Sunday, March 13, 2011

Craft Fair Report

Sorry about disappearing again.  Besides getting ready for the craft fair, I had to do a presentation at the floodplain managers' conference pre-conference workshop last week, and I kept getting distracted by a new spinning wheel in the house.

I still haven't gotten ArtFire and Etsy updated, and I'm not sure I have sufficient brains tonight.  It was a long week - Tuesday morning I left for Normal and didn't get home until Thursday evening, then had the craft fair yesterday.  Fortunately, Ron and Robin did most of the packing, all had to do was mark straps for the last three new purses, and assemble tools. 

The craft fair was at Palatine High School, so it was nice and local.  It opened for setup at 6:30 am, but we didn't get there until 7:15-ish, since it didn't open until 9:00.  We were set up by 8:00.  Yeah, we're fast, but we also didn't put out all the pouches or belts.

I'd only gotten one 8' x 10' spot, so I only brought one 6' table, and two 4' tables, and figured one of the small ones would stay in the truck.  But we got lucky, and got a corner!  Woot!  So we had a nice L, and the person on the other side wasn't crowding, so we had comfortable space to get in and out, and for Ron to play with his spinning wheel.

I only put out a selection of buckled belts, and a couple (black) tied belts (just in case...), so I didn't bring the belt rack.  I did put out all the purses, satchels, book covers, and a selection of belt pouches.  I didn't bring the alpaca or knitting patters.  I probably could/should have.

Last Saturday was Fremd HS's craft fair, and they did a *MUCH* better job advertising.  We're about midway between the two schools, I saw lots of signage for Fremd's fair, nothing for Palatine's, until yesterday, and only right near the school.  Robin said he didn't see any signage at school.  This may explain why Fremd can charge more.  Fortunately, there was a gymnastics meet, a concert, and at least practice for lacrosse and swimmers yesterday, which probably brought a few people in besides students directly involved.

I wish I'd gone to Fremd's fair, to see what their spaces and vendor selection was like.  A good half the vendors yesterday were re-sellers. And not re-seller's of somebody else's handmade goodies, resellers of Longaberger baskets, Tupperware, ugly but fashionable purses, and Ghu knows what other carp.  Which explains why people seemed so pleased to see me working on purses, and/or when we responded that yes, it's all our own work. The only other vendor I spent any time looking at was a couple guys with very nice woodworking. 

Our neighbor was the one selling Longaberger baskets.  She was nice, and I must say that her table looked nice, too.  Grumbling about resellers aside, I'm glad we were next to her than some of the junk that was for sale.

Sales were not great, but since there were no travel costs to speak of, not bad.  All those purses?  Sold none.  Belts?  None. A belt pouch, and two satchels.  OTOH, the belt pouch and the fabric satchel covered booth costs, and the fabric satchel was one I thought was never going to sell.  The third sale was a leather satchel, so in the end it was a day that would have been decent when I was a new-ish SCA vendor. And considering that I only had out limited stock, that's a fair comparison for sales levels.

And I think I did generate some more potential business out of it.  One lady was very interested in a custom-size book cover.  The lady that bought the fabric satchel for her daughter said they were very into Etsy when I mentioned that I'm local and have an Etsy shop.  There's also possibility of a couple belt sales, etc., especially since I'm local.  

I'm thinking a couple of the high school craft shows per year might not be bad for business, especially if this one seems to result in after-business.  I'm quite willing to lay credit for after-sales to the worth of attending a show.  

In any case, we need to re-build parts of the belt rack.  The bits in question are 2x2s with 3/4" diameter holes near the ends, and they're suffering chipping around the holes from years of use.  I'm not sure if we want to just replace, or go with a partial re-design.

I'm also considering if I want to come up with a smaller belt display option, especially I do decide to do "mundane" shows more often. I'm mulling over the idea of some grid panels, like the ones Windycon owns and loans/rents to Capricon, Duckon, etc.  


  1. Hear anything from any of the nibbles at the show yet? Just curious to see if they pan out...

  2. Yep, the book cover person contacted me a couple days ago.