Sunday, February 24, 2008

Part 4- You get what you pay for- right?

In this series of blog posts, I’m offering my experience on trying to sell finished pieces at craft shows, so you can learn from my mistakes.

Don’t base your decision on whether to do a craft show/flea market/ art show, etc...based solely on the cost of the Rent. I’ve done some really cheap events, that had great turn out, and lots of folks buying merchandise.

Although I’ve never done a really expensive show, I have attended them as a customer and crochet vendors were only selling enough to cover expenses.

Don’t forget to include the other expenses for a weekend show like lodging, food, gas to-and-from the event. An inexpensive show that forces you to ‘live out of a hotel room’ for a weekend, makes the cheap booth rent no so cheap.

Is the booth rent cheap enough that you can afford to loose that money?

Expensive booth rent isn't always a sign of a good show. A lack of advertising can completely kill a show, and expensive booth rents usually mean lots of advertising.

As I mentioned in "You be the Judge', lots of advertising for the event cannot guarantee a good turn out, nor can it guarantee that actual buyers will show up (instead of Look Lous), nor will it guarantee that they will buy your crochet instead of the tacky bird house made from milk jugs.

You need to be prepared to loose that money should that be the weekend customers decide to spend their money elsewhere or spend their money on other things besides your crochet.

We have a 'juried' craft show in my hometown that gets tons of paid advertising and local media coverage, because the craft show is part of the winter Rendezvous hosted at our local Frontier Fort. All entry fees into the compound support the restoration efforts of the fort. The Rendezvous is the first weekend of December, the height of holiday buying season.

This is a huge weekend affair with historical re-enactors in costume and chuck wagon cook-offs, and cannon's shooting and buffalo soldiers, all of the Forts on the Texas Forts Trail bring living historians in military costume and they all do flag raising drills and horse maneuvers.

This craft show has everything going for it: entertainment for the kids- while mom shops, lots of vendors with lots of products, it’s at the height of holiday giving season...but too much activity can distract shoppers from actually buying things.

I usually visit this show, simply because there are so many other activities going on. I've heard folks say they sold out on the first day of this show, and yet, I've been there (more times than not) when you could fire off a 21-gun salute and not hit a single customer.

Even though the organizers claim that 30,000 people come to the event, $450 for an 8x10 foot booth, is not worth the risk for me, especially when the building is not climate controlled and does not have indoor plumbing... remember this is in an Old Frontier Fort.

I actually participated in this show as a ‘sutler’ in the historical re-enactor section ($75 rent & you must supply your own tent). A friend brought her tent that we set up by ourselves. The weather was beautiful on Saturday, and the customer traffic was the best I had seen in 10 years.

Sunday, we had the worst winter storm in 5 years hit, which killed all potential sales that day.... the day when most folks with money like to shop.

My friend made about $300 with her historically accurate jewelry, that she sold mostly to re-enactors. I barely covered my costs for the weekend selling my crochet books to customers. For the amount of work I had put into that show... I considered it a dismal failure.

Even if you have done your year of market research, it is still a gamble; and you must be prepared to loose that money. Only you know what your financial situation is and whether a high priced booth rent is worth the gamble.

Tomorrow’s Post: Why is that kitten sleeping in a Muffin Hat?

© Angela ‘ARNie’ Grabowski 2008. All rights reserved. For more crochet fun, visit
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