Friday, November 11, 2022

Craft Fair 101: attending our very first Craft Fair

On Saturday, November 5th, Trish and I attended Hillary’s Handmade Craft Fair in Turnersville, NJ. This was our maiden experience bringing our products directly to the consumer (compared to selling online in our Etsy shop). There were about 25+ vendors in attendance displaying a variety of products ranging from jewelry, candles, baked goods, knitting, wreathes, and even doggie treats. My favorite was the Sweet Dill pickles I'm now enjoying–homemade from Lena Mills Naturals. Trish and I had previous experience at vendor events where we simply passed out descriptive information. This time, however, we needed to have systems in place for taking payment both in cash and credit/debit since we were now selling our "wares." We used a metal cash box, and we also implemented a POS system (Square) for accepting card payments. The use of a cell phone hotspot was also a requirement for wifi access.

Knowing the many details required in setting up a vendor table, we used a free online software (as we had in the past) named Trello for organizing lists of items to bring and prepare. These included all the basics for a vendor booth such as canopy, canopy weights, folding table(s), tablecloth, chairs, cooler chest for snacks and drinks, zip ties, various tapes, utility knife and scissors, and several other basic tools. 

A somewhat breezy but beautiful Fall day in Turnersville, NJ 
at Hillary's Handmade Craft Fair

We also packed and displayed a variety of our shelf or wall decor. Included in the mix were: holiday sconces, reindeer food bottles, a Santa milk and cookie platter, and holiday flower pots. Fall additions included pumpkin pencil holders, pumpkin spice blackboard sign, and an additional array of marked-down Halloween items. General signs and plaques relating to the themes of coffee and family were also for sale. 

For our very first craft fair, we felt the display was adequate and showed off our creativity and production quality. Sales were slow, but we had very little in the way of expectations.  We more than covered the cost of our table fee, but the effort to set up, spend 5 hours, and then break down and transport were not conducive to an overall respectable hourly rate. So in my mind, we lost money.

I mentioned this was our first craft fair. The question is whether it is our last. Parts of this process are appealing. We love the Fall with the changing leaves bursts of color, chill in the air, and the mindset of people looking for a special gift as the holidays approach. We also had some great conversations with other vendors, and I for one love to hear what brought them to being a craft vendor.

But, online orders that appear on my home computer, while I drink my hot coffee, seem more appealing with a lot less work. So it stands to be decided as to where we go from here.