My First Craft show

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Forum topic by Bert304 posted 03-07-2010 02:39 AM 3659 views 4 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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27 posts in 3639 days

03-07-2010 02:39 AM

I went to my first craft show as a vendor. It was a 6 hour craft show and I sold 2 Wine bottle stoppers. Which I do not think is to bad. I learned a lot and I figured out what I should make for the next show. Any pointers would be great!

10 replies so far

View Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)'s profile

Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)

176 posts in 4458 days

#1 posted 03-07-2010 03:20 AM


Do you have pictures of your booth layout? I can tell you from experience that they way you display your product is big.

Also, you need to really think about the types of customers that normally come to each of the shows. One show I started going to is very high end. They have even closed people down after they found out they did not make their own product. So, I make higher priced items for those sales. This is not the norm.

Most of the people coming to the craft shows that I attend are middle class… or older with a very tight budget. So, I carry only a couple of higher cost items and try to keep my product around $10 to $15 average. So, this means that I have a lot of standard size cutting boards. Since I make all of my boards from recycled lumber, I can start my prices at $5.

But, having a low priced product for sale only gets you part of the way. You need to engage every person that walks past your booth. Greet them and tell them you have handcrafted products starting at just $5.00. Impress upon them that they cannot find a deal like this at Walmart and it IS NOT MADE IN CHINA!. That everyone needs a great cutting board and they are great for Wedding gifts, birthday gifts, etc. etc.. After I started engaging the customers, I would have to say that my sales went up about 300%

So, there is a couple of pointers… hope this helps.

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4276 days

#2 posted 03-07-2010 03:27 AM

yep what dustin said is very true. once the potential customer makes eye contact with you or your product ask them how they are and if they’re enjoying the show. if you start the conversation they are much more likely to feel comfortable with you and ask you a question or engage you or something. i was at my first home show last week too which was 3 9 hour days and a 12 hour day. i got a few really good job leads and i was only doing demo’s. i didn’t even have a finished project there!!

View Bert304's profile


27 posts in 3639 days

#3 posted 03-07-2010 04:58 PM

thanks, I did not take a picture of the booth set up. But yes I see how the cost is a issue. I need to find some lower price items. most of my items are 20 to 30 dollars. How do you make some thing that costs 5 to 10 dollars?

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 4400 days

#4 posted 03-07-2010 05:06 PM

6 hours is not enough time to build up momentum. I am guessing that it was a small show for no more time you had. Your price range is a good range for a show, but unless you seek out larger shows, particularly two day ones, your sales will be dismal. It has nothing to do with your product or prices. It has to do with customer volume. A show with 20,000 potential customers versus 500, will increase the odds of more sales dramatically.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4635 days

#5 posted 03-07-2010 06:00 PM

I barely remember my first 200 craft shows. :)
Now we only do those shows that generate a minimum of $1,000 per day in sales.

Over the last few years, I have quadrupled my retail pricing to meet my business goals.
Consequently, my cost of materials is done to about 10% to 20% of retail price.
Example: If I sell something at retail for $100 that cost me $20 for materials, I just made $80 marginal profit.
If you take the usual advice given here and simply double your direct costs and sell the same thing for $40, you just made $20 marginal profit. If my higher prices result in me selling half as many items as you, I will still make twice as much profit as you. I can even afford to sell my stuff wholesale at half the retail price and still make a good profit.

Where it’s at: Big shows, juried shows, high dollar venues and marketing-marketing-marketing.

Two important rules of craft sales.
1. You can’t compete with WalMart.
2. WalMart can’t compete with you.

If you insist on comparing what you do to what the WalMartians (cheap shoppers) expect, you will never succeed. Take the advice you get from enthusiasts site like this with a grain of salt. Most respondents form opinions without ever trying. Success comes from trying and from not letting an occasional failure to get in your way.

  • Raise your quality.
  • Raise your prices.
  • Choose the best sales venues.

Did I mention marketing-marketing-marketing.

-- 温故知新

View Bert304's profile


27 posts in 3639 days

#6 posted 03-07-2010 08:12 PM

I do not compare myself to Walmart, I need to find the bigger shows but first I have to make more items. What I ment by the question is how do you make 5 and 10 dollar items? Take the Wine Bottle stoppers for example The blank is 6.00 and the bottom is 3.50 for a total of 9 dollars. I charge 25 dollars which leaves me a profit of 16 dollars. It takes roughly 1 hour to make, not counting the cost of the lathe and tools and sandpaper and finishing supplies. Which pays me 16 dollars per hour. If I lower the price to say 20 that only pays me 11 dollars, So how do you make any profit if you sell something for 5 or 10 dollars? Even the Butterfly homes I make are made out of left over plywood and other wood so that cost is out but it is the labor that goes into making them.

View northwoodsman's profile


250 posts in 4254 days

#7 posted 03-07-2010 10:50 PM

I think you need to look at it several different ways. Start with your material costs. If you are buying $6.00 blanks, you are paying about $54 per bd ft. for the lumber. You need to get that cost way down. Go to a saw mill and buy scraps or ends, or cut them from larger blocks of wood. If McDonalds went to a grocery store to purchase the ingredients for a burger, we woud be paying $9.95, not $0.99 for a small cheeseburger. $3.50 for a stopper isn’t bad, but if you can cut your wood cost down, I’d invest some of that back into a higher quality stainless steel stopper (maybe you already are). You could then raise your price. You can figure the cost of the finishing supplies into the equation, but I would leave the lathe and the tools out of it for now. Did you buy the lathe and the tools solely for the purpose of generating an income, or did you buy them for a hobby?
Wood – $1.00
Stopper – $5.00
Misc. Supplies – $0.50
Labor – $15.00
Sales Price – $25.00
Profit = $3.50 (14%) + you paid your self $15.00 per hour.
There are thousands of business owners who would be doing cartwheels right now to make even an 5% profit.

-- NorthWoodsMan

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4635 days

#8 posted 03-07-2010 11:09 PM


Low prices require high productivity, fast turnover and cheap materials.

I think you answered your own question, “how do you make 5 and 10 dollar items?”
The answer is: You don’t.

I have found that at craft shows it takes me about the same amount of time to sell a $5 item as it does to sell a $50 item. I used to sell an assortment of low priced items to fill in the sales gaps, but I have found that it only gets in the way of positioning your sales for the items you should be selling.

War story:
A few years ago I attended a three-day craft show in Northern Kentucky. I decided to only sell hand-crafted walking sticks because I had too many in inventory. Another vendor was also selling walking sticks. He visited my booth and was aghast to my pricing, which started at $60 and up. He said his were priced at $10 to $15 each because “that is what the public expects.” I suggested that we meet at the end of the three-day craft show and compare notes. We did. He proudly declared that he had made “almost $200” which was more than enough to pay for the $100 entrance fee. I made $3,800 and setup two wholesale deals with local shops. Since then, I have never seen him at another craft show. Go figure…

-- 温故知新

View Bert304's profile


27 posts in 3639 days

#9 posted 03-08-2010 04:16 AM

I think I will try and get the blanks for the wine bottle stoppers from some where else. I use Bethlehem Olive wood from PSI and they go for 4 for 24.95. I was not sure how many products to make and to take with me. So I have to figure that out also.

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4635 days

#10 posted 03-08-2010 05:25 PM

Here are some other notes that we use among our artisans guild:

1. Figure your production labor rate as at least $60 per hour; more is better.
Being in business requires more of your time than just making things.

2. As you volume growths, start buying your materials wholesale.

3. Sell yourself before you sell what you make.

4. Forget about “formulas” that promise to determine sales prices.
The market determines the price. Therefore, choose new and better markets, improve your quality, sell harder, market yourself and M.I.Y.O. (Make It Your Own).

5. If you intend on selling at craft shows then go to the best shows and study those vendors that are doing well. Look for a good fit with your goals.

6. Be honest with yourself. If its a hobby, then so be it. Enjoy yourself and have fun. If you intend on making a good profit then be prepared to work hard on creating and implementing a good business plan.

-- 温故知新

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