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  • Marketing woodwork

    We're both new to scroll sawing and love it. We attended our first street festival and although we wouldn't consider it a huge success, we did have some great feedback and sold some items as well. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to market craft items and / or show them? Information on any venue would be welcome.

  • #2
    Beware....this is going to be kind of long. It's a snippet of some stuff I've written previously elsewhere. This is only the tip of the iceberg, there is much more than just this but hopefully it gives you some ideas. I'll talk about displays and selling as I believe that's what you're asking. I do between 15 and 20 shows a year and these are a few of the things I've learned (many the hard way.

    The Display
    A good display gets people to stop as well as giving the impression of professionalism (or the opposite). Some keys to your display. Have an eyecatcher out front to get people's attention as they walk by. On average, you have about 15 seconds to get someone's attention. You want to at least be able to get them to hesitate long enough to get an idea of your offerings. Add height to your display, nothing looks worse than a bunch of stuff laying flat on a table. This can be accomplished with table risers, small bookshelves, freestanding displays and small Christmas trees (for ornaments).

    There's two basic ways to lay out a booth (with an infinite number of variations). One is where all your goods are on the outside and you stand behind your display, the other is a U shape where the customer walks in to browse. I prefer the latter.

    One commercially available solution are "Pro Panels." These offer the ability to hang portrait type work, as well as having shelving available for mantel clocks, shelf sitters and other non-hanging items. Be aware though that these come with at a price (and a pretty steep one at that). As I'm trying to sell myself as a woodworker, I prefer building my own. For my portrait work, I have 1 X 2 framing with white lattice attached. These are made in 2' X 6' panels with 2 panels hinged together. This provides me with a very light display as well as a lot of space for hanging portraits. It also provides half a "wall" for my display. I just recently designed and built a couple of collapsible shelf/table displays that I'm very happy with. They stand 6' tall with a 2' deep table 30" up and (3) 10" shelves above that. I use 48" long shelves. They collapse completely and provide an area under which to store my bins during the show. I use 2 of these for my second wall. Currently, along the back of my display, I use a table with a riser with (2) 48" long shelves on it. As I'm always refining my display, the third wall of my booth is the last area I'm working on. I currently use an a-frame with pegboard attached for my ornaments and smaller hanging items. I'm not real happy with this but for now it works. The other key to your display is table length table cloths, I use them on the table/shelf units and the table. Pick a color that will not compete with your work. I use either light blue or green and sometimes a combination of the 2. Of course, this is 3 years in, some of my first fairs I had 1 table. The basics still apply however, add height, have a table length table cloth etc.

    Selling
    If you want to make sales, do not just sit in the back of your booth and wait. You have to engage people, talk to them about the craft, say hello and most importantly, make eye contact!

    As people walk toward your booth a friendly greeting is often all it takes to get them to walk in. Don't turn into a used car salesman either. I normally will just say good morning or good afternoon. Be happy, be positive. When I notice people paying particular attention to a piece, I'll mention something about that. Often times people will be enraptured by one of the more intricate pieces and that usually opens up a question or 2. Something I do as well when I see people spending time looking at my clocks I'll offer up that all of the clocks are made with solid hardwoods and that the movement is guaranteed for life. I also mention when they're looking at my ornaments that the colors are all natural woods and that no paints were harmed in the creation of them. Most people don't realize or don't know that woods come in colors other than brown (I use purpleheart, redheart, mahogany, maple, etc. for my ornaments). Be prepared for questions such as "Do you make these yourself?" With my slightly sarcastic streak sometimes I have to take a deep breath before I answer. I have a standard answer for that question now, "Yes, it keeps me out of my wife's hair." This usually illicits a chuckle and often breaks the ice (not to mention often garners a sale). No matter how bad a day you're having, never haggle with people, I just politely say no as soon as they start to ask if I'll take X dollars for a piece. Try to remain standing during the show, at the very least, buy a director's chair so that you're at eye-level with people as the pass by.

    Also, never lower your prices during a show. Have business cards available. I used to leave them out, now I only hand them out when asked. You'll get different opinions on this, some folks say to have them available for the taking while I've found that I get better results by giving them on request and use less cards. Create a mailing list for people to sign up for. I have approximately 500 customers' names on my list and I send them a little reminder when I have a show coming up. I have notes for those that have purchased from me. Something new that I'm going to try with my next mailing is to include a 10% off coupon for that specific show. I have several customers who have little asterisks near their names, these are folks who either always search me out and buy something or have spent a big sum with me. These folks I'll send a Christmas card and a complimentary ornament to. This helps them remember me and it really helps in building sales. Keep track of everything you sell, how much it sold for, what show, etc. I know that I sell more ornaments at the Breath of Spring craft fair on the first weekend of April than at any other show. I also know that one of my biggest spending customers seeks me out at this show for new items (average purchase from this person is $150). I also know what items sell the best for me and know what to build more of and what types of things to expand on. Oh, never judge a book by its cover! I had one person who was somewhat disheveled browsing my booth, I treated him as I would any other customer. He spent nearly $300 in the end. Be nice to kids too, they have allowance money to spend. I see a lot of crafters who are rude to teenagers, I treat them as I would any other customer. Granted, they typically don't have the money to buy my higher priced items, but often they'll buy one of my $20 clocks as a gift or a portrait for themselves. Teenage girls around here love Elvis and Marilyn for some reason and I can always count on them to sell to this overlooked demographic. I've had kids bring their parents back and talk them into buying something as well. Treat everyone the same, thank them whether they make a purchase or not and remain positive.

    Hope this helps and if you have any other questions feel free to ask.
    Kevin
    Scrollsaw Patterns Online
    Making holes in wood with an EX-30, Craftsman 16" VS, Dremel 1680 and 1671

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    • #3
      Jack & Kathy, I agree with Kevin wholeheartedly. I do 70% ornaments and baskets plus other scroll saw stuff. Never, ever ever change a price during a show. In fact, a lot of shows I have been to recently make you sign a contract saying you WON'T change your price during that show. I have found that since I usually have repeat buyers at different shows, I keep the same price the whole year, especially for ornaments. Believe me, they notice if there is a price change. Also, if you can, have an "eyecatcher" to get them to come to your booth. It took me 5 different christmas trees before I found the one I am currently using. It is all metal, no not the 60's kind of metal trees, has individual branches, each branch holds 4 oranments on a very nice curl, and it turns & plays music!! More people have come to my booth to comment on the tree and usually buy something. Most people want to buy my tree!! And try to make something "everyone else" doesn't have. I found the baskets I have fit that bill very nicely. At all of the shows I have been to, not one other person has the baskets I do. Alot have the ornaments & other scrollsaw work, but not the baskets. This alone has helped me get into shows I may not have other wise gotten into because I was the only one with the baskets. NEVER, EVER do a show combined with a flee market, bazaar, etc. I found this to be a waste of time and money. Try for the truly juried shows if you can. And have confidence in yourself, submit your photos for judging. You'll be surprised at your feed back. I applied for a Thanksgiving show and had to take samples of my work and explain how it was made before they even considered me. Yes, I got in. This is a two day show and last year the crowd was over 8,000 people!! Also, if where the show is being held asks for a donation to be given away, GIVE ONE and put your card in with the item. Or some places will just give the winners of the drawing a slip to come to your booth for them to choose. In those cases, I usually "hilight" the Item I am giving away so people can see it during the day. When they come to "collect their goodie" they usually buy a few other goodies. Plus I always throw in an ornament. In the end the $15 basket I gave away ended up getting me a sale of $50 - $100. DON'T MARK YOUR ITEMS TOO LOW. This comes with experience and going to show after show. If my husband had his way, my baskets would start at $100! My baskets range in price from $10, for the people who want something nice but don't have alot of money, to $65 for the larger ones that can be used as out door pots if they treat it with polyurethane. I don't do that, but tell them it can be done if they want to. That little bit of "extra" information sold me 3 large baskets at a show. Also, pictures laying in a book on your table helps. They get ideas for what the baskets can be used for and usually buy an extra one to give as a gift. Plus they see other things that I do but may not have with me. This helps with orders.

      This can be fun! There will be good shows and shows that you don't even want to remember. It's all part of the process of crafting. Plus, crafters are the most wonderful people and you will begin to meet some of the same ones show after show. They can be a good resource for you to find out the better shows. Remember, expensive isn't always better. I did a $100 show that was ok but I won't go back to, and a $20 show that nearly depleted my inventory. Keep us posted!

      Betty
      Betty

      "Congress needs to realize it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Not of the people, by the people and for Congress." - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Johns Hopkins Hospital

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      • #4
        Kevin, Betty, fantastic advice, both of you.
        Thanks
        Marsha
        LIFE'S SHORT, USE IT WELL

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        • #5
          wow great information here as I'm getting ready for my first show in 2 weeks. This gives me an idea of what I'm going to do. In the mean time while working full time I'm doing 100 things at once for this show.

          Eric

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          • #6
            Sales outlets other than Fairs

            Jack and Kathy,
            Here are some other ways and outlets to sell your crafts.
            My favorite method is the "bar-hopping" strategy. Carry a piece wherever you go, put one on display in your office at work, etc. You'd be amazed at the sales this can generate. I know one gentleman who does this with a gumball machine that he sells for $30. He averages about $80,000 a year in sales for this one item. If you have Hallmark stores, they're typically privately owned and may be interested in your smaller items, especially ornaments. Local drugstores (if you still have them) are also good outlets. There are also craft malls/stores such as Cape Cod Crafters that you can rent space at and/or sell on consignment. I haven't heard a lot of good feedback on this last one so I haven't pursued it too much. One note about consignment/wholesaling is that the store will typically want anywhere from 35% to 60% of the retail price as a commission. I don't mind this for ornaments and bookmarks as my typical retail margins on these are around 90% so I still make out pretty well even given up half of that.
            Just some more food for thought.
            Kevin
            Scrollsaw Patterns Online
            Making holes in wood with an EX-30, Craftsman 16" VS, Dremel 1680 and 1671

            Comment


            • #7
              I know what you mean Eric. I had that problem until I got fired a month ago!! One other thing I found customers like. I print a "care card" and include it with each of my sales. On this card I list the types of wood used, hilight the one that applies to whatever they bought, sometimes there are several woods used, and then tell them how to care for their "fine wood item." Since most of my sales are baskets, I tell them to blow the dust off with canned air, take a brown paper bag and crumble it up and wipe over basket to "buff" it. This generates further conversation as they say "brown paper bag?" and I tell them yes, that a large grocery bag is preferred as it is equivelant to a very fine sand paper and they can also use wax on a soft cloth when they are done. Also, put any contact information on there for you, name, email, website. You would be surprised what this can generate. And if you are doing any other shows, I make up cards and place them on my table telling of future shows. Also, contact info on this card. Now a question for Jedi - $80,000 on a gumball machine? at $30 each? That's 2666, more or less a year? SHOW ME THE PATTERN!!

              Betty
              Betty

              "Congress needs to realize it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Not of the people, by the people and for Congress." - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Johns Hopkins Hospital

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by will8989
                Now a question for Jedi - $80,000 on a gumball machine? at $30 each? That's 2666, more or less a year? SHOW ME THE PATTERN!!

                Betty
                You're not the only one doing the sums Betty. That's over 7 gumball machines everyday of the year - I'm it's possible but the poor guy must be seeing gumball machines in his sleep!

                Kinda like the idea of the "bar hopping" strategy though, Kevin ..

                Kinda like

                Ian (wondering what the gumball machine market is like in NS!)
                Ian

                Scrolling with a Dewalt 788

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                • #9
                  Thanks for all the great advice.

                  I've been wanting to get my stuff out there but didn't know where to start.

                  I've sold a few things through the folks I work with and the folks at hubby's work. I just want to do more. My plan is to get things ready for the spring craft festivals and such next year. This year is done gone and I waited way too long to get my butt in gear. But then again, I also didn't think I could really pursue this as a money making endeavor. Not that I make a whole lot of money, but even an extra $100 or so a month would be nice.
                  Kelly
                  "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." Walt Disney

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                  • #10
                    It's really interesting that this topic should come up now. I just finished reading a book about the "Multi-gifted" AKA, Jacks of All Trades, masters of none (like me), and it said to pick four focuses and stick with them for a bit...well, one of my focuses was to get some of my work (Carving and scrolling) up online to see if people are interested...anyone have experience with that?

                    Bob
                    www.GrobetUSA.com

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                    • #11
                      Photo Gallery

                      Welcome to the board Bobcat!!! We have a really fine gallery here!!! LOL!!!!
                      If it don't fit, don't force it....get a bigger hammer!!

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                      • #12
                        You have to love production cutting. My understanding is that he would build a couple of hundred in a weekend which would give him about a month's worth of stock. Just a very basic design. That doesn't seem like all that many to me. There's a local fellow here who makes toys for the toys for tots drives and he knocks out a few hundred a night during the Christmas season. It's more than just going to bars. He carries this thing everywhere. I guess I don't see 7 a day of something as all that much. Figure in a 14 hour day that 1 every 2 hours. Get into a large business and you could go through a few hundred in a day easily. I believe he was in the Atlanta area. It was either in one of Barbara Brabec's or Wendy Rosen's books. While the money sounds nice, it's a lot of work and if you've ever cut thousands of the same thing you could see it's not as great as it sounds. I cut about between 1000 and 1500 bookmarks in a weekend during the winter to get me through the season. I dread doing it but it's the price to pay if you want to make a business out of it.
                        I think one of the catalogues has a gumball machine pattern.
                        Kevin
                        Scrollsaw Patterns Online
                        Making holes in wood with an EX-30, Craftsman 16" VS, Dremel 1680 and 1671

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          sawdustus of hiawatha

                          My daughter talked me into taking a table, in 3 weeks, at her Temple's Ladies Night Out. I have been wondering how to present my projects in their best light. Thanks for a lot of wonderful ideas. I won't have a lot of space (2.5' x 5' ) to display but I will rig up something to make it vertical. Since this is my first venture into selling my projects I am hoping for the best but who knows. Since I conned my daughter into sitting with me most of the evening, I don't think I need business cards yet. Hopefully I will have worked all the bugs out of my display before that evening.
                          A day without sawdust is a day without sunshine.
                          George

                          delta 650, hawk G426

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Jediscroller
                            You have to love production cutting.
                            I think one of the catalogues has a gumball machine pattern.
                            There's one here - http://www.furnitureplans.com/pi_products/5520

                            Is that the kind of thing you mean, Kevin? It looks like quite a fun to thing to make, though not by the thousand...!!!

                            Mmm .. would it need a foodsafe finish? Trivets are springing to mind ...

                            Ian
                            Attached Files
                            Ian

                            Scrolling with a Dewalt 788

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                            • #15
                              Even though I didnt ask the question I do thank all that gave ideas.

                              I Carve and now have started back doing some scrolling.

                              I know that when you get your product out infront of the public you may sale down the road.
                              I carved a 12 inch santa and raffled it a friends gathering. He puts on what he calls Pioneer decendants gathering.
                              It is to show people how things were done in the good ole days so to speak
                              this done the first weekend of Oct.
                              The Santa was won by a lady and she called and asked for a smaller one.
                              I have carved a 6 inch one that she is purchasing to give to her friend that had hoped he was the one to win the larger one.

                              I had never thought about the idea of keeping records of sales.
                              I have now started a file on what I have sold.

                              I do give alot of it away to friends and neighbors.

                              dale

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