Saturday, June 16, 2012

Craft Fair Lessons Learned

As most of you know, I was a vendor at the Aldersgate UMC Craft Fair on June 16, 2012.  The forecast was hot and sunny with a chance of showers, so I came prepared – sunscreen, sun hat, bottled water, umbrella, and plastic tarp.  I was hopeful and yes, downright optimistic!

Here’s what REALLY happened at the craft fair.

7:50 a.m. – Arrived at craft fair. No tables set up.  No booth assignments.  Foreboding clouds overhead.  The organizers were debating whether to cancel due to anticipated rain.  They decided to go on with the show.

8:30 a.m. – Told to choose a spot.  Table set up.  No rain.  I chatted with my nice vendor neighbor to the south with funky but cute yard ornaments made by her 14-year-old daughter.  Hope returns.

8:50 a.m. – Whoa, Nelly!  Look what just pulled up in the empty booth next to my spot.  If any of you are old enough to remember The Beverly Hillbillies, that theme song came immediately to mind.  Look at that truck!  More rust than metal.  And they kept it parked there ALL DAY!   The leader of this pack (flea market/garage sale—NOT  vintage) kept yelling throughout the day, “Come on OVER and open your wallets!!”

9:30 a.m. – Intermittent rain showers began.  No customers except church ladies.  Bless them.

9:40 a.m. – HEAVY RAIN with thunder (no visible lightning).  Hurriedly covered my wares with plastic tarp and sat under my umbrella.  No customers.

10:30 a.m. – Rain let up.  Uncovered merchandise.  A few brave souls ventured out to the craft fair.  Three sales.  I’m just $5.00 short of my break-even point.  I also did some English paper piecing.

11:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. – Intermittent rain showers resume.  Tarp on.  Tarp off.  Tarp on. Tarp off.  Tarp on.  Tarp off.  No customers.  Gave up on English paper piecing.  My templates were soggy.

1:30 p.m. – Hubby arrives to give me a short break.  He brought towels.  Bless him!!  He’s a keeper.  AND I have another small sale.  I am now exactly $1.00 above the break-even point.

1:45 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. -  The sun comes out!  It’s a beautiful day.  Shoppers arrive.  I make five more sales, but gross less than $100.  Worst craft fair experience ever.  I calculate how many Etsy listings I could have funded with the money I spent on booth and table rental and become mildly depressed.  I resolve to stick to indoor craft fairs in October, or juried shows that screen out junk dealers.   Jethro and Ellie Mae won’t be there, I’m sure.

The silver lining in this cloud?  I did not significantly deplete my Etsy inventory (now re-activated).  It was a valuable learning experience.  And I didn’t get a sunburn.

LeAnn aka pasqueflower


  1. Oh dear... That sounds like quite a day at the craft fair! I enjoyed reading your post, love the way your wrote it.

  2. Well, at least no sunburn! I don't do craft shows anymore with my bad back but I remember those days. I don't miss them!

  3. wow - what an experience! At least you sold some items. Hope you didn't have to pay too much for the table and reserved space. {:-D

  4. You were awfully brave to attempt "paperwork" in that rain! lol! It will be one you never forget and just think of the lore you'll be able to pull out to tell others how bad it could get. Glad you made some money though!

  5. I agree with Janet. :( I'm sorry that it didn't go better. Unfortunately many of these shows are live and learn experiences. Hopefully there are enough good ones in a year to outweigh the bad ones. I'm glad that it wasn't a total loss.

  6. Oh no! I'm glad it all worked out okay in the end, but it sure didn't sound like a fun day!
    I'm with you...indoor shows only!

  7. Oh, my! I used to do a lot of craft shows - I feel your... ummm... sogginess. I agree - indoor shows are the best! Hope the next show is tons better! Glad you more than broke even!!! And, yay - no sunburn!

  8. Ugh. I think I would have cried when I saw the truck. And then the wallet comment would have had me sobbing or yelling.

    But you had that right attitude and you learned something for the next show!

  9. I'm learning to walk the shows before doing them. I keep cutting down on my shows. Sorry you had a bad experience, but made a few sales.

  10. I'm so sorry it turned out like that:( Bad circumstances and bad neighbors!!

  11. Oh, so painful to read! Exactly why I do NOT, repeat, do NOT like outdoor craft shows!
    too hot
    too cold