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Different preferences and philosophys

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  • Different preferences and philosophys

    I have a question about your philosophy on what you make and sell. There is no right and wrong answer, but I thought it would be an interesting discussion.

    First some background (I know it's a little long):

    I just got done with my first craft festival since last November. I did much better than expected, and will post pictures when I have a chance to upload them and clean them up.

    I sell a lot of things that can be stack cut from 1/8" baltic birch, including both flat and 3D ornaments and other pieces. I have very few individually cut items. I'm selling the flat ornaments for $3.00, and the 3d ones for $5.00 and sell a lot of them. Usually, I earn 2x or more my booth fee just selling these. My prices go up for more complex items, to around $80.00.

    Another item I had is some of Sue Mey's nativity crosses. I reduced the size about 25%, stack cut them from 1/8 baltic birch, then mounted with a colored background that was the outline of the cross. I asked and got $20.00 each for them.

    One other scroll sawyer was there and we talked toward the end of the show. While we didn't discuss actual money, I believe I did much better than he did. He had some of Sue's crosses, and they were full size and cut from 3/4" hardwood. (Unfortunately, I didn't have time to go down to his booth to see how much he was asking.) He also has a lot of stand up puzzles, also 3/4" wood. I believe he was 'proud' of the fact that he doesn't stack cut anything.

    Here's the question for discussion - If you produce to sell at craft shows, etc. - Do you prefer to cut a few real nice pieces and try to get as much as you can for them, or would you rather have a large number items that you can sell for less per unit, and make it up in volume.
    Last edited by markdavd; 09-12-2011, 02:09 PM.

  • #2
    I do both. I stack cut as much as I can like ornaments an Sue Key crosses but I also make a lot of 3/4" stuff too.


    • #3
      I prefer doing intarsia so there is no question of stack cutting. I don't do fretwork. Intarsia is priced (at least by me) by the complexity as well as the number of pieces and the woods used. I also sell standup puzzles cut from 3/4" thick hardwoods and sell them for anywhere from $15 to $95 depending again on complexity and the wood used. I have no trouble selling them for these prices but I am in an affluent area where people tend to spend money on things they like.



      • #4
        I stack cut what I can - mostly ornaments. But I do intarsia pieces too, so they are cut seperately.

        My ornaments are cut from hardwoods in various thicknesses. I sell them for $4.50 and up.
        A "rule-of-thumb" to determine if a show is a "good" one, is if you sell 10x your booth fee. This varies of course, sometimes I consider a show "good" if I get some good leads to other places to sell, or other information. If you are selling a lot of ornaments and only ending up w/twice your booth fee, you might consider raising your prices.


        • #5
          My ornaments tend to cover the booth fee, and usually double it or more. It's the larger pieces that raise the sales alot higher. If the larger items are stack cut, it's even better.

          I do make some intarsia and other 'one at a time' pieces, but they don't tend to move very fast. In my opinion, if that's all I had, I wouldn't be able to do anywhere near as well.

          This last show, sales were almost 12x the booth fee, and probably 1/3 or that were stack cut $5.00 items.

          Continue on your thoughts on that topic. Every one of us have different ideas and preferences.

          Next question - how do you politely get rid of the guy who stops by and won't leave, wanting to show you pictures of the cabinets he just made (or whatever), keeping you from being able to deal with your (potential) customers?


          • #6
            I do a little of both. I love making people smile and found that if I have some $2 to $5 items, I sell many of those and they tell others about the booth. When the others come back, I sometimes sell them some of the more expensive items also. Sometimes if someone is walking around with a small handmade, wooden item others will see it and ask where they got that. And that makes me smile.

            As far as the potentially "annoying" customer, I told the guy that it sounds like he makes some great stuff, offer him a business card, and tell him to call me sometime when I have more time to talk. Some times they call back, most times they don't.
            Dan H

            I would rather be friendly to a stranger than be a stranger to my friends.


            • #7
              I make and sell scroll saw items also. I do no fretwork, little intarsia, but do a lot of inlay and make toys also. I also make trunks and wooden cornucopias. (non scroll saw stuff) I display well over 100 different items at each show. (2-3 shows per month, year round) I sell my stuff cheaply because the wages here in Lubbock Texas are low as is the cost of living. My sales do fund my hobby but not much more than that. I offer lots of $12 items and just a few in the $50- $125 range. I sell toys for $5 each. I average 10 times my space rent, in sales, as was mentioned. I just started taking credit card sales, so the sale of the higher priced items may work better now. The way I look at it is: my customers are funding MY hobby.
              Hegner Polymax- 3,Hegner Multimax-3,
              "No PHD, just a DD 214"


              • #8
                I've always tried to have a large variety of items and prices. With regards to scroll sawn stuff, I stack cut everything I can (including mini-clocks). I sell fretwork, intarsia, ornaments, boxes, clocks, puzzles as well as small furnishings. The price range in my both varies but typically I offer items from $3 - $300 and occasionally will have a 1 or 2 thousand dollar piece. The 10X booth fee is an ok rule for inexpensive shows, but for shows costing 500 or 1000 dollars 2 or 3 times booth is pretty good and 5 times booth is awesome.
                Scrollsaw Patterns Online
                Making holes in wood with an EX-30, Craftsman 16" VS, Dremel 1680 and 1671


                • #9
                  I try to have a variety of both large and small items (although few very large ones). The smaller ornaments and magnets sell much more quickly and easily than larger intarsia, but selling a few larger items raises the profits significantly, and hopefully what doesn't sell at this show will sell at a future one or online. My pieces usually vary from $3 (a small inlaid star) to a few $200-275 items. My main show has a $600 entry fee and I would be EXTREMELY delighted to get 10 times that fee but I don't expect it to happen, yet I would be disappointed to only get $100 for a $10 table. As Kevin points out, there's lots of wiggle room in those figures.



                  • #10
                    Personally unless I already had a rather good following in a given location. I'd be very hesitant about paying $600.00 for an entry fee. Just because it is expensive to enter, does not mean the customers will part with their money, in your booth....

                    I'd want a couple of seasons at less expensive venues under my belt first.

                    I know Lou and Betty and Kevin and a few others have had success at these venues. Kudos to them.
                    "Still Montana Mike"

                    "Don't worry about old age--it doesn't last that long."
                    Mike's Wood-n-Things LLC


                    • #11
                      I will stack cut what I can. If the design allows, I will even us my planer to reduce stock to 3/8 o I can stack two. If I can't get below 1/2" then I will single cut them. On 1/8 BB ornaments I will stack 5 or 6 depending on the complexity.
                      Creator of fine designer sawdust.


                      • #12
                        I stack cut everything I can. I would love to cut 1/8" Baltic Birch ornaments but I personally do not like the look of them. Guess I got too used to looking at real hard wood and am spoiled. Though I have a plan to cut more of the 1/8" BB ply ornaments I still do not like them but I do want to offer some lower cost ornaments.

                        I have only ever done one show that was the shows first year and my booth was $10 and I only had a few ornaments, bookmarks and letter openers ( I actually didn't do the show my aunt did) I sold $60..I think I would have done much better if I had more items and my aunt have the table really cluttered with her stuff and my items was hard to see.



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