Sturdy Supports

Disappointing sales at my first craft show last month, inspired me to reflect on what went well and what needed work. A week later, I attended a craft show to gather more impressions and data. Which tables enticed me to slow down, and which tables did I pass by?

I liked the tables where there were multiples of the same item in different variations: a woman who made many upcycled cashmere scarves, rolled in tidy bundles, arrayed in rows with a just couple stretched out for handling; another woman who made whimsical wire paper clips and bookmarks out of pounded copper wire, displayed in a set of IKEA drawer units with different sizes grouped in the open drawers.

My display at the October show had lots of different items: upcycled felt scarves and hats, handmade felt boxes, wire crochet, felt brooches, felt wall pockets and much more. They were arrayed on a square table, without a lot of room in between items. The scarves were draped in layers over a child’s chalkboard; the wall pockets and hats were pinned to the edge of the table, falling to the ground every time someone walked with a swish of their skirt.

While people seemed to enjoy looking at the items, their eyes had a hard time taking it all in. You could see them scanning the table without really focusing in on any one thing. To make my presence more effective, I needed fewer items displayed more clearly, and I needed more variations of my most popular item: the windowpane scarf.

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Armed with an intrepid spirit and a can-do attitude, I enlisted the help of a friend to build a set of bamboo stands for the scarves. Edith is a collector, builder, sculptor, and artist who knows how to see a project through to completion. Over the course of two weeks, Edith faithfully worked through the design and execution of three six foot bamboo racks, wearing her pinky fingers to the bone bending, twisting and binding sanded bamboo poles with 250 yards of copper wire. Lance stepped in after we finished the first two, building a sturdy base for each rack.

bamboo_ladders2.jpgOver the course of two weekends, I cranked out multiple variations and permutations of my beloved scarves, loving every minute of creativity and industrious effort. In addition to the more time consuming windowpane scarves, I made a few narrow merino scarves, deliberately creating something that I could sell for less than twenty dollars, thinking that was probably the maximum someone coming to the Crocodile Cafe for Sunday brunch would be likely to spend on an impulse purchase.

The other item that sold quickly last month was felt soap. The two bars I brought with me sold quickly, so this time I finished fifteen soaps. The stack of colorful soaps made a nice display.

The result was a resounding success. This afternoon, I sold three times the volume compared to my first show, plus lots of people stopped to handle, fondle and try the scarves.
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There is still more work to do, but every time it gets a little easier. Thanks to Edith and Lance who offered me the technical support I needed, and a big thanks to Sophie who helped me set up the displays this morning.

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8 Responses to “Sturdy Supports”


  1. 1 jenclair Monday, November 5, 2007 at 5:37 am

    Congratulations on your successful show! I had not really thought about specific reasons that I slow down and spend time at some booths and move past others, but you hit on something with your analysis that really rings true. Love the bamboo display racks…great idea.

  2. 2 Dawn Monday, November 5, 2007 at 9:37 am

    Those racks look like a wonderful way to display your scarves! I’m always looking for ways to improve my display too… no matter how many shows I do, there’s always something I know I can improve for my next one! πŸ™‚

  3. 3 Carrie Monday, November 5, 2007 at 10:01 am

    Brilliant!! LOVE the layout. Those stacks of soap make me want to buy a stack of soap for christmas presents but then hoard it all because it’s too pretty to give away πŸ™‚

  4. 4 rivercitystl Monday, November 5, 2007 at 10:07 am

    Nice displays! I would indeed stop and take a look! Best of luck this holiday season.

  5. 5 Alyssa Monday, November 5, 2007 at 11:04 am

    I am impressed with the work you are doing – you have a great business sense! It is so hard sometimes to step back and critique ourselves. Thanks for sharing your work and successes! It is inspiring… wish I lived nearby so I could stop and try on those lovely scarves πŸ™‚

  6. 6 stashstudios Monday, November 5, 2007 at 11:22 am

    It looks really great! I know how rewarding a good show can be so congratulations. I am getting ready to post a scarf post by week’s end and I will feature your lovely green-blue one that I snagged from your etsy store. Will keep you posted.

  7. 7 Denise Monday, November 5, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    There’s no substitute for experience and observation, that’s for sure.

    Congratulations on a successful show! I love the bamboo displays. It’s a great way to show them off, plus I think vertical elements add a lot to booths.

  8. 8 kristin Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    what an informative post…makes me ponder my reasons why i might pass a booth rather than stop and browse. congratulations on turning a disappointing first show into a success. still loving all your wool creations.


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