Monday, October 24, 2016

Craft Show Assessment

This past weekend I participated as a vendor in my first craft show.


A Learning Experience

The show was the Flemington Marketplace in Ringoes, NJ...the same venue where they hold the Garden State Sheep Breeders Association Festival in September each year. The show was both bad and good in some ways.

The bad parts were:
  1. The amount of foot traffic/customers coming through the show was sparse at best.  I estimated that over the two days of the craft fair, about 300 people came through.  Most of the other vendors thought that was a charitable estimate.
  2. The caliber of vendors was very different than what I expected for an Arts and Crafts fair.  Bejeweled sweatshirts, a Cutco knives booth, and a lot of kitschy (and not in a good way) booths with quilted pumpkins and angels holding bowls of potpourri.  I'm honestly not quite sure how someone who sells kitchen gadgets, like apple peelers and sink drain strainers is considers artsy or craftsy, but there was a very large booth with those for sale as well.
  3. There were two or three other vendors with similar products to mine...a woman that crocheted bulky Lion Brand yarns into hats, scarves, baby ponchos and the like, a woman that reconstituted Good Will sweaters into patchwork scarves and wrist warmers and headbands, and a vendor selling shawls, and scarves and wraps that looked like they were commercially woven.  None of them really competed against what I was selling.
  4. There weren't very many vendors...the booths looked sparsely populated and the very large building seemed hardly filled.
  5. The building was fully enclosed, but was very cold the entire weekend (which may have helped my sales, but I don't like being cold).
  6. The food options were extremely limited and not very good....I brought food both days.
The good parts were:
  1.  The vendors were some of the nicest people...I enjoyed the social aspects of doing this fair a lot.
  2. The building was well-lit and the booth sizes were spacious with plenty of room to display as much or as little as I wanted.
  3. All the booths had electricity for accent lighting and for charging my cell phone
  4. There was good cellular service for processing charge cards on my phone.
  5. It's very close to where I live...about a 10-15 minute drive.
  6. Parking and unloading docks were close and easy for the vendors and the customers who came.
  7. Square, the service I use for credit card purchases worked exceptionally well for both credit card and cash purchases.  If anyone is considering using Square, I highly recommend it. In addition to helping maintain inventory and making sales, the reports and information it collects is excellent.
  8. Of the very few customers attending the fair, there was a sufficient number of people that really appreciated my knitwear...enough that I did adequately well in sales. 
Overall, I found that I was very well organized for my first such event.  My display is easy to transport and set up and break down.  I had about 30 novelty scarves and the rest were nicer wool or fine alpaca items and almost all the purchases were of higher-end items that I considered to be high quality.  I met a couple of blog readers (Cheryl and her friend, and Kate, the famous inventor of the ThingaMaHook at Spindle Cat Studio), which was very nice.  Cheryl even wore her own version of my Koigu Cross Stitch Scarf which was nicer than any I had for sale...her colors were stunning and I was quite impressed (not done in Koigu, and gorgeous) .

I don't think I'd do this show again next year, although I may just based on the convenience, but if I do, I will help to advertise the event, because I think it was very poorly advertised by the event coordinator.

My next show will be on December 3rd and 4th in Stockton, NJ at the Prallsville Mill.  It's a great show for lots of very nice items in case anyone is interested in checking it out for holiday gifts or items for themselves.

Current Knitting

Having and easy project to work on at the show was important, so I started another Bias Scarf.


I'm using a slight heavier weight yarn for this one and making it wider so that it will be more of a wrap than a scarf.  Despite all my free time at the craft show, I didn't make much progress.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Regarding the craft show, Julie wrote, "Good luck, Joe! Wish I could come and browse your selections for Christmas gifts!"

While you can't fondle and try on any of my knitted goods, you can see any of it on my web page at www.doublepointed.com.  Given how tactile it is to shop for knitwear, I'm not expecting many sales on the web site, but it is a great way to handle inventory and whet the appetites of those wanting to come to my shows and buy scarves or hats.

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