First Craft Show Was A Bust!

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Blog entry by Mike Gadsby posted 06-29-2010 08:02 PM 2934 reads 1 time favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well after friends and family telling me I should sell some of the stuff I make in my shop I decided to give it a try.So 6 weeks ago I went to my wood supplier with $500 in hand ,bought a pick-up truck full of wood.Spent the next 6 weeks making cutting boards and Knife blocks.I made 52 cutting boards and 3 Knife Blocks.I ended up selling some of the stuff to people at work that had weddings to attend.I got alot of support from people that came over the house and people that I met getting other supplies.I was great! I should do alright.So saturday th 26th rolls around I get all my stuff pack it in the truck and off I go.I’m all set up ready to go.Sat in the sun for 4 hrs,gave out a bunch of cards talked to alot of people and SOLD 1 Board to the guy who talked me into doing that show.

16 comments so far

View firecaster's profile


573 posts in 3441 days

#1 posted 06-29-2010 08:18 PM

Sorry to hear that. I just wonder if people are spending money right now. I think it’s a combination of people out of work and everyone else being nevous about the future.

-- Father of two sons. Both Eagle Scouts.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3292 days

#2 posted 06-29-2010 08:24 PM

Don’t be discouraged by this. Craft shows sometimes attract folks that are looking for ideas…or else they are thinking “I can do that myself a lot cheaper.” I do not think that anyone can predict whether a certain item will sell or not. One thing for sure though….large items and big ticket items are an extremely hard sell at these for sure.

I used to help a very good friend of mine that did the craft show circuit (she made the most beautiful clocks – stained glass…and other stained glass/wood items). Sometimes she would sell out….then others…she wouldn’t sell a thing. I consider these shows as one step up from a flea market myself…you never know what type of stuff and what price levels will sell…and even the same show will have very different results everytime.

These shows were an excellent way to get exposure before the internet and You Tube…etc. They as still relatively good for that…and for making contacts in the crafts fields….but I would caution against trying to make a living on them.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View bigbuddha's profile


192 posts in 3242 days

#3 posted 06-29-2010 08:28 PM

I think it’s been tough on people’s wallets. I just did my first craft show too a month ago and barely sold anything. People looked from afar because they didn’t want to feel obligated to buy.

Have you put your items up on Etsy? You’ll get a much bigger audience base. This fair might not have worked out, but other fairs might, so don’t give up!! Holiday fairs will be a good time especially for cutting boards and such!

-- helen

View Mike Gadsby's profile

Mike Gadsby

37 posts in 3008 days

#4 posted 06-29-2010 08:43 PM

Thanks for all the comments.I don’t give up easy,I wouldn’t be where i am today if I gave up.The 2 questions that surprised me was that people didn’t realize the were hand made and how did i get the dfferent wood in there!I was like Huh?then I would tell them that the color of the wood was really the color and they wood say NO WAY! I never saw a red or purple tree before!

View Domer's profile


252 posts in 3389 days

#5 posted 06-29-2010 08:51 PM

A long time ago I made wood toys and went to a lot of craft fairs. Like others have said, sometimes it is good and sometimes it was not. My day job got busier so I quit going to the craft shows. I enjoyed them and made OK money doing it. But it was hard work.

I would suggest visiting with other vendors at the craft fairs and find out which ones are better. Almost always, juried fairs are a lot better. You don’t have to deal with the guy a few booths down who makes lousy stuff and sells it for nothing.

Bring pictures of your bigger stuff and use your smaller items to sell your bigger stuff.

It is not easy being on the craft circuit but lots of people enjoy doing it.


View SteveMI's profile


1100 posts in 3317 days

#6 posted 06-29-2010 09:08 PM

Don’t underestimate the cards you gave out. I found that for every 50 business cards that people took (don’t count kids) that I got as many as four calls in the next couple weeks. People may not buy because they don’t need what you have, but may take it to pass on to someone that does.

If you would do custom work such as putting initials or saying in a cutting board, then make that clear as people may want that for a store or personal gift.

Make sure the number on cards is your personal cell phone or a number that will be answered properly so the right impresion is made. One vendor told me that they had a sepearate cell phone number on their plan and the answerering message related to their products.

How did the other vendors do that day?


View Built2Last's profile


234 posts in 3500 days

#7 posted 06-29-2010 10:19 PM

After 20 years of working shows, I can feel you pain.
I never work weekly shows. The best shows are the once a year shows. You can also do good at big monthly shows. Keep passing out cards. You also have to remember that the summer months are the worst time to be working just about any show and if do work them during the summer you have to have a canopy so the customer’s can look in the shade. Just keep giving out cards. Besides word of mouth, they are the best and cheapest form of advertising. Folks will throw a flyer away, but chances are, they will keep a card. When we work a show, my daughter’s and my grandkid’s know that if someone even glances towards our spots, they get a card. You would be suprised how this pays off. We have had folks that we gave card years earlier call and say they have been saving it until the time was right for them to buy our outdoor furniture.
Also, now, about 30 percent or more of our sales come from ads on Craig’s list. I really like Craig’s list. Ebay also does good.

View degoose's profile


7234 posts in 3377 days

#8 posted 06-29-2010 11:35 PM

The name of the game is exposure… you need to be out there… then folks now who you are and that you will be there next time… just incase they have a problem with your work… heaven forbid… but it happens all the time at the store… so they want to know that you will be there for them… not just a fly by night one timer…
Keep plugging away… and remember word of mouth is the best form of advertising…
Hope this is of some small help…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3008 days

#9 posted 06-29-2010 11:47 PM

Show can be hit or miss. Sorry you had a miss for your first try. I hope you keep trying!

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Hix's profile


161 posts in 3300 days

#10 posted 06-30-2010 02:16 AM

Hey Mike, Hang in there. I did several shows last year that did not produce much of anything. The big sales came after the fact. People picked up my cards, checked my website and then spent money.

I put pens in hands and talked about hand made, showed the fit and finish and talked them up. Showed the ornaments and explained that no two were alike. It was dissapoint after the shows but they turned out to be profitable after all.

-- ---call me---- Mark

View finns's profile


167 posts in 3139 days

#11 posted 06-30-2010 03:10 AM

Hi Mike,

I’ve been doing craft shows for almost four years now and can relate to your experience. There is a wealth of information on the LJ site from jocks who have shared some really good information on products as well as the business side of the craft show gig. You may want to search this site.

I have the best luck with street fairs, annual events- especially those sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce. The better shows are in the fall season. Your products look great. Keep the faith and good luck.


View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 3914 days

#12 posted 06-30-2010 06:17 AM

Listen to Built2last. This is a common mistake by those who hesitate to fully commit to shows. If you only do shows that have a cheap entry fee or are 1/2 day on a small town square, you will experience limited success. It’s a numbers game and if it’s not an established show with high attendance, you are generally shooting in the dark. This doesn’t mean that big shows are always good because the economy dictates success or failure. But, a show with less than 2500 attendees generally will result in very low sales. There are a lot of shows out there put on by churches, non-profits, etc. and they have very small entry fees. However, they are not promoted and are generally only attended by members and friends of members. It’s a waste of time to do these. I would never do any show of less than two days. It’s not uncommon to take four hours before I make my first sale, but two whole days will generally make up for a slow start. I have a three day show this weekend. I love these because the longer time frame always (so far) translates into more sales.

You have nice items and should do well once you find the right shows. It took me a couple of years of bad shows to find the right ones. I’m always trying new ones to see if they will become my “keeper” shows. I will say this, and I know it may not always be true, but my best shows this year have been the ones in the $250 to $300 fee range. The best source of good shows in your area will come from other crafters and artists. I talk to everyone at shows and compare what shows we do and how well they performed.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 3087 days

#13 posted 06-30-2010 12:40 PM

Don’t give up. I had the same experience, quite a few years ago when the economy was better. Sometimes you bomb out then others you rake it in..

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View Cory's profile


760 posts in 3442 days

#14 posted 06-30-2010 04:40 PM

Sorry about the show. I know you didn’t sell anything, but it’s not for lack of quality. The boards look great (saw them on your project page).

Maybe it was price? How much were you charging for the boards and knife blocks?

Did you have a big sign on your table telling everyone what you were selling? I’ve seen a few vendors at the St. James Art Show in Louisville sell boards with great success. They usually have a large banner that covers the front of their 6’ or 8’ table. One guy only brought 6 boards with him as an example of his work. He just took orders and delivered them after the show. He told me he sold 100 cutting boards over the weekend, all on pre-orders. Who knows if that’s true or if the customers actually paid, though.

Good luck next time.


-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

View Mike Gadsby's profile

Mike Gadsby

37 posts in 3008 days

#15 posted 06-30-2010 09:53 PM

Thanks for all the great advise.I had a great time talking to all the people I met that day.I figured I had to start somewhere, all in all it was all good.

thanks mike

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