Thursday, January 13, 2011

We Did Our First Craft Show

In early December, Mr. FC&G and I did our first craft show.  And while I would hardly consider myself a craft show expert now, I do think it fits nicely with some of the aims of sustainable living.  The best part of the endeavor is that it was a way to make a little money from our handmade items while selling them in a very local context.  What you see above is the earrings my electrical engineer hubby made from resistors.

What you see here are the piles of fleece socks and hand-knitted cowls that I made.  This certainly gave me an outlet for my knitting and fleece addiction.  It also gave us the excuse to launch our brand for these sorts of things.  We are now Carrot Creations, so named because of a running joke that carrots are the finest of all veggies and that everything good can be shorthanded into being called a "carrot."  I think the addition of the new logo on the sign and the price tags gave things a professional look.

So what did I learn from our endeavor?  A few things from this first time out:

1.  Find a show with low or no table rent.  I was lucky that a friend recommended this one, which was a small, friendly show with no table fee; the added traffic drove people into the business that hosted the show, so it was a win/win.  Some shows have substantial fees, and these will be worth it only if we have a lot of inventory that we are sure will sell.

2.  Have a variety of items.  Three was a good number to get people to reach out and touch things, and we did have about 10 percent of the people who visited actually buy something.  I was also challenged to alter my already-altered sock pattern to have S/M/L sizes for both men and women, and that seems to have worked well.

3.  Take something to keep your hands busy.  I knitted a cowl, of course.  People seemed more comfortable if it didn't seem like I was ready to pounce hungrily on them. 

4.  Investigate sales tax.  Before we did this show, I applied for a vendor's license, and I priced my items to include sales tax on a fair price.  This is easy to do with the tax tables in front of you.  I always set a nice round price so I didn't have to make a lot of change, so that meant that my pre-tax prices (which the customer never saw) were always odd (like $10.42), but that's OK.

5.  Price to sell.  For me, this was part of my FC&G philosophy.  I looked around at comparable prices in catalogs, then figured out how to sell my items for less than typical retail.  For example, fleece socks are typically $15 in catalogs, plus tax, shipping, and handling.  I sold mine for $12, including tax.  A little smart shopping for fleece and some production efficiencies on my part meant that customers got some of the savings passed onto them.

Our next step is to start an Etsy store, but we are not very far along in that process.  In the meantime, if you are interested in anything you see here, feel free to email me.  I can check stock, email photos, and arrange for payment.  This will all be easier when we get that Etsy store set up, and I will certainly announce it here when we do!
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