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Thread: What to make to sell at craft shows?

  1. #1
    Super Member Central Ohio Quilter's Avatar
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    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!

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Little RoO's Avatar
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    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
    http://www.quiltingboard.com/tutoria...s-t144848.html

  3. #3
    Senior Member lvaughan's Avatar
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    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.

    Linda

  4. #4
    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    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
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    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
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    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.
    Diana

  7. #7
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    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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    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
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    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
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    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.....

  11. #11
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    Maybe you can make a lot of small items that will price well, make-up bags, pot holders, table runners, tissue holders, change purses, pin cushions, placemats, purses that aren't too costly to make, maybe a few small baby items might sell, people are always having babies like diaper covers, burp cloths, small security blankets. These are things i could see being priced low enough to sell. I do agree with having seasonal stuff depending on the time of year. Lori had some awesome ideas to sit down and write up a plan

  12. #12
    Junior Member SherryCat's Avatar
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    I did craft shows for about 5 years....silk floral arrangements. Keep in mind, also, if you go out of town, there is the cost of hotel, food and gas. If it is an outdoor show, you will need a good tent and the means of getting everything there. I had a small trailer we towed with my husbands truck. Good Luck!

  13. #13
    Super Member Tink's Mom's Avatar
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    i have done craft shows for over 20 years, too...Hen3rietta and Lori S have said almost all. I agree with everything they say. One thing...if you do an outside show...please make sure you weight down your tent...a gallon of water per leg is NOT enough...I have seen those tent rolling over the top of other tents.
    With indoor shows...don't have too many different different types of things in 1 booth ( floral, jewelry, quilted items). The customer can't decide what catagory you are and often walks past.
    The shows are not recovered yet from the recession...some are OK, others not good at all. I had one this year that I made the show fee back and my gas money...so, that means that I gave away my merchandise.
    Tink's Mom (My name is really Susie)

  14. #14
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    A friend takes old jeans and cuts them at the side seams, sews a wide ruffle around under where the crotch would be, puts a tie through the belt loops and sells them as aprons. Low price on them and they sell like hot cakes.

  15. #15
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    very seldom does a quilt sell at a craft fair---people wandering through a craft fair are not expecting (or prepared) to spend hundreds of dollars
    items that sell well tend to be between $5 & $20
    items like dishtowels with a quilted top (like the ones with crocheted tops for hanging)
    potholders, placemats, mugrugs, fabric bowls, totes, purses...
    there are many smaller items-
    unless you have a good stash to work from it is hard to really make any money- unless you are really fast- and don't have to invest much in materials.
    really check out your options when choosing craft venues to participate in- some you are lucky to make enough to pay for your space- others you may do quite well-
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  16. #16
    jlw
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    I just did two craft shows, and folks don't want to pay much for handmade items - too many quality items are imported now. Anyway, a couple things that folks were asking for (that I didn't have) - potato microwave bags (though I've always been concerned about flammability) and those little round jewelry bags that have pockets and close with a drawstring. You probably won't get your time out of it, but it may pay for your supplies.

  17. #17
    Senior Member pinkberrykay's Avatar
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    eReaders are a huge seller for Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes and Noble (Nook). Since everyone seems to have these now an eReader case should be a huge hit.

  18. #18
    Junior Member Brandi's Avatar
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    I would like to see some of her handy work. Can you post some pictures. Good idea.

  19. #19
    Super Member Pat625's Avatar
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    I was in the craft show circuit for 17 years, and had to give it up for a steady income and benefits when I got divorced. It is a rough market, especially with the imports and dollar stores. It seems people want a great baragain and it is hard to make money with quality items , because of the time input. I found the best items are usually impiulse cheap items that you can mass produce...I used to sell a lot os silly signs. These provided the bulk of my income, and the better quality higher priced items were like a "bonus"..Research your shows..You will pay top dollar for the good ones, and dont forget to figure in the gas, tolls, hotels etc in your expenses. Good luck to you. I loved my time in the business and made some great friends while doing shows. Unfortunately I can't speak for the economic status of shows now as I have been out of it for 12 years. I am recently out of work with disability, and really wish I could go back to doing shows.

  20. #20
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    Hey, just a thought... instead of doing shows, see if you can build a business doing t-shirt quilts. It has sparked an interest in almost everyone I have mentioned it to. You could work up a few samples to keep with you and take pictures of each of the ones you make to create a book or webpage for people to peruse. This would eliminate the need to pay for a booth, the gas to get there and the other associated costs. You could create a blog or page on-line so people could see your work and you could calculate costs based on the # of t-shirts/fabric and batting needed and complexity of quilting required. You could work at your own pace and the work times would be so much more flexible. Once you get going, I bet your name and reputation would spread like wildfire. Just a thought.

  21. #21
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    good tips/points by everyone..just remember now that our country and most states are broke, Uncle Sugar wants his cut and the TAX people are watching the internet like hawks...so any advertising of selling items now makes you a business and liable for sales taxes as a business. Craft shows will see lots more paper work this year as the local tax people hit them with forms for vendors. OK now makes you pay sales tax on your yard sale!
    So before you head into ANY form of selling be sure you do your homework for what you are liable for in your city/state as far as taxes go!

  22. #22
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    forgot to also mention COPYRIGHT issues. Before one decides to keep making tissue covers with embroidery on them, one must make sure that A- the pattern does not say NOT FOR RESALE, B- the fabric says "for home use only" and C- the embroidery pattern does not say "not to be used in mass production for resale"

    Same with any pattern you choose or any fabric you use.

    It is not as fun as it used to be to try and do shows any more! Especially when fabric, patterns and embroidery are concerned!

  23. #23
    Power Poster twinkie's Avatar
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    I have made several smaller items for sale at craft shows and flea markets but it is difficult to make much money on them. They typically sell well but not much profit. If you would like any ideas, please contact me thru PM. As for copyright issues, we have been told by a local attorney that once the material sells in the fabric store, the copyright no longer holds. He said the suit for copyright violation by crafters and quilters was thrown out in court. Don't know for a fact but there are many articles on it if you Google "Copyright". Thanks and good luck.
    Last edited by twinkie; 03-25-2012 at 04:15 AM.

  24. #24
    Junior Member railroad's Avatar
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    One of my friends has been making little fleece squares with ribbons of various sizes and satin, or grosgrain for babies. It's like a little "blanky" they can carry around. They have been very popular.

  25. #25
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    Do any of you crafters know of a place that sells the plastic bags in a variety of sizes for a descent price? On-line, of course? Thanks
    Last edited by stitchinwitch; 03-25-2012 at 05:16 AM. Reason: mispell

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