Saturday, May 21, 2005

Craft Fair In Preston

Yesterday was the first day of a two-day craft fair in Preston, Idaho. (Even though Idaho doesn't really exist, there nevertheless was a craft fair there.) I had been planning on going both days, but my husband's company had their relocation open house that day, so we drove down to Salt Lake instead. That's too bad, because of the two days, the Saturday would have been the most lucrative.

Preston is a very small town. Logan is the Big City by comparison, the kind of place where teenagers drive to go out on a really special date and where matrons drive for a day's shopping. The senior center where the fair was consisted of a small, plain building with a kitchen, office, restrooms, and a small meeting room. I was anxious about doing a show in such a small town, since people who live in towns like that tend to make their own crafts rather than buy ones made by others, and I expected attendance to be low. But despite the low attendance, I still made decent sales. Half the people in Logan have seen my work, but none of these people had. Many of them were impressed with the creativity of design and quality of workmanship, and knowing that they probably would not have the chance to see it again, bought.

The organizer of the craft fair was a genial, bewhiskered old man named Carl. As it turned out, most of the other vendors were related to him in one way or another. He was very kind to me, and understanding when I explained to him that I couldn't be there on Saturday. When business was slow, I sat and talked to him, or rather, listened to him tell stories about his life. He told me all about a place called Quartzite, Arizona where people come once a year for a gem and mineral show, and told an interesting story about how difficult it is to get a post office box there. He told me about how he quit his job as a furniture builder to prospect, buy, and sell gems and minerals. He told me about his work as a forest ranger and how he met his wife. This guy has had an amazing life, just chock-full of exploring and discovery.

I made a lot of trades with the other vendors-- I think I traded with all but a couple of them. I got some knives, some massage oil and ointment, a sparkly bracelet and a decorative hanging shelf.

A couple of notes about what sold: the china silk scarves did not do very well. In fact they've not sold well at all, although they are great trade goods because everybody wants to trade for them and the materials cost me so little that I can make some truly excellent trades. (I hope they sell well at Summerfest.) The price points on the ponchos need to be lower, I think, maybe $30 instead of $40. And I discovered that people are willing to pay a premium to have turtle scrubbers in their oven mitt and dishcloth sets, instead of rectangular scrubbers. This is a good thing since the turtle scrubbers take less time to make and can be worked on in phases and easily popped into my purse and worked on while waiting, while the rectangular scrubbers have to be done while sitting still so as not to entangle the two yarns. Mim's felted bags are a big, big hit and are fought over by teenagers. I guess that means they're pretty cool. The other big seller was onesies at $7 each. I only had size small because I wanted to see how they did before investing in a variety of sizes, but I've had so many requests for larger sizes that I think I ought to stock them. I also got the idea to dye camouflage onesies for the little boys. I think I'll do a couple and see how they sell.

People love the oven mitts and dishcloths, but unfortunately I cannot make them in large enough quantities to be profitable. That's why I wanted to get away from them and make more ponchos and scarves. But if the ponchos and scarves aren't going to sell that well, I'll have to think of something else. I think baby things might sell well, not only the onesies but also little gift sets, like a onesie and bib or onesie and hat or onesie and blanket (or hat and blanket, or...) I've already bought some flannel to make some blankets; all I have to do is hem them with the cotton thread and pre-shrink them, and they'll be ready to dye. I have some ideas for cute tying designs for the blankets and matching onesies.