If you’re someone who spends a lot of time creating and crafting, eventually you may reach the point where you ask: “What do I do with all of this stuff?”
After years of knitting and crocheting items for my home, family, friends, total strangers, and charitable causes, I reached that point. It seemed feasible that there were enough goods accumulated to try taking them to market. In 2006, our local senior center held a craft fair, so I gave it a try:
I didn’t have much to offer other than a few baby things, hats, and crocheted snowflakes, but it was good practice.
One year our local library held a Shakespeare Festival. A couple of us had a booth together, offering hats, handmade soaps, and natural wreaths:
It was from these first little venues that my craft fair participation increased, upon invitation from various sources such as AAUW, local towns, and senior centers:
By participating in craft fairs, I learned:
1. It’s a lot of work.
2. It’s a lot of fun.
3. Corner locations generate attention and good traffic.
3. Well-made and unique items priced reasonably ($10 or less) sell well.
I never went into a craft fair intending to make big profits (mostly just to cover yarn and booth expenses, and try out the success of new designs) but as a way to contribute to community life … and empty out my craft room!
Eventually, as coworkers who visited local craft fairs saw my offerings, requests started coming in, which spilled over into the workplace. One year a few of us set out some things in a tiny little corner of a storage area. Staff could stop by on lunch or breaks to “shop”, and a portion of the proceeds was donated to charity (in this case CareWear Volunteers):
What began as a very small crafter-to-coworker mini-boutique in a corner has become so anticipated each holiday season that it continues “by popular demand.” From just a few knitted hats, handmade soaps, and hand-crafted greeting cards, it now includes jams, ornaments, jewelry, aprons, and baked goods. Since it’s the holiday season again, yesterday I assembled a goodie basket of knit and crochet items. At one point, I left the empty basket unattended for a few minutes and returned to find this:
Our 20-year-old cat Patches decided to help! You can see a few Wedgy-Edgy Dishcloths, My Fave Dishcloths and Shell Point Chenille Facecloths in the photo. One thing I like to offer is “Dishcloth Duos” (two coordinating-color cloths tied together with ribbon.) They are good sellers and make great gifts.
Here’s the full goodie basket as it looked early this morning (I’m currently filling a second basket with works-in-progress, including more hats, baby sets and some fingerless mitts):
It contains “Dishcloth Duos”, assorted hats, baby booties, little bags, and gift bottle decor sets (a DBKN design appearing on the Dec. 17 page of the Knitting: 100+ Patterns Throughout the Year: 2012 Day-to-Day Calendar.)
It seems that once a good thing gets started, it’s hard to stop. But that’s o.k. As long as it’s something that contributes to the happiness of others (and helps clear out the amassed pile of things I continue to create!) craft fairs and mini-boutiques will have my support and participation.
You might enjoy it too. Check with your local senior center, community bulletin board, or town government to see how you can get involved.
While I haven’t done any fairs recently (working the day job and designing for publication took priority), here are some words of advice from past experience: have business cards, a receipt book, pens, a notepad, ready change, and small plastic shopping bags available; dress comfortably in layers and be well-groomed; pack snacks, lunch, drinks to keep yourself energized; take a helper along if possible (so you can leave your table for bathroom breaks); refresh your display table often and look interested and busy; be courteous, friendly, make eye contact with your customers, smile a lot, and complete the transaction quickly; follow the rules for the event and payment of sales taxes. In the case of knit or crocheted items, whatever doesn’t sell, donate to a charity that could use them — there’s always someone out there in need.