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austinious

First Show, thoughts and questions...

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So I had my first craft show, did not go for the two days, just one, because I was afraid of selling out.  Should've have done both days...live and learn.  Made a few hundred, mildly profitable, so a plus in my book.

The craft show was part of a "tour" through the region with different events and shows along the way.  Reasonable foot traffic, a few hundred I would guess.  BUT!  The show was mostly crafty country stuff.  Cheap and in many cases not very well done.  One person was selling signs like "My morning Coffee needs a Coffee" in vinyl stickers that I'm sure they bought on amazon.  The nice lady next to me sold blankets and knitted pot holders.  You get the idea....  There I was selling dog collars and leashes, belts, and purses.  I did get a few comments about the cost, not many, but memorable.  I had my belts at $45, 9oz, 1.5" wide...I did get the comment that the man needed a work belt and these were too nice.  I learned to pick my venues more carefully.

Questions:

I have come to a rule of thumb for pricing...my cost is $0.10 USD per Square Inch. This price includes leather, rivets, dye, wax/resolene.  Any other hardware is added on top.  Does this sound reasonable?  It covers my costs+, which is good since not all of a hide is usable.

Should I stitch and work while at the show?  I did and didn't receive any comments positive or negative.

And Last...Does anyone have any good advice for storing and transporting inventory?

Thanks a bunch.

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I haven't done any shows to sell my leather goods, but my normal rates are double material cost and $15 / hour labor.  When I did shows for unrelated products, I bought sterilite containers with the attached lids.  With the bins empty and lids open, they would nest.  When full, they stacked neatly.

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23 hours ago, austinious said:

Should I stitch and work while at the show?  I did and didn't receive any comments positive or negative.

Watching a person performing stitching is like watching paint dry. You might draw an audience if you tool and dye with a copy of the finished product on display nearby. That will allow them to see more of how the "process" works.

Edited by LatigoAmigo

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9 hours ago, PastorBob said:

I haven't done any shows to sell my leather goods, but my normal rates are double material cost and $15 / hour labor.  When I did shows for unrelated products, I bought sterilite containers with the attached lids.  With the bins empty and lids open, they would nest.  When full, they stacked neatly.

Thank, I am currently looking for something like that with wheels.

5 hours ago, LatigoAmigo said:

Watching a person performing stitching is like watching paint dry. You might draw an audience if you tool and dye with a copy of the finished product on display nearby. That will allow them to see more of how the "process" works.

You have an excellent point, wish I didn't suck at tooling...

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Back in the 80's I went to a pioneer -craft show.  There was a lady with a white rabbit in here lap, she was pulling the fur to make spinning yarn.  When I went on the bike circuit selling my leather products, patches and doing sewing I always put my machines up front.  If I was doing a zipper on a jacket or a boot that would really draw a crowd.  If they were waiting, their partner would than look around and maybe buy something like a deerskin purse.  Now I admit that only 20% of the crowd where potential customers for handmade USA products.  You need good shows with honest promoters.  That;s the hard part.  I believe the good stuff will stand out.  Put a shoe patcher out front learn to treadle you will get attention.

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@ljk That is sage advice.

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When I would do shows like that I would just bring things I made specifically for them. Everything $20, $15, $10, you know, what they prob had right in their pocket. Maybe a second quality box too. A lot of the time a guy would buy one then come back a few hours later and buy two more for his friends. I would also take the more serious work to sell but mostly as a display so people could custom order them. Just a few pieces. Collect cards and phone numbers and get back with them. To display them you can get 3 black wire grids, arrange them in a triangle, fasten them with black zip ties, then arrange the better leather along them. 

I'd just toss all the same colored leather in a cardboard shipping box and use a dolly to get it in and out of the area. They are light and you don't have to store them after the show.  Place a long cotton table cloth on the plastic folding table that draped to the floor so I could just slide the boxes under it. For the nice pieces I place them in plastic shipping bags and in one separate box. 

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On 11/8/2021 at 6:43 AM, austinious said:

I have come to a rule of thumb for pricing...my cost is $0.10 USD per Square Inch. This price includes leather, rivets, dye, wax/resolene.  Any other hardware is added on top.  Does this sound reasonable?  It covers my costs+, which is good since not all of a hide is usable.

No, don't do that... the price has nothing to do with your cost and everything to do with what price everyone else is selling.   If your price is too low compared to the market then you're leaving money on the table, if it's too high compared to the market then you'll sell nothing.  Just have a look around you, you are at a craft show, it shouldn't be too hard to get a feel for the crowd and what they expect to pay at a place like that.  Just by being there you're pigeon-holing your product in the "something I bought at a craft show", which to be honest with you puts a ceiling to how much someone would pay, but you never know.  

The cost is irrelevant, nobody cares.  It's good for you to know it, for your purposes, so you can think on your feet how low you can go in case someone starts haggling, but your pricing should always be along the lines of "depends who is asking and what other options he has to buy something similar elsewhere".   Just look around you, the customer always sets your price, not you.   

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Actually, cost is important. You need to know what an item costs you so you won't lose money by selling. Make sure you get at least the money for leather, hardware, consumables. Ideally also something for your time.

If you can get more, by all means, charge more!

Regarding the quality of the show, I've been in your situation. Ideally one would visit shows first as a "tourist" to see whether it's worth participating. In France you need to send an application with pictures of your work to the better shows, which means committing a long time in advance. Shows which don't have an application process often are like the one you described.

Incidentally, I don't find well-executed handstitching boring to watch. And most people have no idea how leather is sewn... I used to sell handspun items and I always had a spinning wheel during shows. Not only to attract attention  - which it did - but also to have something to do while waiting for customers so as not to go crazy with boredom. 

Two of my colleagues working with leather also worked during the Christmas market (4 weeks, 9 hours a day - with very few customers on weekday mornings). Not to generate interest, but simply to create inventory. (I did needle felting - not enough space for a spinning wheel.) So I'd say, do what you can during the show. It also helps convince the customers that you really are making yourself the things you are selling! 

 

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Be aware however that as you do whatever it is to draw a crowd part of that crowd will want to steal your stuff. Big crowd and putting yourself in a position of not being able to pay attention are two things that don't really go together well if all your stuff is out in hands reach.

I was just thinking a person could set up a video, small tv hanging behind you showing you stitching tooling or whatever, the noise and video would surely attract folks while allowing you to pay attention to the customers and your products.

Edited by chuck123wapati

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11 hours ago, chuck123wapati said:

part of that crowd will want to steal your stuff

I do several flea markets and such every year and this is a huge concern. Its sad that we have to worry about such but it sure needs to be worried about. While one is talkin to you in detail about a price or custom work there buddy will be robbing you blind. I got a good friend that does alot more shows then i do. And just last month he had a very collectible caseXX 2 knife set walk off while he was talkin to a customer. He said he didnt make enough all weekend to cover the loss he took by that set of knives being stolen. I see you mention dog collars and leashes is part of what you sell. There great items to be personalized on site. Make  them up and leave a name area blank and stamp animals names while customers watch. 

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