Ok, everyone is asking about numbers, and even though I think it’s too early to get into this, I will give you what I have so far.
Here are my startup costs:
Trimline Canopy – $1095 with shipping (started with $250 Ez Up)
4 tables – $180
4 fitted table cloths – $190
4 Product transport boxes – $120
Propay merchant account – $39 per year
Knuckle buster, name plate, 400 card slips – $20
Director’s Chair – $90
Administrative supplies – $150
Display stands – $30
Tent weights (4” concrete-filled PVC) and cargo straps – $60
Web Site – $10 per month
So it looks like I spent about $2000 to put myself in the position to participate in shows. This figure could be much lower if you go with an Ez Up or a used tent. A crafter next to me at a show had a Craft Hut brand that looked very similar to my Trimline. He bought it slightly used from another crafter for $400. I also purchased a Jet 16-32 drum sander and Grizzly Flap sander to speed up production. Total cost together was around $1000.
Of course this doesn’t include product costs. There obviously is the wood, but also all the other incidentals. Since I am cranking out a lot of boards, I buy in volume to get discounts. I order 4 gallons of mineral oil at a time, two pounds of beeswax, 500 rubber feet, and 3 gallons of Titebond III glue. When you move into volume production it pays in the long run to buy materials in volume if possible.
Then there are entry fees into shows. Since I have only done small shows this year (1000 to 2000 attendance), the costs have range from $50 to $100. I have applied to a big Sugarloaf show in December which charged me a $45 jury fee. If I am accepted, the booth fee is $425. Entry fees can be a challenging issue. Many shows have a deadline six to nine months in advance and many of these promoters want the entry fee paid before the show deadline or with the application. So it’s conceivable that if you were going to do 20 shows a year, you could have a few thousand dollars in entry fees tied up for a long time. I’m still wrestling with this one.
This may seem like a lot, but one good big show, or a few good medium size shows could recover all the startup costs. It’s not realistic to expect to recover startup costs in a couple of months. It took me over a year with my closet business. But the indication from these small shows has me optimistic. My sales have ranged from $200 to $1000 gross, with a show average of $600. The $200 was a one day street festival which I won’t do again. This is against products in the $10 to $95 range, with the average single sale in the $25 to $50 range. Sales per show are increasing, probably because of Christmas gift buying, so my show average should continue to increase. It’s conceivable that I could recover my startup costs with a few more real good shows between now and the end of the year. I could also crash and burn at the next couple of shows and prolong the return on my investment. That’s the risk/reward of being in this business.
In addition to the shows, I also have local and online sales. I continue to sell locally by word of mouth and through a separate web site. I also have sales on Etsy and other handmade crafts sites. I still consider this whole thing as a big science project, but as you can see, I have committed myself to see if it can be profitable. The jury is still out on that question. Even though all indications look promising, I need to get into bigger shows to have the potential to do a higher sales volume.
-- I don't make mistakes, only design changes....www.dgmwoodworks.com