14 October 2007

My first (and last) craft fair

So, the craft fair was a total disaster! I'm far past the fun fur craze, in fact I never thought I was part of it. I'm a bit of a high-brow crafter. Not that I'm not always on the lookout for a good deal, but if I see something that's handcrafted that I like I'm more than willing to spend the money to buy it. I think the best way to describe the crowd at his craft fair is to document a few conversations I had. First is the conversation with my husband via cell phone about 3 hours into the fair:
My sweetie: So, how's it going?
Me: OK, I guess, I'm not really selling much.
My sweetie: Do you think you'll sell much?
Me: No, probably not. I don't quite fit in here.
My sweetie: Is it more of a Walmart crowd?
Me: Yeah!
My sweetie: OK, good luck!

The second conversation is with a women who was selling these gorgeous penny rugs for less than it would cost for the materials! (if you don't know what a penny rug is, check here for an example):
Me: Wow! Did you sew this all?
Penny rug lady: Yes.
Me: By hand????
Penny rug lady: Yes.
Me: Wow! You should charge so much more than you are!
Penny rug lady: You have to know your audience here.

Now, there are two major responses I have to these conversations. First off, I will be the first to admit that I am anti-Walmart, but in the sort of situation where that is all that is in driving distance I guess I can't get mad at people who shop there. For people who have other options I say "shame on you! Walmart is evil!!" Now, by the "is it more of a walmart crowd?", my husband meant "is it the sort of crowd that think they can buy anything for $10?" In which case I say YES!!! They didn't think paying more than $10 for anything is worth it and they seemed to go crazy for all things football. More than half of the tables featured goods made from NFL team fabrics and fleeces. They sold like hotcakes. Sure they may not be things that you run across in your normal shopping scene, but they are not what I consider craft fair quality.

And in response to the conversation with the penny rug lady. I'm am not willing to lower my standards!! Just because the customers were not willing to pay more than $10 and may be used to paying $10 for that "quality" item in Old Navy that goes out of style in one year or starts to come apart at the seams in 2 months does not mean that I'm willing to make negative profit. My "big ticket" item of the craft fair was my laptop case. I had it for sale at $80. Which I think is pretty good. I spent about $60 on the yarn to make it and it took more than 2 weeks of working on only that project to finish it. Even if I figure I'd pay myself $1 an hour for making this bag, it still doesn't pay for my labor. Despite the tons of "oohs" and "ahhs" I got about this bag, I was not willing to pimp my knitting self out for less than $1 an hour!

I've come to 2 major conclusions from this experience:
1. High school craft fairs suck!!!
2. I'm more likely to reach my target audience through etsy where people seem to appreciate the quality of handmade items a little better.

So, what exactly did I sell:
9 packages of small dog treats
4 packages of large dog treats
1 pair of baby booties

No one wanted any key fobs, which I think are just adorable and extremely handy. Maybe no one else has the problem where they have to walk 2 dogs in exercise clothes with no pockets! I did get lots of "Oh, that's a good idea." comments about them, but no actual buyers. As I already said I got lots of positive comments on the laptop bag but no buyers. A few comments on the newborn mittens, but most of the people there were just walking around while their sons were in wrestling practice. I'm guessing if they have kids old enough to have kids in wrestling then they probably don't have newborns and aren't thinking of grandkids yet.

My overall opinion of the craft fair was pretty negative. It's rather disappointing when people walk right past your handmade quality items to run to the crap jewelry from China!

Will I ever do another craft fair?. . . . HELL NO!!!!

Will I ever attempt to sell my goods?. . . . YES!!!! While my faith in mankind has been greatly damaged, I still believe in the general good taste and appreciation of quality craftmanship that I know is in there somewhere. I'm going to go forward with my etsy shop (hopefully I can have some stuff posted tomorrow, when I sober up a little) and see if I sell anything there. I'll probably give the etsy shop a few months so I can settle in wherever our new house will be and hopefully get a few more crafty things done (like making soap).

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