Tis the Season for — Craft Bazaars

Ah it’s that time of year again. This is my favorite time of year. I love Fall, the crisp, cool air, colorful leaves, sweaters and hot chocolate. But is also the start of craft bazaars. Every year my daughter and I plan on hitting as many as we can and every year we only manage about half of them. Some are good, some are “meh” and others not so hot. We’ve already hit a few this year and most of my observations are from previous years.

Nothing I saw was horrible and I’m sure there might be a buyer out there for those things that I thought weren’t quite me or anyone I knew. One man’s trash is another’s treasure, isn’t that how the saying goes?

We went to a new, to us, one today that had a lot of nice things. The biggest difference I saw was it was truly a handicraft fair. There were no commercial sellers. You know what I mean. Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, Tupperware, etc. Everything was handmade and I really enjoyed it. Lots of different vendors with some nice gifts.

I made a few observations as I was strolling along the aisles and checking out the tables. What made me stop and pay more attention to one booth and not just give it a brief glance and move on? What could some of the sellers do to get people to stop and look?

I crochet so I always check out anything that has been crocheted. If it was a really nice display with eye catching items I would stop. I want to see what others are doing, what seems to be “in season”. I check out the workmanship, if it’s something I can do myself fairly easily or if I think it is shoddy workmanship I’m going to move on.

For the most part there were a lot of hats, earwarmers, headbands, some scarfs and stuffed toys. One year my daughter actually bought a hat after asking me if I’d be offended. I laughed and told her it would probably be a year or more before I’d get one done for her because I have so many things on my hooks right now. It was reasonably priced and cute. Yes, I could have made it but this way she had it immediately and didn’t have to wait for me.

I usually stop and check out jewelry. I love silver and automatically gravitate towards silver earrings. I ended up buying a couple pair. The seller was very engaging, she offered a discount for buying two pairs and was willing to change out any stones or beads I didn’t like. I didn’t take her up on that offer because I really liked them the way they were. I liked her and her items enough that I’ll keep an eye out for her stuff at future shows to see what new stock she has.

I’ve been seeing an overabundance of cute signs made from reclaimed wood. You know what I’m talking about, you see them all over Pinterest. They all are starting to look the same now.

My suggestions to anyone doing craft bazaars from the buyers point of view. Keep in mind that I am a buyer not a seller so how you do business is totally up to you.

  1. Engage your customer. Don’t sit in a corner and hide and bury your face in your phone. You don’t need to jump out at them and get in their face to get their attention, a smile and suitable greeting is enough. Smile and thank your customer during the purchase. Don’t look like the Grinch for Pete’s sake.
  2. Appearance is important. Please wash your hair and wear something that doesn’t look like you just picked it up off the floor from the day before and put them back on. Yes, that was a thing at one of the tables.
  3. Display your items. For crying out loud if you want someone to buy your items then put them out so people can see them. It’s not the clearance bin at Walmart where everyone needs to rummage around finding just the right color. Throwing all of your items in three baskets and just sitting there with your arms crossed looking like you are daring anyone to touch your things just isn’t going to get anyone to stop and look much less purchase anything. Yes, that was a thing too….same person as #2, you can bet I strolled right on by her. Was it the right thing to do? Well if you’re not going to take a little bit of effort to sell your things why should I make an effort to stop?
  4. Have one or two eye catching items that will bring customers in to look at it and maybe even start a conversation about it. This will bring customers in to look at all of your stuff even if they can’t buy the big item. Seriously, don’t expect to sell the expensive or big items at a simple craft bazaar, but they can be used to draw in potential customers. For example, one stall had a beautiful military HUMVEE hand worked from wood that they were selling for $350. I loved it but surely couldn’t afford it, but it did make me look around at the other things they had to sell.
  5. Don’t over crowd your table. If you have multiples of things, great! Keep them hidden under the table and only pull them out when you start getting low or if someone asks if you have a particular color. Too much stuff on the table makes it harder to make a decision, most people end up walking away without buying anything because they can’t decide. If someone wants a specific color I bet they will ask if you have one and there you go, pull it out of your bin under the table.
  6. Price your items reasonably but don’t undersell yourself or charge too much. There was one table that had crocheted Minions and she was selling them for $15. I’m not talking about little guys either, they were at least 8-10 inches tall. You’re underselling yourself. What is a reasonable price? You know, I still haven’t figured that one out yet. I’ve heard all sorts of things but I do know that I personally couldn’t charge an hourly rate. I couldn’t sell a single thing if you figure in how many hours it took me to make an item. I always figured cost of supplies and then double it. Sounds fair right? But then I have never gotten around to selling my stuff. Price has been the biggest factor.
  7. The biggest and most important thing to me is…be DIFFERENT. Even if you are doing the reclaimed wood thing have something different than everyone else doing the same thing. Something just a bit more unusual than the norm. That is going to get customers in and looking. Don’t do what everyone else is doing.

We have several more that we are planning on attending but we have probably seen most of the vendors already at one or another we have already been to. That’s the problem with a small community. There are quite a few bazaars but the same people seem to sell at all of them…every year.

Have any of you hit the craft fairs yet? Do you sell at any? What are your thoughts? Is it worth it and what advice do you have for sellers?