Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Craft Sale O-mania!

I've just experienced my first craft show season and it was a crazy, hectic wonderful, stressful, learning experience. I thought that I was prepared; I had been stockpiling some things for months, and had quilts ready for sale. Here are my tips and thoughts:
  1. The organizer and previous participants are a treasure trove of information about the sale. Talk to them, if possible, about what things are likely to sell based on past sales. Talk to the organizer about what price range the biggest selling items fall into.
  2. Try to provide products that differentiate your brand from the rest; either something that is not typically sold, or some kind of signature to your brand..
  3. Think about the timing of the sale; if it is at Christmas, people are shopping for gifts for others more often than they are buying that splurge for themselves, especially in this economy.
  4. Walk the room; see what others are selling, and at what prices. Make sure you introduce yourself to everyone, and spend extra time with artists whose work you love. Network the room; get their cards, and give them yours.
  5. Make sure you save some of each item for each sale; even if it is only one or two pieces, at least you have a sample to show so people can order.
  6. Think about forming a cooperative with other crafters, where you can share sale duties and fees in exchange for selling each others' non-competitive craft.
  7. Have a variety of items at different price points.
  8. Make a few things each month, or make a single item production style; work on that item until you have a number of them produced (repetition will make you faster), then move onto another item. You may be willing to do this as part of your cooperative group.
  9. Keep an inventory of what you have produced. An Excel spreadsheet is great for this.
  10. Wear your goods if possible; if it looks good on you, people feel it will look good on them.
  11. Make sure you bring some work that can be done during the sale, even if it is just creating price tags for your goods, but preferably bring work that shows you making an item. I frequently use the time to bind or label my quilts. Seeing how much goes into making a piece helps to justify the quality and the price, and people frequently ask me what I am working on, a great conversation starter.
  12. Let people know that you notice them at your table by saying hello, and telling them if they have any questions, you'd be happy to answer them (rather than asking if they have questions).
  13. Immediately after the show, do a debriefing: What sold? What did not? What kept you from selling more--poor traffic? a bad location? timing? lack of goods, or goods priced too high? Did you get some non-monetary gain from the event, i.e., a referral to another event? Did you break even? What would you do differently? Write all these notes in a notebook, and use it as a reference tool.
  14. I try to send an email to people I met, building my network of crafter contacts. I also send a thank-you email to the organizer, regardless of how well I did.
  15. Invest in display items. These do not have to be bought items or expensive items, but again, take a look at other displays, and what you see in stores. I use a mixture of both. Presentation and merchandising are an art, too!
  16. Don't equate your worth as an artist with how you've done at a craft sale. There are too many unrelated variables to make that determination. If you've sold something, wonderful, but if you've learned something, you have gained something more valuable than a quick sale.

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