the near future can try getting the word out about it a little more aggressively than I did. And good luck!

    Alison

  2. #2
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    So sorry. It's a lot of work to go through for such results. I've noticed here that when the weather is nice people don't go to indoor events as much. Perhaps a craft fair closer to the holidays might get more traffic.

  3. #3
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    A first year of a show is typically the toughest. Marketing is the absolute key to a first year show... and even then it can be only a minimal turn out. Sorry it was a bad expereince for you ... but I bet the next time you want to do a show you will ask how many years has the show been in existance. It also tough for an established show to change a date. So when you inquire ask how many years at that date .. say first weekend of may or second weekend in Nov or when ever the show is scheduled.
    The date had all the right things going for it... Just before a gift giving Holiday ( Mother's Day) . Too bad there were not some outdoor events and vendors to get people into the show.

  4. #4
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    I used to have my own small business making purses, bags, totes, table runners, wall hangings etc. The only time I ever did any good at bazaars or craft shows was in the Fall just before Christmas.

  5. #5
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    Craft sales are hit and miss. Most people come to get ideas. My guild makes more money selling a pattern for an item we make then the item. We try to have a new shape pincushion, different pot holder, etc to draft the pattern to sell. Also presentation is a big factor. Things siting on a folding table usually won't gather much more then a glance. I took a marketing seminar and learned never have items laid out like a yard sale for any professional sale. Bring in baskets, chains to hang items on, have fresh flowers on the table, a bowl of Hershey's Kisses. Look at pictures of the quilt booths at most quilt shows. Which ones do you think gather more traffic?
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  6. #6
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    I agree, the first year for an event often is rather slow. But the biggest "need" is for a lot of advertising and marketing.
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  7. #7
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    My first question would be, unless this was a two day event, why did the organizers choose to have it on a Sunday? The number of buyers will always be limited on a Sunday, even for well established shows. Sorry you had a less-than-spectacular first impression of the craft show adventure.
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

  8. #8
    Senior Member paulettepoe's Avatar
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    I believe that crafts shows and such have gone the way of the 8 track player. People are more interested in buying NEW, and not hand made. Also, most craft tables dont take plastic. I have noticed what you learned for quite a number of years now.
    Some people visit paradise, I live there.

  9. #9
    Super Member 0tis's Avatar
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    I have only been involved with a few craft fairs - (I am in a very rural location) - its always hit or miss with me too. Last time I was determined to sell everything - so I priced everything completely at my cost - you could not find a lower price - I think I sold maybe 4 or 5 items - nothing big - everyone around me had the same problem. I think craft fairs around outdoor events or festivals are probably better or waiting until the holidays in the fall is best. Just keep trying - it will work out when you find the right craft fair.

  10. #10
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alisonquilts View Post
    I was a vendor at a craft fair today organized by a local lady in the next town over from mine. There were 70 vendors (!), the weather was great, we were inside a nice building with lovely amenities and good parking...and everyone's sales were abysmal. I made four sales, all to friends. The ladies at the tables around me made one or no sales...even the lady who organized the whole thing didn't sell anything! There were lots of people wandering around looking at stuff, but only the two cupcake vendors seemed to be moving any product. (Mmmm...cupcakes.)

    This was my first craft fair, so I don't have anything with which to compare today. There were lots of different types of crafts available, most of them looked like good quality stuff, and there wasn't an overload of any one kind of craft - people just weren't buying. I didn't really pay that much attention to how this event was advertised. I told my friends about it, none of whom at heard of it through any media sources. This may have been the real problem - not enough marketing. (This was also the first year for this event.)

    I am posting this rather dismal note so that anyone who is gearing up for a craft fair in the near future can try getting the word out about it a little more aggressively than I did. And good luck!

    Alison

    Our local papers have a section for community activities where you can tell about your event without having to buy advertising space. Check around for next time. Some radio and TV stations do the same. Hang info sheets at the grocery stores that have community bulletin boards.
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  11. #11
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    sorry it went badly...but it is the timing...graduations, summer vacations, or here it is harvest time...later in the summer, during festivals is better or definitely the fall shows! Keep trying and make sure TONS of publicity is being done!

  12. #12
    Super Member dellareya's Avatar
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    I have to agree with paulettepoe. Craft shows have been on the down slide around here for the last couple of years. The biggest portion of people who come to the shows are in fact crafters.

  13. #13
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    My sister and I used to do craft shows several years ago. She made jewelry and I did sewn items. At first we did well, then it started to go down hill. The shows were before Christmas. One year there were 3 shows in my home town on the same weekend and the admission was very reasonable. We thought it would be a great weekend. Sold very little and there were tons of people going through. That was the last show I ever did. The booth next to us had hand made wooden toys, very reasonably priced and he sold NOTHING. We felt very bad for him. As it was we made only a little over the cost of the booth. Now if I go to a craft show, it is to see new things that I can copy.
    Sue

  14. #14
    Super Member Annaquilts's Avatar
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    Yes, this!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jackie Spencer View Post
    I used to have my own small business making purses, bags, totes, table runners, wall hangings etc. The only time I ever did any good at bazaars or craft shows was in the Fall just before Christmas.
    Anna Quilts

  15. #15
    Member cosyjo's Avatar
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    I've been told not to even try spring time craft fairs. Also always check the foot traffic and the years the show has been established. Keep small inexpensive items as well as your large beautiful items so as to lure in the shoppers.
    Sometimes Kids can be your best friend calling their mother over to look at a pot rag or bag.

  16. #16
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=cosyjo;5199501Sometimes Kids can be your best friend calling their mother over to look at a pot rag or bag.[/QUOTE]

    Yes, always have something to catch the eye of a child and teen. I put a poster of Taylor Swift on a big baking sheet, sit it on an easel and put quilted magnets around it. I got every teen girl and her mom in the show to the guild sale table. You have to think outside the norm for marketing.
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  17. #17
    Super Member Tink's Mom's Avatar
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    I"ve done craft shows for years....and yes, spring shows are always lower in income than the fall shows...but, if the promoter didn't do her/his job and do plenty of advertising, the show is doomed.
    Take a photo of your display...Analyze your photo and be critical...BellaBoo is right...marketing is the key. Never have things just displayed flat on a table...an item has to catch the customer's eye as they are walking...they don't walk with their heads looking down on a table.
    Try another show...this one could be a fluke.
    Good luck...
    Tink's Mom (My name is really Susie)

  18. #18
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    I have found that the craft fairs in the beginning of the year are just for 'lookers', even the ones that have been around a long time. It is the fall fairs that everybody buys at. They have run out of time to get their projects done so grab some of yours..... If I do the spring fairs I usually only take things that you use everyday. I make hanging towels and they are my number 1 seller.

  19. #19
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    I would be willing to buy patterns or directions for some of the items I might see - rather than the item itself.

    One thing I do buy - the crocheted pot scrubbers made of nylon (or polyester?) mesh.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray View Post
    I would be willing to buy patterns or directions for some of the items I might see - rather than the item itself.

    One thing I do buy - the crocheted pot scrubbers made of nylon (or polyester?) mesh.
    That's all I buy also. Think I would learn to make them myself!

  21. #21
    Senior Member Maresan's Avatar
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    Well I'll be interested in seeing what happens when I participate in a craft fair at the beginning of June. It's one that is a regular one in another town and it will be interesting to see if anything sells. I enjoy making my things anyway and can always give them away as gifts if the venue doesn't work out.

  22. #22
    Super Member ptquilts's Avatar
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    It's a good idea to ask the organizers how they will be promoting the craft fair. Are they spending any money on ads?

  23. #23
    Power Poster Sadiemae's Avatar
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    I think part of the problem with the craft fairs in our area is that the items are the same year after year. Another part of the problem at this time is the economy. People simply don't have the extra money to spend.
    Sadiemae

  24. #24
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    Don't lose heart. I etch glass for sale at craft fairs. I am still doing quite well but some shows are a bust, despite a lot of advertising. A lot of times it depends on how close the nearest holiday/event is. I did well at a show just before Valentine's Day but everyone did poorly at a show in the same location a month later. But, I have had calls from the March show so got custom work out of the bad show.

    I have another craft fair on Saturday, the day before Mother's Day, and hope it will be busy. It is an established show in a busy shopping mall so should do well.

    Over the years you will figure out which shows do well for you and which don't. Also, ask other vendors which shows they do well at. Vendors are happy to share, as a rule.

    This is my third year at this but the first year I am doing a lot of events. I am to the point that show organizers are coming to me. But, yes, there are still shows at which I wonder why I bother.

  25. #25
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    I do one craft show a year, local, indoors in a building mall where there are restaurants and few shops open. The show is held on Sunday with the advantage of people having brunch are likely to walk around and see what's for sale. It's in the fall and people are thinking holidays. I usually do pretty well, at least enough to satisfy me and make some money for more fabric (of course). You'd think Mother's Day season would be good but I've heard that isn't the case. Plus there has to be advertising - local newspapers, flyers, word of mouth. Notices on public bulletin boards like the supermarket. Hope your show happens again with better results.

    A friend said in her experience the people who look and say "you do beautiful work" don't buy and son of a gun, I noticed she was right. So just smile, answer questions, and hope for better. Wish you good luck for next time; try it at least once more.

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