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BS: Craft stalls at festivals

15 Oct 07 - 07:20 AM (#2171430)
Subject: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Zany Mouse

Has anyone taken a stall at a craft festival? If so, what was it like? What did you sell? What was the price of the stall? And finally --- WAS IT WORTH IT?

Thanks

Rhiannon


15 Oct 07 - 09:31 AM (#2171500)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Liz the Squeak

I took a craft stall once.























They made me put it back.

A friend told me once that it was totally worth it for 1 out of 3 festivals she worked, but you could never tell which one it was going to be. What went like hot cakes at one festival was lead balloon territory at another the following week.

She started out making Fimo (plastic modelling media that hardens in the oven) jewellery, dolls house food, badges, that sort of thing, way back in the 1980's. She worked many of the major southern festivals including Sidmouth and Towersey but never made enough to retire on. Costs back then were reasonable, now she sometimes barely makes enough to cover the charge because although her prices have gone up, the charges have gone up by more.

Also, working the festivals had a major drawback in that all the events she wanted to see, were on whilst the craft tent was open so she didn't get to do anything but trade or sleep. She found it a lot easier to do this at festivals where she had no interest in the performances.

The problem I've had with taking stalls at smaller events (school fetes and such), is that what I make on the day, ultimately isn't worth the time and effort spent in handmaking stuff (cards and labels in various media including embroidery), particularly as what I do sell, the profits go to various charities. The amount of stock needed to make a good showing far outweighs the monies raised. I'm trying a more upmarket venue this year - hopefully that will bring in a bit more.

Choose your product and your venue carefully, that's all I can say. Don't make the mistake of thinking your hobby can bring you income unless you are prepared to make your hobby your job, and live on short rations for a while. It may be your hobby now, and your favourite way of relaxing, but once it becomes your breadwinner and eating depends on making and selling, then it soon becomes a chore.

LTS


15 Oct 07 - 12:00 PM (#2171603)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Zany Mouse

Thanks for the advice, Liz. I was thinking more along the lines of a self-financing hobby rather than a full time income. I make far more than I and friends can use.

Rhiannon


15 Oct 07 - 02:00 PM (#2171705)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Bee-dubya-ell

I recommend against trying to sell arts & crafts at music festivals unless you've attended the festival yourself and have seen decent sales activity in the arts & crafts area, or you've spoken with someone who has done well at a particular festival.

My wife and I make our livings selling at festivals, mostly of the art/craft variety, not music festivals. We've tried a few music festivals and generally wished we'd stayed home. If the main draw is anything other than the art/crafts being exhibited, the attendees aren't coming to the show with buying coffee mugs foremost in their minds.

The one exception to our "No music festivals" rule is The Florida Folk Festival, at which we do exhibit every year. We generally sell about half of what we'd sell at a similarly attended art festival of the same three-day length, but if we weren't participating as crafters we'd be taking the weekend off and attending the festival anyway. Participating as crafters gets us free admission and camping and we do wind up with some profit. It's sort of a "working vacation".

We've also considered participating in a couple of other big music festivals, The Philadelphia Folk Festival and The Walnut Valley Festival (Winfield, KS). In bth cases, we've met other artists who've exhibited at them and done well.

If you're just starting out selling craft items, church festivals are a good way to get your feet wet. Their booth fees are usually quite reasonable and a festival at a good-sized church is almost guaranteed good attendance.


15 Oct 07 - 02:36 PM (#2171728)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: PoppaGator

BWL: Have you considered selling at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival?

The booths are pretty expensive, but the crowds are huge, and many attendees are just as interested in shopping for arts and crafts as they are in listening to the music.

A friend of mine who makes his full-time living as a leather craftsman, and who sells at festivals all over the US, takes a booth at the NOJHF every year and does quite well.

It's a two-weekend event, and craft booths are available only for one weekend per vendor. (That is, no one can rent a space for both weekends.) That's how much these spaces are in demand; the potential profits are more than enough to justify the price, no matter how high it might seem.

The event is always held on the last weekend of April and the first weekend of May, at the Fair Grounds race track.


15 Oct 07 - 05:24 PM (#2171840)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Zany Mouse

Thanks for your input which is very interesting. I must admit I ALWAYS head to the craft tents at festivals so perhaps my view is a tad biased.

Incidentally I'm based in England.

Thanks again
Rhiannon


15 Oct 07 - 06:03 PM (#2171868)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Janie

Like BWL, we generally found that we didn't do that well at music festivals.

BWL, The Philly Folk Festival was the exception - we always had average to very good sales there (excellent only once) - captive audience, very small crafts section and an effort on the part of the crafts committee to not have two of the same craft there. Plus, they feed you with the volunteers and secure the crafts area at night. You can not see the stage from the crafts area but it is very close, you can hear well, and it is a short walk to the top of the amphetheater if you want to take in part of an act then get quickly back to the booth. The hours, however, are grueling. I don't remember now if it was straight fee, or fee plus commission, but they also started upping it to the point we didn't think it worth it. I don't know that it would warrant driving from the Florida panhandle unless you can haul enough pots with you to do a circuit of the better shows in the region between Philly, Washington DC and northern Virginia.

Janie


15 Oct 07 - 06:47 PM (#2171912)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Tig

What sort of stuff are you thinking of selling? John and I have stood festivals since we became badgers - often also having 'extra' offerings such as turned wood on the stall for friends.

In that time the stall fees seem to have risen at a lot of festivals to the point where it's no longer viable for us to go taking into account we only charge 'pocket money' prices. That, added to the extra costs of materials, petrol etc have made us decide it is no longer worth it. Mind you there are still some festivals who will only charge you a smallish fee.

Consider how long the trading hours will be and where the craft fair is being held. If the venue is not part of the main festival building is it easily accessable and within very easy walking distance? Are the public likely to go or are they going to be charged entrance fees? How many other stalls are there likely to be selling similar stuff to yours (some festivals play fair and limit it to 1 or 2 of the same stuff)?   

Folk people are often reluctant to spend their money before the last day of the festival (beer/food money comes first :-0) so if the craft fair is only on the Saturday have you got a 'Must Buy' product. Similarly be prepared no matter how bored you get to stick it out for the full time you can trade. I've often seen people pack up a bit early and then people turn up at their stall after they have gone.

If you are wanting to see some of the festival check that tickets are included as part of your stall fee. We've come across some festivals which either give 1 ticket and you can buy another at a reduced price or which give no stall holders tickets at all. You really need 2 of you for a stall (at least) so that you can spell each other (remember you need to go to the loo and get food sometimes!)

Is it worth it? Yes if you want the chance to meet friends and talk to people and hopefully make some money. No if you want to see anything special at the festival - chances are you will either be working or so kn***** you won't get there.

Your best bet having thought about what you are selling/prices/distance etc is to ask friends who have been to the festival you fancy and see what their view on previous craft fairs there is. For some festivals there's a 'regular' set of stalls and you need to get in very early.

Hope this helps a bit. PM me if you want any more info about our experiences.

Hugs
Tig
xxx


15 Oct 07 - 06:48 PM (#2171914)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: John Hardly

New Orleans is, by most accounts I've heard, a tough jury.

BWL gives good advice. His advice is the main reason I bought moustache wax and I haven't regretted it one minute. I plan on someday growing a moustache too. Or just my ear hair like BWL did.

I've made a living doing craft fairs for going on thirty years. It's my sole means of income.

It would make a great second income.


15 Oct 07 - 08:00 PM (#2171958)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Bill D

My wife & I organize the crafts area at our yearly folk festival in Maryland (same group that does the FSGW Getaway)..

We strive to have folk-related crafts and keep a pretty good standard...small group, only about 25 booths, and carefully chosen. 'Most' folks make decent money, and a few have been coming for 12-14 years...we get 8,000-10,000 people in the park in 2 days, and the crafts are well attended.

The best show we ever had was 3 years ago there...and it rained. (maybe that's why)


15 Oct 07 - 08:12 PM (#2171964)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Sorcha

I'm sure some of the above mentioned are 'juried' craft areas. I know that Walnut Valley/Winfield is. You send in descriptions and pics of your stuff, and they decide whether they will 'invite' you to be one of the vendors. Check that out too.


15 Oct 07 - 08:28 PM (#2171972)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Big Al Whittle

I can't help thinking someone with a proper fish and chip van would clean up.

You often find yourself eating some total crap - sometimes just for somewhere to sit down. Sort of not quite a meal, but a million unhealthy calories.


15 Oct 07 - 09:18 PM (#2171988)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Stilly River Sage

John Hardly made it to Fort Worth's Main Street Arts Festival this year through that jury method. His work is beautiful.

SRS


16 Oct 07 - 12:03 AM (#2172068)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Genie

In the "thread title" vein, when I first read this one, I couldn't help wondering
"Who is Craft and why does s/he stall at festivals?"

; )


16 Oct 07 - 06:46 AM (#2172158)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: John Hardly

Thanks Stilly!

(the check's in the mail)


16 Oct 07 - 07:27 AM (#2172172)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Folkiedave

Strictly speaking selling S/H folk books isn't crafts of course but I do have a stall at most festivals.

All of what Tig says is absolutely bang on in my experience. People always arrive to purchase something I have just packed.

Also if you are asked to put something to one side for later collection TAKE A DEPOSIT!!


16 Oct 07 - 10:11 AM (#2172295)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Donuel

I made one once with a huge sign "First Unitarian Church of Kentucky"

The captital letters were neon orange and the small letters dark blue.


17 Oct 07 - 09:31 AM (#2172940)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: EBarnacle

All good salesmen hate this song,
Be back, Be back!

[Continue it if you wish]


17 Oct 07 - 03:48 PM (#2173136)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Zany Mouse

Thanks, everyone, for the help and advice. I was thinking of sellng cards and patchwork.

Rhiannon


17 Oct 07 - 09:27 PM (#2173322)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Mickey191

I've sold my items at festivals, block parties and garage sales. I make beautiful decorative bird houses, wall placques and small paintings. I don't fancy those venues at all. Almost without exception people want to argue about the price. They don't realize or care how much time & materials go into a piece - or that the seller is paying for the stall or table.

My preference is to rent a shelf or two in a craft store. The price usually starts at $15.00 a shelf for one month. The store owner is not at liberty to discount & hardly ever is asked to discount. It beats sitting out in the sun or waiting for the rain.


18 Oct 07 - 02:05 AM (#2173407)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Liz the Squeak

That's a good point Mickey191 - items sitting in a store are almost never considered 'barter' material. You see a store price, you feel obliged to pay that price - would you go into Walmart and ask them to knock half off the price of beer? (I don't know if Walmart even sell beer but it's too early in the morning for that kind of research).

Some people feel it is their mission in life to get 20% knocked off any price at an informal sale. The ones that annoy me most are those well meaning organisers who anounce that everything is now 10p, without asking anyone if this is OK!

One point Zany - I made and sold cards a few years ago, and they went like hot cakes. The following year, I did the same again and sold about 5. It seems the world and his wife are making cards now and with kits available in Tesco's for stupidly low prices, who can blame them? However, it does rather put a damper on the market. This is mainly because they feel they can buy something cheaper elsewhere but also because, if they're like me, they look at something and say 'I could do that'.

LTS


18 Oct 07 - 07:57 AM (#2173525)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: The Villan

I have been wondering for a long time if I would be allowed by festival organisers to set up an Adult Sex Toys Stall. Campers wouldn't get to sleep but they would have great fun. Do you think anybody would come in the stall at all.


18 Oct 07 - 08:12 AM (#2173536)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: manitas_at_work

Hopefully they would wait until they were somewhere more private!


18 Oct 07 - 08:29 AM (#2173543)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: jacqui.c

Liz - I've had that problem with selling crochet work. The last stall I had I only just made back the cost of stall hire.

I'm going to try setting out stuff at the Getaway again - all I want is to fund the addiction!


18 Oct 07 - 11:06 AM (#2173650)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Mickey191

Went to block party where about 20 venders were selling all sorts of great stuff. I was there as a customer. A "lady" and I ended up at the same table where a senior-senior citizen was selling the most beautiful, gorgeous knitted afghans. The "lady" expressed interest in 6 of them & offered the knitter 50% of her asking price. (I hung around just to hear how this would turn out.)

The vender's eyes were tearing as the "lady" was browbeating the seller into submission. I finally could stand it no more - and said loudly:"You ought to be ashamed of yourself - this lady worked hard & long on these & her prices are fair." She stomped off & got in her Benz. The vender was crying by now- & thanked me. I bought one beautiful afghan- white with red butterfies. My thought was the "Lady" probably had a store & was going to sell these with a big mar-up. Otherwise, why try to buy 6 at a time?


18 Oct 07 - 11:10 AM (#2173654)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: The Villan

Manitas :-)


18 Oct 07 - 11:40 AM (#2173683)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Stilly River Sage

Good call, Mickey.


18 Oct 07 - 11:40 AM (#2173684)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Mickey191

manitas-not in Cambridge or American heritage Dictionary.

Cambridge suggested it might be found in Spanish Dictionary. Translation from Spanish = Handyman

Villan, Please explain. Thank you.


18 Oct 07 - 11:54 AM (#2173695)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: The Villan

Explain what Mickey?


18 Oct 07 - 12:18 PM (#2173708)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Stilly River Sage

Some people feel it is their mission in life to get 20% knocked off any price at an informal sale. The ones that annoy me most are those well meaning organisers who anounce that everything is now 10p, without asking anyone if this is OK!

A friend of mine has meticulously collected and restored antique toys, dolls and their accoutrement in particular. He was at a large craft fair a few years ago where they announced that things would go on half price at a certain point--thus killing his sales until then, and he couldn't afford to sell them at half-price so packed up and left. He was harangued by one guy who refused to pay the asking price and wanted to get everything cheap. It was a low blow and my friend didn't return to that event again.

SRS


18 Oct 07 - 01:12 PM (#2173767)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Mickey191

SRS, That 50% off should be against the law! Unconscionable! There really should be a written contract between the venders & the organizers that near the closing time there may be a price reduction- but only an agreed on reduction.

I'm surprised everyone didn't fold up & go home!


18 Oct 07 - 05:24 PM (#2173986)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Liz the Squeak

"He was at a large craft fair a few years ago where they announced that things would go on half price at a certain point"

At a jumble/bring and buy/thrift sale where they do it to clear the tables, it's fine, but at a craft stall where people have spent their own money and hours of time in creating things, then it's appallingly bad mannered of organisers to do it.

LTS


18 Oct 07 - 05:37 PM (#2173991)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Peace

"Craft stalls at festivals"

Thank goodness it wasn't a helicopter or hovercraft. People could have been seriously hurt.


18 Oct 07 - 06:46 PM (#2174036)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Janie

We have never done anything but juried shows, and that may be the difference. Only once, at the Beaux Arts festival in Florida, did we ever had a customer try to bargain us down. Highly insulted, we were, and we let him know that. Nor did we ever encounter other artists or craftsmen who began to discount their wares toward the end of a show. After all, there was always the next show, and it is always a struggle to produce enough to keep your inventory up between show circuits. If the items are mass produced, they don't belong at a legitimate show. And if they are not mass produced, there is no reason whatsoever to discount the price toward the end of an event.

Most reputable shows will also not allow artists and craftsmen to shut down early - so one had best plan to have plenty of inventory. The idea is to sell to the end - and not to sell out.

Janie


18 Oct 07 - 07:44 PM (#2174081)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: Mickey191

If it's been a slow day--with the sun beating down & the kids are screaming & kicking your shins & there are no fun people to talk with......The wee discount may help move the merchandise and give one a lift!

I had a fellow once look at my stuff & come back with pencil & pad & proceed to copy my designs & some of the sayings on my wall plaques. Told him to bring a camera next time!


18 Oct 07 - 08:54 PM (#2174114)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: diesel

Not sure if Christmas stalls equal festivals...but last year I rented a table in a small local fair. Sold photo's I'ld had printed up for an exhibition. One couple promised they'd be back, never believed them, then an hour later - The lady had lost the hubby at the bar and came back to peruse the pics. Long story short - I sold more in one day at the fair than a week in an exhibition. Pure addiction straight from the off.... I'm not planning this year but intend to do it much more next year.

From talking to others at the fair, picked up the following:
It was a poor fair - not many attended.
Because of fewer people - those that were had a better chance to browse and not be under pressure.
The photo's I had were 'different' in the sense that viewers had seen multiples of various crafts, jewellery, pottery, art etc - but photo's were a once off exhibit... so I got a fair amount of curious interest, more maybe than others.
The fair was one of a circuit, where I believe once you start, the amount you hear about just grows exponentially......

If going for it - do something different to attract the attention - maybe a coloured drape as backdrop or 2 seats for a viewer and partner ...


Something special about strangers buying your work, family may buy due to like or pity - but strangers won't part with the few bob unless genuine like...

rgds

Diesel (Ireland)


19 Oct 07 - 02:44 PM (#2174668)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: dick greenhaus

Two things have struck me about hand-crafted items.
a) Considering how much work goes into one, how can they sell them so cheaply?
b)Who can afford them?


20 Oct 07 - 02:28 PM (#2175423)
Subject: RE: BS: Craft stalls at festivals
From: oggie

I make my living selling mainly what I make, I'm also UK based so this may not apply elsewhere.

Taking Dick's comment first, I'm good at what I do and I know how to price and if I can't make it at a saleable price I don't make it. The hobbiest is different, they can sell cheap (materials plus pin money) and I avoid places where they'll be as much as possible.

You cannot tell in advance what will sell where or even from one week to another. All you can do is look at costs, anticipated footfall (it's a numbers game) and make your best guess. However always check how many people selling your type of stuff are going to be there, get a plan of the layout and know where you're going to be. You can be in a blank spot and sell nowt while the person ten feet away sells out (been there, done that).

A word of caution, popular festivals charge (in the UK) big bucks, some auction the right to sell a particular commodity and some just want your money and couldn't care less. Approach with caution and good luck.

Steve Ogden