I find that life gives you opportunities to jump into the deep end of the pool, and when those opportunities come, you just have to plug your nose and go for it. About a month ago, I signed up to participate in the Woodlawn Street Market, and whether I was ready for it or not, it was time to see how well my felt goods could sell outside of Etsy.
The day turned out to be a success. Though the market was pretty small (it had about 25 vendors), I was happy to make a handful of sales and walk away with a little over $100 in profits.
Somethings are best learned through experience, and when it comes to being a vendor, I think this statement holds true. But for those of you who are looking to try a craft fair or street market for the first time, here are the lessons I learned from my first experience.
Lesson #1: How much inventory should I bring?
A week before the market, I felt completely unprepared. So I created a long to-do list for myself and spent every spare second (included lunch breaks and normal sleeping hours) cutting out and sewing together my felt creations. I decided to sell 12 different items. For the best sellers (lunch sets, breakfast sets and Pop Tarts), I create 10 to 15 of each. For others, quantities varied from 5 to 10 items each. By the time Saturday rolled around, I had a lot of stuff, but I still felt like it wasn’t enough.
It was only until I started to set up that I realized I had a ton of stuff! I couldn’t even fit everything on the table. I knew the market was going to be small, but I brought enough inventory that if I sold out, I could make $800. It was a little overkill. I would have done fine if I had brought half of what I actually did. But, on the flip side, it was nice to feel prepared, and I have plenty of inventory left for Etsy orders or possible another craft market before Christmas.
Lesson #2: How should I best display my items?
Next time, I’m going to use more tables. I was given a lot of space (a 12 x12 booth), and I should have taken advantage of it. (Plus, I should have centered my table cloth. Looking at the picture now, I realize how silly it looks.) A friend gave me the advice that a clustered look attracts customers, but I think I had too much stuff on top of each other.
I did use display pieces, which turned out to be a great sale technique. These items are meant to be touched and played with, so I wanted people to pick them up, examine them (and then fall in love with them, of course). The kids that came by totally got it. Before their parents could make it to the table, they were waving around the bag of chips like it was the coolest things they’ve ever seen. They dove their little hands into the bowls of felt salad and pasta before anyone could stop them. Kids know toys when they see them.
Lesson #3: How much should each item cost?
This is an question I am still asking. Someone told me a story once. They had a friend who wanted to go into the photography business but didn’t know how much to charge for his services. He researched what other photographers were doing in the area and picked a middle of the road price point. He barely booked any sessions. Then he decided to find the highest price out there and top it, and his business took off from there. He said that because he had the highest price point, people assumed he was the best. He was the best that money could buy.
Though I do not think I could start selling my felt items for hundreds of dollars, the story proved to me that we cannot always guess what the consumer is thinking. I would think that at a middle-road, affordable price, my felt breakfast sets would sell like crazy! But alas, I only sold 3 sets this weekend.
The issue I find with pricing homemade items is how to you quantify the amount of time you send to create it. If I priced the felt lunch set to reflect the amount of time it took me to create it, I would need to sell it for at least $50. But why would you pay $50 for my homemade item when Target has shelves of more inexpensive, yet equally adorable items. So I’ve decided to use prices that do not account my time, but instead build in room for a small profit with the price of the materials.
Maybe over time, if items become more popular, I’ll increase prices. But for now, I like how my prices are affordable. I rather my felt food be in the hands of children that stored in the back my closet!