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austinious

A Part Time Gun Show / Renn Faire Business

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I'm starting to come up with a business plan to do a few items with the goal of making a few extra bucks to sock away for retirement, or investment.

The idea is to go to 4-6 Renn Faires or Craft Shows in the summer, and 3-4 gun shows in the winter.

I'm starting to do the research for what shows, travel time, costs, tents or tables needed, etc. 

I had thought of getting a few blue guns and making mostly demo stock so people could order at the shows, perhaps sell some of the more common holsters.  I'm spending this fall figuring out where and what, and the winter making stock.  I'm sure the first summer will only be 2, maybe 3 faires, and the 23 winter maybe 2 shows.

I guess what I'm asking, am I crazy?

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32 minutes ago, austinious said:

I guess what I'm asking, am I crazy?

I wouldn't say crazy, but maybe overly optimistic. But that, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. 

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No, not crazy, But be aware that *every body* at a Ren Faire thinks they can do leather work cheaper and better than you (at least thats my experience)

Also, I found all I needed was a small fold up table, a stool and a cloth about 3ft x 3ft. Table for better things, eg my board games,  the cloth on the ground for general belts and belt purses & pouches, drawstring bags (which are easy to make and really big sellers)

Just before I gave the medieval scene I was trying to make a good version of a 

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1 hour ago, LatigoAmigo said:

I wouldn't say crazy, but maybe overly optimistic. But that, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. 

Yeah, I feel a bit rushed to make it happen, maybe 1 faire and 1 show is a more realistic goal.

59 minutes ago, fredk said:

No, not crazy, But be aware that *every body* at a Ren Faire thinks they can do leather work cheaper and better than you (at least thats my experience)

Also, I found all I needed was a small fold up table, a stool and a cloth about 3ft x 3ft. Table for better things, eg my board games,  the cloth on the ground for general belts and belt purses & pouches, drawstring bags (which are easy to make and really big sellers)

Just before I gave the medieval scene I was trying to make a good version of a 

My wife thinks I can do better....lol

My big comment about folks at the whopping 4 faires I've been to...does no one burnish edges!?!?!?!

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25 minutes ago, austinious said:

My big comment about folks at the whopping 4 faires I've been to...does no one burnish edges!?!?!?!

No, cos they think our ancestors didn't know how to make quality leather.

My stuff was often dismissed as 'not historically accurate' as it was 'too good' / 'too nice'  I got into the habit of keeping some of my reference books with me

28 minutes ago, austinious said:

Yeah, I feel a bit rushed to make it happen, maybe 1 faire and 1 show is a more realistic goal.

1 faire to see not what you are up against, but see what people are wearing and using and see if you make those items - better

 

1 hour ago, fredk said:

Just before I gave the medieval scene I was trying to make a good version of a 

I hit submit before I'd finished that, it was to be

Just before I gave up doing the medieval scene I was trying to make a good version of a chapman's fold up pack. I had a simple one made and it attracted attention just on opening it up!

 

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5 hours ago, fredk said:

...

Just before I gave up doing the medieval scene I was trying to make a good version of a chapman's fold up pack. I had a simple one made and it attracted attention just on opening it up!

 

What is that? Google turned up nothing...

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A chapman was Ebay on legs. Anglo-Saxon Cheapan = to sell, as in London's Cheapside, the old City market. You never really knew what he'd have, for one thing, but mostly stuff you wouldn't likely be able to produce locally.

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11 hours ago, fredk said:

My stuff was often dismissed as 'not historically accurate' as it was 'too good' / 'too nice'  I got into the habit of keeping some of my reference books with me

Luckily not many I've been to get too cranky about accuracy, in fact some are very loose about it.  From what I've seen, leave off zippers and magnetic clasps.  :P

I found this, very helpful...

https://www.therenlist.com/all-fairs

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Nope not crazy just enthusiastic but before you  commit to a number your research should include visiting both, gun shows and faires and talking to vendors already set up, watching what is selling and pricing. What type of guns get the most sales and what kind of holsters sell for that type gun, what type of faire products sell or don't and how many people are selling them. i would think in PA there are some Black powder rendezvous or civil war reenactment groups also.

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Th

1 minute ago, chuck123wapati said:

i would think in PA there are some Black powder rendezvous or civil war reenactment groups also.

Thanks, I hadn't considered that....

This fall and winter we plan on going to as many nearby shows and faries as we can to do more through research.  We've been to several and looked at wares informally, now we takes notes...

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On 7/17/2021 at 7:24 AM, Klara said:

What is that? Google turned up nothing...

I think I'll need to get back to you about that. Its hard to describe in under 1,000,000 words of less than seven syllables. Maybe a drawing, if I could draw

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On 7/17/2021 at 1:08 PM, austinious said:

Luckily not many I've been to get too cranky about accuracy, in fact some are very loose about it.  From what I've seen, leave off zippers and magnetic clasps.  :P

aye, but I'd make something like this

scabbard 1ss.JPG

Even though its a copy of real one, but with different stamping, I was told it was not / could not be real. Medieval people carried knives in scabbards/sheaths made by thonging two rough cut pieces of leather together

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@fredk, That looks great!

What did people think got done in those times?  People took 6 min. to make a crappy scabbard, then huddled next to a peat fire for hours on end waiting for the electric lightbulb?  I see your point though, research and make something unique and fun.  Plus make sure you take your research with you for the festival police.  

My own son just told me to get hides with fur on to make Viking items.  The Vikings did advanced iron work, ring mail, some plate.  Why do people think they made crap like some neanderthal? 

The funny thing is that I can see someone complaining about my tools not being right for the period (bevellers, edger, knives), but I'm sure my fluorescent orange dead blow hammer would be fine, if I wrapped it in leather thongs.

Makes me laugh...

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I must be careful. This could easily veer off topic into a rant by me

5 hours ago, austinious said:

  Plus make sure you take your research with you for the festival police.  

Its not for the festival 'police' - its for the eejits who think our ancestors could not and did not make nice quality items. If you get involved with the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism ) you'll find they are tended to  properly researched things whereas independent groups believe all they see in 'Games of Thrones' or 'Xena: Warrior Princess'

5 hours ago, austinious said:

My own son just told me to get hides with fur on to make Viking items.  

That is mostly imagined history, although the Vikings & Normans did have sword scabbards made from unfinished sheepskin with the fleece on the inside, The natural oil lanolin acted as a rust inhibitor

5 hours ago, austinious said:

What did people think got done in those times?  People took 6 min. to make a crappy scabbard, then huddled next to a peat fire for hours on end waiting for the electric lightbulb?

That is some of the thoughts of some eejits you may well come across

I invested heavily in books written by archaeologists about finds from digs. The books cost £30* and upwards. I got them to research the items and to make modern copies of the real items

*I rarely pay more than £5 for a book!

There are three kinds of historical' accuracy or perception of the ancient past

1. real, researched

2. imagined

3. based on fantasy medieval such as 'Games of Thrones' which is mainly 2 with a wee bit of 1 thrown in

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26 minutes ago, fredk said:

I must be careful. This could easily veer off topic into a rant by me

Its not for the festival 'police' - its for the eejits who think our ancestors could not and did not make nice quality items. If you get involved with the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism ) you'll find they are tended to  properly researched things whereas independent groups believe all they see in 'Games of Thrones' or 'Xena: Warrior Princess'

That is mostly imagined history, although the Vikings & Normans did have sword scabbards made from unfinished sheepskin with the fleece on the inside, The natural oil lanolin acted as a rust inhibitor

That is some of the thoughts of some eejits you may well come across

I invested heavily in books written by archaeologists about finds from digs. The books cost £30* and upwards. I got them to research the items and to make modern copies of the real items

*I rarely pay more than £5 for a book!

There are three kinds of historical' accuracy or perception of the ancient past

1. real, researched

2. imagined

3. based on fantasy medieval such as 'Games of Thrones' which is mainly 2 with a wee bit of 1 thrown in

You are not alone friend these folks inhabit the cowboy scene as well lol. We had about 60 years give or take of the real "wild west" but the movie west goes on forever. 

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48 minutes ago, fredk said:

1. real, researched

2. imagined

3. based on fantasy medieval such as 'Games of Thrones' which is mainly 2 with a wee bit of 1 thrown in

It's funny, this was my process for making a western holster for a friend...I think #1, with some #2, and a tiny bit of #3 would be far more satisfying.

9 minutes ago, chuck123wapati said:

You are not alone friend these folks inhabit the cowboy scene as well lol. We had about 60 years give or take of the real "wild west" but the movie west goes on forever. 

During my research on western holster, it was really interesting to see that early holsters slide into a slot in the back to form the belt loop and the weight of the gun held it together.  Later versions went to stitching, and that loop gradually became more and more ornamental.  @chuck123wapati probably knows what its called, I have no earthly idea.

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Thanks, @fredk!

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On 7/16/2021 at 11:32 PM, austinious said:

I'm starting to come up with a business plan to do a few items with the goal of making a few extra bucks to sock away for retirement, or investment.

The idea is to go to 4-6 Renn Faires or Craft Shows in the summer, and 3-4 gun shows in the winter.

I'm starting to do the research for what shows, travel time, costs, tents or tables needed, etc. 

I had thought of getting a few blue guns and making mostly demo stock so people could order at the shows, perhaps sell some of the more common holsters.  I'm spending this fall figuring out where and what, and the winter making stock.  I'm sure the first summer will only be 2, maybe 3 faires, and the 23 winter maybe 2 shows.

I guess what I'm asking, am I crazy?

I did the shows a while back but not with leather and here in the UK not the US. Regardless of what you sell or where you sell it you'd be wise to hinder therse rules.

Footfall. Every show promoter will make his show sound like it's a must-do but you want to know how many people attended last time. If the footfall is big enough you'll make money even if the show is not directly related to what you sell.

You're after the ones that are left after you take out those that are just taking the kids out dor the day or those that are looking for inspiration for their own ideas or those that turn up just for the attractions and those that just don't have any money. A big footfall gives more chance of making your day. 

Over here we have someting called "The Showmans Directory". It lists every show with all the contact details AND the footfall. Be aware though that if it's a free show some will list the entire surrounding population. I've noticed a lot of "Internationals" in there too.

Of course the fee for pitching a stall is usually based on popularity and/or footfall.

Book early in the season else all the good spots will be taken and you'll be pitching in the car park.

Don't make your table/s too cluttered. If you have a lot of something good at the right price make a feature of it by placing it on it's own table. It will sell far more than in the middle of clutter.

Sometimes shows can go on into the evening. Having lights around your stall means you can carry on trading whilst others have to pack up.

Signage:  Be as artistic or innovative as you like but unless you're an artist print them and laminate them. It gives more confidence in the quality than a handwritten scrawl and easy to clean for the next time.

Coverings: Put some thought into what colour your wares are sitting on. It's important. And make sure you have enough to go around the front of your tables and the back of your pitch to deter the tealeafs.

Best of luck.

 

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In my years of going to trade shows as a vendor (a previous life) we learned to 'post up' in the front of the table to make it easier to visit with people who wonder by and to chat them up.    It seemed to work as we didn't get nearly as many sales if we were passively sitting in the back.   

The best of luck!

Edited by JayEhl

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@toxo

Footfall, great name for the concept.  A lot of what you write is very important and not what I've given much thought to (color of background).  Lights will depend on the venue, but I'm betting LED lanterns dressed up as oil lamps would work...We are starting small and local first and know the two shows we want to do.  But absolutely, early bird gets the worm...Thank You.  BTW, found a very comprehensive list of all the faires in the US.  Thanks for the suggestion.

@JayEhl

My wife will be "front", I'll mostly do demos.  We are starting small, because of my autism, sometimes social interactions are problematic.  Another reason to start small and see how it goes.  Luckily she is very outgoing and likes to do the "patter", MiLord and Lady and the like. Great point, be up there be visible, be friendly.  I can do that, I just might need a few breaks and liquid courage.

Edited by austinious

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24 minutes ago, austinious said:

  Lights will depend on the venue, but I'm betting LED lanterns dressed up as oil lamps would work...

 

You can buy LED lamps which look like Tilley oil lamps. They are aimed at campers

I can't find the one I'm thinking of but here is another example

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Camping-Lantern-Sahara-Sailor-Collapses/dp/B076K13QVV/ref=sr_1_26?adgrpid=50624903462&dchild=1&gclid=Cj0KCQjw6NmHBhD2ARIsAI3hrM2BgjO5_WcjyCyWOvQtd30j8F2oIQRDRXsF7vGWGA5G-8Tuj3rDGF8aAprlEALw_wcB&hvadid=259034948109&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=1006500&hvnetw=g&hvqmt=e&hvrand=11031287559302580435&hvtargid=kwd-297169368403&hydadcr=28153_1821061&keywords=led+camping+lights&qid=1626821317&sr=8-26

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even easier.... Thanks!

I'm putting together a list of questions when I talk to the Faire managers. 

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11 hours ago, austinious said:

@toxo

Footfall, great name for the concept.  A lot of what you write is very important and not what I've given much thought to (color of background).  Lights will depend on the venue, but I'm betting LED lanterns dressed up as oil lamps would work...We are starting small and local first and know the two shows we want to do.  But absolutely, early bird gets the worm...Thank You.  BTW, found a very comprehensive list of all the faires in the US.  Thanks for the suggestion.

@JayEhl

My wife will be "front", I'll mostly do demos.  We are starting small, because of my autism, sometimes social interactions are problematic.  Another reason to start small and see how it goes.  Luckily she is very outgoing and likes to do the "patter", MiLord and Lady and the like. Great point, be up there be visible, be friendly.  I can do that, I just might need a few breaks and liquid courage.

Footfall is the common name for the amount of people going throuigh a mall or an event etc. Great that the missus is ok with being the "Barker" (That's what it's called). A good Barker will often make the difference.

If using  closed-in gazebo type stall using lights during daylight will often pay dividends, especially if overcast. Not only does it highlight your wares  but if you use tables around the sides rather than across the front it welcomes people in.

The show season over here is quite short because of our weather. There are some out of season shows but they tend to be smaller. I imagine you have a longer season weatherwise.

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