As you know this last Saturday I participated in BUST Craftacular. If you don’t live in New York, you may not know that we also got a long, wet snow all day on Saturday. This made for a less than ideal audience for the fair, and it put a bit of a damper on my sales.
You might be surprised to hear, though, that I don’t participate in craft fairs for the profit. I participate in one or two a year. And I will continue to do one or two fairs a year even if I only break even. Here’s why:
Extra exposure is the most obvious benefit to sitting through a long day at a fair. At fairs, you are able to reach hundreds of passersby. If you have an enticing display, many people will pick up a business card or postcard, and if you’re lucky one or two will find you online afterwards and become customers. Last year, I met one of my best repeat customers at BUST. She didn’t purchase at the fair but contacted me later to make her something custom.
This year BUST became my catalyst for starting a newsletter. I put out a clipboard and collected five email addresses. Those are five people that may become customers in the new year. Almost 100 people walked away with my postcard coupons for discounts on pet portrait purchases from my shop.
Fairs are a great place to test new products. You can actually listen to what people say as they browse your items. A lot of people liked my dog magnet, “The Anticat.” I initially thought little of that one, but it made everyone laugh. My Boston Terrier magnet was also the most popular item. Not only is that getting added to the shop, but so are my button and sticker packs.
On that note, not everyone that walks will stop or even glance at your stuff. This can feel kind of tough. Craft fairs are reminders that if you have a specific item, you cater to a specific audience. You are not making your item for everyone. This will also remind you that you should market your item to that specific audience. Craft fairs can be a good wake up call to refine your marketing strategies to reach the customers that want your items. You may not get as many eyes on your items online if you narrow your marketing strategy, but you will be getting attention from the people like those who stop at your booth. Why waste time trying to get someone into your shop who doesn’t even want to glance at your items. Spend time catering to your niche.
I won’t lie and say I wasn’t a bit disappointed with my sales this weekend, but I did break even and happily learned a whole lot about my items and my customers. BUST marks the first of my two promised fairs for 101 in 1001 and despite my very small profit, I’ll still go on to do another holiday fair next year.
This post is part of my Chasing the Creative Impulse Series, which explores techniques for sustaining creativity in a busy life. I believe that the habit of creativity comes from practice and not just from a compulsive feeling to create. This series outlines ways that I’ve maintained a creative life.