Trying to figure how woodworking fits into market day art's and fair events.

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Trade & Swap forum

Forum topic by Blackie_ posted 09-08-2013 01:47 PM 1396 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2507 days

09-08-2013 01:47 PM

I’ve only been doing the shows starting Nov last year just before Christmas, up until just yesterday, the first show in Nov 2012 turned out my best sale yet to day with the most income in a single day sitting, held in small town called Blanco during their monthly market day event, my second biggest was April during an Arts and Crafts show held close to my home city, since then during the heated months I’ve not done very well and I’m sure it’s due to the heat people just aren’t getting out to hot…, I have a mixture of smalls (bandsaw boxes) various shapes and sizes and then the other half are my higher priced higher quality boxes, mitered splined and box joints, the customers that visit come in look around ask questions about the hidden compartments etc… give great comments such as what a gift you have, all of your boxes are very nice, what beautiful boxes…... etc then they walk out, just this past show yesterday with a peak of 99 degree temperature a lady behind me selling custom made pillow cases and table cloths made three times what I made, she made $400 to my $100 only difference was that she was selling at $10.00 a pop which my prices start at $30.00 and go up into the $400s

The time and effort it takes me to move the heavy crates of boxes and setup and tear down my booth, I often wonder if it’s worth the small income I make not to mention weighing the heat apposed to what it takes for someone that has small lightweight items plus the ease of setting up booth, I’m pondering on just holding off doing the shows during the heated summers and only doing them at the front and end of the year.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

21 replies so far

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2356 days

#1 posted 09-08-2013 02:12 PM

Women do the buying at craft shows. Inexpensive ticky-tacky beats boxes every time.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29220 posts in 2332 days

#2 posted 09-08-2013 02:14 PM

I did every craft show in the country the first year. Then you analyze what you seen and how you did. I quickly realized that I needed small cash and carry items. I developed a few. The second year I stayed away from the shows that wereaa total bust and focused on the others. I still push the main items I want to make (for me it’s furniture), but now with some small items, more people were leaving money with me. Year 3, I have cut out all but a couple of the craft shows and only focus on the big shows for my stuff. I still have my smaller items which are necessary. But by focusing on my best shows, I make much more than I did when I was going to many shows.

Many small craft shows will never be good for what we do. The people there don’t have that kind of money. Analyze the crowd at every event. Are the type of people there ever going to afford your products? If the answer is no or not really, don’t go back. Read LJ – huff articles on marketing. He explained it much better than I.

As far as the size of the community, one of the shows I continue to go to is in a small community. It is their annual event. So the whole community comes and spends money. The craft shows I went to in the bigger cities were the ones that were a bust. They have many shows and nobody goes to one with the idea of buying a lot.

I am not sure how far you are from Houston. They have a huge stock show there. Lots of people there who are planning to spend money when they come. Also with your boxes, look for jewelry shows (not the kind at craft shows). If you’re going to spend a lot on jewelry, then you won’t mind paying more for the storage/display case.

Hope any of this was helpful.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Ben's profile


302 posts in 2325 days

#3 posted 09-08-2013 02:27 PM

You could possible balance the shows with online sales and do a few good shows each year. Our business (architectural antiques) is primarily Ebay based, say maybe 70% or more. We do a show or two a year and do really well, but shows of any kind have a lot of ups and downs. You could make a killing this year at that show, but the next year, same place same time, it could be a flop. You just don’t know how it’s going to go. I would suggest finding a niche online that works for you if you can, do shows for the fun, people, and atmosphere. Amazingly enough and kooky as people sometimes are there, Craigslist has been a good outlet for my personal projects which are made from miscellaneous antique parts and lumber from the architectural business.

-- Welcome to downtown Coolsville, Population: US! --Hogarth Hughes

View mtenterprises's profile


933 posts in 2687 days

#4 posted 09-08-2013 02:29 PM

True Clint, but quality hand crafted items sell better around holiday times.
Blackie it was your first year, your learning year, see what you just learned, stay out of the sun. If a show sells good go back if not drop it and try another venue. Maybe you will find a couple different places around holiday times would be better than like an every weekend type of thing. Just keep trying and learning.

-- See pictures on Flickr - And visit my Facebook page -

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2507 days

#5 posted 09-08-2013 02:38 PM

Clint I think you are right, now that I think about it, I believe I have more men looking at my boxes then ladies and all the fellows first thing that comes out of their mouth, A lot of work! or Looks like a lot of work in that ball park, I respond not work it’s play time and fun.

Thanks Monte, I’ll take a look at Huff’s blogs.

Ben I do sell online I use Etsy have not tried Ebay or craigslist yet and have done pretty well on etsy.

Yea Mike, I’m feeling out things now and trying to stay away from the monthly market events and study on the annual see where that takes me, I also have to consider the fact that people aren’t going to get out in the heat, maybe school start up has people strapped another thing to consider meaning it’s a timing thing.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View DocSavage45's profile


8549 posts in 2837 days

#6 posted 09-08-2013 02:42 PM

I’ve considered “where would I sell what is my kind of stuff?” Also wondered why no one called according to my expectations when I purchased yellow page ads.

My perspective market would be in the twin cities about 2.5 hours from home and shop.

Have you read Huff’s blog?

Even though Monte did well toward the end of his last show, the first part of his time there sucked?

I’ve been watching you evolve from craftsman to artist in your work. Only your peers and educated consumers will understand that. You might consider “Juried” art shows? The customer there might be more of your market.

I saw the last pictures you took at your last show. The thought I had at the time resurfaces now even though I can’t see the present set up. I think you had way too many of your items sitting out? When we have a dozen roses, we look at the whole thing, and the individual beauty is lost. When we see one rose, alone, we marvel at God’s work. Human nature.

I tell my clients “shit can just be shit.” “Or we can figure out how to make fuel or fertilizer?”

My ramblings, Randy. Hope it gets better.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DocSavage45's profile


8549 posts in 2837 days

#7 posted 09-08-2013 02:44 PM

I checked out Andy’s stuff. He’s selling on Etsy?

And just read all the postings while I was writing. LOL! You are too.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View mtenterprises's profile


933 posts in 2687 days

#8 posted 09-08-2013 03:07 PM

Woodworking is a one on one sell or word of mouth not a yellow pages thing. I was through that many years ago . Never sold anything through the yellow pages ad. More money left my pocket then ever came in. But when I became a locksmith the yellow pages ad was the bread and butter because of emergency service calls.

-- See pictures on Flickr - And visit my Facebook page -

View TravisH's profile


576 posts in 1929 days

#9 posted 09-08-2013 03:10 PM

In my honest opinion it has to do with the average customer base you find at these events. Overall they are bargain shoppers looking for items that can be classified as mainly throw away gifts. Some have eluded to the Christmas/holidays boom and I would agree from my experience. I have been the receiver of these gifts many times at our family holiday get togethers and will admit that my wife and I leave a lot of this stuff in the hotel room at check out. It is a cheap crowd/vendor set up for the most part so you need rubber band guns, tacky bird houses, squirrel feeders, perhaps a few of the bent over lady gardening signs, scroll saw ornaments, etc… I honestly don’t know what they sale as I really avoid these for the most part after the “dark ages”.

.... the period of time everything was the gawd awful country crap. The sea of dark stained pine cut out stuff (with lovely routed edges) comprised of heart shaped quilt racks, hair dryer/curling iron holders, potato bins, everything needed a goose cutout attached sort of market with a splash of country blue and gingham ribbon.

The gifts we received that generally were good in my opinion were the wood “trick puzzles” and then kids stuff. Kids blocks and wooden puzzles are very popular with my coworkers now. Of course these vendors are pushing made in USA, non toxic colorants, etc… Also good target as most are very comfortable spending money on a grand kid, child, niece, nephew, etc…

View coachmancuso's profile


259 posts in 1926 days

#10 posted 09-08-2013 03:11 PM

I am doing shows for the first time in Nov. I have 6 shows set up for the month. I have done shows before but not with wood working items. I have items priced from 8.00 to 200.00 There is a good variety of priced items for everyone. Almost everyone can spend 10.00 at a craft show. I hope I do good because I am looking at some art festivals that they have in our area that are fairly big. Good luck too everyone that is doing shows this season!

-- Coach Mancuso

View leafherder's profile


1413 posts in 1947 days

#11 posted 09-08-2013 03:44 PM

After 10 years working in retail full time I will share what I learned: November and April were good shows because they were close to major gift giving holidays – Christmas and Mother’s Day – when men buy jewelry boxes for the women in their lives. At your next show try asking “are you looking for something for yourself or for someone else?” Mention that the boxes make great gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, showers, etc. Each show will have a different function as people look for different items at different seasons: Fall is back to school/get organized and Halloween/Thanksgiving/Tailgating, Winter is Christmas/Valentine, Spring is Easter/Mother’s Day/ Graduation, Summer is vacation/play time. When you know what people are looking for it is easier to tailor your stock to their tastes. Maybe try some small items that highlight the function of your boxes – turn your scraps into simple pendants and earrings to show with the jewelry boxes, or wooden spoons and scoops to go with recipe boxes.

-- Leafherder

View DocSavage45's profile


8549 posts in 2837 days

#12 posted 09-08-2013 04:03 PM

Mike everybody needs a locksmith! LOL! Another thought? The first time I saw a handcrafted box in a gallery many years ago I said “Nice, but I can’t afford it.” (LOL) A year later I went back and the artist had other pieces there. The gallery now had boxes made in China!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3096 days

#13 posted 09-08-2013 04:36 PM

I like to go to and see what’s hot and what’s not. Lots of great ideas to be found. I just went there and typed in “WOOD” and this guy popped up. He’s been in business less than one year and has more than 1000 sales. There are hundreds and hundreds of others in the “wood” game that are doing the same.

Bottom line in my view is “give ‘em what they want” and “price it right”
You can make what you like or you can make what they like….................

-- mike...............

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3303 days

#14 posted 09-08-2013 04:43 PM

Before ever doing my first show I made the decision to only apply for juried shows and the better quality shows. I do not do any monthly art markets or any shows that the only requirement for anyone to get in is if they can pay a booth fee.

I have always visited to art and craft shows long before participating in them and learned much from doing so. I would see shows where a talented artist/craftsman would be set up in a booth next to another booth selling pots and pans or some other buy/sell stuff that was in no way considered fine arts and crafts. Places like this are no more than a flea market and most certainly not an image/atmosphere I would want to associated with for marketing my work.
The quality juried shows are more difficult and expensive to get into but have worked out well for me. some are better than others and I just apply to the shows I am wanting to do and hopefully get juried in. There are no guarantees at any shows…but for my wife and I these shows are an adventure and we enjoy the experience. We only do about a dozen shows a year and this keeps it fun because we want to enjoy it and not be a difficult undertaking.

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4261 days

#15 posted 09-08-2013 04:58 PM

I like what Ben said: “do shows for the fun, people, and atmosphere.” And possible commissions too. If you are interested in that sort of custom work, then you could offer that to customers if you thought they would be interested. Maybe a sign- “Can I make something special- just for you?” People do like personalized items too. I know you have done ball-game themed items. Did they sell?
Have you got a list of everything you have sold? Analyze that.
Christians like things with a religious motif. A cross on a box can make a difference to them.
I have always found it fun to talk to people at craft fairs. Maybe didn’t make much money, but enjoyed myself.
My usual $2 worth.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

showing 1 through 15 of 21 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics