I was a vendor at two different Christmas art fairs the past two weekends. And, I have to say, I exceeded my expectations about how much I would sell at both. The big sales were few, but I was right to think I’d sell a bunch of the small stuff. Card holders were the biggest seller at both events. I was suggesting them for gift cards, credit cards and ID, in addition to the traditional business card holder. I was surprised by a couple of people who bought them: one specifically wanted “the most traditional Christmas looking” one to hold his business cards, so he would feel the spirit during the season; another wanted a nice wintery one to hold her loyalty cards for all the stores she shops at. Okay then, more ways for me to promote them!
The biggest seller I had last year, the wrist warmers, barely sold. I was ready for the kind of sales I had last year, and had a BUNCH of them made and ready to go, and sold… 4 pairs total between the two events. Here’s where I take pause, and wonder if the really warm weather lately affected sales this year (I mean, it WAS almost 70 yesterday!), or if they just aren’t as sellable as they were before. One person who bought a pair exclaimed, “these are perfect texting gloves!” Okay, another way to promote them! So I’ll hold on to them and try again next year and see how it goes.
Ornaments were big at the first event, but not at the second. I had three different kinds – pinwheels, quilted, and folded fabric – and all three had fans. Some of the people who had purchased ornaments at the first one also attended the second, so I can’t expect them to buy ornaments again. But there is a market for them and I have to make sure I have plenty available for next year’s events. Maybe I’ll even add another variety to the mix.
Some of the things I sold at the first event were things I had made a while ago as a sample project and just wanted to get rid of them. Which tells me it’s always a good thing to bring those along, you never know what will appeal to people!
But then there were the people who would be looking at a particular item, a lot, and then put it down saying, “you know, I’d totally buy that if it just…” Had cats on it, was purple, was smaller, was bigger, had a zipper, had a key ring loop on it, included a velcro tab, was cheaper, etc. I’m sure every crafter/vendor has heard a variety of these comments. And every crafter/vendor has had to decide how seriously to take the comments. Sometimes the comment is a common sense thing, and I agree with the person and say I’ll work on it for next year. Other times, I politely thank them. It might not be something I can do (I don’t think I charge enough for some of my items as it is; the balance between what something is worth in your time and what you can sell it for is a difficult one for anyone who makes and sells things). It might not be something I want to do (I’m not making a lot of things or money, here, so is it worth my time to do for only a possible sale?).
The ideas I liked, I wrote down on the notepad where I was also recording sales. This way I can keep track of the other things I want to do. For instance, it was made really clear to me that the people attending the second event were majorly into domestic animals: the question “do you have this with cats (or dogs)?” was frequently asked. One person assumed the proceeds from the vendors all went to one of the local pet shelters. (No.) So I’m already buying more cat and dog fabric for next year at that event.
Other ideas? Not so much. I’ll just continue to politely thank them for the idea. And I’ll continue to try to learn more from each vending experience I have, because I never know which idea will be valuable in the future!