TheAspenStand: 3 Lessons I Learned From My First Community Craft Fair

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

3 Lessons I Learned From My First Community Craft Fair

I finally did it. I took part in physically selling my Zazzle products at an event.

I participated in our local historic General Store's community fair, yard, and bake sale. The historic store is located along historic Route 66 and I had one particular design of the store that I thought would be good to put out there. My assumption was it would be visited by locals from the community more so than travelers along the Route 66 segment. Either way, I thought this would appeal to some folks.

It has been quite enjoyable selling my photography and digital art in my Zazzle store online since the summer of 2009. I've purchased many products for gifts, donations, and just to write a review. As an introvert, I'd never considered setting up at a public event with my products. This was going to be a a first and a big deal.

When I arrived early that morning, there were tables with yard sale tables and flatbed trailers, several tables with crafts like goat milk soap and me staking out a spot along the road.

I was offering a few other select Zazzle products that I thought would be of interest to our little community along with my headliner watercolor of the General Store. The watercolor was a digitally altered photograph of the historic General Store which you can see in the frames on the table in the photograph below. 
My minimal set-up along Route 66 with yard sale tables and trailers behind me.
I began ordering a variety of Zazzle products featuring that particular design and a few other custom historic Route 66 products such as magnets and key chains right after I signed up to participate in the event. Having a stockpile of products for the event was a way to keep me from backing out. When it was all over that day, I learned at least these three lessons. 

Outdoor Events Can Quickly Be Affected By Weather

My first lesson was with our weather surprises. We set up my table and a camp chair to display the products I brought. I framed and matted several prints and set those up in plate holders like in the photo below. I had also framed a greeting card and postcard with the same image to show how they looked framed. I used the camp chair to display products including magnets, totes and luggage tags.

Historic General Store Framed & matted print
I had several leather bags and purses with straps draped over the back and arms of the chair to show off a variety of lightweight acrylic luggage tags affixed to them like the acrylic tag shown in the photograph below. I also had locally related greeting cards, postcards, stickers, key chains, magnets, bumper stickers and the laptop sleeve (seen below) among the offerings.

Historic Route 66 General Store Neoprene Laptop Sleeve
Initially the wind was calm.  Within a short time, we had sporadic gusts and I had to lay flat all the framed prints down on the table. It sure didn't look as nice with all those flat on the table. I also had to chase a few of the lightweight paper products that blew off the table during unexpected wind gusts. Rain wasn't in the forecast but I wasn't prepared for that either.

Expect the Unexpected

Lesson number two was differentiating what was for sale and what was for displaying those products. The identification tags looked great displayed on the purses and bags draped over the camp chair but several people asked if I was selling the bags. I had to assume that since there were a lot of yard sale items all around me, the bags looked like sale items too. If I had put price stickers on the products that would have been better so people knew exactly what was for sale. I assumed people would want to talk about the items so I could tell them prices at that time. In hindsight, I can see how the bags looked like they might be for sale. 

Aspen Leaves in Fall Colors Acrylic Luggage Tag

Everything Is A Learning Experience

I've always known that designs or photographs I might like aren't necessarily something others might like. So with that in mind it's not so easy to decide what I'd take to another public event.   As an introvert, talking to folks doesn't get any easier if I don't get out and get social more often especially when I'm talking about my Zazzle products. 

As I was tearing down my table, I stopped in to talk with the store owner about the consignment of some of the products I still had out there. I'm still working on gathering some of the specialty local designs and plan to see how the consignment works out. 

I didn't sell a lot of what I'd expected but I learned these three and a few more lessons related to publicly selling my products and small community living. 

What have been your experiences either as a seller or buyer at a craft fair style event? I'd love to read your experiences and learn from them.

Leave me a comment. 

7 comments:

  1. Patricia - sounds like you had an interesting day. Did you make enough sales to make the day worthwhile? I have never tried participating in sales like this but have given it some thought.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Joe. Thanks for checking out the post. I really didn't make any money. It was a definite learning experience. I spent more money purchasing the items. Plus matting and framing the prints and cards cost a bit. I've given away a few items as souvenirs to friends that visited. If they had a craft fair each month I'd probably try again with what I have left with a mix of less expensive items.

      Delete
  2. Hi Patricia,
    I really love being out in the public eye and selling (mostly for friends), despite being an introvert. But it is tiring talking to so many people, and usually I have to lie low (like the stuff that blew off your table!) the day after.

    As an introvert, selling online has got to be easier. There's no wind or rain, for one thing! :D

    Nice post!

    Carol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Carol,
      Thanks for your input. Yes, for me it really is easier selling online. I am one who feels so much better behind the keyboard. But if I know you, I can't stop me from chatting. ;-) I'm hoping to see the store owner today about consignment items.

      It really was worth me trying it out and I did meet a very nice neighbor from a mile down the road. She makes and sells goat milk soap on consignment at the store.

      Thanks again. Cheers
      Patricia

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well I am glad you were able to gain some knowledge and that made it a success! I really think your Route 66 designs will still appeal to tourists, maybe later you will get a chance to set up at an event that is geared toward tourists and still sell those items then. I know living in El Reno Ok. on Rte. 66 the locals are not my target audience (most of them are also vendors) but we get lots of people from out of state and even other countries that eat the Mother Road stuff up, some of them came here only because of the Rte 66 history.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for checking out the post and leaving a comment Shelli.

      It is interesting that I recently sold 6 of the tee shirts with the General Store watercolor online to a Texas customer. I decided to spruce up the design for the Henley shirts then added a link to our community FB page. I've had a few comments on that one but we'll see if it sells. Oh yes, other country residents love Route 66 history. I've sold a couple of my custom tee designs to European addresses.

      Thanks again. Cheers,
      Patricia

      Delete

Comments from visitors puts perspective on my work. Let me know your thoughts about the post. Thanks.