Today was my first EVER craft show and I am so glad I did it because I experienced so many emotions during this day that I don't think it is possible to sum them all up in a nice little package.
I went into this show with the goal of it being a fact finding mission. I had absolutely NO expectations. In fact, if I sold one thing I was going to consider the day successful. Second, I did not know what to expect. Would the visitors like my jewelry? Would they hate it? Would they laugh at it? Would they ignore me? Would they buy it all in the first hour and then I would have nothing left to sell? Would I leave there with my tail between my legs at having been there all day with not one sale? Was it priced too high? Was it priced too low? Was my display good enough? Would I forget something? Would I be able to make change? Would I even have to worry about it if no one came to my table?
All of these questions swam around in my head all week. I had no answers because I had no experience at this. I got to the venue yesterday because they let you set up a day early. I got to my little 8x6 table. It was in a great location but looked so little sitting there all by itself while everyone around it was putting together these massive displays. I started with the material I bought at JoAnns...pink and white..that covered my little table. I bought some displays at an online wholesale display outlet so I put them out and on top of some boxes that I covered in white tissue paper. I put out my earring displays for all of my earrings. I put out my little card holders for the prices of my jewelry that I bought at Michaels for real cheap. I also put out a really nice fake bouquet of tulips that I bought on clearance at Michaels because it looked pretty and made my table a bit more attractive. Believe me when I say that this was a low budget set up.
This morning I got up real early and made my way to the show with my one basket with all my jewelry and other necessities in it. Other people had shopping carts full of merchandise. All of my jewelry fit into a shoe box. When I got there I put all my jewelry out and proudly displayed it. I wasn't really nervous...remember, I had no expectations. I went in there thinking that if I learn one thing and sell one thing I would have considered it a success.
I met the couple at the table next to me, in front of me, and diagonal to me. They were so helpful and nice and experienced. I think they saw this was my first show. I must have had that rookie look to me. The couple next to me were selling shirts..$5 each..."can you believe it's that low?" was what I heard for the next 8 hours. He was loud and talkative but very cool and funny. I didn't mind at all that he talked a lot because he got a lot of people to his table which was right next to mine so that meant people came by my table too.
The woman diagonal to me was especially sweet. She came to my table a few times and gave me some much needed advice. She said "your jewelry is way too good for this show." I was taken aback at that and asked her what she meant. She said that I should go for shows that are less "flea market" types and go for more crafty, upscale shows like bazaars. She quickly educated me to what people expect at "flea markets" and I really appreciated her advice. I will follow through on that.
About an hour into the show, the crowds started picking up and more and more people were coming through and stopping at my table. I was listening intently to the things people were saying about my jewelry. Was it too expensive? Was it too small? And then I made my first sale. A woman picked up some earrings and really loved them. My first sale and it was two pair of earrings. I was so excited. I already exceeded my expectations by one pair of earrings. I texted my dear husband and while I was texting him more people were stopping by my table. Several minutes later a woman bought three pieces. Oh My. I was really getting excited now and decided that I should start tracking my sales. I was so excited I forgot to write this stuff down. I started actually having fun. This is pretty cool. People are actually paying me for something I made. People were giving me really nice feedback. They LOVED my earrings. They thought some of the bracelets were so cool and neat. The next two hours were pretty hectic as the lunch crowd starting really coming in and it wasn't until about 1 pm that it started to die down. And as the show started winding down and people were packing up I counted up my sales...26 items sold and about $180 made. It was an awesome day and way exceeded my expectations. I was totally exhausted not really from standing on my feet all day mainly from the swing of emotions that I was feeling. And now I get to do it all again tomorrow.
I would be remiss if I didn't summarize what I learned today.
1. Being a vendor is TOTALLY different than being a customer. TOTALLY. When I am a customer at a flea market I feel bad when I walk by booths as if I am totally rejecting the vendor. I don't want to hurt their feelings. But as a vendor I totally didn't feel rejected by people walking by. I just figured that not everyone is there to buy jewelry. They may have something else in mind and that was perfectly fine with me.
2. Know what a flea market is and understand that people are there to buy junk for cheap and to get deals. Understand the customers that will come to your show.
3. Sell items that are related to the product you are selling in addition to the product. For example, one of the biggest hits at my table was my earring stands.
It was the most requested item. In fact I am going to sell them all off tomorrow for a profit. I never guessed that this would be the thing that everyone would be talking about but when I asked people why they liked it so much they told me that cute earring displays are hard to find. Also, I got more requests to buy the fake flowers from Michaels that I bought as a table decoration. I finally sold them to a lady for a few bucks more than I paid for them. Who knew?
4. Offer many price points (which is what I did) but this show just reinforced with me that I need to offer cheaper items as well as the occasional high priced item.
5. Many adult women were buying my earrings which tells me that my earrings are probably too "adult" for little girls. Since I am trying to create a line for little girls/preteens I am not sure what it is saying to have mostly adults fall all over my earrings.
I know there are other lessons learned and I will probably sort it all out in the next few weeks especially as I try to find my next show. But this time I will be searching for the shows in various parenting magazines so I can get optimum coverage with kids.