Sunday, June 17, 2012

Craft Fairs!

Hey there! Remember me? Well, it's been a long time since I last posted. I have been super busy! May was an exciting month for me as I participated in my very first crafts fairs! Yup that was fairS, plural. I was in a small church fair about a half hour from my home on May 5. After all that preparation, it turned out to be pretty small. The organizers seemed to have everything in order. Where it didn't work was in the advertising and signage outside the church (minor detail). We just didn't have many people show up! But it really ended up being a perfect first show for me. With all the downtime, I chatted with many of the other vendors and got ideas about other shows and different kinds of table setups. It was such a nice group of vendors who were all willing to share ideas with each other, especially with us newbies.

Here's my first fair table setup:

I tried to get as much of my product visible and open on the table. I had a small old suitcase (in the center), where I tried to have paintings propped up for folks to flip through. It ended up being an awkward reach though. I did receive some nice feedback and gave my card out to quite a number of folks. I made a little over my booth fee, which paid for my gas and lunch to get out there. But of most value were the ideas for a new setup that I received from some of the other vendors.

For instance, another vendor was admiring some of the work on my table and just before she walked away, she noticed the book of portrait paintings (left corner). She said, "THAT'S your money maker." She then suggested I print out some of the portraits I've done of people, pets, and houses and get them up at eye level with a note saying, "ask for details on commission portraits." I had other ideas from vendors too that seemed really encouraging. So, regardless of how much (or little) money I made, this first fair was my training for the second fair three weeks later.

Then came the Etsy Denton Summer Bazaar. Oh. My. Goodness. Before I get to that, here's my table setup:

I got my new banner in time to hang in front of the table for this show. Although, I'm not sure how many folks saw it. I brought along a Japanese screen where I hung a number of paintings behind the table. I used a new basket (my husband found it for me at Home Goods) to keep the cards a little more upright and less likely to slip onto the floor. I ditched the suitcase idea and my dad made a stand on which I propped some Christmas cards and 8x10 prints. On a side note: I couldn't believe how many folks buy Christmas cards in May! I was so glad I brought them. :) Anyhow, these organizers sure knew what they were doing. I heard this was only their third show to organize, which was surprising!

The Etsy Denton Bazaar: We vendors were given an opportunity to participate in a coupon book for the show. The first 30 people in line would get a coupon book for freebies from participating sellers. We were still setting up and heard about the line that wrapped around the building! Then the doors opened. I waited. waited. Then the mob gradually made its way back to my corner... It was non-stop customers from 11 a.m. when we opened until about 2:45. We closed at 4. For that last hour I still had a number of customers though! The organizer got on the microphone to let everyone know we were shutting down, and I had a woman run back to my booth to buy the beagle portrait. It was AMAZING. I was exhausted but very satisfied with it all.

I had heard about a magic number to call a craft fair a success. Some folks say a successful show is when you make 10 times your booth fee. I almost made it to that (mine was more like 8x)! It was so fun. It was so encouraging to have people buy my work who truly appreciated it. It was so encouraging having numerous friends and coworkers come out to support me. Some even purchased from me!

I could never have done it, were it not for my supportive and encouraging husband. He's amazing! I'm so grateful also for all my supportive friends.

Now it's the month of June and I thought I'd take a rest from all the excitement. Well....then I found out about a couple more commission paintings I get to do. :)

But for any of you who have a craft to sell, I strongly recommend trying a craft fair! Especially if you're a people person, you will have fun. It's such a learning experience and it's so great meeting the people who enjoy what you do. The next Etsy Denton show is November 3. If I get in to that one too, anyone want to come see me?