Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Highlights from the Indie Garage Sale

Ok. Deep breath. My first major event (alone) is done. Woohooooo!!! 

It went well, I sold out of a few products (yessss!), and I went home with less than I came with.
That's all a crafter can hope for, right? I will tell you that my biceps were very tired after loading in all of my heavy bins full of products. 

Here are a few things I learned from doing the show this weekend:

1. A hand truck or wagon is an investment well worth the money. 
I did not have one this weekend, but I sure could have used it! As a relatively petite person who is not of brute strength, lifting and carrying several hundred pounds worth of supplies and inventory into a train station left me with sore muscles and tired feet. Luckily, I spotted one of my high-school-aged students as I was unloading and was able to cajole him into helping me. J My very friendly booth neighbor helped me load up when the event was over. Thank goodness for friendly, helpful people! Next time, I’ll bring a wagon.

 2. It pays to be early! 
On Sunday morning, I was one of the first vendors to arrive to set up my booth. Since the event was at a train station, there happened to be a large crowd of people waiting to board a train. As soon as I uncovered my table, several people came over to browse. Within 10 minutes, I had sold over $100 in products, and the event hadn’t even begun yet!

Setting up your booth will inevitably take longer than you expect – especially when you are just starting out. Arriving early ensures you will have a few seconds to breathe before you (hopefully) get swamped with customers. The few minutes before an event starts are also a great time to walk around and see what other vendors and crafters are offering (see point #3).

 3. Even if you don’t reach your sales goal, networking can be invaluable. 
One of my favorite parts about participating in vendor events and craft shows is the opportunity to meet and chat with other like-minded folks. Not only is “talking shop” fun, it can open doors to opportunities you might not otherwise find. I received invitations to other events and spoke to someone about opportunities for wholesaling.  Hey, ya just never know!

4. Not everyone cares about keeping it natural.
While I pride myself on my personal business mission to keep things as green as possible, I realize that this may limit my sales. Potential customers often ask me if I make products in [artificial] scents like vanilla, verbena, pumpkin, etc… There are thousands of fragrance oils that come in practically any scent combinations you can imagine, but they aren’t real. Since I only use essential oils for fragrance, I am somewhat limited in my options. I like it when people ask me about this, though, because it gives me the opportunity to explain why I choose the ingredients that I do. Sometimes, this causes eye rolling and quick steps to the next booth, but for others… maybe it’s the start of a new thought process.

 5. Sometimes you just don’t get the right crowd.

I have been told so many times that the first year of being a crafter or vendor is spent trying to figure out what events are best for your business. This is SO true! I have been fortunate so far that most of the events I have chosen to participate in weren’t total flops– as in, at least I made my booth fee back. You just don’t always know whether your products will be a hit. It’s frustrating but an inevitable part of the learning process. I suppose that little pinch of disappointment when someone walks by your booth without showing any interest goes away after some time, but it still gets me.

All in all, The Indie Garage Sale was successful for me because the crowd generally seemed to be interested in eco-friendly products. I covered my expenses, plus a little extra. I paid attention to what people were most interested in (my organic cleaners, beeswax lotion bars, bath soaks), and what they weren’t (reed diffusers). I had a great time, met some really great people and bought some cute things, too!

Now… it’s back to work on the Etsy page!
                 Happy Crafting!

1 comment:

  1. Hey there....
    I'm impressed with your desire to share the experiences of the Indie Fair with others who might be considering doing something similar. I especially like the photo of you at the end of your post.
    Hope all's well and I'll look forward to talking soon.
    Love, Dad