Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The In's and Out's of Craft Shows

Before places like Etsy, Ebay, or Handmade on Amazon the internet was a difficult place to navigate for the small crafter. It required scouring online forums, and making poorly made websites with equally poorly running third party websites. Overall the best way to get your business going was through word of mouth, and the best way to do that was craft fairs!

Craft fairs are a fun rewarding experience that has embraced the upcycling movement with full force. There are a wide variety of craft fairs from small local parties to big convention style spaces. Some are holiday themed, and others are just to encourage small businesses. As a child I frequently went to craft fairs with my mother who at the time was a crafty stay-at-home-mom with and itch to sell. When I was little I was bored and most likely a pain to my mom as she tried to work, but as I grew older I learned to appreciate the effort that goes into running a booth at one of these bad boys. While it can seem intimidating at first though fear not! For it can be a good experience overall as long as you prepare before hand.

A great article to read before diving face first into a craft fair is this one written by Patrice Luis from Handmade Business.

The article gives some great tips on going to your first craft fair, and what to do to prepare. As I said before there are tons of different types of fairs, so its important to know what your clientele is, and your experience level in selling. If you've just started making upcycling jewelry, and are looking to sell then a small local fair would be a great start! Jewelry is also something that can easily be modified if a holiday is coming up making it a great option for holiday fairs as well. My mother primarily went to Christmas craft fairs to sell upcycled Christmas ornaments, and they can get packed very fast primarily because many people who go wait all year to do so. Someone selling upcycled furniture may have a more difficult time, and wish to wait for a fair that involves more general craftsmanship.

Almost all fairs require a booth fee when apply, and this can vary depending on size and popularity of the fair. Always take into account the cost of the booth when factoring in how much you hope to sell. If the booth cost $100, but you only sold $40 worth of small goods then you made a net loss of $60. You can't use the excuse of, "I handed out a lot of business cards, so it was worth the money," because half of those people will most likely forget about your booth the next day. Just as you would with a store front taking into the cost of rent make sure that you can afford a small loss if things don't go as planned!

Another great point the article brings up is how to interact with customers. The internet has created a barrier between the consumer and producer making it less up close and personal. The downside is that now you have to really talk and show off your product instead of just typing a few paragraphs and posting some photos. On the bright side you get to converse with your customers, and not only sell your product, but you as a seller as well. Of course its important to not bombard every person who comes to your booth with information, but at the same time do not stand awkwardly or evening ignoring the customer. Greet them! Maybe crack a joke or two, but don't pressure them into buying. A customer will make up their own mind in due time, and if you hover over them they may decide to leave.

Overall the craft fair experience is a rewarding one, but of course not without its downsides. Craft fairs often only cater to the local community, and it can be difficult to get into conventions. The combination of local craft fairs and online business is a great way to kick off your upcycling dreams. Plus its always good to be able to pass our business cards and say, "You can always check out our website as well! We sell online!"


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