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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, I'm a stay at home mom of 3 considering investing in a big expensive knitting machine (used of course) wondering if crafting can be profitable enough to justify such an investment. Has anyone had experience with fairs?...don't mean to pry or be nosy, just trying to weigh the pros vs cons...
Thanks for any info!
Julie
 

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jkruse1971 said:
Hi all, I'm a stay at home mom of 3 considering investing in a big expensive knitting machine (used of course) wondering if crafting can be profitable enough to justify such an investment. Has anyone had experience with fairs?...don't mean to pry or be nosy, just trying to weigh the pros vs cons...
Thanks for any info!
Julie
I belong to a knitting group and we have sold items at our "Market Days" You have to be able to get yarn at a decent price plus if you live in a cooler climate items would probably sell.We don't have a machine just needles so it is slow but rewarding Good Luck!
 

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Hi Julie,
I think it all depends on where you live. The colder the better for hats and mittens
I knit for our church bazaar. People just don't want to pay for handmade things. Why pay $10 for hats and mitt when Walmart has them for just a few bucks. Right not the same quality, but it happens.
I love the homemade feel of love that comes with homemade.
If you can get great discount prices on yarn and don't include what your time is worth you could try.
Ebay may be a place to sell you products also.
Good luck,
Linda
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes, I've thought of e-bay too...I'm in Chicago so our cold winters would be good for SOMETHING! My obsession with all things yarn started a few yrs ago when my mom bought scarf/hat sets for two of my girls at our church craft fair. They were made with novelty yarn and were sooooo soft and fluffy! After studying their construction and buying books/scouring the internet, I finally was able to come up with something comparable. My problem is that I don't like to follow patterns...like to figure it out as I go. This is fun however it makes for a fair amount of rejects! Anyway, I think I've already made up my mind to give it a go...would be so nice to be able to make some extra money doing something that I love! (it's either that or go back to corporate america...blaghgh!) LOL! Thank you both for your input!
Julie
 

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I think it's a matter of making things that stand out, but that are also readily usable to the potential buyer. If it's just utilitarian, why not buy the thing for a few bucks at Walmart or someplace like that. If it's just showy -- but, not really practical -- then, the potential buyer is going to enjoy looking at it and then walk on by. I'm speaking as a potential buyer when I go to craft shows -- not as a person who has actually sold my wares at one. But, now that I've read your post and the ones that follow -- I'm thinking about trying a craft fair to try to sell some of my creations. Good luck to you in Chicago.
 

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Julie,
I'm with you on "figuring it out as I go". :) I usually end up either tweaking an existing pattern to make it my own, or coming up with something entirely mine from scratch. I write them down, even the ones that I have to change as I go... that way I can make the same thing again (well, usually I do...I do have one cowl that's a one of a kind because I failed to write the pattern down...lol).

As for craft fairs - they're hit or miss. Depending upon how the economy is, how important "home grown/made" goods are to your community, and how busy the fair actually is (try to research them BEFORE you commit - and don't take the promoter's words for it, they may say "oh we had X # through last year" but that doesn't mean those folks were buying.) Best thing to do is talk to other crafters in your area and see what fairs they've done well at and what ones weren't so good. Of course, there's still no guarantee - did one fair this past year that all the crafters were saying it was much slower than last year.

Hope you're able to do well! :)
Also, you might want to disclose the information to any fairs you're applying to that your items are made by a knitting machine. Some of them can be picky about what's considered hand-crafted and what's not. :)
 

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In colder climates knitted things sell much better. There is a retired couple that do the arts and crafts shows around here and just sell baby blankets made on a knitting machine for $29.95 each. They seem to go faily well. You would need to be able to purchase your yarn (and lots and lots of it) at wholesale prices and dedicate a fair amount of time making blankets for this to be profitable. I recently ran across an almost new knitting machine for about 1/3 of it's cost and called prior to responding to your question. Unfortunately, it was gone. Perhaps you could find one on Ebay or at a local fiber shop.
 

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I have sold a few things to coworkers. Scarves, etc., have appeal this yr even in north Texas. I have tried to use up yarn in my stash. Be careful about promising additional items. I didn't realize how expensive some yarn has become! Also if you are going to sell, boring as it might be, you will be ahead if you zero in on something that sells and make it over and over.
 

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I did my first ever church bazaar this past Christmas and just barely made back the cost of the table fee. Being in the cold northeast, I went with hats, mittens, scarves and baby snuggles. Most people just looked and kept on walking. Sold a few things and donated some things to the church, but it wasn't worth it as far as all the work and time involved. I love to knit and will stick to personal items and gifts from now on.
 

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I think the most important thing is to go to as many craft fairs as you can to see what is being sold in your area. Ask the vendors how they are doing and note the competition. Hand knitted blankets might sell well at senior centers and retirement homes. Good luck!
 

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I agree people are just not buying ay craft shows like they used to. I made a bunch of dishcloths and scarves and barely sold anything. That was my lasr atempt. To much time and effort and no return. My family loves the knitted dishcloths so everyone has plenty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you, thank you, thank you to each one of you for your response! You've all made some very good points! And I'd never even heard of Etsy...they have some really nice things! Now...if I could just work up the nerve to hit that "buy" button!! I guess I wouldn't be much good at gambling! LOL.....
Julie
 

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My daughter makes hats on one of those round looms. She can make a hat in a little over an hour and sells them for $10. a piece for the adult ones. She sold several hundred dollars worth at her place of work. This was just before Christmas and people were buying them as gifts. She has some on consignment at a used book store in her town. This store carries a variety of things, gift items ets. as well as books. I haven't talked to her lately so don't know if the store is selling any or not. I like Etsy too, but there is lots of competition there.
 

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I have done a lot of craft bazaars. I have been amazed and saddened at how few people can make their table fee at them. One lady had the most beautiful items, and she didn't sell anything. She did tell me that there is a big bazaar through one of the schools, you have to get in about 6 months before it is, the spaces go fast and it is expensive (Expensive is risky for first timers) and she has done well there.
I who only make hats and doll clothes, have always done excellent at that one, but not at others. So finding the right one is of course key. I use to do about 4 a year, but consecutively found one that exceeded my expectations every year, and the other three may or may not get the price of a table, so that is the only one I do. I also do Etsy, and occassionally Craigslist.
 

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I've found that word-of-mouth seems to get me a bit of business. And the most recent item I sold (a pair of the handwarmers I make) was sold to my neighbor across the hall. We stopped to chat one day in the hall as we were passing, and she asked where I got the pair I was wearing. When I told her I made them and could make them for sale she immediately asked for a black pair, THEN asked the price...lol I charge very little, really, but that particular pattern only takes a small amount of yarn and I can knit up a pair in about an hour tops if I have the time to just sit and knit. :)
I'm currently working on getting some things together to sell at a craft fair that's coming up next month - but mostly I'm going to be using them for advertising as I prefer to take orders anyway so I can personalize colors and styles. I'm also putting things on my web page, and have thought about an etsy store but still considering options on that as they have some guidelines I'm afraid I'd break where I have my own site elsewhere.

Good luck though!
 

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Had a nice experience when doing Grand Jury duty. I stat there knitting/crocheting for 2 months. People were watching me turn out piece after piece (Did at least 9 pieces during that time I sat there). At the end I wound up selling 4 pieces for the holidays.

I will be doing a table next month at our local farm indoor farm market in NYS. Will let you know how that goes.

Am hoping to have enough together to take a table at a local craft fair in December. People have been doing well at that fair which is higher end stuff.
 

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My experience with "craft shows" has been with knitted Barbie doll clothes. There are some Barbie Doll Shows scattered around the U.S. - quite a few here in Southern California. The promoter had to think twice about allowing me to participate - after all, I wasn't displaying/selling AUTHENTIC Barbie "stuff" - I had hand knit fashions displayed on 60 Barbie dolls. They finally agreed to let me have a booth - but they put me in the far back corner!

At that time my son was 23 years old and was hesitant to help me with this project. "Aw, mom, I'm not going to go to a Barbie doll show - no way! no how!" He finally agreed to help me fetch and carry my boxes into the big auditorium. He also helped me spread the pink (Barbie's favorite color) sheet over the display table - with some Styrofoam round discs and square pieces underneath, at varying heights for display purposes. I also had a small table at the back of the display table for extra doll clothes, the cash box, and my business cards.

My son told me he was going to sit on the floor behind my display table and stay out of sight while I was "working".
We set up between 7:30 am and 9:00 am, when the doors opened and a crowd of people came pouring in the doors.

My dolls were all on metal doll stands, with the bride on the top pedestal stand, on either side of her were about 10 Barbies on the right, wearing ski and skating outfits, and on the left 10 more Barbie dolls wore prom gowns. On the lower levels of the table, 30 Barbies were modeling skirts and sweaters, party dresses, and Halloween costumes. I had 10 shoe boxes on the back table, each marked with the style of clothes: dresses, ski outfits, costumes, bridal party, etc. When an item was sold, I undressed the doll, put the item in a clear plastic bag and quickly dressed the doll in an outfit from one of the boxes. Every outfit had a price tag attached - a round disc with the price written in permanent ink markers. This way my customers could browse without asking the price all the time.

My son sat in a low beach chair on the floor and I stood SMILING by my table - 9:00 am, 10:00 am, ll:00 am - NO SALES! Lots of "looky-loos" though. Believe me, the people who come to these shows know their Barbies! They know the year, model and whether she had solid or hair eyelashes! They came to my table - looked for awhile - then slowly moved on to the other tables. I was getting very depressed.....then, around 11:30 am, when the people had made a complete circuit of the entire room displays - I was suddenly mobbed with customers! My selling point was "these clothes are meant to be played with - not put on a DON'T TOUCH display shelf". "All my fashions are made with machine washable yarns - just hold them under the kitchen faucet, use a tiny dollop of liquid soap, squish a few times, rinse out all the bubbles, lay flat to dry and the item will be as good as new."

I was so busy undressing dolls, making change, and totaling up sales of multiple items, that I was surprised when I looked up and saw my son standing behind the table with two naked Barbie dolls in his left hand, while he put their clothes in a plastic bag and made change with the other hand! He was smiling!

My Barbie clothes were priced from $8.00 for a party dress, hat and purse, $10.00 for a ski outfit or skating outfit WITH skates, up to $40.00 for a double-full-skirted bridal gown with flowing fingertip veil, including an artificial flower arrangement in her hand with a white knitted "purse" behind the flowers that held a tiny musical button that played "Here Comes the Bride".

At 4:00 pm, closing time, we packed our "leftovers" in the van, went out to dinner and counted our money. In 4-1/2 hours we had sold over $580.00! Mostly in $8.00 and $l0.00 items! Plus, I had put one of my business cards in each plastic baggie - "Hand Knit Barbie Clothes" with my name and e-mail address. I had many, many contacts after that first Barbie show, via e-mails. One woman wanted me to put on a Barbie fashion show in her dining room. I drove 10 miles from my home, set up my Barbie models on her dining room table, sat at one end of the table and answered questions from the 8 women who attended. One older woman was visiting from Las Vegas was excited because all the outfits were "originals" and she planned to display them in a special china cabinet in her living room. Of course, she now had to buy about 12 dolls to wear all the clothes she bought! She liked the "Witchee-Poo" sexy costume with deep cleavage and a slit skirt with the doll's leg peeking through. She also bought one of the bridal gowns with the music button, a skating costume, and many other items.

The nurses and doctors at work asked me to put on a display of Barbie dolls during lunch hour. One of the female doctors purchased about 25 outfits. She said she had a "Good Deeds" basket on her closet shelf and kept items in it for good grades, doing chores without prompting, and for a quickie birthday gift for her daughter's friends. She liked the idea that she could mail these clothes without fear of breaking. Periodically she would call me and order 5-6 more items to keep her basket filled. I put price tags on every item and she would send me a check via interoffice mail.

I have thought about craft shows, such as Swap Meets held in a large parking lot, but gave up on this. The weather is "iffy" and it gets windy and dusty, and the Barbie outfits must be on display for everyone to see, not hidden in boxes to keep the dirt and dust away. So, any outdoor event was taboo for Barbie clothes.
 

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Check to see how many items really sell, and what sells on Etsy by looking under sold. Not a lot. I think the best idea above is to go to a lot of craft fairs and see what is selling, if you can. Otherwise, I, would, again, go with UNIQUE but USABLE for people to buy instead of walk on by.
 
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