Friday, October 10, 2008

Can The Economy Get Any Scarier? The Affect on Handmade Sales and Shows Sea Glass Festival

In my last entry, I blogged about the affect the economy has on craft shows and sales overall. I mentioned a surprisingly slow September after a very good spring and a busier than expected summer. Chalking the lull in sales to busy back-to-school Moms, I considered September to be one of those months where summer is over (and I do rely on Sea Glass jewelry sales for much of my sales) and yet, Autumn hasn't quite yet arrived... so my Sea Glass is yesterday's news, while my Fall colors are not quite the in thing just yet.

And then the stock market went haywire. Banks were failing causing people to start panicking, while they watched their investments plummet. So what would this all mean to our Handmade world?

Looking back on last week's show, I had an increase in a show where, even in a good economy, I think I would've been happy. So considering what's transpired outside my Handmade world with the economy, I should be thrilled with last weekend's outcome.

But the biggest positive I took from the show is the amount of people walking around the show saying that they were looking to buy handmade items,...unique items this year as holiday gifts and they are looking to get their holiday shopping underway now!

Of course, when I hear talk like that, I take it as wishful thinking. You know, wouldn't it be great if.... But this week, one of the customers that purchased something from me at the show signed up at Etsy and made a purchase. A second visitor to my craft table emailed asking about custom orders and both inquired about my future show schedule.

One thing seems for sure, the customers are buying and it seems they will be buying early in the season. So I'll be adding several new items over the weekend and hitting the promo forums in hopes of making a few October holiday sales.

Maybe when the economy doesn't appear to be sound, people look to simplify and the unique handmade creations we make appease their needs. Maybe.

This weekend, in Lewes, Delaware, the North American Sea Glass Association will be holding their annual sea glass festival. Normally held on the west coast, the NASGA decided on the right coast this year and luckily for me, it's about an hour away. Since I'm an enthusiast first and a sea glass jewelry creator second, I'm thrilled to have the chance to attend.

My hubby and I had hoped to attend the entire weekend's events, but with that darn economy and our decision to try to save to take our sons to Disney this fall, the whole sea glass-hunting family will take the ferry from Cape May and attend Saturday's planned events.

Hopefully, I'll run into some of the west coast collectors that I've been buying some of my beautiful sea glass gems from. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they'll have a few frosty beauties in their exhibits for sale this weekend.

I'm really looking forward to seeing some of the incredible gems that are found on beaches all over the world and hoping I can find a little piece of orange to add to my personal collection.

And of course I'll be looking to pick up a few pretties to make some new jewelry creations with!

Good luck to everyone with a show this weekend and please let me know how it turned out!

'til next time...


Monday, October 6, 2008

Does the Sluggish Economy Carry-Over to Crafts and Craft Shows?

Going into my first craft show (this past weekend in Eagleswood- Country Fair) I have to admit, I was a bit concerned about how the economy would affect the early Autumn shows. After having a decent summer on Etsy and an okay late summer craft show, I was prepared to see my little business "kick it" into high gear for the fall.

When September proved to be very slow, I chalked it up to back to school and thought perhaps that a late September rush would occur. A couple of late September sales bouyed my hopes. However October sales on Etsy have remained sluggish and I had fears going into last Saturday's shows.

Like many other crafters/artists, I have prepaid into many shows for the fall and I'll average 2 or 3 shows a month until Christmas. Clearly the economy has had much to do with the sluggish sales on Etsy (I know I'm no the only seller that has felt the crunch in the economy).

The show I did this past weekend isn't a craft show, but actually a Country Fair. Cheer gyms were performing, there were antique cars, pony rides & games for the children, pie-eating contests, etc.

So I went into the show expecting a poor showing and hoped that I could promote my Etsy shop and maybe make a few show sales and future online sales from the show. As it turned out, I handed out quite a few business cards, spoke with a bride-to-be about possibly creating sea glass jewelry for her wedding and ended up with a custom order for another customer, along with promoting a few of my future shows to people who live in those areas.

Overall, the show did better than last year's figures and wasn't a waste of time. Not that it would've been... my family came to the show with me and my sons were able to partake in all of the activities and really enjoyed themselves. This was the one show that they are able to come to without being bored after 30 minutes.

I had hoped to match last year's figures and I ended up exceeding those numbers (if only slightly) but I think I'll have a few repeat customers at a few of my future shows and hopefully this show will lead to a few online sales also.

The jury is still out on how the economy is going to affect my craft show schedule. This show will give me a reason to have a bit more of a positive outlook as I head into a few of my big shows later this month.

But I'm still hoping the economy regulates a little more, so people feel a bit easier about spending money in the very near future.

til next time...


PS- my first attempt at wire-wrapping...this beautiful frosty white piece of beach glass was found this summer on LBI, in NJ and will go into my Etsy shop shortly. Watch for a Sea Glass blog later this week!