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Craft Show

November 21, 2006

Last weekend I participated in a craft show. It was with friends, and friends of friends, in one of their houses.

There were chocolate toffees made with Callebaut; beaded jewelry and bookmarks; clothing sewn from vintage and reproduction fabrics; knitted and crocheted clothing and purses; jams, jellies, and salsas; silk floral arrangements; cold-process soaps, balms, and herbal wraps; framed photographs; felted purses made from recycled sweaters; and my rag dolls.

It was a really interesting experience. It was enlightening seeing what appealed to people, although in the end I could reach no coherent conclusions. Big-ticket items, for example, were very poor sellers, except for the recycled-sweater purses, which sold like hotcakes at $65. A handknit sweater, on the other hand, wouldn’t leave the rack at $45.

Likewise inconsistent were items with obvious eye appeal. The floral arrangements were, at least to me, the most obviously visually appealing items on display, and they sold very well. Yet some of the prettiest among them were unsold at the end of the day (and not the highest priced, either).

One crafter noted that the lowest-priced items always sell well. I didn’t find this to be overwhelmingly the case. The soaps and balms, for instance, sold steadily over the course of the day, but I would have expected far more customers to buy a bar or two. The candies seemed to sell well, but I didn’t see a lot of movement on the lower-priced jams and jellies.

My dolls were nearly universally ignored by grown-ups and loved by children. Seeing kids’ eyes light up when they saw the dolls made my day. That was my audience, and I had a solid score. One child in particular, probably just shy of two, was a picture. Her eyes went wide and her jaw dropped when she saw the dolls. She made a beeline for one of them and hugged it closely, a look of bliss on her face. She then set it on the couch and leaned her face on it, settling into its comfort. She played with several of the dolls, hugging each one, but never let go of the first one. I didn’t notice when she and her mother left, emptyhanded, in a bustle of customers, but I was heartbroken. I would happily have given that child the doll as she loved it so.

I did sell some dolls, not many. At the end of the day the crafters purchased and traded amongst ourselves, and I was happy to barter dolls for some of their goodies that I could not have afforded to buy. I also gave dolls to the two children of the house and to the child of one of the crafters. This little girl had a very successful day selling her beaded bracelets — I think she was the most successful crafter there in terms of items sold.

Moneywise, I came out almost even, probably a tad in the red. But I had fun and got to spend time with some friends. I learned that I loved my little dolls and felt funny selling them. What made me happiest was giving them away.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2006 10:43 am

    Generally, we craft what we love and it is disconcerting when our efforts are dismissed with nary a glance. Making any money usually is “going commercial” with a product. You are so right when you say the pleasure is in the “giving”! (you can gift me with a doll anytime!) (and if that isn’t a crass statement! Sorry!)

  2. November 24, 2006 12:12 pm

    Very interesting post! I have been looking very closely at what sells and what doesn’t at craft fairs, both high end and community fairs. Sometimes it seems as if there’s no rhyme or reason to it all. I’ve noticed that tables with sparkly stuff seem to attract a lot of people – like magpies I guess! Your dolls are very appealing – and simple. I can see how kids would love them.

  3. November 28, 2006 10:16 am

    Those dolls are precious! Too bad the child’s mother didn’t see the bond.

  4. December 4, 2006 8:30 pm

    My guess is that the second to the least thing would sell the best. No one wants to be seen as cheap. In About Schmidt, Jack Nicholson’s daughter accuses him of buying the cheapest casket for his wife (her mother). He says, “I specifically did not buy her the cheapest one!”I can understand you wanting to give your doll to that little girl. It’s too bad you didn’t get the chance.It’s good to be in tune with your audience. 🙂

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