Tuesday, November 20, 2012

final two November 2012 craft shows

I had my final two November craft fairs on Saturday, November 10 and Sunday, November 18. As I've already written a couple craft fair posts this fall, I decided to wait and post about both shows together. Interestingly enough they were respectively my best and worst shows in terms of sales for the fall season so you get something of a comparison here.

This was the November 10 show. I have gotten really comfortable with my 2012 open square layout.

After my back to back November 3 and 4 shows during which I sold only a handful of button magnets, I had a wake up call that I needed to change something. During 2010 and 2011, they had their own display. When I started making glass magnets, I put them on the same display. I didn't think much of it, but it has definitely affected the button magnet sales. So I revamped part of my display for these two shows.

I've been planning to package my glass and bottle cap magnets like this forever and finally got around to putting some packages together and put them in their own display. I still have smaller sets as well in close proximity, as you can see here. A lot of people don't get that these are magnets when they are in sets as opposed to on the dry erase board display. I need to create some better signage for magnets my 2013 shows. With that aside, people still liked the packages, and I have sold a handful of the small and large sets.

In past years, I have had a much fuller button display and did again for the 18th show. This is what I had this weekend. I sold all but 15 or so of this selection.

My small items have done well this year, and I restocked pins and rings for this show. Most of what you see here sold during the day so I did some major restocking before the 18th.

In order to give the magnets packages their own display, I rearranged some of my jewelry. I am deeply conflicted about how much higher end jewelry I want to display for my 2013 shows. I don't want to cheapen my entire display and not showcase some of my jewelry making skills, but the bottom line is that I sell a very small amount of pieces at shows that are $35 or more. I don't see that changing any time soon. I think that it would be more beneficial to expand and showcase some of my less expensive ($10-$25) lines. I'd appreciate thoughts on this.

I have done this show the past two years and was excited to be back again. As I previously mentioned, it was my best show to date for the fall. We had steady traffic all but the final hour of the show, and I had a handful of people give me positive feedback about items the items that they purchased from me last year. All of the revamping for small items paid off and most of them did well at this show. I sold a decent number of larger items, too.

Having such a good show put me in high spirits for my November 18 show.
For those who wonder why my banner photos are never in the same arrangement, thanks to Velcro dots, they are removable. I simply take off the photos before I roll up my banner after each show. I don't have a set arrangement so it constantly changes.

My new friend Steve also vended at this show. At the last minute we were able to talk our way into neighboring booths.

Ironically enough, the other show that we had vended together at this fall was also one of our worst. It is always nice to have good company at shows, but it is especially nice when sales are terrible. The short of this show was that it was primarily filled with older clientele shopping from older clientele. A couple other 20 and 30 something vendors came over to us during the show to commiserate.

Meanwhile, since we didn't have a lot of sales, particularly in the afternoon, we had more time than usual for taking pictures.

It's been frustrating to have such a mixed bag of shows this year, but I have to keep reminding myself that I'm still very new to the Milwaukee scene. I have had some good shows that will be worth repeating next year and can add recommendations from fellow vendors. Hopefully each year I can keep taking it up another notch.

The other mixed blessing of not having a lot of sales is that I'm already well stocked for my final 2012 show, which will be in early December. I am looking forward to not spending time gluing lots of small ticket items during this holiday week.

How have your November shows been going?

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  1. Looks like a lot of work, but I've a feeling you're going to take it up a notch at each show. You're constantly accessing what works and what doesn't work. Excellent.

    Have a terrific day. :)

  2. I did 2 shows in November, in my target market and they were very slow, not alot of traffic and way too much jewelry, and mass produced items + handmade. I also am reviewing the benefits of carrying more affordable handmade jewelry and have got some ideas from people who stopped into my booth.

    I have 1 more show in December, but not sure how much I can do with my hand recovering from surgery.

    Your booth looks great.

  3. I think pricing must be the most difficult part of hand crafted items. I bought a beaded tennis bracelet from Beaded Tail and when my husband saw it he asked (suspiciously) "How much did that cost". When I told him how much I paid he said "She doesn't charge enough". I have a number of items from you and other bead work artists and I think I should have paid more! I don't think the buying public understands the intricacy of the work...I am fascinated by my new yellow bracelet I just got from you - I like looking at the way it was done and I love it's flexibility.

  4. I've noticed the same thing about magnets in sets. I used to have my "Memories for Life Scrapbooks" banner at the top of my packaging and people assumed they were scrapbook embellishments and didn't give them a second look. Once I changed that to the word "Magnets", I've sold a ton more of them! Goes to show how much shoppers don't pay attention...lol :)
    And I agree about the smaller ticket items. I sold a pretty good mix of high and low, but the smaller items have done well this year with people trying to stretch their dollars further.
    Good luck with your final show.

  5. I think you have the right approach by having a mix of differently-priced items...you always want to have something that people dream about. If they don't pick it up at the show, at least they can pick up your business card and visit your shop later.

    I had the same experience as you in November--two shows with two very different results. The first show was really successful, with people shopping till they were dropping (LOL). At the second show, I did not even make my booth fee. There were too few vendors, in my opinion, to make an impact, and there was no holiday atmosphere. The first sight that greeted visitors' eyes was two booths selling commercial merchandise--and one of those looked like thrift store clothing. Yuck.

  6. Your show set up looks great Rose! I know shows are a lot of work, I did one every month this year, and I have 2 more to go. Next year I am going to only do 4 higher end shows, it will be easier for me and hopefully I will make more money. I wish you luck on your final show for the season!
    Everyday Inspired

  7. I don't have a whole lot of experience with doing craft shows but I do know how much work goes in to doing them. Your set up looks great and glad to hear that you had a successful show for the first one.

  8. I hope you don't get rid of all your fabulous beadweaving at shows! It is my experience, if you're not at a high-end art show, people aren't willing to put out a lot of money... Always nice to have a friend at a show to pass the time with, esp. if you're not busy with sales! Hope the Dec. show is best! Oh, can you stick the whole package of magnets to a dry erase board? Will it stay? {:-D

  9. It's so frustrating that people at shows want to buy less expensive items but yet they're usually shopping for gifts and not for themselves. Once in awhile someone does recognize quality and makes up for it though. I hope you have better results for your December show! I have my one and only show on December 12th.

  10. Don't be too hard on yourself, Rose! Your tables are wonderful as always - I love the ring rack and the button display! Indeed, people tend to buy small items at shows like these with the cash they have on hand. People simply love browsing, but I'm sure those who have your business card will go and check you out online!

  11. Agreed- a bad show just means you're still finding your way around the city. As you say, each year you'll get better and better at knowing which ones are worth your time an which ones aren't. Also, I'm with you- it's SO key to have tons of low $ items for shows, but always hard to make room for those bigger ticket, show stopping items that you want to showcase but have little hope for sales. This year I've decided I'm only making a handful of larger stuff for my show- 3 messenger bags, and 7 smaller purses. I'll have a display board of fabric swatches for those who might want to order a certain style in a different color scheme. Have you considered bringing along a portfolio of your work with just a handful of "live" examples? This way people who are really interested could order online or order a custom item.

  12. I used to do some craft shows, but I apparently have no ability to figure out what people will actually like. Glad you do well most of the time!

  13. Some valuable information here, Rose. Thanks for sharing the in-depth decisions you have to make to do a good show. It's helpful!

  14. Your displays and packaging are outstanding!

  15. I agree with storybeader.
    It seems that people love the more intricate (therefore more highly priced) items. But they don't want to shell out the money. However, if they really like your work, they may want a "piece" of you, and hence will buy a lower priced item. I think it's important to include your more valuable pieces because they showcase your talent. This causes people to be attracted to your work in general. (even if subliminally)
    I think it's important to have a range of prices.
    about shows--The more you participate in OR the more you visit and network about, the greater the chance of discovering the best shows. Sometimes, shows do have an off year. A couple of the best ones near me are juried and change a small admission fee. The producers work hard to make a well balanced show with a variety of great items. Your work is wonderful enough to be in a juried show.


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