For the past three years I have been a craft vendor at the Placerville Craft Fair. The first year it was over 105 degrees outside, and I find it extremely interesting how much business the booth across the way had; they were selling strange hats for animals, but it turned out it was the small selection of cool-ties that they had that was actually attracting all the shoppers. And next to me were the ceiling fan pulley people; who knew fan pulleys would be such a high demand item, but I've been next to them every year since. They are the one vendor thus far that I haven't minded being next to; they're not noisy or annoying, like the vendors who had rubberband guns, or the vendor with the wheel of prices that made noise when it spun. Those were both very long days.
This year I was in between the ceiling fan pulley people and a hair accessory vendor. Even as a juried show there were many more jewelry vendors this year, and a few empty spaces. I was really hoping to push the jewelry as I'm trying to reduce my stock in that department, but customers just were not interested since the market was over saturated. However, I was the only knitted hat vendor, and thus had a monopoly on that market.
In previous years as soon as 8 o'clock hit the street was filled with people, alot of which who were walking their dogs, but this year most vendors agreed that the traffic level was down, thus sales were down. In fact a few vendors who said they have been in the business for 10+ years are looking to get out as people have less discretionary income to play with. Yet parents still need to keep their babies' heads warm right, thus why not buy a cute novelty hat. And that's exactly what people did.
Despite the changes in the fair, I still made a pretty good profit, mainly from my knitted baby hats. I heard "oh that strawberry is adorable, and look the bumble bee...isn't that precious" all day long. Plus a few people complimented the quality of the work. Oddly enough, I did not sell any of my strawberry hats, which were the first to go last year, although it was the customers who bought the strawberries who grabbed up my watermelon hats within the first hour. The hat that made the biggest impression was a felted creation that I've had around for about a year now. I had had interested customers before but felting is very involved and only a few appreciate that that sort of hat does not sell for $20. I knew that it would sell in Placerville for a respectable price and it did; it went home with a fellow jewelry vendor.
I also had introduced my new hat rack, as my rope ladder display that I had made was hard to store and had a bit of a fall at my last show. The new display holds more stock and can handle the wind a little bit better. Although, a strong gust still knocked it over, so there will be some revamping done to the weighted base for my show next weekend. Despite the tumble the display was a success as I was utilizing my vertical space and attracted people from a distance. Despite the negatives of being a craft vendor, like waking up at 4am, dealing with the hot and the cold temperatures, and having to constantly load and unload the car (unless you're luckily enough to have a dedicated storage trailer), the life of a craft vendor can be fun and interesting.