Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2014 craft fair game plan

I had my final 2013 holiday craft fair over the weekend. It definitely hasn't sunk in yet that I'm done and am actually starting to get my life back now. In 2012, I did two open houses and seven craft fairs. In 2013, I did nine craft fairs. So you wouldn't think that it felt like that much more this year than last, but with everything going on this fall, it really did.

For my 2013 shows, I kept my two best selling high-end lines: dagger bracelets and leafy bracelets, and I devoted the rest of the booth to $25 and under items. I didn't display any of my other high-end lines. As I made very little other changes to my booth from 2012 to 2013, I'm not sure what else I can attribute to the fact that overall, I had higher earning shows in 2012 than 2013. Even though it's rare that people buy those higher end items, I think that not having them there cheapened the display. I didn't get people into the mentality to spend $20-$30 or more at my booth.

I'll be honest: it's frustrating. I was tired of having endless discussions about the hours of work that went into making the high end pieces that customers were never interested in buying. I thought that keeping the pieces that did sell well around would be enough to keep that "wow" factor in my booth. But clearly I need more.

The good news is that even if my earnings weren't as high, I still had a better show list in 2013. All of the shows that I vended had good traffic and were decently, if not very well, run. Even when you aren't making a ton of money, both of these factors play a large role in whether or not you would ever go back. For those of you who vend shows, you know how awful it is to do completely dead shows and/or very poorly run shows. All of the shows are well established and very likely, if not definitely, going to be back in 2014. It's a relief to have a great list at the start and not spend a lot of energy hunting for shows that may be a complete waste of time.

The other good news is that I still have high-end pieces that I can bring back into my display for future shows. I haven't sold or donated that inventory, which would have left me to start all over with that path.

With that being said, I'm going to focus on the following for my 2014 shows:
  • Better signage. Even when every single item is tagged with a price, a lot of people still have trouble figuring out how much items cost. I did have a lot of section signs this year (i.e. "button rings $3 or 4 for $10"), but I need to overhaul the vast majority signage for my booth. Some aspects of it have worked okay, but there are a few areas that are severely lacking.
  • Packaged small items. In past years, people have bought multiple different small items and/or taking advantage of deals for multiple single items (i.e. get a free button magnet when you buy 5 magnets), which meant decent cart totals. This year I had way too many people spend $1-$3. This simply isn't enough to make shows worth my time. With the exception of my button rings, which people 1) buy regularly and 2) love to try on before purchasing, I'm going to package all of my $5 and under items into $4-$12 sets.
  • More high-end inventory. As I've already mentioned, I still have this inventory. I need to figure out how to incorporate it back into my display.
 I have nearly three months until my next show (and it's very unlikely that I will possibly schedule anything else before February), which gives me plenty of time to work on these goals and hopefully make 2014 a higher earning year for shows than 2013.

How did your 2013 shows go? Are you thinking about 2014 shows already?


  1. Your bracelet display is beautiful! I've only had one show so far since I backed out of one because of snowy travel and the next one is Thursday. I sold six bracelets at my first one so have none left that are made up for Thursday's show. I have several bracelets not completed since I sell them made to order in my shop. I think I need to make more 'ready to ship' items so that I do have some for next year's shows. It's just so hard getting ready for shows plus keep sane!

  2. You're seriously on the ball here planning for 2014...way to go! I agree that higher-end items are nice to have mixed in. Even if they don't sell, they attract buyers to your booth. But I also agree about being annoyed when you answer 100 questions about an item and it never sells!
    And you're so right about well-run/advertised shows. I'm glad you have a good line-up for next year already.

  3. I got away from doing shows this year, but in the past I had some similar struggles. All of my items are pretty reasonably priced, but I'd always get people flocking to the $5 earrings and $9 rings. WTF?! It's like they had laser eyes to find the cheapest things on the table.

  4. sorry you didn't sell as well as last year. It's difficult to predict what makes the booth work. I sold two journals in my bazaar and a lot of little things. The smaller items kept me going, but it was really the journals that brought the total sales up. I agree on bringing the higher price items. Maybe just lay out one or two pricey necklaces, and when they talk about another color, pull that out from behind the table! I know you're super organized, so could manage that! {:-D

  5. I think you are totally right about the bigger ticket items. When I sell in galleries, it always help to have a couple wow factor pieces on display. I think it makes people want a piece of you, so to speak and be more willing to part with their money to have that piece. Good luck with next year!!

  6. great post! this year I experienced the right type of customer coming to my booth because of the "WOW" factor item on display. I will definitely do that again next year!


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