A Day at The Fair

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Blog entry by Bob Kollman posted 12-02-2012 09:05 AM 2164 reads 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

It all started with a suggestion from a friend that I should try selling my products at a craft fair. I am fortunate in that one of the largest craft fairs is in my town at the University of WI Parkside. Attendance is I would guess 10,000. My work is usually build to order so I had nothing to display at a craft show. So my 10 day journey began by putting my on line stores on vacation settings and to begin the grate build to stock a 10×10 space.

I normally work a 40 hour job, and 20 hours a week in the shop. Over the past 10 days I probably put in 70 hours plus my job.

In this time I built 8 one step step stools and five 3 step step stools. By the time of the big sale day I was way under stocked and knew I was in trouble. But my hope was to at least get my booth money back. My wife and son helped me at the sale sight. I have to admit that it was a great sale for those who were properly prepared, and then there was my sad empty booth….But I handed out tons of brochures promoting my work and the big success will probably come about in future sales.

A word about pet mania:

The above picture is of a classic Shaker Style Step Stool, it is not steps for helping the dog get on the sofa. As I recieved plenty of praise for the workman ship and I recieved it well. But some of the drive buys were making me crazy….”Oh how nice, it”s on of those steps to help your dog get on the bed…sofa…RV…..”

In the future I hope to do more craft fairs being a little more prepared and having more variety of product, and of course quantity. My vendor neighbors were great and I had a oppertunity to meet with some local wood workers and talk a little shop and I enjoyed that immensely. But I was also zoned out from over work and it was hard to keep a high energy level for the whole event. I will share a couple of my favorites items that I will sell on line.

In the end it all went to a good cause. We donated a Step Stool to the silent auction and our booth fees went towards the Student Leader Scolarship fund.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

12 comments so far

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 4183 days

#1 posted 12-02-2012 10:25 AM

Your story reminds me of why I enjoy being retired. I don’t miss the dead lines, stress and obligations.
Your stools look great….......................

-- mike...............

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 4001 days

#2 posted 12-02-2012 10:44 AM

I have been in that position more than once, my friend. It always seemed that when I did shows, I pushed so hard to do “just one more thing” – the thing that I was sure would sell. While I love meeting people and seeing what others have to offer, shows are really hard work – both before and during – and there is a lot of stress and pressure I associate with doing them. It is so difficult to gauge what will sell at shows. Sometimes you will sell out of one thing and the next show (after you make several more of them) you won’t sell one! While I love attending shows when the opportunity arises, Being a vendor at one is a tough job and I don’t really enjoy it.

Thanks for sharing your experiences here with us Bob. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Lenny's profile


1699 posts in 4608 days

#3 posted 12-02-2012 11:07 AM

Lots of cliches come to mind Bob: “Live and learn.”, “Once bitten, twice shy.”, etc. You now have some fair experience and you’re armed for the next one. Craftsmanship such as yours will surely do well. I also like that it was a “family affair” with your wife and son helping out.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View hunter71's profile


3554 posts in 4268 days

#4 posted 12-02-2012 11:39 AM

I can honestly say I hate craft fairs when I work them, therefor I don’t do them. The rewards never seem to outweigh the stress. Just my 2 cents.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View grosa's profile


1037 posts in 3910 days

#5 posted 12-02-2012 02:21 PM

Craft fairs mean only one thing. A stressful, hard working week with very little payoff.

-- Have a great day.

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4390 days

#6 posted 12-02-2012 03:41 PM

I guess it is how you view these shows and your attitude about what you do. I very much enjoy doing shows and look forward to them. I enjoy meeting so many other creative people. I am in the middle of doing a big show this weekend and it is the first indoor show i have done…did not even have to bring my tent.

View degoose's profile


7281 posts in 4436 days

#7 posted 12-02-2012 03:42 PM

Love em or hate em…. they can be fun… they can be profitable… they can be a royal pain….

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 4823 days

#8 posted 12-02-2012 03:51 PM

When I used to do craft shows in the FL panhandle region I always had plenty of business cards to hand out but and plenty of small items for sale as well as the more pricier pieces but most importantly I carried a five gal bucket with a soft seat on it to sit on as I either laced a leather project or carved a small basswood egg etc. The mere fact that I was doing what I was selling brought in more traffic to my booth, started conversations and resulted in numerous commission for future work.

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5133 days

#9 posted 12-02-2012 04:16 PM

You really went into Production!

... is it starting to feel like “Work”? (maybe it has been “work” & I didn’t realize it)

Looks like you have a good production line!

Making super good stuff!

Thank you.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4754 days

#10 posted 12-02-2012 11:47 PM

Looks good!

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 4272 days

#11 posted 12-03-2012 12:17 AM

Thanks Joe, I have spent the day sleeping…and sleeping. tomorrow, I go do a quote for a friend who needs a display cabinet. Thanks Charles.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30615 posts in 3419 days

#12 posted 12-03-2012 01:20 AM

I don’tcare how prepared I think I am for a show, I never have enough. How well did the steps sell? Never tried any, but always looking for new products. For me also, I want the small stuff to pay for the booth. The real money is in orders for furniture after the fact.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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