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Selling cutting boards and pens

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Forum topic by lumberjoe posted 698 days ago 3364 views 5 times favorited 43 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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lumberjoe

2824 posts in 834 days


698 days ago

I often vowed I would never sell anything I made. I do not like to mix business with pleasure because I truly feel you cannot have both. With that said, I have an abundance of cutting boards and pens. Both are really enjoyable to make, and we have an abundance. My wife alone turned 40 pens in a week, and will likely turn 5 or 6 more tonight.

We’ve given some away and people really like them. My question is – do these things sell, where do they sell, and what is a fair price? I know the internet is really saturated with both items so I don’t think that is a good place. However I posted the cutting board I made here http://lumberjocks.com/projects/69353, which was just a simple side grain maple, cherry, walnut and purple heart board on my facebook. One of my friends would not take no for an answer and insisted on buying it. I threw out a price I thought was really high, 75$ (there is probably 30$ worth of wood there at best) and he forked over the cash promptly and said he would easily have paid double that.

Pens – my wife loves making slimlines. If we were to sell them, what would be a fair price to charge that people would actually pay? Also my friends comments of cutting boards being very expensive commercially and virtually no options for “colorful and unique ones” had me thinking that 75$ really wasn’t that obscene.

There is a craft fair we frequent almost every weekend. There are a lot of people that sell handmade jewlery and fabric goods, but not really anything wooden. We inquired today about a booth, and it’s only 25$ for the day. I think we may take a gamble and bring some boards and pens, I just want to see what a fair price would be. Here are some examples my wife turned. Bubinga pen and bloodwood pencil with 14k kit (not the cheap one):

the picture isn’t great, but these came out really nice, and these aren’t even the best of the bunch

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts


43 replies so far

View Jeremy Greiner's profile

Jeremy Greiner

568 posts in 1357 days


#1 posted 698 days ago

I would imagine ebay might be a decent choice for you. You can still post items at your leisure and you can price whatever you want. This options doesn’t take a lot of effort and could be a quick jump into selling items.

I’ve heard craft shows can be a bit of an investment, but I would imagine they’d be a great place to sell such things.

-jeremy

-- Easy to use end grain cutting board designer: http://www.1024studios.com/cuttingboard.html

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lumberjoe

2824 posts in 834 days


#2 posted 698 days ago

At 25$ for a table for the day, I think it’s worth a shot. What would be a good price point for pens and cutting boards? I’m not looking to get rich, I just want to unload some stuff so I don’t have a house full of cutting boards and pens everywhere. My wife will likely just buy more pen making supplies and lathe tooling with the money anyway.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View Dusty2004's profile

Dusty2004

22 posts in 761 days


#3 posted 698 days ago

Let me start with the following disclosure. I have recently began to look at craft shows for myself to sell some items I make. I have not reached a decision yet on if they are for me or not and how many I want to do. While I do not have any direct experience with selling at craft shows if someone is able to get knowledable about craft shows by reading and research then I am fairly knowledable about them.

All the following information is from western PA and western NY. I do not know how things are there in MA.

Edge grain cutting boards (having looked at the picture and description on the provided link) sell for as little as $30 and as much as $80 at craft fairs. It really depends on the fair and type of crowd that attends. I seen very few end grain cutting boards for sale and those that I did were not overly well made and were just a few of them in a booth with a real variety of wood products so I have very little knowledge of those.

Turned pens are listed for sale for as little as $20 up through $60.

Everything I have read says you want to start with a small local fair to see what kind of pricing is received there and to keep your expenses down.

Some things you will need if this is an outdoor craft show is a tent to keep you dry. Some weights to keep your tent from blowing away if the wind picks up. Some tables to display your products on. Some sort of table covers to dress up your tables and to hide anything you need to store underneath. Depending on the hours and location you may need lighting.

If it is an indoor craft show you may not need the tent. But would you need lighting? All other items would be needed.

You need to decide what you are going to accept for payment. Cash only, checks and or credit cards. If checks how will you accept? Photo ID? Write down as much information from the photo ID as you can to help track them down if it bounces.

If this was my decision I would go for it. With an entry fee of $25 and a couple of tables and covers you would not have a high overhead and it would let you see if you like it and if it could work for you. Have a variety of cutting boards available. Priced with different ranges to see how the sales go. Maybe even start the day with them priced in the $70 – $90 range and adjust down later in the day if they are not going. Same thing with the pens. That will allow you to see how they are accepted with different pricing.

If you want to do this long term my suggestions would be to start now to get ready for next year. Search for tips on how to be successful. There is a lot of science behind setting up a booth – tent.

As a side note I met a man at a local art show. Interesting product line. Overall quality of the wood portion of the product I would rate as a 75%. Slightly above average is all. He was very informative. He does 50 shows a year. A bad weekend for him is grossing $1,500. He has a series of shows during the Christmas season where he will gross over $20,000 in a week. He loves it. I could never do his pricing as it was wierd what he does and how he does it. Looking at how he assembles his product I see it is designed to be fast and efficient. It was unique and inexpensive to make with high margins. It helped me to improve some of the items I am making just looking at how he did his process.

Ok, so I rambled on some. Good luck with your decision and let us know what you decide and how it works out.

Dusty

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 834 days


#4 posted 698 days ago

20$ for a pen?!? I was going to sell them for 5 to 15 depending on the wood/kit used.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View Dusty2004's profile

Dusty2004

22 posts in 761 days


#5 posted 698 days ago

$20 was the cheapiest I saw and that includes the ones where it was not a very nice fair. Now that being said I cannot say how many they sold. One really nice fair I went to they were priced $20-$50. The individual was from Brooklyn, NY. He sold those and ornaments he turned. He said he would not be back because he was not making much over cost. We figured out his expenses were about $1,000 for the show (cost of booth, hotel, food, gas, etc). So he still sold a descent number of them to gross over $1,000.

Again, I would suggest setting some at $20 and going to $50-$60. Maybe have a show special the $10.

One other idea (I do not do pens so I don’t know if this is feasible) is to make acrylic pens with school colors and sell them. Many might want them for graduation gifts from college or even high school.

Dusty

PS: Don’t undersell your products. You have your time, the lathe, tools, etc that you also have to recover.

View Kookaburra's profile

Kookaburra

745 posts in 809 days


#6 posted 698 days ago

Oh yeah, $20 for a pen is not too much. Pen collectors pay much more than that for nice pens.

Not much help as far as selling prices except to say, do not underprice yourself. As stupid as it sounds I would be much more likely to pick up and consider a $20 pen than a $5 version. I would not expect a $5 pen to be nicely finished, made of a nice piece of wood or have nice fittings, so I would not even bother.

Here are a couple of hints from the kind of person who buys this sort of item.

1. Make little cards describing the product, what it is made of and how to care for it. If there is something special, make sure you note that too (14kt gold, end grain, what kind of wood). Tape it or tie it to the piece – you can also note the price on this card but do it in light pencil (so gift givers can erase it). Tell them where the wood is grown and if you know a story about it (“this is the same wood ancient Vikings used to build their ships”). Put your phone number and web address – they may want to contact you about special orders.

2. Put up a display card with photos of the process and a brief description of why you did it that way. This can be a stand up board or laminated page – it does not have to be big, just available. People will pay more if they understand the work you did.

3. If you want to, buy some really small plastic bottles and fill them with food grade mineral oil. Not required, but that is the kind of thing that makes customers remember you – and maybe come back to buy more.

4. Have small boxes for the pens and either tissue or butcher block paper to wrap the boards. Have bags in case the customer wants one. Kraft paper bags with handles are a good choice and can be pretty cheap (just make sure they are strong enough to carry the boards for an hour or two – you could always put a pice of package tape across the bottom of the bag to help that).

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2479 days


#7 posted 698 days ago

At 25 bucks for a table, what have you got to loose ? at the very least you get a day of entertainment, a day of meeting people and a lesson, be it good or bad that will not soon be forgotten. Do it.

Just some thoughts. You get a cheque for say 20 bucks and it bounces, comes back NSF. This affects YOUR bank account as the bank might just hold cheques, all cheques due to 1 single check bouncing……not fun. So now you take the info on the back of the check so you can track the purchaser down, hours, days, even weeks later the frustration mounts, all for a lousy 20 bucks, when had you spent the same amount of time, working, you might have a thousand bucks in your wallet………jus sayn

So you have one pen or a butcher block. Start adding up your time for EVERYTHING. the time it took to get the wood, to get the pen parts, the glue, the finish, add something in there to pay for your investment of your tools, your space. Add to that what ever wage you feel is fair. Then add up your time and money spent rounding up “pretty” bags and “handsome boxes”, add in your time to make nice little cards, the ink to print them, cut them etc. Load everything into the car and drive to the craft show. set it up

At the end of the day, do the math. I’m guessing it tell you how quickly money can go “Vamoosh” ….gone : ))

That said, I would do it anyway as there is no greater feeling then succeeding at what most say cant be done. At the very worst, like I said from the get go. You will learn a lot, be it good or be it bad.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 834 days


#8 posted 698 days ago

It would be cash only. We could possibly look into doing credit cards with square, but we aren’t really serious about selling things. I agree that if you factor in all costs – especially time and tools, we come out really upside down. That’s ok with me because as I mentioned, we just really enjoy making this stuff. I don’t really care if any of it sells at a profit. Just enough money to buy some more wood and pen kits would be great, breaking even on supplies only (not time or tools) would be fine as well. We both really enjoy the process, the problem is we have more “end result” than we know what to do with.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 834 days


#9 posted 698 days ago

Kookaburra, great tips there, some my wife already had in mind (containers for the oil, bags and info cards). I think we are going to give it a shot this weekend

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2479 days


#10 posted 698 days ago

I think you answered your question. From your perspective, I think that any subsidy is better then none : ))

Do it, you will have fun.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 834 days


#11 posted 698 days ago

There is no doubt, we are going to give it a shot, I was just wondering about basic pricing. I still find it quite astounding that someone would pay 20$ for a wooden pen, never mind any more than that. I guess that’s because I know what goes into it – about 4$ in supplies and about 30 minutes of my time. But then again it takes close to 600$ on the cheap side to make the pen (lathe, tooling, place for the lathe, cutting tools, sharpening method, etc), but those are fun toys for me anyway that I never planned on making money with or recouping the investment. We’ll start the pricing at 20$, but will take as low as 5$

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View Kookaburra's profile

Kookaburra

745 posts in 809 days


#12 posted 698 days ago

You can always have one pen for $20 or two for $30 – people love a bargain! (I just saved $10 by buying two!)

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View ChuckC's profile

ChuckC

679 posts in 1520 days


#13 posted 698 days ago

I did a craft show once selling clocks. At the time (and maybe still now) PayPal offered a free service to run credit cards. They took a small percentage (about 3%) and you didn’t need a tax ID. There are API’s you can build into a web site or you can process them on the PayPal web site. I had someone at home ready to take my calls when I wanted to process a CC payment since there was no wifi back then. From my limited craft show experience accepting credit cards/debit cards is huge in making a sale. People just don’t walk around with cash anymore plus debit cards don’t bounce like checks do :-)

I also had a nice big “Visa/Mastercard” sign on my table too so I stood out.

Good luck! I think you should go for it.

View Puzzleman's profile

Puzzleman

327 posts in 1529 days


#14 posted 698 days ago

Lumberjoe, I do craft and art shows full time. I used to do 40 a year but now have scaled it back to just 15.
I have paid up to $80 for a turned pen and I won’t look at one under $20, as I would consider it too cheap and not quality just based on the price.

Concerning your show, do not set your expectations too high. A $20 show is a very low end show, that attracts low end customers and not many at that. It would be a good one for getting your feet wet into the show scene. There are some great threads on here about doing shows. I would suggest reading some of them if you have the time.

Dusty2004: I consider a show bad if I do under $3k in a weekend. There are too many expenses plus my time to sit and make no sales. I could make more money at the shop by producing my in-house & wholesale orders.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler, http://www.hollowwoodworks.com

View Jeremy Greiner's profile

Jeremy Greiner

568 posts in 1357 days


#15 posted 698 days ago

The $20 and 2 for $30 is a great idea .. people do love a bargain! I think you can range your prices from $10 to $30 and see what sells. I forget the economic term for this, but there is a point where you set the price too low that a customer automatically thinks it’s bad and won’t consider buying it.

-jeremy

-- Easy to use end grain cutting board designer: http://www.1024studios.com/cuttingboard.html

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