Thursday, February 21, 2008

Selling Crochet Part 1-Cart Before the Horse

For the next couple of weeks, I'll be sharing my experiences and suggestions on how to sell crochet for a profit.

First off: Craft Shows, Art Shows, Outdoor Markets, Flea Markets and Craft Malls...

Too many people believe they should try to sell what they like to crochet, only to discover that they don’t crochet what other people want to buy.

Research your area first and see what will sell.

You can’t give scarves away in my part of Texas- ok so that needs some clarification... I know lots of ladies who stitched thin little scarves from fuzzy, furry, sparkly yarn to give as gifts, and the recipients all loved them. But the stitchers gave them away; they did not try to sell the scarves.

For my part of Texas, all winter hats must be in camo colors for the hunters or local school colors, or college team colors or the Dallas Cowboy colors. Yes, I know we have several other professional sports teams but the only colors I see folks wear are the Cowboys Colors. Texas professional sports teams colors... Spurs... Black and Silver/White. Rockets.... Red, White and Black... OH, like the Texas Tech Raiders.... nope sorry, the Blue, silver-gray and white of the Cowboys is unmistakable. I digress....

Other small pieces do sell, but only if they were the same as Wal Mart's prices, and only if you have such a huge assortment that they can eventually find one the in color and style they like.

Baby blankets sell well, but only if you have one of every color, in every style of blanket you make, and you sell them for a price that barely covers the cost of the yarn.

See, in my part of Texas, just about everybody crochets, knits or knows someone who does. Most folks have seen so much crochet, that it has no ‘value’ to them... most folks have given more than one afghan to the pets that great aunt martha or granny crocheted for them, and they still have a piece of crochet on each bed and on a rack in the living room for watching TV.

How do you find out what will sell in your area?

You have to go to events, look at what folks are buying, and carefully talk to buyers to ascertain their general 'price range.'

Look at numerous craft shows; numerous craft malls; look at flea markets, too. I have had the best results when I visit these places on their Busiest Shopping Days. You will get the most information on what is selling, only when the place is busy.

It’s been my experience that Craft Malls and Flea Markets do the majority of their business on the First Saturday of the month. That is when folks have the most money to spend, since they tend to run out of paycheck before the end of the month. The one monthly Art Show my town has, is held on the 1st Saturday of each month. The gargantuan flea market in Canton, Texas is held the weekend before the First Monday of the month... which usually includes the 1st of the month when all government support and military checks are issued.

For Craft Shows, Saturday is the best day to talk with customers and see what they are buying. Friday afternoon shows, don’t get the professional folks who must work; Sundays tend to be when folks are resting or doing the family thing after church.
With that said, Craft Show Sundays do have a specific type of shopper: they come after they have had lunch following morning church service. They know what they want, what they can spend, and don’t waste time browsing. You can easily spot them because they are in Church clothes and they walk purposefully, quickly giving each booth a ‘once-over glance.’ If this is a good Craft Show, these folks will leave with several bags of merchandise from several vendors.

Spend several hours at a sales venue; this will give you a better idea of how strong a following it has; ie, how many customers will visit each time the show/market is held.

Do you see customers leaving a Crochet Booth with a purchase, or do they just look and walk away? Do you see a particular booth with lots of customers looking, or waiting to enter because it’s so crowded? When you see a busy booth, check it out.

First of all, what item is generating all the interest? Maybe it is something that you can create using crochet, or add crochet to it for a unique twist.

What are the crochet booths offering? What is their price range? This vendor may be selling lots of crochet, because their prices are artificially cheap. They are not making it themselves; they are importing it from a third world country whose peasants are paid pennies for each piece they complete.

Talk to customers at these places, You can hold a piece and say, ‘Isn’t this just lovely?!’ And usually the other customer will say, yes, and then offer their personal opinion: it’s too expensive or I have too much crochet.... regardless what they say, you gain information and knowledge.

Don’t be afraid to be friendly and talk to folks, that is the best way 'subtley discover' what they are buying and how much they will spend on it. Act like a fellow customer, and most folks will tell you anything you respectfully ask them.

I’ll offer more techniques on what to say to folks at craft shows, to get the information you want, in the next few days.

Tomorrow’s Post: You Be The Judge and Jury


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1 comment:

Elo said...

Hello Arnie!
Thank you so much for your tips!
I live in Miami, and tomorrow I'll visit some flea markets!
I love crafts (sewing, crocheting, painting, knitting...) but I want to make some money... (this is my problem).
Thank you and hope to give you good news about my experience at flea markets!
Take care
Elo