Last weekend we participated in our first craft show. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I was excited to finally make it happen. Here’s the scoop on how it went, and what we learned.
Show: The Retropolitan Craft Fair, in Knoxville, TN
It’s a juried show that happens twice a year. The founder saw my Etsy shop, and invited me to apply. I took a look at their website, and felt that the show was a good match for what I do (the show focuses on upcycled and vintage), so I submitted my application several months beforehand, along with the $20 application fee.
Once I found out I’d gotten in, I paid my $100 booth fee, and got busy making stuff.
This seemed like the perfect opportunity to cross a few projects off of my to-do list, so I focused on finishing up some new products that I’d been working on.
Like these Reader’s Digest smashbook journals. The covers are made from, you guessed it, vintage Reader’s Digest books. I rebound them. Then, added grommets to the spine, and inserted big, two-inch binder rings and lots of paper. They’re designed to be expandable, so you can add your own pages and momentos. My oldest daughter has already claimed one for herself. She’s using it to make a summer scrapbook.
I also made these Reader’s Digest Garden Journals. This projects was many months in the making.
In addition to the vintage Reader’s Digest covers, they have 114 pages designed to help you manage your garden, complete with pockets for seeds, plant tags and other gardening goodies. There’s even an envelope you can use to store your garden receipts. So excited to have these finished!
There were a couple other new products that I didn’t quite get finished in time (pausing to build bee traps will do that to ya), but I did manage to get a bunch of our existing products made.
Like our tea towels …
our bingo card notepads …
and our vintage milk cap magnets.
Now that we’ve talked about the goods, let’s talk about my goals for this show. In addition to the obvious: participating in my first show. I was also focused on getting some nice,high-res pictures of my booth. They’re a requirement for some of the other shows that I’d like to do. And I wanted to break even on my show expenses. Sure, a profit should always be the goal, but this was my first show, and I was cutting myself some slack.
So how did it go?
I’m not going to lie. Getting ready for the craft show was crazy town. When our bee traps went viral, we had to pause our work on the craft show. And that made for some college-all-nighter-style crafting sessions in the days leading up to the show. And yes, my husband had to craft, too. Poor guy.
I had had big plans for staging the perfect booth, but I had to let those dreams go. Instead, I dug through my stash for the coolest display containers I could find, snagged our farm table off the front porch and made a quick bunting with our shop name. It was a definite good enough moment.
The morning of the show, we started loading the car, and I immediately got migraine eyes. Groan! After working three weeks straight without a day off, I can’t say I was surprised, but it was still terrible timing. Normally, this would land me straight on the couch, but I was determined to go anyway. We’d been planning this for months, and there were going to be food trucks there. (I have a bit of a food truck obsession, if you didn’t know). So, we finished loading the car, and headed out. I was sick to my stomach and numb when we got there, but by some miracle, I never got the massive migraine headache that I always get. My husband and kids hauled all our stuff in, and by show time I was okay enough to make it work.
We’d never accepted credit cards before this show, so that was a big experiment for us. After doing some research, and talking to a few people, we decided to use PayPal Here. They’ll mail you a card reader for free, but we were short on time, so we opted to pick one up from Office Depot ($14.99) and submit for the $15 credit from PayPal.
You guys, let me just say, their app and card reader is awesome. It plugs into a jack on your cell phone and allows you to accept Visa, Master Card, American Express and Discover on the fly. The interface is super intuitive, and it even allows you to create a menu of your products, so when someone makes a purchase, you just click on the products they’re buying, and it totals everything for you. Pretty spiffy. And I was even more impressed that it worked on my not-so-smart phone. (my husband and I share a prepaid).
Our calendar towel was featured on the craft fair’s website a few days before the show, and lots of people told us they’d come specifically to buy our towel. Cool!
And our other products did well, too. We sold a lot of milk cap magnets and carpenter bee traps, and we also sold our first smashbook journal and garden journal.
All told we grossed about $350 for the day, and we got to munch on some pretty tasty food truck fare. I’d definitely call that a success, and I plan to apply for their holiday show. This time, I’m going to focus more on the look of our booth. I’m already scheming ways to add height and visual interest to our set up. As soon as they post the food truck vendors, I’ll start scheming my lunch.