Saturday, September 22, 2012

Craft Show- Tips and Trends

At my most recent show, my hubby pointed out several things he observed during the show. Some of these observations were trends he noticed before and in the next few events they seemed to prove themselves as situations I wanted to create or avoid. Hubby is a people watcher and he'll often at shows, whisper to me that a certain person is going to buy something. The most bizarre thing is, he does it as the person is leaving my display and more often than not, he's correct because they come back and make a purchase!
The observation that he finds that often leads to a sale is- a crowd at the display and the bigger, the better! When I have several people standing in front of my display tables, it seems that more people see the crowd and get drawn in, like moths to a porch light. Others become curious and just have to see why there is a crowd at my display tables. Because two pieces of sea glass are rarely alike, my jewelry creations are essentially one-of-a-kind creations. And large crowds at my display make those right in front a little antsy, especially if they "love" one of my items. I have watched people have conversations with each other, almost justifying a reason why they are going to make a purchase... upcoming birthday, Put it away for a Christmas present, this is her color, etc. Sometimes it seems like the person feels that this could be there last chance to make the purchase and if they walk away and come back, "their" piece of jewelry will be bought by someone else. So crowds, especially a large and getting bigger crowd, will often facilitate a purchase and there is nothing better than a large group of people seeing someone make a purchase. I rarely make jewelry at a show. It's often just too hectic and I never liked the pressure of doing it in front of people. At my most recent show, I pulled out some jewelry-quality pieces of sea glass and decided I would try to wrap a couple. The foot traffic at the show was good, but sales were slow and hubby has always encouraged me to make jewelry at the show, "on-the-fly". With my hubby and two boys at the tables to talk with anyone who came to my display, I was able to start wrapping without interruption and just got lost wrapping jewelry. I had a nice flow going and after turning several pieces of sea glass into pendants, I looked up to find I had a large audience off to the side of my table, all watching me do my thing. Several inquired if I would consider making jewelry with a piece of sea glass they personally found on the beach, took business cards, and a couple of them made purchases. One person claimed that after they observed the process of how I chose to wrap a piece, it became more personable watching "the artist" create it right in front of them (wow, I'm an artist in somebody's mind!) Crafters, if you can preform your craft live at a show, seriously consider it- it goes back to my first tip- it draws a crowd to your display and that often results in something positive for you. Business cards are a must and if you feel comfortable, jot your phone number down on a few to hand out to those you feel may be a future customer. I went through a lot of cards in my last show and if only 10% of those people contact me in the coming months, that show will go from "above expectations" to "HUGE!!!" Credit Cards- I always accept credit card purchases and have only been burned twice in several years (both for small amounts, but it still gets me angry because sea glass is one-of-a-kind and I'll never find another piece like the one I just "gave away") This last show, I noticed that about 60% of the sales were credit cards, and that most of the mid-range price-point items were purchased via a cc. The lower end price points were cash purchases and the high-end items didn't sell. If you can, bring all of your inventory to the show. I sold a piece that I have had in my inventory for a couple of years. I know that there have been shows when this piece wasn't included in the inventory, but you can't sell what you didn't bring and luckily, this piece has found a new home...and the new owner was thrilled because it's her favorite color!
I'm happy that some people seemed to be in a purchasing mood at the show and I have made a couple of recent sales in my shop. But I am still pessimistic about the economy. I hope things are taking a turn for the better and that sales and future shows (for you and I) prove to be successful. Perhaps these tips will help you make a few sales and maybe attract a couple repeat customers for your products and business. Looking forward to see you on the show circuit! 'til next time, R

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review- The 2012 Beach Plum Festival

If you haven't been following my recent blog entries- a quick catch-up... The economy has really affected my small handmade jewelry crafting business and with one of my favorite shows approaching, I decided to make a personal investment. Best case scenario, it would be a good show and I'd make my money back (and hopefully a decent profit) or worse case, I would have replenished my inventory and would put everything into my Etsy shop and gear up for holiday sales.
The Festival- for those that live in the NJ area, the Beach Plum Festival is held every September on Island Beach State Park (near Seaside) The park is gorgeous, the beaches very clean and one of the few beaches in NJ staffed with lifeguards after Labor Day. The Festival attracts several handmade crafters, displays featuring local non-profits and food vendors, along with many displays featuring the topic of the day...Beach Plums (the ice cream and jellies are outstanding, BTW) The show is very well run and receives quite a bit of local media attention. For crafters considering this event, the show always attracts a great deal of foot-traffic- many who plan to hit the beach and stroll in find a great festival in progress. If you have a beach-theme craft or business, this should be a must-do show. An overview of how the festival went for me personally would be- better than expected. I really didn't know what to expect because I was not selling much out of my Etsy shop and other crafters had reported below average sales over the summer. With many fellow crafters cutting back on shows, I didn't really know what to expect. The show started out slowly sales-wise. There was a large crowd right at the start of the festival (perhaps beach-goers) and I had a lot of foot traffic, but very few people looked to be making purchases anywhere. The traffic continued to pour in and I decided to find a few pieces in my collection to make into pendants for necklaces. I began wire-wrapping several pieces and that seemed to draw a small crowd and that seemed to change the "luck" for me, as I starting selling a few pieces. By noon, it was clear I would cover my expenses and make a little money. I'd love to say this was my best year at this venue, but it wasn't. But with the expectations I had coming into the show, I have to admit that I am so happy to have made the investment in myself because it seems that people are beginning to feel good about the economy. And they appear to be looking to buy something different and unique.
I'd love to find another show to do before the holidays, but realistically, I'm probably not going to find a better match for my product than this show. Island Beach State Park's Beach Plum Festival and my handmade sea glass jewelry just seem to be a perfect match for me. But I'll keep looking for the right spot. After the show, I sat with my hubby and discussed how the show went and realized there were a few trends on my sales and a things that helped me make sales that I hope to blog about soon. A few of these are ideas that I will continue to do at future shows and these thoughts might help fellow crafters make a few extra sales at their shows in the future. 'til next time, R

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Economy and Crafting

"May you live in interesting times" is an old proverb that comes to mind when I think of the current economic unrest in the world today. I try not to dwell on it much, but there are many times that the economy has forced me to re-evaluate what is happening with my crafting business.
Rising costs in gas and silver directly impacted my business. People just didn't have money to spend on the pretty necklace they found on my Etsy website or show display. The "I want that" draw that often led to spur of the moment purchases, had turned into "I'd like to have that" and eventually to "I wish I could afford that". My business is not one of necessity. Seaglass jewelry is not an everyday, must-have item. But for someone that lives the lifestyle of using handmade items in their ever day life, they will find a way to purchase an item such as handmade soap- if only because it is better for their skin, or it's because it's eco friendly (or higher quality than many of the massed produced, chemical laden "stuff") So not every crafting business is affected the same way. Some will continue to flourish, while others face stagnating sales because of diminished purchasing power. My sales are way down. (as in WAAAAYYY down) I did a show recently and had to invest some of my own money into my business (a QE of sorts)to be able to afford the show. You'll have to checkout my next blog installment to see if it was a wise investment... but I'll leave you with a "it was encouraging". 'til next time, R