Friday, November 2, 2012

Bizarre Bazaar

I have been so busy knitting that any other hobbies or non-housework activities were left on the back burner...  This blog being one of those things.  But look!

This is my half spot at a local bazaar, or as they seem to be called these days, craft show.  I had somewhere around 60-70 items for sale and they are all on this table.  I managed to get pretty much all of it knit between August and October, which I was pretty impressed with.

My bazaar experience was a bit bizarre mostly because I had truly no idea what to expect.  I'd been to some in the past but that was the extent of my knowledge.  After deciding that I was really interested in this, I started to search the internet for shows I could be in that were close enough to me.  I ended up with two in town options, one which had a booth price this first-timer could appreciate and the other which was a little pricey in addition to being juried.  What I came to learn was the juried type would look over my work ahead of time and make a decision based on that as to my admittance to their show.  In my position I felt that the lower price was best.

Still feeling a bit uncertain about expectations, I set out to do more research.  I found some ideas on various Ravelry boards but nothing that with information on the show as a whole.  I ended up finding an informative book at my local library, Crafts and craft shows: how to make money by Phil Kadubec.  The author and his wife had been on the craft show circuit in the California area selling their baskets and made quite a second career out of it.  They were a bit more serious about it than I am at this point and their market a bit different from mine, but there were many helpful hints, tips and tricks.

In order to better understand my customer, I also put out a quick survey for people who happened upon my Facebook or Twitter page and were willing to take a couple minutes and help out.  This helped me get an idea of the type of products most desired along with color and variety.

Now I was ready to really dig in and get product knit up.  I did start out with some items knit for my Etsy shop, but that needed to grow immensely   My beginning focus was hats of various colors in a pattern I had created myself and then mitts in matching colors in a complementary pattern I'd also created.  I did a couple other hats for variety and then moved on to scarves.  Personally, I'm more of a cowl fan, so this was a difficult category for me, but I had a couple of standby's that turned out nicely.  Speaking of cowls, I had already accumulated a nice selection of those so only one or two more were needed to round out that category.  Lastly I worked on smaller items, like cup (or coffee) cozies, headband style ear warmers (I call them Button Back Bands because of the button on the back) as well as hair clip and pins with flowers or bows on them.

I can honestly say I didn't stop knitting items for the sale, but there did come a point where I slowed down on the knitting and took to doing the less exciting work of preparations.  The first thing I did was set out everything on my dining room table to get an idea how it looked, did I have enough?, and what kind of display elements do I need?  I was pleasantly surprised to find that what I was worried was not enough filled the table out nicely.  I realized I would need something to hang scarves and bags as well as some other items for hat and mitt display.  A section of my table display would also be dedicated to items whose sale price would be donated to Susan B. Komen Passionately Pink.

Brown craft paper seemed a blank but not stark which canvas which to lay my items on and purple accents to match my business card theme seemed most appropriate.  I found that Styrofoam heads and hands are sold at big box craft stores and not just second hand store finds.  I added a man and a second woman to my thrift store found woman but couldn't find the Styrofoam hands I was hoping to use for my mitts.  I happened upon a sale on glassware at the craft store and some cute little purple ones appeared to be the size of a wrist so I purchased two of those as well.  I covered some boxes in purple tissue paper and used some thrift store stands to add some height to the display along with my proudest display piece... The re-purposed branches scarf display!  We had trees trimmed and cut down in our yard over the past year and had kept the branches as possible firewood so I went through out piles and found some in the right sizes.  I trimmed them to fit just right, screwed everything together and sprayed a coat of Poly on everything.

My daughter helped me set up the afternoon before the show (and also took the photo above) as well as sat with me most of the show.  While we did have some fun, it was mostly boring to her.  I was knitting between talking to people, saying hello, good morning, or good afternoon more than I have ever in a day!  I had lots of interest and even compliments from other knitters but not much in the way of sales.  My low goal was one sale because that covered the cost of my booth and I did pass that slightly so I was happy enough.

I'd really love to know what held people back from buying though, yet I fear I know the answer.  I would like to think of my style as more boutique-esque and the items are priced accordingly.  The other knit items booths I briefly saw were more granny or novelty style.  I mean no offense to either style, as they certainly have their place, it just put my style almost out of place.

This was a great experience and I'm glad I did it.  I've learned some things and would like to research shows more before I participate so I can be sure my style is in the right place.  Maybe juried shows would even be a good idea for me.  However I think for now I'll have to take pics of all my remaining items and get to listing on Etsy!