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Sales and marketing information and advice. Innovative techniques and thought provoking strategies for your craft business.



You worked your fingers to the bone preparing original designs for the show. Ignoring the aches, pains, and fatigue - you set up, put on your friendliest smile - and greeted the public. Then "she" happened by.

You knew she was out there, somewhere in the crowd. The shopper who sorts through your items and casually states to her friend, within earshot ... "I could make that".

The standard PC (Professional Crafter) reply is usually, "Yes, but will you have the time ?"

Many of the craft shoppers are able to go home and re-create your items. Hobby crafting is widely prevalent and now more than ever hobbyists are creating DIY designer looks for home decor and gifts quite easily. The hobbyist is also capable of finding shortcuts if time is tight. There are TV craft shows, kits, books, magazines, e-zines, free patterns, classes, web sites and more, all dedicated to teaching crafts and supplying new ideas and how-to's. A big part of that is time-saving products, tips, and techniques .

Many of the shoppers are at the shows for ideas, not necessarily to purchase. It's a fun atmosphere, and it's hard to resist the lure of all those fresh and original designs. So, where does this leave the PC, serving up ideas instead of sales ?

To some extent, yes. If you have an item for sale, chances are it will be copied eventually. But, what if we turned that around ? ....

Patterns, kits, demos, general supplies, ...The creation of a more interactive shopping experience. The same idea behind a makeover at the department store. The large stores aren't giving away product, time, and services without the expectation of making a sale and gaining future purchases in return. The same principle can work for craft sales.

Get your customers involved in your demos, have them try the craft themselves. That way you are not only entertaining and teaching, but your customer then has an investment in your demo, and a sense of obligation to make a purchase. Demos are better attempted if you have more than one person working the booth, or you may ignore customers and lose potential sales.

If a customer is obviously interested in re-creating your items, you might as well get a sale out of it, because they already have your idea. Encourage them to purchase the item to learn more, or sell them a kit or a pattern and supplies to make it (or a version of it) themselves. If they purchase your item with the intention of manufacturing it, no problem, by the time they get it on the market you will have moved on to other things. *NOTE: If you stand still don't be surprised if others pass you by. In other words, freshen your lines on a regular basis.

If you have time between customers, working on your craft not only demonstrates your art, but re-inforces the point that your work is handcrafted by the artist - You.


Another option would be to keep a few kits in the back, out of sight. Then when our "I could make that" shopper arrives, show her some kits.

Supplies at the retail craft shops are pricey : Have a basket of economically priced pre-cut, pre-drilled wood shapes that could be purchased then painted for ornaments and wreaths, holiday decor, and inexpensive gifts.

Or doll blanks to be used in creating gift package decorations and ornaments. Pre-made bows, pine-cones ... the list of options is endless.

Sell instruction/pattern sheets and supplies.

Find out where the upcoming shows will be in your area, and have a local show schedule available for sale.

**NOTE: Read your contract, check with the show promoter, shop owner, or craft mall owner before placing pre-packaged items , kits, or items of any kind that might be deemed questionable in your booth.


Turn the "I could make that" shopper into your customer by offering them what they are interested in. Crafts projects are promoted as something that ANYONE can do, and a great many are doing. It's no wonder that sometimes a somewhat antagonistic relationship evolves between the Professional Crafter and the customer who is also a crafter.

The " I could make that" shopper is your customer and fellow craft enthusiast, who probably doesn't realize that her comment is interpreted as rudeness. Make use of her craft expertise and point out the quality of your work, the time, labor, and materials involved. Don't assume that your customers will automatically recognize the effort that goes into your work, or even that you created it yourself. I can recall several incidents of customers turning to look at me in amazement when they realized that I created everything in my booth. "You actually made ALL that yourself ?!"

It may not be easy, especially when you are exhausted and it feels like you have reached your last nerve - But artisans must be salespeople too.


"Carol Gunkel / Professional The Craft Business Information Network all rights reserved.This article may not be reprinted, all or in part, without the author's express permission.


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Good ideas. Those who last in business are the ones who recognize when to turn the tide to their advantage. Thanks for the advice. - amynizzy

I hate to admit it but sometimes I am the one saying "I could make that". Although I usually don't, every once in a while I run home and recreate something! It's fun! - Ally V.