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April 30, 2009

Craft Show Follow-Up

I've been preparing for a private craft show at my friend's workplace since mid-February. Her building serves about 200 people, and this show was scheduled over the lunch hour, so it was only open for two hours (not including set-up or take-down). Today was the day. All in all, I sold only $44.00. That's a gross, not including expenses.

On the positive side, because this was a private affair, there was no booth fee. That allowed me to test several ideas at low risk. And, on balance, I still have my unsold merchandise to sell elsewhere. Still, I spent between $300-400 on supplies this spring.

I had four jars of kumquat-grapefruit chutney, which I had pressure canned by myself. I priced these high because the supply is so limited. It's really great poured over a block of cream cheese. I didn't offer any samples of this. Sold none, though several people did make positive comments.

On the lower-priced end, I had about 30 matchbooks covered in 4th of July print fabrics for parents to use to set off fireworks, or for jar candles--pretty enough to leave out near the jar! Priced them at a buck per box of 30. Again a couple people commented positively, but I sold none, and they were only a dollar.

I also had about two dozen vintage button pins that I'd blogged about earlier. I stuck them into a pillow from my home, and draped over that a scarf that I'm knitting, placing several on the scarf as an example. Pointed out to people that having them pinned rather than sewn on allowed for them to be removed for laundering. Priced these at four bucks apiece, could have been talked into selling two for six bucks. Sold none. And the table next to me was knitters & crocheters who could have used my product!

I'd done a lot with canning jars, and had specifically decorated 8oz and 16oz jars with cat and dog fabric prints as treat jars. I put one treat in the bottom of each jar as an example, and offered them for three and four dollars, respectively. Sold none.

(this pic taken from the backside of the table)

I had some interest in my Nut Spice Mix, which is from an old restaurant recipe. Because a little bit of this goes a long way, I packaged it in small jelly jars, some with spring fabrics, but half decorated with travel motifs intended as Father's Day Gifts. I'd already made a custom logo and direction labels several years ago, so this was an easy project. But I bought three pounds of almonds at a cost of ten dollars that I made as samples. I was really surprised at how many people took handfuls of samples with no intention of purchasing. I priced them at $5. I've not priced out all the spices that go into it, since I conceived this project several years ago, so I'm not sure if that covers my cost. I did sell a couple jars.

My main item was the pie-in-a-jar that I'd conceived of last Christmas. It's from my grandma's depression era recipe, and I thought it was a great twist on the usual cookie-in-a-jar. I made a cute label using free clip art, and packaged them in full pie and half pie sizes, decorated with lots of florals for Mother's Day or 4th of July prints. I sold the half size for eight dollars, and the full size for ten. I made about three full pies as samples, serving from my vintage Pyrex to go with the cutesy/crafty/homey theme. Serving kept me busy throughout the event. As I served, I really talked up my product, mentioning: the depression era theme, add only common household ingredents, easy to make, great for kids, great gift, give mom present then make her breakfast for added treat. I also made up a little present basket sitting on the table as an example, which pretty much contained one of everything I was selling. And I donated one of the half pies to the event's raffle giveaway. I did get a few people who wouldn't eat coconut, but all who tried it really liked it, and I sold one large and three half pies. I thought that wasn't bad, considering the first table I saw when I came in at setup time was of course someone selling cookies in a jar. They were at the other end of the event, so I wasn't able to see how well they sold, but I didn't see anyone walking around with their jars.

My friend who works at this building set up her computer to offer her services making custom calendars and picture CDs. She had a couple sample calendars and some business cards. She filled only a quarter of the table but needed the limited shade. She put out no money in supplies, helped me handing out my samples through most of the event, and sold as much as I did.

What do you think I could have done differently? Do you have any marketing ideas? If you have any suggestions for me, please leave me a comment below!


  1. from Trudy Walker by email:
    Hi Ellen,
    I don't know what to tell you about the mouse but I hope he leaves soon. Maybe sweep him off and send him into the great big world? Away from your house?
    The craft items were really nice and I don't think you priced them too high. The display was nice. Try to find more craft sales or maybe see if any of your neighbors would be interested in having a sale in your neighborhood, if you think you're located where you would get traffic. You wouldn't have to cart the stuff somewhere else. If several people went together you could advertise better. Good luck in the future. But, I agree with you, $44 isn't worth it.
    Love Aunt Trudy

  2. I'll buy a jar of kumquat-grapefruit chutney when we see you at Trivia Night.


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