How and what to sell at craft shows. : LUSENET : Cooking & Crafts : One Thread

Since so many of you make crafts (or want to) and are always looking for a way to make a little extra money, I decided to share my experiences in selling my crafts at craft shows and to craft shops. I have been making and selling crafts for 8 years. I am no expert, but want to share my failures and sucesses. And at times will be honest and to the point, and in no way mean to hurt anyones feelings or to be cricital of anyone, I just want to share(from my own experiences of success and embarassing failures) to hopefully be of some of help you.

The very first thing you have to do is decided want do you want to sell. Now here is where I am going step on some feet and hurt feelings, but again please excuse me, I don't mean to. I just want to be honest and help you. Okay, you are making crafts, and your family and friends think they are great and you should sell them. This is were you need to step back and really look at what you are making. People close to you will tell you your things are great, because they don't want to hurt your feelings. But are they really and are they something people will buy(this is the main objective). You can make the greatest anything and if it's not what the buying public wants, you won't sell it. So what do people buy? I really think it depends on your area, the time of year(although I sell snowmen all year round) and the type of show you are setting up at(a street, state park, a festival (like a fall apple festival) or christmas bizzare, etc...). The best way to find out what type of things to sell is to visit some craft shows in you area. Watch what people are buying and not buying. Notice which booths are the busiest. Now I don't mean to remember what is selling and make the same things. I mean is wood things selling well (they do in my area) or are country decorating type items selling well (like dried apples wreaths, swags or rag rugs (these items are selling well in my area),etc.... Look at what you make and see if it fits in well with what you notice is selling. Or do you make something totally different? Most times this is good. People are always looking for something different if it fits in well with their decor. Selling crafts is a funny business. I design all of the crafts I sell. I can make something that I think will sell well and I end up giving it to friends, because after dragging it to shows for a couple of years and not selling it, get tired of looking at it! It's not that it's not a quality item, or that it's priced to high, it's just not something anyone wants to buy. Let me give you an example, I made a pattern for a plastic canvas chicken that was a ref. magnet. I made 5 of them, and only sold 1! There is alot of people that dec. with chickens and rosters and I thought they would sell, especially since I was only selling them for 1.50! Gave the other 4 away. To be very honest with you plastic canvas does not sell well. I just like to have a variety of items at my craft stand. Okay while I mentioned that plastic canvas doesn't sell well I might tell you the other things that don't sell well. Please don't be offend, but when I decided to write this I made up my mind to be honest with you even if I get nasty e-mail. Okay here's the list. Anything that you would find at a church bizzare(no offense ladies, but people who shop craft shows won't buy things they think should be at church bizzares and if you ever had a bizzare you can't sell the higher priced things that sell at craft shows), plastic canvas (a few things will sell, but not well), cheaply made things (if you can't afford to buy quality items to make something don't make it, you will only waste your time and money), poorly made things (this is easy, don't sell anything that didn't turn out right), crochet and knitted things (and if you can sell them, people don't want to pay what they are worth),highly priced items (I have found they love things that is priced for $1 and try to included these type things (they help to pay for the space rent) and I try to keep my other prices under $25.), or anything they think they could make themselves, even thought they don't! I use to make a necklace that had hand rolled beads made with paper church bulletins (some of you may make these) and after hearing alot of people say "I could make them, they are only paper church bulletins", I quit making them. These people probably will never make them as they are very hard to roll, but they didn't sell just because people thought they could make them, so why buy them?

Till now you are probably saying "okay what can I sell"? What can you make? When I started I couldn't make anything! I could sew, but had no idea how to create my own ideas. The very first craft show I went to was only because my oldest daughter want to start to sell things at craft shows to make extra money. I had no desire to sell crafts. Well, I gave in and gave her a few jackets I made with used jeans (this was the first thing I designed) and made a few hair ties. When she came home and told me I made $55. I was hooked! That was 8 years ago and boy have I learned alot since! It really is easy to come up with your own ideas. I don't think I was born creative (or maybe I was and don't know it) anyhow you can make crafts too! Don't get discouraged if your things don't turn out. Keep trying. You would not believe the things I have throw out or reused for something else. It is so rewarding to make something new and it turns out great. It will really give you the confidence to keep going. And once you start crafting it's great how the ideas start coming and you can't make things as fast as you can think of them. Or how one idea can turn into many more. Let me give you an example. I am constantly looking for something new to make and look at everything as a possible new craft. Well, last May when I was in the hospital recovering form gall bladder surgery, I was looking out my room window. I looked down and saw the big river rocks around the building and a idea hit me! They would make great ladybugs to put in a flower bed. Well, I mentioned it to my dear husband (he's an over the road truck driver). I went home the next day and he had a box of river rocks for me! He was going down the road and saw a place that sold river rocks and he brought me some home! Has anyone else ever had their husband ever buy them a box of rocks! Has been a joke around our house. Well, I got some acrylic paint and painted them red, painted a black face and stripe down the back and put black dots on them and then gave them white eyes. They really turned out cute and sell well at $5 each! They only cost me about .35 cents each to make. This is a good profit and am I charging to much? No, because I ask several people what they would pay for my ladybugs if they were to buy one and $5 is what most of them said (didn't tell any of them what they cost me to make). This is how I decided what to charge for my crafts. I am lucky as I have friends and family that help me decided if something would sell and for how much. They have learned to be honest with me and it won't hurt my feelings. They know they are helping me by being honest. The only time I don't listen to them if I know they are pricing to high or low for something I have made and I know another price would be better (this happens with experience). Well, the other day I was looking at my ladybugs and decided that the river rocks would look cute painted as turtles too! Who knows what I may paint the rocks to look like next! Am I a natural painter? No way! I have tried to toll paint and just can't get the hang of it, but I can paint simple things. The secret when you are first trying to paint is to put on the base coat (let me use my ladybugs as an example). I painted the rocks red, then I sprayed them with one coat of cheap clear spray paint. When they dried, I painted the face and strip down the back. When ever I made a mistake I could wipe it off due to the clear spray paint. When I was happy with it I sprayed it again. When dry, I then painted the spots and eyes. The clear spray allows you to wipe off mistakes and try over. After painting the first few I no longer have to spray between each step. My point is to try making new things and learn from your mistakes. You'll never know your potential if you don't try. Years ago I would have never called myself a crafter as I was dumber than a box of rocks when it came to crafting! But after jumping in and trying it, I can do it! And so can you. Don't be afraid to try. Start small, as trying something to hard will only discourage you. And for those of you who do craft, try something new.

Okay, I have rambled too much and didn't even tell you half of what I want to, but you are probably getting tired of reading. So I am going to stop for know and post a new message tomorrow. If any of you have any questions or comments (good or bad) please feel free to e-mail me and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

-- Jo in PA (, February 07, 2002


Wow, Jo, what GREAT information and thank you for your honesty! I doubt you will offend any one. You have years of experience and would be a great disservice to just tell us what we want to hear. I for one appreciate all the thought you put into this post. Thanks!

-- Karen (, February 07, 2002.

Jo, I think that's great. I've thought about crafting as a way to earn extra money, I just haven't jumped in and done it. (I'm one of those you were talking about) I don't very often buy at a craft show because I KNOW I can do it, but I almost never seem to have the time! I think if I knew there was a deadline, or money waiting, I would do it. Please finish your posting tomorrow, I'll be looking forward to it. Those ladybugs sound adorable! I may have to give them a try as a starting point!

-- Christine in OK (, February 07, 2002.

Jo...thanks for the great info. Now, I have a question: what about baked goods at craft fairs. There's always a stall or table with such items. What, in your opinion, does, or does not, sell? Have you done baked goods? Please share any personal experience you might have. Stef

-- stef (, February 09, 2002.

How do you find out about church bizzares so you can reserve a booth in time.... I found festivals on-line but would really like to do the church bizarres.....Thanks for your post It's a great idea...

-- Deborah Albertson (, March 14, 2003.

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