Crafts Shows R Us #15: Thank Goodness for Fall Shows

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Blog entry by closetguy posted 10-13-2010 01:40 AM 1983 reads 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 14: Percent of Items Sold Part 15 of Crafts Shows R Us series Part 16: Sometimes It's Just Plain Bad »

I just got back from the Maryville, Tennessee show, which is consistently my best show every year. This year brought high 70s and a cloudless sky all three days which was a big improvement over last year’s windy and low 40s. They had 38 Special and Jefferson Starship performing on Friday, Lynyrd Skynyrd on Saturday, and Blake Shelton on Sunday. This contributed to 30,000+ customers walking through this show.

Last year brought phenomenal sales, but this year finished out at three times last year. I literally had nothing left in my booth at the end of Sunday. Cutting boards, lazy susans, wine tilts, and post office bank boxes moved like water. At one point on Saturday morning, they were lined up out my booth and across the street as I frantically processed credit cards. I also took a bunch of votive candle holders and coasters that had been sitting in a cabinet all year and they were all gone by mid-Saturday.

I took 40 wine balancers (tilts) with me and they initially moved slowly. However, I was set up in the middle of the street across from a sports bar and the owner bought two on Friday to display on the shelf behind the bar. Once this happened, they started moving quickly with many customers telling me they saw them in the bar and wanted one. I sold the last one on Sunday morning.

I took ten 16” and fifteen 13” lazy susans. All the 13” sold out by Noon on Saturday. Only two of the 16” sold and I have orders for a 24” and 30”. Degoose and I have privately discussed what size sells the best. He does better with 20” and up. My best selling ones are the 13”. My decision on this size is based on logistics. All have sold well at all my shows, but the 13” always sells three to one over the 16”. The price difference is only $20, but could be the primary reason. The 16” sells better online, so go figure.

Cutting boards were a mixed bag. I sold out all three sizes of my less expensive face grain boards. I don’t remember how many I brought with me, but it was significant. I didn’t sell any small end grain boards (7×10) and only one large (12×16). However, I had about 12 medium ones (10×11) and sold all but one. Here again, the all walnut end grain boards were the first ones to go. This year was definitely the year of walnut end grain boards at my shows. The puzzling item was my 7”x20” bread board. This style face grain board sold out last year, but I only sold one this year. I couldn’t make these boards fast enough last year, but they have moved slowly at all my shows this year. I’m still scratching my head over this one.

This was my first big show with the PO bank boxes. I took 33 with me and brought back one. The only reason I brought one back is because I dropped it on the pavement and scratched two corners. These things are priced at $60 for the Grecian door and $90 for the early 1900s door. I had many customers buying multiples for Christmas gifts. They were definitely a huge hit and drew a large audience at the front of my booth.

Finally, and of course, the bookmarks moved well all weekend. I had about 600 with me and some styles completely sold out. I think I sold around 200. This is the southern Bible belt region and I always see a huge increase in bookmark sales on Sunday at this show.

I kept a little product back in my shop, but I have to crank it up a notch to get enough widgets for another show in a couple if weeks. This is my third year doing this next show and even though it is a small one, it has always been a good one for the size. It will also be my last for the year. My Internet sales will start increasing about mid-November and I’ve got to spend early November re-building my inventory.

I’ve had both good and bad shows all year, but this year is averaging higher sales over last year. I’ve also tried quite a few new shows and found some keepers for next year. The only way to find good shows is to do bad shows and not get discouraged. I’ll go to a nice size show and do $300 one weekend and go to the next one and do $5000. You never know what to expect from sales, weather, or product popularity. Last year everything with ash was popular. This year it was walnut. All you can do is have a little of everything and pay attention to the first few shows of the year to see what seems to be “in”.

One thing is certain. I’ll be back out there again next year.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

8 comments so far

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3923 days

#1 posted 10-13-2010 02:18 AM

I am so glad for you, As I was reading your post and you said you did three times last year which I would have guessed was in the 4 – 6K range. I guess it makes it all worth while and makes you feel good that people like what you make. Supper congratulations.

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 3891 days

#2 posted 10-13-2010 02:26 AM

Yea, I don’t mind gloating on this one. It was the highest grossing show I have had since starting this journey.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View Chris Cunanan's profile

Chris Cunanan

339 posts in 3480 days

#3 posted 10-13-2010 02:47 AM

i only wish i could learn more from you, firsthand, how you do what you do…i’ve always paid attention to your posts/comments, it sounds like you pretty much have it down to the “predictable future”...have you written any books yet? if not, you should start thinking about it =]

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3541 days

#4 posted 10-13-2010 03:07 AM

That’s awesome closetguy! I love hearing stories like this.

-- Childress Woodworks

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 3891 days

#5 posted 10-13-2010 03:11 AM

This business is far from predictable. Just about the time I start strutting into a show with a sense of cockiness, it will remind me why this is not an easy thing to do. I get two great back to back shows and think I finally have it licked, then I go through a couple of months of bad shows. There have been months where I have been extremely frustrated. But I’m just too hard headed. It’s that sense that it can be a viable business. I just have to fine tune it enough so that the cash flow is more consistent.

One of the things I find myself watching closely before a show is the stock market. If it is up for the week, my sales are good. If it’s down and there is a lot of negative news about the economy, my sales are down. This has been true for every show this year. My best shows happen during clear skies and an “UP” market. I can’t control either, but It gives me an idea of what to expect before I get there. I can say that people are using their credit cards more freely now. This is a good indication that things are starting to loosen up a bit.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View Scott R. Turner's profile

Scott R. Turner

267 posts in 3188 days

#6 posted 10-13-2010 03:34 AM

Fascinating! I have no interest in doing this, but it’s fun to read about.

View DrAllred's profile


137 posts in 2822 days

#7 posted 10-13-2010 11:12 AM

That is great that things are looking good. I wish I had the time to go to shows and sell, even if it is just enough to cover costs, but the full time job keeps getting in the way. I guess a roof over head and food to eat is important.

Good luck on your next show.

-- David, Mesa Arizona

View Arthur Rollins's profile

Arthur Rollins

43 posts in 3034 days

#8 posted 10-13-2010 02:47 PM

Sound like a great time ! I do some shows in Vermont , I`m sure not as big as this one you do but makes a little extra cash . And we lie the chance to socialize a bit too. We have one coming up that is old home day for us , this will be the 16th year . All so make the most money . Have a great show . Keep the saw dust flying !

Art , Randolph , VT.

-- Art, Arts wood n things

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