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Craft fairs and Garden Junk

Posted by toomuchglass 53172 (My Page) on
Mon, Oct 25, 10 at 18:01

I know this really isn't the time of year to find Garden Junk at Craft fairs , so I shouldn't complain .... but I will anyway ! LOL I haven't gone to a fair for so long - I went to 2 this weekend and was looking forward to finding new & interesting things . New ? -- NOTHING ! Exciting ? - NOTHING ! I was so disappointed. More than half of the booths at each fair was jewelry. It's beautiful , but how much jewelry can one look at before it all looks the same?
Most of the rest was knitted/crocheted/sewn things. Lots of baby things -- AND aprons ( they're making a comeback I guess. )I know I'm a dreamer , like making redneck chic stuff ..... If I was younger & had more energy - I'd hold a craft fair that was nothing but hand made "UpCycled" stuff. I think something like that would blow the craft fairs out of existence ! LOLOLLL
I'm sorry I keep posting 'my dreams' ...heheh....

But I swear - craft fairs are actually getting boring .Have you gone to any ?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

Hi,
I actually was in a craft fair this past Sat. at a church. It was my first and I know it isn't the gardening time of year. It was only a 5 hour show and yes, so much jewelry and all of the things you said above. I got a raving review of my plate flowers and plate/bowl bird feeders, but only sold 4 total pieces. But I am not discouraged, I loved the response I got. No one had ever seen or heard of the flowers or totems before and loved them. So I am trying again in a couple of weeks. I am sharing a booth with a lady I met right next to me at this past fair. She sells jewelry. :-) We hit it off and she is just beginning too. So we decided to share a booth and see what happens.

There was another booth this last Sat. that had crocheting, paintings and a couple of old windows redone, but she didn't sell any of the windows. So we'll see what happens in couple of weeks. I haven't been to a craft fair in years and didn't know what to expect. So I guess I will know more after the next one. It is a 2 day, much larger than the one I was just in.

So I guess I will take a few other things I have been working on and see what happens.


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

You just have to keep trying until you find your niche and people beging to look for you. I sell hypertufa troughs and it took a while, but it came together with a few false starts and now it has been a great way to make some extra money and learn new things. You can do it!


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

I'm in the L.A. area & not many Boutiques or Fairs around selling gift items. GK's school sold stuff couple years back but missed last years if they had one, several complained about all the jewelry & jams made by a company & couple of other things trying to act like they were handmade. Out of 20-30 booths I think there were less than 5 that had handmade stuff. None of it for the garden. A lot of churches or church schools used to have the boutiques but don't see them any more. Most women have to work & economy has tanked in last couple of years. We have highest unemployment rate in U.S. 12.6 % in L.A. county, everyone is hanging on to what little money they have.(even at yard sales). Went shopping yesterday & couldn't believe all the closed stores. Got gas today & the Builder's Supply is locked up, hope it is just illness & not going under as they have been there for probably 50 years! I saw a Craft Fair in paper for last weekend at a park, but I think it was mostly artist's that do paintings & sell them, nice if you need more art. Jan


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

We set up a booth at the Farmer's Market in our town.
Rules are "NO" commercial items.
We were sandwiched in between 2 corn on the cob booths.
Across from us were the baby blankets, kitchen towels, hot pad type things and down the row, soaps, honey and more corn and garden veggies..
We did sell a few plate flowers and people liked my garden junk..
but not much spending going on there either..


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

There's not a lot new around here either. I went to two shows and both were plant sales so most of the vendors had garden items. Still saw plenty of beaded necklaces and bracelets though.

I did see some great birdhouses one guy had made. As far as upcycled glass there were some plate flowers and garden stakes. The ones posted here are a lot nicer though. No totems so there might be a niche.

One vendor had strung beads on those wire hanging basket holders. They looked nice, but were very uniform looking and were $8 for small and $10 for large. I'll probably take my leftover beads and do a less matchy-matchy version.

There were some Tufa planters, but they seemed small and were already planted. They also looked sort of ordinary so I think they needed some style to them like I see on other forums.

No mosaics, which was also a missing niche since tile mosaics are common here.

The best items were welded iron bottles trees and garden planters with iron vine trellis, but they were in a class by themselves.

We have 7% unemployment so the economy here has been pretty good compared to some areas, but it seems more and more small stores and restaurants are closing and then the shops stay empty.


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I went to a small town craft show this past Sat. & it was loaded with people! They advertise really good & have regulars coming back, etc. etc. Lots of variety...jewelry is popular & several booths...& they do well with Christmas coming & you can spend a reasonable amt for something you can use. Not many woodworkers there...we probably could have done ok if we had signed up ...not much gardening but it's out of season here now, too...one lady did do the glass beads/wire & was featured in a local newspaper for her art...was beautiful work,too!

But I came home with a "bittersweet wreath" & some very inexpensive Indian corn that I am going to try to make that wreath you posted, 2much. So I was happy! My hog panel arbor has bittersweet vines all over it ...but no blossoms this yr...I planted male & female...so hoping next yr, maybe! I hung this wreath over my candleholder on pillar. Jeanne S.

Bittersweet CloseUp 10.10


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I used to do craft fairs years ago and gave it up because people who could make something very small and inexpensively made all the money. For example, the tiny "pets" made from a small terry washcloth and a piece of ribbon sold for $3 and she made 500 of them. She sold them all. Anyway she said she made them.

Another lady made edible mushrooms, frogs and bees out of merengue. Then she dried them in the oven for an hour and painted a few details on them with food color. She sold them for $3 each and she sold all that she had made. She said that she had about 1000. She said she made those too, they were strangely uniform in size and markings.

Another crafter had small salt dough Christmas ornaments for $3 each and sold nearly all of them. Sadly, I had similar ornaments, but after drying in the oven and hand-painting I had additionally sealed mine with polyurethane and tied on a little red or green ribbon. I had a $5 price on mine and only made about $75. in a two day sale.

Then as I was packing up to leave, one of the crafters started asking me some questions and while I was diverted someone else stole my tabletop display Christmas tree. Obviously the magical price was $3 and many of the crafters made sure they didn't have any competition from upstart newcomers in their group. Including using a Christmas tree to display ornaments.

One of the criteria when you signed up to have a booth was that you had to provide examples of your crafts and had to state what the price was going to be on the application. Then you were locked into that contract and not allowed to lower the price to be more competitive. Nor could you introduce a new item at the sale that had not already been approved by the organizers even if it was unique.

It was a perfect setting (or setup) by the organizers to lure new crafters and then undersell them. This tactic did two things for the organizers, the application fee was $50 and yet they paid only $100 per day for the hall rental at a church so they cleaned up on the application fees from 70 crafters, which I imagine they kept and divvied up among themselves. Secondly, they filled the hall with dozens of beautiful crafts and craft ideas which many of them in subsequent years copied and then disallowed those crafters who first created them. Visiting their sales in the out years, I began to see the pattern.

I was living in Denver at the time and this was the standard practice in many of the crafting groups there. It was a shaft and I fell in head first...a couple of times! If the craft fairs have stagnated, tough noogies for them.

People with true creative ability don't sit around thinking of ways to steal ideas from other creative people. They might see a unique idea and then adapt it, change it, embellish it and produce a work of art that only vaguely resembles the original work. That's creativity. I've been wrong plenty of times and maybe I'm wrong this time too, but if a craft fair has nothing to offer but cheap plastic jewelry made in China you know why. You just know.

Cheryl
(just a bit cranky today)


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

Cheryl, That sounds like a pretty awful group. It's very helpful insight into how some craft fairs work and definitely something to look out for if someone here decides to set up a booth for the first time.

I really did wonder about the beaded plant hangers because they all looked exactly alike, just different colors. They were even in plastic sleeves. The vendors were supposed to be displaying their own work and most were.

jeannespines - The bittersweet wreath is pretty and it would be great to find inexpensive indian corn. I'm waiting until it goes on clearance.


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

I'm going to be showcasing my garden totems in a couple weeks at our garden club's annual Holiday Harvest. This will be my first experience at craft shows, so I'm not sure what to expect. There will be 25+ vendors in attendance selling anything from plants, jewelry, casseroles, home accessories, etc. I'm also going to create a few smaller items for those shoppers who are budget conscious. Any suggestions from the experienced? Thanks!!


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

mary...the sale you are participating in MUST be advertised really well...that is the key ... & using the same date each yr is a bonus, too...cause people will know it's a yearly craft show.

Small plant stakes of some sort may be a seller because your very lovely totems I know will be high $$$ for some. DH & I have done craft shows (a couple each yr) & find that you need your prices to really vary! We now do Farmer's Market & no craft shows...we're retired so we've enjoyed doing the summer Sat's at FM. We still go to several crafts shows for new ideas & to spend a few bucks! Business cards are always a good idea to have sitting on your table.

Sorry to hear about the bad experiences from some on here. Most of our craft shows, the booth rental fees go to groups of non-profit organizations...so the money goes back into the community or to a good cause. So I cheer those who take the initiative to continue organizing...I've been the chair committee before & it is alot, alot of work! Good luck, Mary! Jeanne S.


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

sunnyCA will be in LA over the Christmas holiday any scheduled craft fairs in your area that late in the year?

jeannespines what a nice picture.

As an artist I usually distance myself from criticizing the creativity of others but that is different from complaining about the preponderance of jewelry at these venues. It is not the jewelry per se, it is the influx of mass-production jewelry (from China mostly) that turns me off.

Janie (my DW) and I visited the Reno/Sparks Rib cook-off and found the same general lack of real hand made items. I was especially angered by several booths selling rusted garden art items, especially those rock and rusted metal pieces that had been mass produced to look hand-made - they were the same as the ones we saw at California State Fair earlier in the year - URRRGH! But we did find a man selling painted, wooden, garden signs: they looked home-made so we bought one. It seemed so apropos too.
Photobucket

BTW,The ribs were GREAT!
Robert


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

I have signed up for craft shows, back to back at the beginning of Nov. I did EXTREMELY well last year compared to years before. I some hand made & some commercial things & I shared 2 booth spaces with a friend. I made $600 between the 2 shows.

This year, I plan on having much more hand made items as I did good by starting in Jan.

It is true that the small $1-$5 items sell well because people are trying to buy as much stuff as they can on the sometimes limited income they have. I admit that I don't always have that much in that range, but don't do too bad on some of the higher ticket items. I would love to be working on garden stuff for these sales, but I know that they won't sell during this time of year. Shoot, sometimes I have hard time selling Christmas stuff because people don't want to have to think about it even in Nov., let alone selling a gazing ball or glass flower for their garden that just died from the frosts.

Jewelry does seem to be flooding the craft shows, because it was a hit a few years ago, but people are tired of seeing that stuff by now. I occasionally buy some, but I don't wear that much anymore since I don't work in an office anymore.

I have been working on wooden thread spools today & making them into ornaments. I THOUGHT they would be something quick to make, but I have a tendency to overthink stuff & make them too foo-foo-ey, therefore, they're taking longer to make than I hoped. LOL!! Ornaments are my $1-$3 items. I am doing lots of recycled items this time around with ceramic tile, plates, silverware & I even have a home decor item made from a cabinet door I found at Habitat. It will be priced at $35 minimum.

My friend & I catch a lot of flack from the other vendors at these shows too because everyone flocks to our booth & not theirs. One year, some poor lady didn't sell one thing & she spent $50 for the booth. She was selling the crochet dolls & toilet paper covers & a few ornaments. I think she would have been better off selling doilies. I would have bought those.

Last year, there was a lady that always sells food stuff, but she didn't do well that time & she had the nerve to tell me that she told the head person for the show that they should not allows my friend and I, or anyone else, to use the stage (where we were located) because it wasn't handicap accessible. I politely informed her that there was a ramp on the other side of the stage. She never left her seat during the entire 6 hour show. Her food is produced from a commercial kitchen that she had built on her farm, but I'm not sure she does the cooking, since referred to her "staff" one time.

There is tough competition for these shows & sometimes they're just a commercial vendor get together.


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

I did a craft fair type event two years in a row. It was in a tourist town and I crafted some original items geared toward the tourists. I did pretty good the first year. The second year my ideas were copied and I didn't do as great. I went back and looked the third year and my ideas were still big sellers.

I've thought about doing another event some time just for the fun of it, but I haven't found anything to catch my interest yet. I've turned my talents into making things for the kids.


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

club 53:I am interested in making hypertufa containers. Do you have a good "recipe", hints, what you use for forms?
It sounds like you found your niche.


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Craft fairs

r murray- I think Christmas week is probably too late but sometimes a church or club has never done 1 before & you just might luck out. I look in the want ad section of paper in The Daily News or L.A. Times may have a section of "Happenings" Also sometimes by the churches there is what is happening this weekend & they have list: Boutique or Craft Fair or Holiday Gift sale. Want ads in Daily news can't make up their mind what to call them & I saw couple in church listing area. Most years the sales have been mid Oct. to around 10th of Dec. Lady that had crocheted dolls & toilet paper covers probably made same things for 20 years. You have to come up with new thingsat least every couple of years unless your items are very unique.Otherwise you lose your customers to others who update, not many of us want a handmade stuffed duck pillow, they are very dated or crocheted candle! Times change & you have to too! Jan


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

I've done shows for many years and am in the middle of a 6 straight weekend run - this Sat. will be #4 for me this fall season 3 more to go after this one! (I get a few week break before my last one) I've never had the experience of seamommy - most shows these days welcome new vendors with open arms because there aren't that many vendors left out there with the economy the way it is. The days of "waiting lists" and "full shows" are pretty much over. I do agree that the $1-$5 range is the best seller, hands down. In the fall/winter/Christmas season I sell survival kits, gag gifts and accordion scrapbooks - my most expensive item is $12 - most in the $1 - $2 range except scrapbooks which are $6 and $8 each. You're not going to get rich doing this - the key is to keep your prices affordable. I know I could probably get $10-$12 for my scrapbooks, but I'd sell a lot less and my hobby happens to be making them, so I like to keep my inventory moving. Also, I've found the more you have of an item, the more you sell. People like variety and when you get down to that last item, it will sit there forever - may as well donate it or keep it for seed for next year!

For spring shows I sell garden themed things, most of you know I sell my fairy gardens, fairy houses, nature themed crafts. I do a huge show at a garden center near me and I pretty much clean house there, it is awesome! Again the key is keeping prices reasonable, but the MAIN KEY is to have something unique and different than the other 100 vendors. Hard to do, but pays off well! People are sick of the same old items, I hear it time and time again at shows. It's a nice compliment when customers tell me I have the best booth at the show even though there are top dollar vendors there with high priced items. (they are mostly the ones glaring at me as I take in money all day and they just sit behind their table with a scowl on their face.)

Another huge KEY is to find a well-established show - most first year shows are flops. I stay well away from those because of past experience. It takes years to get a reputation built up of being a good show and keeping it the same date every year and MUCH advertising helps. Even a sign out in the street a few weeks before the show and the day of the show is better than nothing, but hopefully some newspaper and radio advertisement is being done also. I've done shows where there's not even a sign out in the front - and they usually are huge flops. Pick a show that comes to your mind when you think "craft show" - one that's been around for years and you look forward to going to every year. Call the school or facility and get the organizers name and ask for an application. I try to only do large shows that have been on for many years (25 - 33 years, some I'm doing this season). The table fee may be more, but you are paying for their reputation of being a good show and it will be worth it in the end.

As far as success at a show - STAND UP and talk to people. Leave your cell phone in your purse, leave your magazines at home - even working on your craft won't work. You have to sell your product. I usually have a chair with me but rarely sit because the moment I sit down, I stop making money. If I stand up and appear friendly and demonstrate a scrapbook, I start making money. I've had other vendors tell me "you never sit down, aren't your feet tired?" YES, you betcha, I go home exhausted! But when I tell them "I make more money if I stand up" they look at me like I'm from Mars as they keep their butt plopped on their chair and never move it.

Anyway, sorry to be so windy, but hope I've offered a few tips. And yes, I agree, some shows should be called Jewelry Venues - I've even had customers complain to me how much jewelry is present at shows. Again, I think it is lack of other vendors and so the organizers are forced to allow all the jewelry just to get a full show.

I could talk on this subject all day but I will shut up now!
Arlene

Here is a link that might be useful: My photo site - has craft shows & fairy house folders


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

We don't have many shows around here. Although last year I did the yearly one we have at our community center. Mary, I took lot of totems and only sold a few, I did really well with bird feeders made from extra large(soup)cups and saucers glued to bud vases upside down. I sold them for $10.00 and $12.00. My biggest sellers was the hanging bugs that I make from votive cups, They were $10.00-$15.00. I ended up making around $430.00, which I was happy with since it was my first show. I totally agree with Arlene, you have to be up talking, showing and explaining your wares.
Frou
Photobucket
Votive Bugs


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

Wow! Arlene and Frou your booths look great and with such a full selection that it draws people in. Arlene, those fairy gardens are just delightful. I do think those garden stakes with the bud vases would sell well for people who want to buy something, but can't go with the totems or plate flowers.

Very helpful info from both of you too. I do tend to avoid booths that don't look inviting or have too much the same thing.

Mary is in Florida so this really is the season for garden stuff. I've been to two plant/garden art sales in October. I'm in Texas and we have two garden seasons,the other is early spring before the end of March. I do think those garden stakes with the bud vases would sell well for people who want to buy something, but can't go with the totems or plate flowers.

Now we're starting with the holiday markets, I haven't been to one in years so I don't know if garden art shows up there.


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

There are a lot of craft shows here this time of year. I really don't like participating in them, but I have to do a few throughout the year if I'm going to sell my wares. Tried the FM here, but it's slow for crafts. I did a garden fair in the spring and now I'm gluing like CRAZY getting ready for the annual big Nutcracker Craft Show here. It's a 4 day show. The show organizers run it. They are the cashiers so the vendors don't have to be there all the time or ever. Last year I did fairly well. There's always a wide variety of really nice handcrafted items. Probably would have done better if I had been there all day and into the evening, but I'd rather make less and let somebody else do the selling. This year I'm going to try to sell ALL my items because I've promised my husband I would quit the glass garden art hobby. He's so tired of the mess even though it's where he hardly ever sees it. I think I'll start with the prices I normally charge, then mark them WAY down the last 2 days. Actually I'm ready to try something else. Maybe mosaics...tufa...who knows. It's getting really hard for me to set up the heavy items, so I'm thinking something smaller. Any ideas out there?

I'll post pics when I can stop gluing long enough to use the camera.

Laura


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

  • Posted by pesky1 7, Pacific NW (My Page) on
    Fri, Oct 29, 10 at 2:00

I used to do craft fairs for years, but quit about 3 years ago when I changed jobs. I always had a VERY unique product, and I sold very well in certain venues. I found that anything with the word 'bazaar' in it was a flop for me (haha!)

Luvs2click gives excellent advice. I can't tell you how much I can't stand visiting a booth where the vendor is just sitting behind the table reading a book. I ALWAYS stood to the side of my booth and engaged customers, showing them how my product worked, telling stories, etc.

It is important to have inexpensive items on hand. My DH used to make concrete statuary and we sold it for many years at a local Saturday Market. We kept $5 stepping stones in stock. Cost us maybe .50 to make one, but we consistently sold 20-30 each week, in addition to all the other things we sold. We found that people might waffle on a $40 purchase, but they had no problem handing over a $5 bill.

And keep your booth display interesting! And SMILESMILESMILE and make eye contact with all lookieloos, too.

Our Saturday Market does a 2 day holiday market every year, it's the most popular event in the area, and they are limited to ONLY handmade. This year they set a limit on the number of jewelry and soap vendors...they must get 3 of those applicants to one of anything else. And, frankly, anybody who can string beads or curl wire thinks they have a hit. There's just waaay too much saturation for that stuff.


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

More fantastic advice from the masters. I'm taking notes!!! Thanks again everyone.


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

I second that --- great advice & great stories. The best way to find a good fair is to go to one & ask the sellers - they'll be more than happy to tell you which ones are good and which ones are bad. I swear - Garden Junk & Upcycled things is a niche that no one has done much of yet . I really wish I'd see more of it.The next fair for me to go to is Nov.6th. I'll be taking notes !


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

Wow, such great advice from everyone! And the stories about some organizers and other vendors is just awful; hard to believe people can be like that!

I'm doing two craft shows next month and mainly concentrating on garden-related gift items. I'm selling the following: button bouquets in altered bottles & vases for about $4-$5; mini garden signs $2; garden-girl necklaces $8; some bigger signs for $3-$5; mini dish/glass stands for $3-$5; plantmarkers $1; little seed sprinkle tins $2; garden magnets 50cents; chalkboard tags $2.50. You can see most of these on my blog, link below. Another piece of advice, in my opinion, is to put up signs that describe what you are selling and the price. A lot of "lookers" won't even pick-up an item to see how much it is for fear the seller (you) will be all over them and they would much rather be able to see how much something is just by glancing at it.

I'm hoping I do well but if not, will just chalk it up to experience. At my prices, I know I won't get rich but it is fun and I have an email sign-up list for people plus I'll pass out business cards with my blog and email address on it and hopefully slowly build-up a customer base.

I'll take pictures and post them after the craft shows and let you know how I did. Best of luck to everyone else doing shows!
Debbie

Here is a link that might be useful: Shabby Garden Creations


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

Here's a link to the amazing birdhouses I mentioned above.

Here is a link that might be useful: Birdhouses


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

Oh my word, those are masterpieces!


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

What a fabulous looking booth & beautiful stuff! And those birdhouses rock oak deer, nothing short of amazing!

I am the next person in line to agree with the others when they say to mingle with your customers in a sort of chatty, neighborly manner. Sometimes some things need a little explanation in either the design or thought behind it & some things just almost sell themselves with just a bit more of a nudge from you the seller.

You can bet that if you are selling something that is different & a good seller, someone next year will be copying your stuff & they'll be at the same show. I like to try to change things up from year to year, but still do some of the same things, just kickin' em up a notch, if you know what I mean.

Some of the reasons that one booth might do better than another is if you can find your stuff cheaper & sell it cheaper, your gonna make more sales. That's why I love refurbishing junk & GS finds. You have next to nothing in it & can turn it around & make a good chunk of change off it if you can think of the right thing to make it into.

One year, me & DH made some unique signs & was selling them for $20. No one bought a single one, but I had 3 men literally taking measurements & notes on how they were made. I never seen them being sold anywhere else, but I didn't sell them either, only to friends & personal acquaintances.

i wish everyone that's doing craft shows this year all the best of luck - we're gonna need it!


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Oiy, you guys are making me nervous now! I'm set to share a booth with a friend on the 20th. My first craft show.... I usually make totems or bowling balls and she thinks that I should sell them. (she has more confidence in my skills than I have, apparently! wonderful friend!!!) Anyway, since it is a Christmas Bazaar, I didn't think yard stuff would sell very well. I've made two bowling balls, a mosiaced vase/wine cooler, and a number of cupcake stands. And, don't shoot me, jewelry. BUT, my jewelry is made from upcycled stuff, t-shirts, bits of plates mixed with pieces of old jewelry, etc.
I'm excited to do it, to meet new people (and see what everyone else is selling!!!) but I'm very anxious too!!
Good luck to everyone, I absolutely love seeing the stuff that people have made, not commercially produced items, and when its repurposed items, I love it even more!!!


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RE: Craft fairs and Garden Junk

Very interesting thread!
I had a fantasy of our garden club having a garden craft show. But maybe it would be too hard to get going. I guess we could piggy back onto the farmers market, but I would love us to have our own thing.
Very shocking to hear that some organizers get people in then steal their ideas and don't allow them the next year.
I am making copies/updates of 1940s and 50s "cheap" but very cute ornaments for myself and thought I could sell them someday. We'll see. Its sounds like I should make an enormous amount and try to sell all at once.
Thanks everyone for all the advice, and beautiful pictures.
Has anyone done a neighborhood craft show?
Kathy


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