Thursday, December 9, 2010

craft fair madness!

Last weekend, my friend Emma and I did a craft fair. Our first ever craft fair. We decided to share a table to split the cost and we worked long, tireless hours preparing.


We set up on Friday, a couple of hours before the fair started. Shane, Emma's husband, has once said over homemade pizza that when something goes tragically wrong, you can usually look back and see the red flags that you ignored. Well, Friday morning: Red Flag Number One. The email that we were given had the wrong times. So, while everyone else knew that the fair opened at 1, we thought it opened at 12. So, we sat for the extra hour. No biggie. We just took the time to let our excitement grown.

Red Flag Number Two came around the time that the fair should have been teeming with people. We looked around and the only people in the entire hall were other vendors. Vendors NOT spending money at our table, I might add.

Day 1 ended a total bust. Tired and hungry, Emma and I had made no money. Well, I shouldn't say NO money. Emma had $6 and I had $4. Hey, you got to start somewhere, right?

Day 2 begins slowly but things pick up. We're drinking tea and chatting, and having a good time. Customers do come. Not many, but some do. We sell items. Not as fast as we'd like, but we sell some. I make the money back needed to cover my expenses. YAY! Everything from here on out is gravy.

Day 3. This whole day is a colossal red flag. It starts off slower than Day 1, and the older, wiser, more seasoned vendors tell us that Day 3 is ALWAYS slower. Oh. Sure enough, there were a couple of customers through during the entire day, but nowhere near enough to make any money.

So, we decide to mark our prices down. We red-marker everything cheap, cheap, cheap! No sales. And then, the manager of the sale, whom we haven't spoken to during the entire sale, b-lines for our table. She tells us in a very impolite, harsh, almost yell-like manner that it is an unwritten craft fair law that you DO NOT lower prices. The craft fair organizer has just been promoted to Red Flags Numbers 4-20.

Now, first off, I'm not even sure that this even IS a rule. I think that at that time, in her head, it was HER rule. And she's the kind of person whose rules are everyone's rules, because she says so. She tells us that the customers who bought yesterday will come back today and see the items cheaper, and then they will yell at HER because they paid more. When I politely suggest that she write a rule sheet up for the newbies like Emma and myself, she tells me that "there could never be a book big enough" to hold it all.

So now, she wants me to mark my cat nip mice back up from $1 to $2 because...she's worried that yesterdays customers will be upset? I am pretty sure we've had no customers today, at all, especially repeat customers who were already here yesterday. So, the two newbies put their crafting feet down. We refused to fix our prices.

Of course, we still didn't sell anything and no customers came back to argue their purchases. We packed up, went home (after also realizing that we were somehow short $23) and drank wine and ate homemade pizza. We drowned our craft fair sorrows by watching HILARIOUS youtube videos.

Lessons learned? Don't sell anything at a craft fair that isn't your regular craft. If it doesn't sell, like cat nip mice and Harry Potter Potions, you aren't stuck with them. You can at least sell your regular item on Etsy. Don't listen to the organizer unless they are nice to you. Only YOU know how your items are selling, and if there are no customers because SHE didn't advertise, she has no right to tell you how or how not to sell.


  1. It's not all that funny and I'm sure it wasn't at the time either, but the way you wrote about it had me in stitches...especially the "Red Flag Numbers 4-20". It was your first craft fair and you poured so much energy into it, that regardless of the outcome, it was a good learning experience. Good for you!

  2. oh boy. All I can do is laugh about it now. Seriously, it was a total bust. Buuuuut like Adam said, we learned A LOT! What a nice recap of the weekend. I'm surprised to didn't mention the arctic temperatures we had to endure or the bird woman.
    P.S. The horse/butterfly/moth just killed me again. Hilarious.

  3. You better watch those prices! I'm telling if you red marker them [you should have used a black marker, because the other mark downs I saw were in black].

  4. I am SOOOO sorry it didn't work out for you! I've done two craft fairs & made no money! I didn't make money because I wasn't in my own market but I sure did learn a lot!!!

    I hope you all do one in the future. And I have never heard the don't mark your prices down rule lol

  5. Oh man what a suckfest! So sorry to hear about it, but at the same time nice to hear another's craft fair woes, haha. I've done a few but they haven't turned out to be the best venues for me, haha. But I have been learning and networking, so I figure it isn't really a loss. Good luck in your future craft fair endeavours!