Crafts Shows R Us #13: State of the Southern Craft Shows

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Blog entry by closetguy posted 05-24-2010 05:39 AM 2973 reads 5 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 12: The Yearly Summary Part 13 of Crafts Shows R Us series Part 14: Percent of Items Sold »

So far, shows for this year have been much better than last year. The crowds are large and everyone has been in a buying mood. This translates into more sales, and even more work to constantly replenish inventory. My big sellers last year were lower cost items in the $5 – $35 range. This year everyone is back to buying my higher priced items.

This weekend’s show in Atlanta’s Chastain Park continued the buying streak. It seems that walnut is “in” this year. Anything with walnut or walnut and cherry combinations are hot sellers. I took four large walnut end grain boards to a show last month and sold them all in one day. I took 9 with me this weekend and sold them all. The lazy susans have been moving very well. I used the batch of Big Leaf maple that I acquired a few months ago to make these with various contrasting woods and the customers love them. Six of them went to new homes this weekend.

My dipping boards have been a big hit at the last two shows. I sold out last month, and had I not made a double batch a few weeks ago, I would have sold out this weekend. I did sell out of the walnut, jatoba, and quilted maple combination. The biggest surprise is the bookmarks. I was selling 50 to 75 per show last year with one fall show selling 150. This year, I’m selling maybe 10 per show. This also tracks with the less expensive face grain boards. They sell in the range of $15 to $35, but I sold very few this weekend.

Last year, 90% of my customers were paying with cash. This year it has reversed to 90% credit/debit cards. I think this is the reason I’m seeing larger and multiple purchases at the shows. Craft shows are driven by impulse buying and the customer’s return to plastic this year is feeding the frenzy. This is good for me.

I have been doing higher-end shows this year. Most of these are in areas with a lot of disposable income. I’m doing a large show in Tennessee in a couple of weeks that is cut from a different mold. It’s in its 48th year and has a very high attendance, but tends to lean toward the country craft side. It will be interesting to see if the less expensive boards and bookmarks become the selling leaders at this show.

Shots from this weekend

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

13 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3600 days

#1 posted 05-24-2010 05:45 AM

congrats on your sales What is a dipping board?

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View degoose's profile


7234 posts in 3377 days

#2 posted 05-24-2010 05:58 AM

I love your set up and stands…
Have been reading your blogs avidly…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View wichle's profile


96 posts in 2969 days

#3 posted 05-24-2010 06:32 AM

OK! Good info however I too would like to know what a dipping board is??

-- Bill, Michigan "People don't come preassebled, but are glued together by life"

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 3915 days

#4 posted 05-24-2010 06:58 AM

Look at this link for dipping boards.

This is the design that sold out this weekend.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3331 days

#5 posted 05-24-2010 07:02 AM

Nice work…I am glad to hear that business is good. My wife and I like to go to alot of craft shows when they around our neck of the woods…but I have never had a display in one. Looks like fun.
I am another one who doesn’t know what a dipping board is…do you use it for dips and chips?

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3564 days

#6 posted 05-24-2010 09:08 AM

Good job, I love your displays… They are eye catching. I love your write ups also, Thanks!

-- Childress Woodworks

View ellen35's profile


2738 posts in 3455 days

#7 posted 05-24-2010 12:39 PM

Really nice work. I like the dipping board.
I also love your display… shows off nicely.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View eddy's profile


939 posts in 3387 days

#8 posted 05-24-2010 03:41 PM

I see your set up is different from last year looks great i like the wall of cutting boards i assume that breaks down for transport. your booth looks very professional good lick this year

-- self proclaimed copycat

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 3915 days

#9 posted 05-24-2010 07:50 PM

I changed my booth setup a couple times last year. When I first started in 2008, I used tables in a “U” shape, but as my products increased, I ran out of room. So I built a shelving system, but in operation it was too bulky and took forever to put up and tear down. The current one is four shelf units and it takes longer to pull them out of my trailer than to setup. I actually got the idea from Woodenwonders. She has the nicest booth display I have ever seen, so I built the redneck version. It’s basically the same frame operation, but she uses cloth for the shelves. I imagine it is considerably lighter than mine and definitely looks more classy.

My booth challenge has always been trying to find space when I add new products. I added lazy susans and wine bottle holders this year and I had to come up with an efficient way to display them. This is the reason I added another stepped display and moved the face grain boards to the back table. There are numerous ways to display items, but this way works for me right now. I’m sure I will change it again when I add more items or see a better idea. I’m always on the prowl at shows looking at others displays.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View WoodenWonders's profile


23 posts in 3388 days

#10 posted 05-28-2010 06:05 AM

Your booth does look a lot like mine :). I wanted something that did not take up much space in my vehicle. PVC Pipe reinforced with metal piping, Canvas and a few pieces of wood. I had a show in East Lansing this past weekend and nearly sold out. People are definately in the buying mode.

-- Anne Curtis, Wooden Wonders, Grand Rapids MI,

View RandyMorter's profile


228 posts in 2713 days

#11 posted 01-21-2011 04:48 PM

Hi closetguy -

Please excuse my lack of tact, but do you mind telling us what you charge for some of your items, like the dipping board for instance? I’d really like to someday do what you’re doing and am curious as to what price range you charge for your items.

If you don’t want to divulge, I understand.

-- Randy Morter, Phoenix, AZ

View eddy's profile


939 posts in 3387 days

#12 posted 01-21-2011 07:40 PM

closetguy has a link on his home page to his esty site they sell for $50.00 i have made a few and they are hit and miss in sales

-- self proclaimed copycat

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 3915 days

#13 posted 01-22-2011 04:10 AM

I agree, the dipping boards can be hit or miss. In years past, I would have shows where I would sell one, and shows where I would sell 3 or 4. Obviously, the demographics of the show have an effect, but I found out last year that the visual appeal of the wood selection and combination makes a huge difference.

For example, I carried these two designs around to shows all last year and never sold one:

I sold out of this design at every show last year. I took five with me each time.

I don’t understand it, but I experience this same phenomenon with all my products . I don’t see that big of a difference between the second and third picture, but it makes a difference in sales. You just have to try different things to find out what appeals to the buying public. What speaks to me, doesn’t always speak to to others.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

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