The last two days were spent up in Milton at the Milton Craft Bazaar. This was the first time I’ve had a booth at a craft fair… ever. I started selling a few canvas bags on Etsy late summer last year, and as I’ve sold more bags, I’ve turned profits around and bought more and more fabric, building up my inventory… to the point that I could reasonably have a table at a craft fair! I love that I was able to start out that way – rather than having to start out with a large purchase of materials, lots of sewing, and then crossing my fingers that anybody would be interested in my wares!
I had fun – I got some nice compliments on my bags and on my display, and sold enough bags for it to have been worth my time (and worth the table fee). There was some panic on Tuesday – I’d originally been told that the tables would be six feet long, and I ordered a fitted tablecloth accordingly, and then on Tuesday I found out that the tables were eight feet long! Thank heavens for Amazon Prime!
Things I felt went very well (in no particular order):
- I was able to get the Etsy card reader prior to the bazaar, thanks to an email I sent to Etsy customer support, and the very nice person that received my email and white-listed my shop for the device. Since about half of my sales were via credit card, I was very glad I’d been able to get it!
- I made sure to have small bills and coins so I’d have change to give out for those who paid cash. I didn’t run out of any change, and since I do have to collect sales tax, dollar amounts didn’t come out to nice round numbers.
- Even though Etsy charges a $0.20 listing fee for each item sold, they don’t charge their commission on in-person sales, so I did all of my transactions through the “Sell on Etsy” app on my phone. I had it set up to calculate sales tax for me, I was able to email receipts to customers (which has the bonus of being linked to my Etsy shop in their inbox, unlike a paper receipt), and I was able to keep the inventory of my Etsy shop up-to-date for anybody shopping online. This way, I was able to leave my Etsy shop “active” online, without worrying about an item being sold twice!
- Thanks to a suggestion of my mom’s friend, and my mom finding a box the right size, we were able to fit one of my bags around a box to have it stand upright on the table. People were often surprised at how large my bags were when I would point it out, as they fold up deceptively small (a good thing for stuffing in purses to take into the store to do your shopping, not so good when you’re selling bags for $15 and people think they’re much smaller than they are!)
- I had several people comment that they liked the way I had some of my bags displayed in an old suitcase, which made the designs easier (and, I hope, more inviting) to flip through than if they’d been in tall stacks on the table.
- It was great having my mom share my table. She was selling her wine rings – sold a few, and got her information out there for others who were interested and indicated they’d be contacting her online or by phone. I liked being able to spend the time with her over the course of two days, to catch up, have somebody to chat with… and have somebody to watch the table when I had to run to the potty!
- I did manage to take enough water with me, though it was a close call on Friday. Between the room being warm, and chatting with everybody who came by, I went through my 32 oz Nalgene, and three of the 16.9 fl. oz. disposable bottles before I left on Friday. Keeping that in mind, I took three full Nalgene bottles with me for a shorter day on Saturday, and went through 2.5 liters that day. Dehydration is a sure way to kick me into a migraine, so I got lucky! Note to self: take lots and lots of water to these gigs.
Things I’d do differently:
- I’d love to find a way to display the image on my banner in a smaller fashion on my table. I’ve got a banner that I really quite like, but it’s 6′ long and 2′ high, which not only did I feel would be overpowering on the front of the table, but I had no clue how to go about attaching it to the table. It’s designed to be hung, such as from a canopy like for an outdoor booth. I’ll have to check into a smaller sign – one that I can use clear plastic snaps or something to attach it to the fitted tablecloth. Instead, I went with paper bunting in “my colors” to add a little interest to the front of the table.
- A different chair! We brought “padded” chairs, which after a few hours did not feel padded at all! So I either need a cushion, or a different chair entirely. I’d really love to eventually get a folding director’s-height chair, to put me more at eye-level with my customers. Unfortunately, this early in the game, the one that I’d seen highly recommended (and would love to have) was cost-prohibitive. Perhaps after a few more craft shows…!
- Some mindless hand work… There were some pretty slow times, especially since it was raining sideways and nobody wanted to go outside to come to the craft fair, and it got a bit boring even with my mom and other vendors to chat with. I tried my best to not be glued to my phone when things got boring, and some of my knitting/hand sewing is too large or requires too much concentration to drop it on the spot when a customer walks up, so some simple knitting like dish cloths (I can do those practically without looking at my hands) would have been nice to pass the time.
My next goal for sewing for my shop is to make more of my small “lunch bag” sized bags. I sold the only one I currently had at the end of the bazaar yesterday, and they’ve been popular with my coworkers, I know. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been running full-tilt, working on sewing my regular size bags for 4-5 hours each evening (and that’s after working an 8 hour shift at the job that pays the bills), so I’m exhausted today, but I’ve figured out how much fabric to get cut to make some of my smaller bags with the least amount of waste. I know there are more craft bazaars coming up, and I hope to do at least one more this fall/winter, so it would be nice to be able to have a little more variety in options (and variety in price) for future shows. Yesterday evening, I had entertained ideas of running off to the fabric store today to buy more fabric, but there’s laundry to do, and the couch just looks so inviting right now. So instead, I’m blogging, and finished off a knit dish cloth that I started last night (I’ve been sewing/knitting/crocheting for so long that I seem to have trouble sitting down without keeping my hands busy!)
As a bonus for my online shoppers, I’ve found some shipping envelopes that are much cheaper than the envelopes I’ve previously been using to ship my bags. They’re lighter weight, too, which will make the actual postage cheaper, as well. As soon as I receive those from Amazon, I’ll be updating (reducing) my shipping prices on Etsy for everybody! I’ll be sure to share on my shop’s Facebook page when I have those shipping prices updated for everybody!
And I promise I’ll be spreading the word, here, and on Facebook, when I sign up for my next craft bazaar, if you’d like to come and say hi!