Pens at Craft Fairs

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Forum topic by JohnGreco posted 05-22-2011 11:30 PM 11042 views 2 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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284 posts in 4393 days

05-22-2011 11:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hi LJ’s, I have a question (or 2) about selling pens at craft fairs. I’m not new to selling at fairs, but I am new to making and selling pens.

Most of the items I make have a price tag on them somewhere. Do you tag your pens? I’ve seen the barbell tags as well as hang tags a lot, but have to wonder how that affects the customer’s ability to really take in the detail of the pen.

Also, do you try and display all of your pens at once?

Any other pen tips are very much appreciated!

-- John

19 replies so far

View Luke's profile


546 posts in 4631 days

#1 posted 05-23-2011 12:01 AM

I just did my first festival the other week. Sell them for as cheap as you can afford and still get paid modestly for your work. In my case it is not what I do for a living so getting what I paid for them plus a little money for the work is nice and allows me to keep making them and getting better at it. If I don’t sell them they will pile up or I will quit making them so the price doesn’t seem to be a big deal. I felt before the festival that I should price them high because it is my valued custom creations and should be appreciated as such. Well everybody did appreciate them but almost no one bought. I was priced very high (In my opinion) and had tons of people say how great they were but just out of their price range. I am going to try to sell them for what I paid plus $15 for the time I spent making it (usually an hour). I’ll see how this works out. I really like making them and don’t want it to just end. I will work on more complicated and expensive kits as I move along in this endeavor, but I will never get their if I have thousands of dollars in pens just sitting around collecting dust. I want to get my website together and sell them on there which I feel will be easier and will get more views with interest than at fairs.
All this said I have sold a few at the higher dollar and it has felt really really good.


-- LAS,

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2921 posts in 4260 days

#2 posted 05-23-2011 12:43 AM

Many pens are displayed but few are sold, around here at least. Craft fairs , for the most part, only sell under $20 items.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 5465 days

#3 posted 05-23-2011 01:07 AM

Most of the juried craft shows that I attend are now strictly limiting the number of pen vendors. Those chosen must have exceptional products and a lot of inventory. A friend of mine that makes stunning pens averages about $45 per sale.

Hope this helps…

-- 温故知新

View JohnGreco's profile


284 posts in 4393 days

#4 posted 05-23-2011 03:00 AM

Thanks for the replies, I appreciate it :)

I’m not having trouble selling my pens online or through word of mouth at my current prices, I was just wondering more about actually displaying the prices at a fair.

-- John

View Puzzleman's profile


417 posts in 4282 days

#5 posted 05-23-2011 11:36 PM

I have seen it done several ways including the ones you mentioned. I don’t make pens but do sell at many craft shows around the midwest. I personally dislike the tag hanging on each one as it interferes with my trying the pen on for feel.

My favorite way to price pens is to have the pens sorted by price. This way the people that don’t want to spend much will only look at the cheaper offerings while the ones that appreciate quality will look at the higher priced ones. By having the prices displayed for them easily read, they won’t bother you if you are out of their price range. Put the cheaper ones closer to the front and the expensive ones in the back. Make sure the expensive ones have a better box / display than the cheap pens. Let the people that want the higher price feel that they are getting the premium select product.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler,

View Jack_T's profile


623 posts in 4369 days

#6 posted 05-24-2011 12:03 AM

John and Puzzleman, I am wondering if you would be willing to tell us what your selling your pens for?

-- Jack T, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

View JohnGreco's profile


284 posts in 4393 days

#7 posted 05-24-2011 12:33 AM

Thanks, Puzzleman. The interference from the tag was my biggest worry.

Jack- I am averaging around the $30-35 mark. I was offering an introductory price for my pens having just gotten into making them but June 1 the prices of most of my pens will go up. Here are a few I’m selling now for reference:

-- John

View Puzzleman's profile


417 posts in 4282 days

#8 posted 05-25-2011 12:01 AM

Jack, I don’t sell pens but do look at and purchase them at craft shows. My latest one was $80.00.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler,

View CiscoKid's profile


375 posts in 4211 days

#9 posted 06-20-2011 06:57 PM

I do not sell pens at markets. With that said, I sold two yesterday and got orders for five more. I sell goat cheese at local farmer’s markets and am one of the only vendors that take plastic. When I ask the person to sign the sales slip I always hand them one of my handmade pens. Sometimes they will remark on it and ask me where I got it. I tell them that I make them. When they ask if they can buy one I let them know that I really am not there to sell pens. I have yet for one of them to take no for an answer and I end up getting my pen case out of my truck. I only make the high end pens and lately the fountain pens have been moving briskly. I had one woman buy two off me and the next week she showed up with a friend of hers and this woman purchased one and placed a special order for another. I try to price at two times what the kit cost. This still places me under what others are asking and lets me buy more kits with the profits. I have to make three Emperors in fountain pen, one Statesman rollerball and one Junior Statesman rollerball for next weekend. I use 20 thin coats of cyanoacrylate and polish with MicroMesh for a long lasting finish. I place no tags on my pens and let the customers ask me about the burls and timbers themselves.

-- Al, Culpeper VA

View usnrifleman's profile


3 posts in 1395 days

#10 posted 03-30-2018 06:47 PM

I dont tag my pens I tell people that they run from 40 – 500 and they will look to see if they like any of them. I have found if they are priced to low they will not sell and if there priced to high they will not sell. it deponds on the market to the price I charge. I will also add a little price if the wood I use is highend exc… I would price higher and you can always come down it hard to go up …

View TravisH's profile


785 posts in 3273 days

#11 posted 03-30-2018 09:59 PM

Pens never have sold well for me. Sell a few here and there but have not turned any more since last June. The ones I have sold have been cheap pens with gaudy acrylic swirl (12 to 20 bucks)l. Things just hit an miss from my experiences.

View Kazooman's profile


1540 posts in 3290 days

#12 posted 03-30-2018 10:01 PM

Total disclaimer: I don’t have a lathe and don’t make pens. I do have a question that has always made me curious, and it looks like I have a good cross section of pen makers/sellers, so here it is.

How much attention (that is $$$$$) do you put into the guts of your pens? The most exotic piece of wood carefully turned but then mounted on a cheap ball point or fountain pen mechanism results in a very nice looking pen that just doesn’t function well. Does the quality of the working “guts” make a big difference for you or are you mainly interested in the wooden barrel?

Just curious to hear what all of you think. I would imagine that any customer who paid top dollar for a nicely turned pen only to have it write like crap would not be very happy.

View Tennessee's profile


2936 posts in 3852 days

#13 posted 03-31-2018 12:56 PM

I make now, only Slimlines and Funlines if I buy from PSI. Others too expensive, and can’t seem to get the extra money I need for them.
I decided in my gallery that I sell in I would stick to that one style, but widely vary the woods, plastics, and pours.
They did OK at Christmas, selling 15 in one day to a charity that was putting together gift bags.
I sell them all for $39, and if I put out pens that are orange and white, (Univ of TN colors), they go fast. Got four of them poured right now, waiting to be lathed.

Not a huge seller normally, usually 2-5 a month. But steady. I like steady. And at $39, I have to give 40% of that to the gallery, so I get $24 for a pen. Wood cost is almost nothing, (I use mostly scrap), and the pours, I get a ton of pours out of the acrylic I buy from places like Michaels and Hobby Lobby where I only buy with 40% off coupons my wife finds in the Sunday papers. I’ll stick in scrap wood in the pour, or glitter or tint, so it makes things interesting. So I make about $19 a pen for a Slimline the easiest pen to make. A wooden one takes about 30 minutes to make. Acrylics, about 45 minutes. I can live with that.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View DIYWaterDog's profile


63 posts in 1764 days

#14 posted 04-12-2018 04:41 AM

What’s a Pen? What is it used for?

Just kidding… beautiful craftsmanship!

You do realize that handwriting is barely taught in the schools anymore? Cursive? What’s that? If I want to write a cryptic note that my kids can’t read, I pen it in cursive.

-- Why pay somebody when you can DIY?!?

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


10640 posts in 3747 days

#15 posted 04-12-2018 04:54 AM

Add to your product selection with other items easily turned on the lathe. I.E. bottle openers, razors, wine bottle openers, letter openers or salt and pepper shakers. Also try ceiling fan hangers. I made several sets with one always having a white corian bottom. As I told my daughter white is light, easy to remember.

A wider range of product will bring more people over and you can judge what sells more. The pens may draw them over but they may only buy something else. Few years back Bullet pens were hot, made like 300 right around Christmas.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

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