Craft Show Update...

It's the strangest thing... the worse I do at a craft show, the more intense my desire to try it again. Remember when I said I would never, never do this again? Well, I've changed my mind. Again. You see, I've got it now. I know exactly what I need to do. I've hit upon the the perfect idea and this year's flop only serves to illuminate exactly what I'm doing wrong and subsequently, what I need to do to make it right!

The problem is that I am a crafty snob. My husband and I figured this out while sitting (and yawning) behind my table. You see, most of the tables that were very crowded and selling like mad had inexpensively priced items that shoppers want to buy. My items were priced to actually bring in a profit and they were items that I would want to buy. The Chief explained that I think I can convince people (in the 5 seconds that they are walking by my table) that they should like (and buy) the same things that I like. So maybe I'm less of a snob than a crafty idealist. I could be completely mercenary. I know how to make all kinds of things. But I just can't bring myself to it.

Case in point: A table an aisle away from mine completely sold out an hour before the show ended. What were they selling? Scented stuffed animals. No offense to anyone reading this who loves these little smelly bears and dogs but I think I would actually pay to have one removed from my house. And they FLY off craft show tables. They are made by dipping a stuffed animal into melted scented wax. Then the animal is fluffed up and dried and... sold. They lose their scent after a few weeks but can be revived with a hair dryer. I could learn to make those bears with ease. But I'm too proud... or snobbish... or something.

I was pouting about the bears (very big of me, I know) when my son chimes in... "You know, those little bears are incredibly flammable! Paraffin is like candle wax. The fur and stuff is the wick; a giant wick. Those things would burn for a looong time!" He was right. The fire starters we make for our wood stove are paraffin and lint. Even the little ones burn a really long time. I love that boy. So now we call them the fire starter bears. It just makes me feel better because I'm a small, small person. *sigh*

But enough about smelly bears. I think my point was that I should become slightly less handmade elitist and more mercenary. My mission (before applications are due in April) is to find a happy medium; something I enjoy making that other people don't have to be convinced to buy. My parish craft show is not Etsy. People who shop on Etsy are willing to pay more for handmade. People who attend craft shows are looking for bargains. And the sweet ladies who sell their hours and hours of crochet labor for pennies because they enjoy doing something while they watch TV (their words, not mine)... well, let's just say they ruin it for the rest of us. No hard feelings though; I buy their stuff every year because it is handmade, beautiful and affordable... lol.

As I've said, I tend to make what I like. I like handmade. I usually make boutique items for babies but decided to try smaller, less expensive items this year to see if I could sell more that way. I like lovely things that children can touch and enjoy in ways that counterbalance plastic dudes and technology. So one of the items I made to sell was bean bag sets (which the children love and I love). I made them specifically for toddlers with a filler that allows them to be washed... since kid drool and spilled milk and water will rot beans and corn. I thought it was cool. And everyone thought they were pretty. But I wish I had a dime for every time someone said something like:

Bean bags... hmmm... so what are kids supposed to do with these?

Which left me speechless. But reminded me that people generally regard handmade toys as boring. Although I did sell a few sets to moms who probably shop on Etsy. And I managed to eek out a sale to a grandma who wished I would just sell her one bag instead of four because what would one child do with four?... which made me laugh.

I said in my last post that it is far easier for me to sell handmade online. The day after the show, I listed a variety of unsold items online to see if I could move them out of my house. Within 20 minutes, I had already sold or swapped 7 of them to very eager buyers. I felt much better after that.

One of the very best moments of the day came when I got to meet a fellow blogging sister in Christ. I do want to introduce you to her properly so I'll do that in another post.


Professor just walked into the room and saw the photo of the waxed bear on the computer. Intuitive young man that he is, he says, "Are you writing a disparaging blog post?" Caught! Seriously though. I think no worse of any of you for liking smelly bears. I am just jealous. In fact, if you want to make a lot of money next year at a craft fair (or make nice Christmas gifts), click on the bear photo and it will take you to a lovely website showing you just how to do it.

Sweet sis hosting a busy table all day long. :)
My family came up to help me out (assuming I would need help).
Instead, the kids discovered that I didn't need help and dropped cub
off (complete with banana) before seeking their own adventures.

Posted on December 5, 2011 and filed under "craft show", "handmade".