Hey there Heroes, Travelers, and Wandering NPCs, it’s been awhile since I wrote one of these and honestly, it’s because I’ve been trying to keep up with this season’s anime… I know shocker! But, things have finally settled down enough for me to bang out another Crocheting While Otaku post!! This time around, I’m writing about my very first craft fair!!
So, two weeks ago I participated in a small local craft fair called, Art on the Plaza, ironically enough at one of my old temp jobs. There was no table fee, which I’ve found can range anywhere from $50 – $500, depending on the size of the fair, so I figured I had nothing to lose. There were only a handful of sellers, 18 in total and I managed to rope a friend into helping me sell stuff (three days of straight crocheting between the two of us) and we managed to produce a sizeable amount of stuff for the table; she provided some baby blankets and I had a bunch of dolls and plushies I needed to unload, but, it was enough to fill the table…
As someone that primarily sells online or through word of mouth, participating in a craft fair was definitely a learning experience. Years of retail work probably saved me from looking like a complete noob, but, there is just something different about selling your own work as opposed to the wares of some huge faceless company… Everything is just that much more personal, because I didn’t buy my items wholesale, I made them… by hand. There’s a degree of sentimentality, sure, but, more than that, each item I sell is a reflection of me and my work. With online sales, I don’t actually see the person’s face as they browse my store, I don’t hear the comments they make, so it’s a much more sterile transaction; they place an order, I make the item, and then I ship it off. It’s simple. Sure, I get feedback from the buyer throughout the production process, but, usually that’s done through instant messages and emails, with no face to face consultations (unless I know the buyer personally).
A craft fair is a whole different beast. Not only can my buyers interact with me directly, but, I can see their reactions to my items and it’s not always a positive reaction. I have a thick skin, I can roll with the punches, but, when someone’s whole face scrunches up at the sight of a faceless doll you spent 2 weeks carefully crafting… it’s hard not to take it personally.
I had a guy ask me why all my dolls don’t have faces, mind you everything from his facial expression to his tone suggested he was not exactly keen on the idea of faceless dolls, so my response while polite definitely had a bit more “bite to it”, because I was literally feeding off the energy he was giving me at the time. Most folks just kind of accept it as a “unique” thing I do and move on, but, this guy seemed personally affronted by the lack of faces and as the person that made those dolls, not seeing my work appreciated kind of rubbed me the wrong way. But, for the most part the reception to my work was pretty positive, with most of the people that stopped by my table showing genuine interest in what I do and a few even stayed to chat with me about my crafting, so overall it was a positive experience.
I also had to do on the spot modifications and customization, which I had never done before, so that was definitely something that I now know to expect. Most requests were simple, like a woman who wanted pom poms added to one two bird plushies she purchased, and another woman wanted a face added to one of the dolls I had on the table (which I did, buuuut, it took me more time than I thought it would). Thankfully, I had the forethought to bring some extra yarn with me otherwise I’d have most likely lost the sales. In fact, now that I think about it, most of the time I was just playing it by ear, adapting to the needs of the buyer, while also being mindful of my own limitations (which I had no problem discovering).
But, overall, I liked the experience, I sold a lot more in person than I usually do through my Etsy store, probably because buyers got to actually touch and see my plushies up close, rather than clicking through a series of pictures (of varying quality) and it’s nice to hear people praising your work… Would I do something like this again? Absolutely, though, I’d probably prep at least a few months in advance, because two weeks was not enough time to make much of anything… Which I’ll probably talk about in Part 2 (whenever that comes out). 😛
Welp, that wraps up another Crocheting While Otaku post, I still have a bit more to say about my first craft fair so expect a few more “parts” in the near future. As always, if you like what you see be sure to LIKE this post and FOLLOW Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! Thank you for reading!
2 thoughts on “Crocheting While Otaku: My First Craft Fair Experience Pt. 1 – Selling in Person”
No table fee is really nice. Like you said, even some really small locations want quite a bit to rent a space, and you have to sell a bunch just to break even. Glad you had an overall good sales event!
sounds fun. glad your first time was pleasant.