Monday, November 21, 2011

How Bazaar: Tips from my first craft show

Hello, hello! How was your weekend? We had a great time with my Mom and the bazaar was pretty successful. I didn't really know what to expect since this was my first time selling at a craft show. Sure, I've been to plenty of craft fairs, art fairs, and farmer's markets, but never to this exact event. I didn't sell any pillow covers, but my Mom sold some scarves, hats, and yarn. Some people also put in special orders for hats and scarves. She'll be knitting those items over the next few days or week. On the plus side, I sold two pillow covers on Etsy over the weekend!

I'd love to sell at another craft show, so here are a few notes for next time or for anyone thinking about selling at a fair:

Our first sale!
Know your audience
I didn't attend this particular holiday bazaar last year, so I had no idea about the products, prices, or customers. Fortunately, we had a wide variety of products and price ranges. The least expensive item was a knit baby hat for $10, while a chunky scarf was at a discounted $50. These all included sales tax. Next time, I would create some smaller, less expensive items that could be stocking stuffers. Or attend a different event that reaches more of my target audience.

Be friendly
I made a point to say, "Hi" to everyone that walked past our booth. That person may or may not have stopped to browse, but it created a happy atmosphere. We also encouraged people to feel the alpaca products. They're extremely soft and cozy, so allowing someone to experience the product is more beneficial than telling them about it.

Draw your customers in
In addition to being friendly, we had a digital picture frame showing pictures of my parents' alpacas. People would be interested in the pictures and then look at the yarn or hat. My Mom was also knitting during downtimes, so people could see how she made the scarves and hats.

Create an interesting table or booth
Since I had never been to this event, I wasn't sure how we were going to stage our products. So we brought lots of props and had John bring things from home a few times. (The perk of being at a craft show close to home). We ended up using two tables for horizontal space, storage cubes for vertical space, and the basket to add a little interest. This was where the alpaca products shined.

The pillow covers didn't do quite as well. First, I didn't have an abundance of pillow covers available for sale since I kept selling them online during the weeks leading up to the show (a great problem to have). Second, I didn't have lots of space to show the pillow covers on pillow forms. Therefore, one guy asked me if they were placemats.

Overall, I thought we did well with arranging items by color and making our booth seem more like a boutique than a typical craft table.

Have some sort of promotion
As I said, sales tax was included in the price. And we didn't mark up the price to account for sales tax. That meant the consumer was getting almost a 10% discount off the bat. We also sold the hats at a discounted price. I would also recommend selling items in sets or offering a reduced price if multiple items were sold.

Making the sale
We were fortunate that everyone had cash or checks for their purchases. Plus, my Mom brought extra cash to make change. We tried for credit card processing, but had a few issues. First, my Mom signed up for Square, but the card reader didn't come in time. It works with Apple and Android products and we had an iPod Touch. Unfortunately, there wasn't wi fi at the school. My Mom has a Blackberry and Square doesn't work those. I'm still in the 20th century with my feature phone.

So she signed up for Intuit's GoPayment credit card processing since it was compatible with her Blackberry. But the app never quite worked with her Blackberry. We tested GoPayment with the iPod Touch at home and it worked just fine. But we didn't use it at the bazaar because there wasn't wi fi.

Make it easy for people to contact you
Both my Mom and I had business cards available. We included our cards with each purchase. Plus, people took business cards if they wanted to contact us or purchase from us later. One guy asked if I could make him custom Dallas Cowboys pillows and/or placemats. He also asked if I could help set up a Facebook page for his business. We swapped business cards and I'll be getting in touch with him.

In the end, I would do it again! We covered the cost of the registration fee (and then some) and had fun interacting with everyone.

Have you had a booth at a craft fair? Any tips to share?
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