Sunday, November 13, 2011

Craft Show Report!

The big day has come and gone:  my craft show debut!

I had spent about two months planning for the event:  crafting items to sell, determining prices, planning my table display, preparing my business cards and shopping bags.  It was an exciting process for me, because I have been wanting to participate in this kind of event for at least two years now.  I have dragged my feet, asking myself if I really wanted to do it, but truly wondering if I could pull it off. 

It all came to fruition at Ashbridge Manor in Downingtown, PA, on Friday evening at the Mom-Hosted Holiday Bazaar:
There were twelve crafters and "mompreneurs" at the bazaar, selling paper-related crafts (me!), jewelry, flameless candles, door decor, scrapbooking and rubber stamping supplies, decorated miniature Christmas trees, hair bows, baby crafts, and gourmet foods.  We set our tables up around one large room, and welcomed shoppers for four hours, from 5 to 9 pm.
We all offered free snacks or wine at our tables, and I added some candy cane package toppers made from red and white chenille stems.

The first wave of customers were mainly residents of the home where we were holding the event.  One woman in her wheelchair proudly told me that she is 93 years old, and that she has so many people in her family now that she doesn't even bother buying them gifts anymore!  One elderly man happily told his friends and I the story of how I must have gotten my dimples, from all of my aunts and uncles squeezing my cheeks when I was a little girl (which, of course, he did to me to illustrate his story!).  I enjoyed these interactions early in the show.

I didn't make a large number of sales, but I went there ready for any possible level of success, so I didn't feel disappointed.  My mother had shared with me a few weeks ago something she read from the book Blink about how people make decisions "in the blink of an eye."  Experiments were done at a gourmet food shop where sample jellies were displayed. In the instances where 3 different jars were offered, 30% of the customers purchased one of the products. When 12 jars were available for sampling, only 3% bought anything at all. The theory is that with a small selection of like items, impulse takes over and people buy without really thinking about it (in a blink), but with many varieties of the same type, choosing takes over, people take time to decide which of many is "best" for them, and end up deciding they don't really need any of it. This phenomenon wasn't a one-time experiment -- it's been true many times.

When I heard about that, I knew I might be in trouble!  I have just a few of LOTS of different things, rather than lots of a FEW different things.  I'm pretty sure I could see the dynamic my mom warned me about playing out at the show.  I'm not sure if I'll be able to change that, though!  I don't have a lot of interest in just producing lots of the same thing.  Something to think about, though, in terms of future success.

The most successful items of the evening were the Scrabble tile and flower gem magnets.
One woman bought three of the jumbo embellished clothespins as gifts for her grade-level teaching partners, which I thought was a great idea since they make such fun desk accessories.
I also sold several gift tag sets, which makes perfect sense for this holiday season. 

Several people asked about my stitched journal cards, but not a single one of them sold!  And no one looked twice or commented on the collaged vintage bottles, which are some of my favorite things!

One of the most commented-upon items were the Gratitude Gift Tag booklets.  Many people thought it was such a great idea to start a new holiday tradition where family members record the things they are grateful for that year--something to both keep the purpose of Thanksgiving at the forefront (besides stuffing ourselves with food!) and give something fun to look back on in future years.  I only sold a couple of the booklets, though, and I suspect several people figured they could use the idea and fashion something similar for themselves.  (I could see the wheels turning in their brains as they looked them over!)  Obviously I would have loved the sales, but I enjoyed sharing the ideas quite well, too.
Gratitude Tag Booklets are at the front right of the photo.

I had a wonderful time spending the evening with these other creative and entrepreneurial women who were part of the bazaar with me.  I felt proud of myself for tackling a challenge that I have had in place for myself for quite a long time now.  I was excited to have earned some money for my handiwork.  And I benefited from a number of observations and lessons that will help me, I think, be more successful in future craft shows! 

Here's a peek at some of the other wonderful women who were a part of the Mom-Hosted Holiday Bazaar:
Melissa, representing Tastefully Simple:  She was our fearless organizer, so generous with her time and talents to get all of this put together!
Meredith, of MerJoy Designs, selling handmade cards and jewelry
Kelly, of Scentsy
Laurie, with her decorated miniature Christmas trees
Kris, with Stampin' Up
Jen, with handmade hair bows for her company Elephants on Parade

This experience has given me the motivation to pursue additional show opportunities in the spring, and I am planning to open an Etsy shop in the new year. 

Onward!

11 comments:

laurie said...

beautiful selection and so many big beautiful smiles,,, I'm so glad it was a success and sounds like a great time.

Janet said...

The important thing is you did it, and you had fun and learned some helpful tips. Now you can move on to the next show with even more confidence. Good for you!!

lee said...

its great you did it,and had fun, I think you had some great things.

April Cole said...

Thank you for sharing your experience, thoughts, and your up coming etsy shop. (how exciting that will be)Your display table looked terrific, your artful creations are beautiful, and I am glad you had a great time!

Kym said...

Thank you for sharing all the insights on your experience. I applaud you for doing this and having fun. You looked great and your display looked great too!

Anne said...

Such a great post -- you went into the new experience with a great attitude and enthusiasm. And you came out of it the same way. Nothing better than that! Loved the story about how you got your dimples!

Linda Jordan said...

That is pretty awesome & it looks like you had lots of cute crafts to sell! I read that book "Blink" before also, it is a pretty interesting book.

Linda
http://lasteve1.blogspot.com

laurie said...

i'm glad it went well - looks like some great item so i wish i could have been there! have you thought about opening an etsy shop?

Caatje said...

Thanks for the report! Seems like you had a good experience and that's more important than anything! Good job!

Regina said...

Great post! Thanks for all you insight. I'll be doing two teeny little craft fairs in December. I have lots to think about. :)

Parabolic Muse said...

Andria!! Oh, wow. This is a great post. I love the stories. I also love that lesson in marketing. I have noticed this myself, about how people buy things (having been in retail several times in my life), and it is SO true, but it's definitely hard to make just a few kinds of things! I tell you, if I'd been there, I would have bought quite a bit of your things. They look so well made and I love the functionality of many of them! This looks like a great first experience. I've had friends talk about not selling anything, or only one or two things! It's got to be disheartening, but the experience of planning and executing is remarkable.

Congrats on your etsy shop, too!