Everyone interested at doing a craft show to earn some cash wants to know – what to sell? What should I make that will sell well, and make a good profit for myself?
That’s the $64,000 question.
In fact, how much would you pay me to tell you exactly what to make? LOL. I can’t do that, but I think I can provide some guidelines, based on what I’ve observed.
• Uniqueness. Buying pressure is put on the consumer when they find something at a retail venue that they haven’t seen elsewhere. Their thought is, “This is great! I haven’t seen this anywhere else, I should get it.” You shouldn’t be selling something 25 other vendors are. Keep in mind, that quality and/or style figures into uniqueness as well. If my cutting boards are uniquely styled, and/or have better quality than the other vendors, that’s helpful.
• A low price point. I hope this is obvious. Are more people likely to shell out $20 or $50? Having a high-end item, in the $300 range might be a good idea, to get people to come in, and the small $20-ish item lets them spend without sweating about it.
• Geared toward impulsive women. Women are about 80% of the customers, in my experience. They like to buy decorative items, especially for the outdoors. Why outdoors, especially? My theory is, they don’t get to garden stores that often, where outdoor decorations (bird baths, wind chimes, brass sprinklers) are usually sold – so they don’t have the chance to buy those type of items. In contrast, they can buy indoor decorative items in any chain store – Target, Wal-Mart, etc.
• An item that can be easily carried. Would you want to lug around something heavy for the rest of the show, or run it back to the car? That can be a deal breaker for some. Sometimes, I have seen where a large heavy item, such as stones that are etched, or rustic baskets – all that are heavy – can be left in a “corral” the vendor provides with a paid for tag on it, so the customer can pick it up on their way out. Alternately, you can pay some kid to be your mover and take it out to the car for the customer.
• Food. Hey, everybody needs it. Probably not an option with LJs, but perhaps the wives might be interested. The hassle is, (at least here in NY) you have to have certification to sell food products. That probably involves a kitchen inspection, and all kinds of insane rules for the kitchen – such as shelves have to be at least 12” off the floor. I don’t know if there is a huge hassle for small time craft show people – you’ll have to look into it. There is a vendor I see at every show – and whom I buy from every time – Nunda (“nun-day”) Mustard. They sell flavored mustard. Here’s their website. Awesome product – unique, easy to carry, cheap – about $4.75 a jar. They always have samples too, which is a MUST.
•A “green” item”. “Green” – that is, environmentally friendly – items are a feel-good product. When you buy, why not buy green, and help “save” the environment. You can make it a point that all your products are from reclaimed wood, for example.
To the element of uniqueness and craftsmanship, I have seen variations of the following phrase constantly in articles over the years;
“Two paths to success – do something uncommon or do something common, yet uncommonly well”
• Traffic usually follows a pattern in these places; being the first vendor with cutting boards (jewelry, garden items, etc) is definitely a plus – someone might buy from you before buying from the guy with similar stuff another 100 feet down the path.
• Displays are everything. You don’t need to have a broadway show, but have an attractive setting.
• Interact with customers, just say “hello” even. I’ve seen a lot of sellers just sitting there doing something else – reading a paper, playing with their Blackberry, etc. Talking to passersby gets their attention, they might see something they want on your table.
• Dress the part. Selling wood stuff? How about wearing a nice white shirt, with the sleeves rolled up, and a new leather apron – act and look the part. No NASCAR shirts, or one that says “BUSH SUCKS.” Play the role. YOU can be part of the product, in a sense.
• Business cards! Several bunches all over your table. You might be busy talking at length with a customer, and I wanted to ask a question. Oh, you have a business card with your email on it – I’ll contact you that way.
• Consider putting out something that catches people’s eyes – food. Candies, crackers, whatever. Will draw attention to your table.
• Give your customer every opportunity to buy from you; don’t make barriers to being able to take their credit card, check or cash.
• Trick #1 If you have some good friends, here might be a trick worth trying: have them crowd around your booth. Nothing draws a crowd like…a crowd. People think something is going on, something to look at, so they come over too.
• Trick #2. Have your friends walk around the show with some of your product, like they just bought it. If people see a few people with that product, they are going to think it’s worth buying, for some reason or other, and will look for your product. It’s a group-think mentality. What would you think if you saw 5 people, here and there, with a wrought iron Sheppard’s crook to hang plants from? It’s got to be a hot item!