I admit to being passionate about EVERYTHING I adopt as a project, career, cause, or business in retirement. In fact friends might say I'm dogged. Because I don't know how to turn it off, brainstorms about my passions keep on coming -- some good, some not so good. (See post in October.)
The latest brainstorms focused on Renton, WA's Hassle Free Holiday Bazaar this past Friday & Saturday. The fair was VERY, VERY well run, and without doubt the best fair I've been in so far -- juried, the most vendors (~100), the most shoppers, ample carts to haul our setup around, girls pushing a goodie wagon past thirsty vendors both afternoons, abundant publicity in the newspapers & good signage throughout neighboring communities. Bravo & thanks to Shirley, the organizer of many years.
Having minimal prior experience selling at fairs, I'm determined to learn quickly from my mistakes. So here's what I learned at the Renton fair --
o Focus on one price point appropriate for that venue. I'll know next time that Renton's is about $25 on average for jewelry. Though my jewelry ranged from $10 earrings to $255 necklace/earring set, my average piece cost about $50. I had several items over $80 & 2 over $200. One woman fell in love with Serenity, but at $250 it was out of her reach.
However, she wanted my website name so she could view Serenity "whenever she needed to" :) Of course, the over-supply of jewelry crafters makes finding the right price point even more important.
o Ask if there are restrictions on booth side walls. A customer advised me that she couldn't see my booth until she'd almost passed it. Why? Because my neighbor ahead of me in the traffic flow had 10' high wire walls on 3 sides of her booth, completely covered with her attractive aprons. Since folks could not see through her covered wire walls, many buyers passed me by looking in the other direction. If 2 shoppers hadn't mentioned this issue, I never would have thought of it, & I'm sure the very nice vendor in question didn't either. Interestingly, my next venue prohibits displays that block the neighbor's visibility.
o Don't over-crowd the table. On day 2 I arrived with my own 6' table, butted its end perpendicular to the existing table to form an "L" & gained another 30" or so. Spreading out the jewelry another 30" really made each piece easier to see. Wish I had taken a picture of the expanded version.
o Plan the look of price tags for jewelry carefully. With only a 6' table & lots of jewelry on the first day, the tags I'd brainstormed that week working 2 full days & 1 overnight were a disaster! Especially the items with tags that I placed in the velvet-lined trays from my product case. Honestly, it was hard to find the earring hiding next to or under its pretty price tag! After watching droves of customers pass by in 2 hours barely glancing at my table, I madly began unknotting over 100 ties to remove my beautiful tags. What a difference that made. There really was some pretty jewelry under all that paper! At home Friday night I implemented a new price tag plan -- small, white, rectangular, peel-off labels folded around a clasp or earwire so that the sticky ends & edges could stick to each other. There was just enough room to write the price in ink -- not pretty, but neat & barely noticeable. Saturday my table looked fine, the price tags were unobtrusive, but easy to find, and there were no disasters :)
o Have a Plan B when (not if) a major brainstorm goes haywire. Fortunately I'd made an 8-page price list "just in case." After I had to remove all my price tags, that document saved the day!
o Bring a helper. I can't begin to thank Mary Lou & Joyce enough for their help. Beyond the moral support & watching over the booth, they gave me precious time each day to scout the competition & learn what I'm doing well & not so well.
o But here's the most important lesson for me: Seriously question any brainstorm devised when normal people are sleeping.
Despite the painful lessons learned, I'm making progress -- more sales to more customers & more confidence in my work & in the "look" of my table. I hope to do this show again next year.