How and whaat to sell at Craft shows - (Part 2) : LUSENET : Cooking & Crafts : One Thread

Okay, where should we start today. Yesterday I told you about somethings that don't sell and I thought of more things after I submited that post. Other things are cross stitch, beaded items and anything that looks like it's a kids project(example: things you kids would make at summer camp, bible school or scout projects). I'm not saying these things these won't sell, they just don't sell well. I do make a few of these type of things (only if it's a quality item and goes with what people are dec. with today). A couple of examples are: plastic canvas apples that are ref. magnets, I paint and dec. tin soup cans(will share this craft with you later), and ref. magnets made with fabric and craft foamie.

Now let's talk about what does sell. Almost anything made with wood. Some examples are a planter that looks like a watering can, 4x4 posts dec. to look like Santas, the North Pole and a snowmen. Almost anything that is sewn. I have a friend that makes a pillow that opens up to a small quilt, casserole covers, baby quilts(the pre-printed ones), pot holders, pillows, table runners and other small sewn items and does very well. Another friend makes various items that change with the seasons(this is what I do). Last christmas she baked a large loaf of bread and dried it and then cut a small hole in the corner to make it look like a mouse ate it. Then she sealed the bread(I'm not sure with what, but giving it several coats of modge podge glue would work) then she glued a small mouse in the hole and dec. the top with ribbon and flowers. They were really cute! She only made three and sold all of them for $10. each! My point is you just have to get creative. There is a lot of ideas here on the internet, I just haven't had the time to really look yet as I've only had my computer for a month now.

Make things that people like to collect or things that would match with what is "in" now. I have my kitchen dec. with chickens, roosters and apples. What do people collect? One time I painted two matching pickles jars a lite blue and then cut two Raggety Ann's out of material that I found at Wal-Mart and then glued them to the jars. Then I got glass votive candle holders and candles and then put these in the jars I painted. I sold the set for $8 and they only cost me $1.70 to make them! The biggest selling item at christmas time is any unusual snowmen. I've noticed the ones people sew from the patterns you can buy don't sell, but the ones I paint on old glass christmas balls sell as fast as I can put them on my table (I will share this craft later too). A snowman that was different or unusual would sell well. You have to remember that most of the people who attend craft shows do it on a regular basis and they are looking for different and unusual items. At Christmas time they are looking for well made, reasonable priced items for presents for their kids teachers, coworkers or the nice neighbor down the street. Don't copy from others and try not to make things you seen in craft mag. Try to come up with you own ideas. I know this is hard, but you will sell better. Get creative! If I can do it you can too! Remember yesterday I told you I was dumber than a box of rocks when I first started. Wow, when I look back did I make some dumb crafts and get embarassed every time I think about it! I use to get various sizes of wine glasses and glue lace and beads on the top and put a candle in them. I sold them, but not well. This would be a good idea to dec. a for wedding reception, but not a good craft to sell. I use to get baskets at Good Will and dec. with lace and beads, another dumb idea. Oh well, we all do dumb things. We learn by our mistakes. When you think about making something take a good look at the item, is it something someone would really want to buy. If you couldn't make it, would you buy it? Is it something you would give your best friend as a gift? Try only to make quality items, these things sell better.

As I sit here things I see others make keep running thru my head so I want to share them with you. I have friends who make bird houses with old barn boards. They actually buy old barns that are falling down and haul all the wood home. Then they make various size bird houses (these are real ones that you can put outside and birds can live in) in various themes. Some look like churches, out houses, general stores, reg. bird houses, etc... Guess just what ever he feels like making that day. Then he dec. them with old metal, door knobs, different architectural items, etc... They are just the neatest things I have ever seen. He does very well selling his bird houses. His prices range anywhere from $25. to $100. At a typical craft show he will sell around $6,000. worth of his bird houses! This is before expenses, but if only half is profit (I have no idea how much is profit) he is making a pretty nice profit! But you have to remember what it costs him to get started. First he has to have wood working tools, the cost of the barns he buys, a truck to haul wood, help as he couldn't tear the barns down by himself, etc... but just wanted to add this in as one of you may have the resources to do something like this. Also he goes to the larger show that I don't go to. He sells at shows that cost $150. and up for a space to sell. I don't make items that would make enough money that I would be willing to spend that kind of money for the space. The spaces I rent costs any where form $5. to $30. with my sales from $20 (don't go back to the shows I make this small amount at) to $350. I am happy making the amount I do because I don't have the time to make more crafts than I now am currently making. I only do it to make a little extra money to help our income. Some do it as a full-time job. It's what ever you want to make it. I try to make things I can work on between chores. An example is the lady bug rocks I make. They take 3 coats of paint on the top and 3 coats of paint on the bottom, so I paint all the tops, then put in a load of laundry, come back and put on another coat of paint. Then I do something else, then put on the third coat of paint. I might not turn them over and do the other side till the next day and so on.

After doing craft shows for so long I have learned which ones I do well at and the ones I don't. Craft shows in the spring don't do well as the craft shows that are in the fall and winter. People buy more in the fall and winter as they are buying christmas presents and christmas decorations. In my area I don't do well at craft shows that are at churches or fire halls with a few exceptions. Also I found that craft shows outside in the summer do better than the ones inside. Have no idea why, just what I have noticed over the years. The best thing to do when you get started is to ask around, if you can, to see how others are doing at the different shows in your area. Most craft shows are about the same time every year. And usually the same people set up at these shows every year. Regulars are the best one to ask about which are the best shows to sell at.

If you are seriously thinking about selling your things at craft shows, but not quit sure about it, why not get a friend to make things and go with you? This way you don't have ot make alot of things to make you space full(this is important) and you would have someone else there for support. You could even share your space with several people to "get your feet wet" and see if selling crafts is what you really want to do. My daughter and I started out together and now most of the time we get our own spaces at the same craft show and sometimes we don't even sell at the same show! I have my favorites and she has hers. Once in awhile I set up at crafts shows that I know I won't do well at, but I go anyhow just because it's a festival I enjoy attending. I may only make $100 to $150, but I figure it's an enjoyable day out.

Well, I did it again! Hope I didn't write too much again. There is so much I want to share and doing it all at one time would be too much at one time (for you to read and me to type)! So, I will get back to you again. Will try to share more over the weekend, but might not get back till Monday. Again if you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to e-mail me and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

-- Jo in PA (, February 08, 2002


I have some good cedar I keep threatening to turn into birdhouses...

-- Christine in OK (, February 08, 2002.

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