Need input from from people who sell at craft fairs and shows

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Forum topic by sprucegum posted 04-29-2013 10:47 AM 1527 views 1 time favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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324 posts in 2196 days

04-29-2013 10:47 AM

I have never sold at craft fairs and shows but I have an idea that I think could work. I have a abundant source of various wood salvaged from my own wood lot and sometimes from my son’s timber harvest operation. I can easily build a good inventory of burls, spalted maple, birds eye maple,tap hole and probably a lot of other things I have not found or thought of yet. I have a band mill and am going to build a solar kiln. My question is if I went to shows and fairs with a trailer load of various wood to sell at reasonable prices could I expect to sell enough to make it worth my while. I am not looking to get rich I am just looking for a little extra income in my impending retirement. I am asking you guys because you and others like you would be my customers. Your thoughts?

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

13 replies so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30052 posts in 2537 days

#1 posted 04-29-2013 10:56 AM

I have been to quite a few, I have never seen it done. So I can’t really say either way. Lots of DIY’rs out there that may be interested.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View sprucegum's profile


324 posts in 2196 days

#2 posted 04-29-2013 11:31 AM

If you have never seen it done either no one has thought of it yet or everyone who has tried it has failed. I am sure that not all craftsmen have a free source of wood. A friend of mine is a scaler at a log buying yard, one winter he saved a pickup load burls from hardwood pulp that came in. He took them to a guy who makes bowls for a living. The bowl turner picked out half a dozen that he liked and offered him 20 bucks for the lot. My friend took the 20 and went away discouraged. He then heard of another turner who was looking for burls that guy looked the load over and said I will give you $10 each and take the whole load. My friend came away with almost $600 for his trouble.

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

View tommysan's profile


3 posts in 3018 days

#3 posted 04-29-2013 11:36 AM

I have bought wood at the local flea market but I have never seen wood at a arts/craft show. Only woodcraft items. It may be worth a try. Maybe all the wood crafters who sell there will buy it from you.

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 2874 days

#4 posted 04-29-2013 01:26 PM

Arts and crafts fairs usually charge an entry fee, plus the gas expense, lunch and snacks, a 12×12 tent and signage… you’ve spent at least 200 before you even start. Which is fine if you are selling stuff.

Have you thought about selling on Craigs list or E Bay? I guess if you’re in the middle of a wood carving community and there are no sources for exotic woods, that would be the exception.

I frequently go to art shows, flea markets and sometimes garage sales and I’ve never seen a booth selling just exotic woods.

I would have been interested because I turn stuff and build jewelry boxes but I would know pricing and be looking for a deal. I can’t imagine the other people having a clue what you are selling. Very small informed buyer group.

What about making simple stuff like cutting boards and small boxes? You can also find a good local bead/ jewelry maker you like and sell their stuff in your booth too. You share the costs, get a commision and your booth looks more inviting to check out. A good display and well designed signs makes a big difference too.

This is what I see selling: $50 gifts – Turned christmas ornaments and candle holders, cutting boards, small candy bowls, ring holder bowls, mission mirror frames, jewlery/ memory boxes, artsy vases, walking canes, yard art, planters, bird houses, etc. Peole love that stuff, especially if it looks custom made and is below 59.95.

I saw one booth that sold only bandsaw boxes – three little sizes – 2×3, 3×4 and 3×6”, dozens of wood choices, grain patterns and colors. He sprayed inside with red felt and sold them for 19.95, 24 – 32.00. They sold like crazy.

It would be fun just to be a part of the art show experience but it would be even better if you had some cool stuff you made to show off – I mean, sell and actually made a profit. At least break even.

Whatever you decide to do, it sounds like fun. Good luck!

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 3083 days

#5 posted 04-29-2013 01:42 PM

As others have said, never seen any one do that. I might try one IF the entry fee is low and it seems like a good market. I would listen for advice – customers always say something so keep notes. Also, I much traffic do/will you get. Just a few thoughts.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View richardwootton's profile


1701 posts in 2154 days

#6 posted 04-29-2013 06:30 PM

Dave I think it sounds like a good idea. It doesn’t hurt to try for sure. You could also set up a lumber price list of what you have and what you can get with some decent photos of your wood then people who are interested have an idea of what you have and can get in touch with you.

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3846 days

#7 posted 04-29-2013 07:27 PM

Sounds like a good idea. Flea markets might also be
good to try and maybe cheaper to get space at.

Woodworking is a common hobby, so anywhere you
show good work you’ll get interest from hobbiests
and admirers, even if the venue is not good for selling
such work. In terms of selling raw materials like burls,
if your prices are good they should sell well.

Build a mailing list and contact the list often to tell
what you have available.

View wiswood2's profile


1138 posts in 3895 days

#8 posted 04-29-2013 07:52 PM

I did about 28 shows a year did fair at the start, but as the promoters kept increasing the cost of booth space, the cost of gas and motel costs, it started to cost money to go . I got a lot of customers that buy from me on line at my web site and on etsy. no more shows for me. I do miss meeting new people. good luck on your adverture.

-- Chuck, wiswood2

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2686 posts in 3120 days

#9 posted 04-29-2013 08:36 PM

I have seen sellers of wood slabs at the Texas Scroll Saw Picnic (which no longer runs). There were two or three of these sellers and they sold some wood slabs there, some ten feet long to scroll saw folks there.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Website>

View Wildwood's profile


2471 posts in 2333 days

#10 posted 04-29-2013 10:22 PM

If there are, any woodturning/wood carving symposiums near you might have some luck. Members of AAW near you might be interested in looking at your wood.

You might contact folks closest to you:

Joe Marshall is president of Twin State Woodturners

Preparing wood for woodturners pretty simple. They are looking for bowl & spindle blanks, wet wood completely sealed in wax is okay. Burls highly prized and so is price.

This site should give you some idea on sizes & prices. They sell both wet & kiln dried. If talk to woodturners & carvers may give you more info on what they want. Might end up doing more business with photos & emails.

-- Bill

View sprucegum's profile


324 posts in 2196 days

#11 posted 04-29-2013 10:29 PM

Thanks for the input as expected opinions are varied but at least no one except my wife thinks i’m totally bonkers. I would not expect to start for a year anyway as I have more than enough to keep me occupied through this summer and fall and it will take me a year to build a good inventory of dry lumber. In the mean time I will continue to sell on CL and the local bi-weekly trader. Perhaps I will have time to put something together for one of the fall festivals that are so common in VT. Thanks All

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

View pvwoodcrafts's profile


244 posts in 4120 days

#12 posted 04-30-2013 01:19 AM

HMMMM, I have been doing craft shows for 15 years and never saw anyone peddling lumber. Not sure how it would go however woodworking forums , I think , would be a great place to peddle stock. Flatrate boxes will keep shipping costs down and most forumgoers , and turners like myself , would be interested in figured wood

-- mike & judy western md. www.

View robert triplett's profile

robert triplett

1566 posts in 3303 days

#13 posted 04-30-2013 06:00 AM

I have been selling at shows for a few years. I often have guys come up to me and offer to sell me wood, or say they have a lot of wood and want to know if I am interested in any. I have made some good connections that way. Sometimes nothing comes of it if they just take my card. I often need to get their number and hunt for them. I think having pictures and prices of your wood might be the way to go.. Walk around and talk to the woodcrafters. The expense of entering the show with a booth might be a big chunk out of your sales and you would be stuck there the whole time. Look at as a way to sell wood. Remember that wood has to be a small expense for me in a product because my time is such a big factor. I have about 10-15 dollars of wood in a box (4-5 hours of time)(50-150.00),or cutting board(3 hours) that sells for 50-100 dollars. Good luck. Hope to see some wood here or on woodbarter.

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and now time to work!!!

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