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Rotten Craft Show Weekend


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Went to a craft show this weekend and had some really lousy results that I wanted to share. This place is a tourist trap and draws hordes of people - on a good weekend maybe 3-5K over two days. There are about 80 vendors with just 4-5 that sell anything remotely related to iron and I am the only person who forges or uses natural finishes. It's also a pretty classy show that requires the vendors to make all of their own wares - no cheap imported stuff and there is a waiting list to get in. Most of the vendors are long time participants who have been there 5 or more years. I went for the first time in June and made over two hundred bucks, which I didn't think was too bad since I had no prior exposure there. All of my stuff is within the normal price ranges for this type of show - in fact, I may be a bit on the low side compared to some items.

Well, boys and girls, on this fine weekend, I sold a grand total of one item for $10!!! - with about $3,000 of inventory sitting on my tables. Most of the other vendors were complaining about low sales but I think I must have set a record. I was positioned between two popular vendors so customer traffic was outstanding but I could not get anyone to stop or even slow down on Saturday. That night, I made a quick but neat sign and hung it at eye level on Sunday. Voila, much more traffic stopped and I gave away about 75 biz cards but no cash exchange. Lots of folks said the stuff was "BEYOOTIFUL BEYOND BELEEF!", then winked and said they were thinking about Christmas before asking if I'm there next month. Of course, I said "yes" and off they went.

Anyone had a similar experience? Anyone have any suggestions (besides telling me my stuff is crap... :oops: ). Should I just bite the $100 a month booth fee and hope the fall is better? Decisions, decisions... :roll:

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Sorry to hear that. Sometimes things just work out that way. Sounds like you were doing everything right (talking to people, good location) but sometimes people just aren't willing to part with their money.
Now having said that, I would tell you the first thing I would do is raise my prices. I know it sounds crazy but 90% of the time it works. I think it has something to do with perceived value from potential customers. Hope this helps.

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Here are some interesting statistics I learned while taking advertising at Art College: Trade shows give maximum exposure though minimum time to sell; on average, you will have between two and a half to four seconds to catch a potential customer's eye; once that is done, you have seven to twelve seconds to get their interest.
.
This is all before you even get to talk to them about your product.
.
It's rough there.

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Well, I'm going to stick it out thru the fall and see if things improve. The other vendors stay there for a reason and there is little turnover, which is the reason for the long wait to get a spot. I may raise my prices - especially for the holiday season. I've done better at other shows and this one surprised me since it was the worst 'people to money' ratio I've ever seen.

Daryl, I believe those numbers because they match what I observed. For example, all vendors use 10x10 EZ-UP tents - Saturday morning, I had mine set to the lowest setting and no one stopped between 10 and noon. I noticed the other tents were higher so I set the legs up to the tallest setting - people started slowing down and occasionally stopping. After I made the sign and put it in on Sunday, folks started stopping to talk and finger the merchandise.

I actually think the high traffic may work against me because they are moving so quickly. It's a double-edged sword... :?

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HELLO HOLLIS; I don't like for another vendor to set his table a half inch farther out than mine. It tends to steer people out away from mine.

I always have a hat on. Most women like to talk to cowboys(don't know why). With Men it does not seem to matter.

You need something to stop them in their tracks. Once stopped they become a potential customer. Some little something that is an eyecatcher. Like a blacksmith made from horse shoe nails, balancing on one foot, while holding a long wire with balls on each end. You can have the little man spinning on top of his mt. with balls swinging around and around. I have done this time and again. slows folks down.

The time of the year and the month, has a lot to do with how many sells you will have. Catch them right after payday and before April15 and you might have alot of sells out of the same folks.

They may have saving up for the school year expenses.

Just some thoughts.

Chuck

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yesteryearforge, I heard that saying a little differently.
Sometime you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you, and sometimes everyone goes home hungry. :?


Hollis, the heat, the weight and how far something has to be carried, having to outfit kids for school, when they got the last pay envelope or social security check, etc all affect sales. Once September is out of the way folks start thinking Christmas.

Use the Bill Epps rule for sales, lots of stuff under $20.00 that looks good in a double wide and always keep a couple of high dollar items on hand so the $20.00 looks even better.

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Thanks for all the responses. Chuck, I think you nailed something on the table settings. The walkway route I am on curves to the left and I am in the bend so anyone coming down the path gets steered away from me. The lady next to me sells tie-died shirts but she is three feet further out because of the path and lots of folks stop at her place. Funny that you mentioned the hat, I was bareheaded Saturday and wore a cap on Sunday. I'll wear my straw next month.

In addition, all my stuff is flat on the table except the plant holders and fireplace tools so they have to walk up to see anything. Several of the vendors have stuff hanging on portable walls so folks see the product at 30-40 feet. I am in the process of building some displays.

Glenn, I have stuff from $5 (S-hooks) up to $300 (fireplace sets). Almost everything is $50 or below.

The shows I am used to are the indoor type where everyone has two tables set in a line and the aisles are 10-12 feet wide. I have several relatively unique crosses that stop people and those are always in front. This outdoor show is less organized and laid out over 2 acres so it sprawls - I need to just figure out how to stop them long enough to look.

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Hello,
Been lurking a while here, figured this would be a good one to start. I figure if you have something that gets peoples attention you have a better chance. Something that makes people look twice and maybe stop and take a closer look. One that I've seen before, at engine shows is the magical water fountain! I'm sure some of you have seen them before, they are setup to look like a outdoor water fauset thats floating in the air! The trick is to get a clear plastic tube like lexan or something like that. Epoxy the fauset to the end of the tube, then make holes so the water can run out so it looks like you turned the fauset on. You put a electric water pump in the bottom that pumps water up from the bucket, up the inside of the tube. You might have to play with it, but you'll get it. Something like that will get lots of looks which is just what your wanting. Grab a kid as they walk by and hand them a hammer and start'em aworking! Another idea would be Miss July in her birthday suit! :mrgreen: :lol:

Thanks
Richard

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Tell you what, Richard, Miss July was already there but she was managing another booth - ooooh my goodness...the obvious thing was that ALL the guys were stopping to talk to her, whether they had wives on their arms or not. I heard her say she was single and worked out of her house - my mind went in a thousand different directions before exploding :lol:

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HOLLIS; Come up with a stopper. Like the little man standing on the point of a nail. Some thing similiar, moving, grooving or jumping up and down on a string..

As far as Miss JULY-- Most of my neighbors at craft shows, would need their birthdays suits ironed-- to many rolls/wrinkles. he heh.

Sandpile

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