Thursday, 10 November 2016

Musing About Holiday Craft Sales

Craft sales are not my most favourite thing about my quilt business. I'm an introvert at heart and the full day of meeting and interacting with people wears me out! And at most craft sales vendors are limited in the amount of space they are allowed. That makes it hard to display larger quilts, so I tend to make up smaller items that are easier to display. I find that buying a bed size quilt is a large purchase & most people are not willing to purchase a large quilt unless they've thought about it for a while or unless it's a custom quilt that is a perfect match to their d├ęcor.

This past year (2015), I only booked myself into 2 in-person shows. And this year (2016), I have had some health issues that led to me cancelling all 3 sales I was booked for.The first from last year was way back in September 2015 and was the Etsy Made In Canada Day Sale in Calgary.
The second was in November and is one I've done for a number of years and I've built up a bit of a relationship with the regular shoppers there.

But I never quite know what is going to be a good seller for me or not. It turns out that the September sale was a great one for baby quilts - I had a much larger inventory there of baby quilts than I usually have and apart from the ones I sold, I gave out cards to a number of moms who were expecting and either didn't know the gender of their babies or exactly how they wanted to decorate their nurseries.

When I had time to reflect after I went home, I realized that to woo those customers, I would need to get more or better information from them in the future. I'm really not an in-your-face aggressive person, so my usual default is that customers will contact me if they really want one of my quilts. I usually have a little notebook with me at sales to keep notes and jot down suggestions that customers make regarding colours or possible items they would be interested in.

It's not too much of a stretch to take down name & contact info of customers who didn't see the exact thing they wanted and might have bought if I had had it made. So, when I ran out of blue baby quilts, I could have taken down a name, phone or email and turned that into a custom sale.

The next sale in November, I had my plan in place along with my notebook and a pen! And didn't sell any baby quilts. But the mug rugs and snap bags were great sellers and the tissue covers that were a hit in September didn't get a single buyer. I did take down a few orders for a custom mug rug and snap bags in colours that I didn't have ready made. I also had a few requests for eye glass holders, so I wrote that down for a possibility for next Year's markets!

A few other things that I've been considering as possibilities are having an open studio tour & sale maybe a couple times in the year where my larger quilts can actually be shown off to their advantage, which is difficult when there is only a 6' wide table to display everything.

And maybe an email newsletter that could come out 3-4x a year, maybe in advance of a studio tour.

What do you think? How do you like to connect with artisans & crafters? Where do you buy handmade items locally? Do you like things ready made? Or do you love the custom touch of a one of a kind item made just for you?

--Ann