Crafts Shows R Us #18: How 2010 Finished Out

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Blog entry by closetguy posted 03-30-2011 06:11 PM 2439 reads 3 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 17: Just A Little Bit Of Drama Part 18 of Crafts Shows R Us series Part 19: Online Sales in 2010 »

It’s been a while since my last blog on this subject and I have finally got to a point where I can collect my thoughts on last year’s shows here in the South. I’ve actually been busy building inventory as I get ready for the 2011 shows, but my mind has been in a writing funk.

Last year was my best year for sales in this business. In fact, sales were a little more than double over 2009. I did the same number of shows as 2009, but I dropped a couple and replaced them with new shows in 2010. There is no doubt that even though we are still feeling the effects of the recession, people started making more impulse purchases in 2010. Those who were buying in 2009 were making smaller purchases and paying in cash. Last year saw larger purchases, multiple product purchases, and a significant increase in credit card use. Yep, the economy is getting better. Except for one show, every one in 2010 produced a significant increase in sales over 2009. Even though I had a good year, it still comes down to the weather and the quality of the show.

I am trying something a little different this year by cutting the number of shows and doing higher end ones. These are ones with $300+ entry fees. It is just as much work to do a $100 show as a $300 one. I found myself doing shows in the $100-$150 range and selling $900 – $1200 for the weekend. But, for the same amount of effort, I was doing $3000+ for the weekend at the $300 shows. It’s a no-brainer. However, there are exceptions, and you just have to do different ones to find that “diamond in the rough”.

I did a $150 show in 2009 that was wet and cold all weekend, but I still managed to squeeze $1200 in sales out of it. In 2010, there was not a cloud in the sky and it was mid 70s all weekend. I sold around $5000. Yes, the same show, but with better weather, a better economy, and the addition of lazy susans and P.O. door banks (cutting boards still outsold everything). There was easily three times the number of people in attendance over the previous year. This one is still a keeper for me.

One of the ones that I am dropping this year was always my first show of the year in March. The most I have ever done at this show was $300. It’s a big show, but the demographics are just not there because people only look instead of buying. I gave it two years, but it’s just not worth it. March always brings challenging weather in Georgia and I have decided that it’s just too early for outdoor shows. My first one this year will be the end of April. I usually skip July and August because it gets so hot down here during these months. When it is 100 degrees with 80% humidity, people won’t go outside, let alone attend a show.

I’m staying with my current product mix from last year with one exception. I had to drop something to make room for the P.O. box banks that I added last fall. I decided to drop the dipping boards. They sell decently, but not nearly as well as the banks which also sell at a higher price point. I only have four of the custom made bowls left and the dollars to buy more bowls were competing against the dollars to buy P.O box doors, so the doors won.

When I started doing shows I thought I would do about 20 per year. The most I have done in one year was 9, and it almost killed me. As a one man shop, it is just not possible to crank out enough products to support a large number of “good” shows. I experienced a complete sell out twice last year, and believe me, it is not a good feeling knowing that you have another show in two weeks and you don’t have product to sell. I am usually a little fried after each show and prefer to take a few days off to play golf, go to a movie, or hang out with friends and drink a little liquor (ok, maybe a lot of liquor if it was a good show). Hitting it hard in the shop the Monday after a show and not stopping until the next show wears me down. I also ran into this challenge with online sales during Christmas last year. I’ll go into details about this in the next blog entry.

The bottom line for last year was only one bad show and good overall sales for the year. I had one show that was rained out on Saturday, but Sunday was nice and sales were better on that one day than most full weekend shows. This was one of those $300 shows. I had shows that I was disappointed at the sales because I expected better considering the location, but I wouldn’t call them “bad”. I’m anxious to see how the 2011 spring shows play out.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

13 comments so far

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 4432 days

#1 posted 03-30-2011 06:21 PM

Good information. It sounds like you are getting this thing down to a well tuned business and as I said before if you took all your blogs and put them into a book you would have done a great service and make some killer bucks. I could see you selling 10 thousand copies right out of the shoot.

View Steven Davis's profile

Steven Davis

118 posts in 3423 days

#2 posted 03-30-2011 06:43 PM

Thanks for the info, thoughtful as always … how did online perform for you vs. the craft shows?

-- Steven Davis - see me at

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 4004 days

#3 posted 03-30-2011 07:14 PM

Congratulations to you for a great year ! Hope this one turns out just as well or better…..

Thanks always for your very valuable information and insight.

BTW, are you on facebook? and if so, has it helped at all?


-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View Marco Cecala's profile

Marco Cecala

189 posts in 4542 days

#4 posted 03-30-2011 07:44 PM

Great information, thanks for sharing with us.

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 4228 days

#5 posted 03-30-2011 08:13 PM

Ditto, it is good to hear that things are picking up and that you are doing well. Like many of us, I think about taking the plunge but can’t get my own family’s list done. Thanks for the info.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View degoose's profile


7257 posts in 3863 days

#6 posted 03-30-2011 10:00 PM

I always look forward to your insightful commentary regarding these shows… I have been attending a local market with limited success… believe it or not.. most of the inquiries are regarding classes to learn how to do some of the things I have made..I figure that would be another avenue to explore.. for me… I know you are busy..

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View WoodMosaics's profile


111 posts in 4040 days

#7 posted 03-30-2011 11:06 PM

Some do the spring shows to be seen, even though they do poorly, so people will see them and then buy in the fall.

-- It’s not so much what we know that causes the trouble, it’s what we know that’s not so.

View doninvegas's profile


334 posts in 3416 days

#8 posted 03-31-2011 01:35 AM

When you say you are doing $300 shows are you talking about the booth fee? Because here in Nevada the shows here are at convention centers and the booth rental is in the $600 to $800 range.

-- "Courage is being scared to death -- but saddling up anyway."

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 4400 days

#9 posted 03-31-2011 02:57 AM

Yes, booth rental. We have shows here in the South that are $500+. Most of these shows are indoor and last 4 or 5 days long. Indoor shows at convention centers are generally more expensive because the promoter’s cost to rent these facilities is much greater. The average outdoor weekend show runs around $150. Some are a little less, and some are a little more. My experience is that outdoor shows in the $250 and up range are typically well established shows with very high attendance and customers with above average disposable income.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View ellen35's profile


2742 posts in 3941 days

#10 posted 03-31-2011 12:27 PM

Thanks for this excellent review… your thoughts are cogent and helpful.
I really appreciate when a fellow LJ talks about stuff like this and includes the $$$ associated with it.
I never know if I am paying too little (ha) or paying too much, making too little (no ha) or making too much (now the big ha!)

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Mike Gadsby's profile

Mike Gadsby

37 posts in 3494 days

#11 posted 04-01-2011 12:09 AM

Great info!I started in this last year.My first show was the Bust but after that I did a local Farmers Market met alot of people did as many shows i could to get my name and myself out there.I made just under 12000.00 Last year and most of that was from Oct-December.Your best advertisment is your customers and they will do alot of the leg work on were to sell and not to sell.Last year I was looking for any every show I could do,this some of the bigger shows are calling me because of people who bought some things from me.

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 3347 days

#12 posted 04-01-2011 12:59 AM

Your commentary was very interesting. I just did a spring show- very low entry fee $35 for the 2 days. I did pretty well- about $800 and it was only 15 minutes from my house which was nice. I have a couple more local shows coming up in May, but as you say it is hard to crank out enough stuff for shows that are close together time wise. I did get some commission work from the show which was nice. The next 2 shows you just drop off your stuff and the vendor sells it and takes 15 percent. I would rather be there because I can drum up some more commission work if I am there in person. People always find it interesting that a woman works with wood and it makes conversation easy enough I guess. I have been making some bigger furniture type stuff this week- just can’t bring myself to make any more of the little stuff (signs, platters, tool boxes etc.) So I hope I can sell this stuff somehow.. LOL I can take the bigger stuff to the shows in May because they are also within 20-30 minutes away. But many I hate hauling that junk.

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View Dusty56's profile


11852 posts in 4196 days

#13 posted 04-01-2011 01:38 AM

Very well written and useful info : )
Thank you for your time and I wish you an even better show season this year !!

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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