Last weekend I participated in a craft show. It was with friends, and friends of friends, in one of their houses.
There were chocolate toffees made with Callebaut; beaded jewelry and bookmarks; clothing sewn from vintage and reproduction fabrics; knitted and crocheted clothing and purses; jams, jellies, and salsas; silk floral arrangements; cold-process soaps, balms, and herbal wraps; framed photographs; felted purses made from recycled sweaters; and my rag dolls.
It was a really interesting experience. It was enlightening seeing what appealed to people, although in the end I could reach no coherent conclusions. Big-ticket items, for example, were very poor sellers, except for the recycled-sweater purses, which sold like hotcakes at $65. A handknit sweater, on the other hand, wouldn't leave the rack at $45.
Likewise inconsistent were items with obvious eye appeal. The floral arrangements were, at least to me, the most obviously visually appealing items on display, and they sold very well. Yet some of the prettiest among them were unsold at the end of the day (and not the highest priced, either).
One crafter noted that the lowest-priced items always sell well. I didn't find this to be overwhelmingly the case. The soaps and balms, for instance, sold steadily over the course of the day, but I would have expected far more customers to buy a bar or two. The candies seemed to sell well, but I didn't see a lot of movement on the lower-priced jams and jellies.
My dolls were nearly universally ignored by grown-ups and loved by children. Seeing kids' eyes light up when they saw the dolls made my day. That was my audience, and I had a solid score. One child in particular, probably just shy of two, was a picture. Her eyes went wide and her jaw dropped when she saw the dolls. She made a beeline for one of them and hugged it closely, a look of bliss on her face. She then set it on the couch and leaned her face on it, settling into its comfort. She played with several of the dolls, hugging each one, but never let go of the first one. I didn't notice when she and her mother left, emptyhanded, in a bustle of customers, but I was heartbroken. I would happily have given that child the doll as she loved it so.
I did sell some dolls, not many. At the end of the day the crafters purchased and traded amongst ourselves, and I was happy to barter dolls for some of their goodies that I could not have afforded to buy. I also gave dolls to the two children of the house and to the child of one of the crafters. This little girl had a very successful day selling her beaded bracelets -- I think she was the most successful crafter there in terms of items sold.
Moneywise, I came out almost even, probably a tad in the red. But I had fun and got to spend time with some friends. I learned that I loved my little dolls and felt funny selling them. What made me happiest was giving them away.