Arts and Crafts

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Arts and Crafts

An art and crafts supplier is a specialized outlet supplying materials for professional and amateur artists. Goods sold include oil, acrylic and water-color paints, pastels, brushes, canvas, easels, frames, paper, pens and other writing and drawing instruments.

The outlet may stock books on artistic technique, particular artists and their style or videos aimed at helping the amateur improve. Some sell framed paintings, postcards and posters, or offer a framing service. Other types of artists such as sculptors could be catered for, and specialist equipment, e.g. calligraphy pens, portfolio cases and drawing boards may be stocked.

Many outlets also sell more general arts and crafts items (e.g. silk or glass paints, gift sets).

Artists, craftspeople and photographers are successfully selling their wares everyday on the online auction site, eBay. According to a recent analysis of eBay sales, a crafts-related item is sold every nine seconds, a scrapbook item is sold every minute, and 40 cross-stitch items sell in an hour on eBay. Sales of craft items on eBay have grown almost 60 percent in the past year.

But, at the same time, many would be sellers are listing their pieces for sale on auctions and getting no bids, concluding that eBay just doesn't work.

Here are some tips on how to profitably sell your wares online:

  1. Anyone who can type and has access to the Internet can sell on eBay. But the creative person has an advantage on eBay when she turns that creativity toward researching overlooked opportunities. For example, during the months before Christmas, more than 3,000 Christmas items are sold every 24 hours on eBay. Research methods outlined in Sell Your Crafts on eBay showed that between February 12 and March 12 of this year, 4,107 auctions with 'Christmas ornament' in the title completed successfully at an average price of $17.34. Imagine how much more money a smart crafter can make all year long knowing how to ferret out this kind of information from eBay sales.
  2. A word's spelling impacts an item's profitability. For example, the word 'handmade,' spelled as one word, was part of 2,233 auction titles with an average closing price of $16.29. However, auction titles that included 'hand made' as two words were found in 1,358 listings, but with an average auction closing price higher, at $27.81, or $11.52 more profit per item.
  3. Go to and find the search box. Type in the word or phrase that describes your art or craft item. Then scroll down the links on the left side of the page and click on the link for "completed items." Here, you'll be able to see the demand for this type of product. Do searches for your items every two to three weeks to chart buying patterns.
  4. Find out how much people are willing to pay for your wares. Click on the link that says "highest price." This will give you a list of completed auctions from highest priced items to lowest priced ones. You want to know what people are willing to pay for items like yours. If you can't make and sell your product for a profit, eBay might not be your marketplace.
  5. Determine how much money you'll make on your product. To determine your profitability, use the cost of your materials plus the cost of your labor plus the cost of your selling price, which should be the minimum price to recover your expenses. If it takes you eight hours to make a piece of jewelry and the highest priced similar item sells on eBay for $26, you won't make a profit.
  6. Look at the elements of successful sellers of products that are similar to yours. Examine their winning auction titles. Observe how much detail they use to describe their item. See if the seller used any of eBay's special features such as gallery photos or a bold, featured listing. Evaluate the starting price, starting day of the week, and duration of winning auctions.

Baby boomers are a very creative people. But so often the demands of career and raising a family leaves little time for creativity in your middle age years. But as more baby boomers complete their years of service in their careers and move toward retirement, they have plenty of energy and creativity left for a new passion in life, one that expresses all that creativity of their youth.

This is one reason we have seen such an explosion of craft fairs in the country which provide an outlet for all of that creative talent baby boomers are expressing through their arts and craft. The great thing about crafts shows is you can start wherever you are in your creative arts and continue to grow and become more skilled each passing year. To get started, you should take on this new hobby and small business with the same enthusiasm and passion you did when you were employed in your former career. That is the great thing about baby boomers having this kind of free time in the retirement years. There is so much talent and energy available that to not make it available to the public would be a crime.

It is going to take some preparation to get ready for your first craft fair. The preparation will be on three fronts. One is making contacts with the organizers of upcoming fairs and getting on the schedule to be able to display a booth there. The easiest way to find out how to do that is attend the new craft fair that comes up in the area. They are often associated with special events such as Oktoberfest or a food or music festival. By attending several as you are in your preparation period, you can accomplish several good things…

  • You can look at booths of many different vendors to get ideas for your booth when you are ready to take the plunge.
  • You can talk to vendors who are selling there and learn about how to go about getting on the program for this fair and to learn about upcoming events you can participate in. Don’t worry about you seeming to pose a threat as a future competition for sales. There is a camaraderie among crafters and you will enjoy the social aspect of mixing with other creative people.
  • You can talk to the people who organize the show and get a feel for how you will fit in to their next event.

Another line of preparation is booth creation. It’s good if you are starting early because it will take some time and a bit of expense to get the materials together and for you to build the skills to put the booth up, take it down, move it and store it between shows. Again, your contacts with experienced craft show veterans will be invaluable for this.

Finally, but this is the most important part of your preparations is your talent and craft that you will be preparing to sell at the craft shows. You can purchase some examples of similar crafts you see doing well at the fairs you scout out. These can be templates for what you want to do. But you will impose your own creative vision on the craft so what you offer when you finally get to the craft faire will be uniquely yours and speak of your vision.

Along with these preparations, think about how you will customize your booth to draw customers in. From craft fairs you have attended in the past and the ones you scout, you will witness that there are certain booths that draw crowds and others that just don’t seem to get the customers. So you want to make your booth inviting to customers so you will reap a good return on your effort in the form of sales.

There are a variety of ways to draw customers. From candles, to contests, to videos playing, to using music or live talent to making your craft as people watch, there are many ways you can experiment around with to draw customers. You will get a unique thrill from the sales you make each day. But more importantly, you will be expressing that creative side of you and getting that fulfillment that you had to wait to this phase of life to express. And that’s a wonderful benefit of learning to sell your crafts at craft fairs.

The requirements for your booth will be spelled out in your contract for each show. This includes set up and break down times and policies to which you must adhere. In order to avoid having to have different displays for different shows, it makes sense to create a moveable display that will work well in the majority of situations—both for indoor and outdoor events. Even if the promoter supplies a backdrop, a rug or tables, you can bring your whole set-up and use it instead. Your display is your portable store, and since it reflects you and your product, you want it to be outstanding! A display that creates the best presentation for your crafts can make a huge difference in how well you sell your crafts.

Because you and your booth will be constant traveling companions, make sure it's light yet sturdy, easily collapsible and just as easy to erect. You need to be prepared for wind, rain and bratty children running around knocking into display poles! Your booth may continuously evolve, and it may take years to find the best set up, only to find colors and trends changing, or your products developing and the whole look of your booth needing a facelift. As a creative person, have fun with your booth and allow your skills as a craftsperson to spill over into booth creation and display. If you need help with the construction, ask male friends or family members for assistance—and ask female friends for help with display ideas. (Or vice versa as the case may be.)

A professional display marks you as a professional and enhances your products to promote optimum sales. Basically you want the space to be comfortable for you and customers. You want it to be inviting, making customers feel welcome enough to cross over the threshold that separates the lookers from the buyers. It should be comfortable for you too, as you will be in it for days on end. It also needs to be attractive, yet well organized for a 10 X 10 space (or slightly larger in some cases). Use of colorful signs, banners and accessories attract people and enhance your craft items, hopefully encouraging visitors to pick them up.

Use colors that follow a theme or complement the predominant colors or style of your products. Red, white and blue would be a good theme for country items, while black and silver would be a more contemporary look. Each craft style will dictate the best overall look for your display. You also need to have an area for doing business—taking money, wrapping and writing receipts—as well as a space for storage. If that sounds like a tall order, it is! That's why it may take a while to get it right. Observe other booths and record what you like and don't like. Then take the best of the best and incorporate those ideas into your booth.

The entrance to the booth is critical. It's the make or break point for drawing a potential customer in. Experiment until you find the best mix of color, signage, banners, spacing and product display that works best to get people in "the door." Booth openings should be wide enough to allow several people in, and you should never stand out front or in the entry obstructing the flow. Have your bestsellers, lowest priced or most striking products closest to the entrance so you can optimize the five seconds you have to capture the potential buyer's attention!

Your booth sets a mood that is immediately picked up by shoppers passing by. Make sure it sets the right mood to interest people in stopping to take a look at your amazing crafts. Have the products in as natural setting as possible, that is, if you have home décor items, create a homey environment. If you create baskets, fill them with what people would naturally fill them with—and vary this throughout the year based on seasons and holidays. If you produce jewelry items, have earrings and necklaces on mannequins to see how they would look, and have plenty of mirrors for customers to try things on.

Display objects at eye level or slightly higher, but not on the ground. Have multiple levels of display for greater visual appeal. Hanging products should not obstruct views or be a hazard to a customer walking through your space. Place your crafts so they are easily accessible and so customers will feel comfortable picking them up—and not afraid they will break something or mess up a "perfect" display. Statistics reveal people are four times more likely to make a purchase when they have touched the item.

Booth design, product display and merchandising must all be carefully planned out as part of your overall sales strategy. Once you commit to taking your craft from pastime to profits, you become a professional businessperson and creating a quality booth and stunning display will be worth the effort in increased profits.

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