Friday, May 8, 2009

Owl Spotlight: WeiOpenSecret

I attended quite a few numbers of craft show last year as a vendor. I also did local farmers markets during the summer. It was an enjoyable and learning experience every time. Throughout the process I’ve refined my products, prices and displays to become a better and more successful vendor. Therefore, I thought I would share few simple Craft Fair Tips I've learned here. I am not an expert. At each event, I always make sure I find someone who can sit in my table for a moment while I walk around the show. See which vendor’s table catch my attention and make a mental note as to why. If I notice a particular vendor is busy, I will see if they have an idea I can adapt to my own display. Most importantly, say "HI" to all the fellow crafters. It’s nice to know there are others, who share my passion in crafting!

The most common and tough question I ask myself is always… ”How much should I sell it for?” Crafting should always be an outlet for enjoying yourself. It shouldn’t be a stressful experience. Make sure you keep receipts from the purchase of all your materials. Record how much of each material you used for each item, and how long it took you to make it. Add these all up; this is the cost of your product. In general, your selling price is multiply the cost by 2 or 3 times. It is also a good idea to check if your selling prices are competitive with your competition. Because each vendor might have different costs for his/her products, don’t be surprise to see a similar product you sell, being sold by another vendor for $5 to $10 more or less. If you need to reduce or increase the price, make sure you don’t lose money and it’s reasonable.

I’ve learned in the past, put a price tag on EVERY item is extremely important. I used to place a sign with the prices, but it’s not visible enough. Although some customers may ask, most will just put the item back and move on. Ever since I placed a price tag on each item, it increases my sales drastically. Most customers, who liked my product but were still indecisive, made the purchase as soon as they saw the price. If you want to keep a customer’s interest, don’t make them search for the price especially when you are busy with another customers.

Having a nice display is also very important. It should be obvious that just laying your products flat on the table will not be eye catching. As a part-time crafter, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on displays. Therefore, I’ve been trying to find inventive ways to save money on displays. Although I don’t have a fancy display, like some vendors, it has served me well. Over the years, I collected some leftover small wooden blocks from construction sites or from friends/neighbors, who’re building houses or furniture. I used them underneath the tablecloth to create levels of heights. Wooden blocks are strong and sturdy enough to withhold heavy objects. To grab customer’s attention as they glace around the craft show, it’s important to set your feature item at eye level, about five feet high.

I also have a small 4 feet folding table I purchased from a discount store. Think it only costs me less than $20 and very easy to carry around. I use it wherever the craft show doesn’t supply tables. Although the typical table size for craft shows is 6 feet, it is too large and heavy for a 5’1 person like myself to carry alone. A 4 feet table sounds small, and crafters with many products are often tempted to lay them all out and crowd in as many different things as they can. I would strongly encourage you not to do that. It is better to show a few products in groups and leave some space around. Your mind will keep organized if there’s a gap between items. To many choices of the same items will just keep the browser keep on looking. Keep some items in storage under the table, so you can meet a variety of needs and restock the table later. You’ll find as long as you keep your table nice and neat, the size of table is not an issue.

Many customers have complimented on how beautiful my tablecloth is and ask me if I sell tablecloths. :) Although I don’t, it certainly draws customer’s attention to me. It is actually made from a leftover upholstery fabric, which I have the habit of collecting. My grandma sometimes used the fabric I collected and made them into school bags or blankets for children in poor countries. I can’t think of a better way to recycle and reuse those fabrics. Leftover upholstery fabric often is too small to be used on any furniture and they’re incredibly durable and some are even waterproof. You can also make them into small squares of coasters or wall art (with wood frames). Therefore, I recommend you to check out any local independent custom furniture stores if you know one. Just make sure to use a pleasant color for your table covering.

Jewelry stands...whatever style you choose, the factor of elevation should help to create an appealing display. I display my earrings and Choo-Choo the Owl charms on a metal tree, which I found in a garage sale. It is actually a candleholder, but it works as a jewelry display extremely well. It makes customers stop and look – the first step to enticing a sale. Garage sales really are a good place to find displays if you’re on a tight budge. Be unique and creative and don’t forget to wear a piece of jewelry you make to show it off.

Metal panels are also a very good way to display jewelry. I found them 50% off online and purchased the stands for those panels at the general dollar store. I use thumbtacks and small magnets to hang the necklaces and pendants. You can also purchase a big piece of pegboard from hardware stores, such as Home Depot, and have them cut into small pieces for you. A 2’ by 4’ aluminum or stainless pegboard will cost you around $50, but you can get a wood one for less than $10.

OK, I am going to stop right here. I hope you find these tips helpful. Have a lovely spring.
Photos Courtesy of Flint City Handmade. For more information about Flint City Handmade or individual vendor shown here, please go to, Thank you.

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