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Didn't sell a single thing :(

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Hi, I showed my work at some weekend markets last weekend and didn't make a single sale. I had heaps of people come up to my stall touching everything, trying things on, finding a good fit and then walking away without buying anything. Most people seemed to avoid making eye contact - I guess this meant they weren't really interested in buying anything.

I had one lady ask about earrings in a different colour which I didn't have so then she walked away. I had a girl who liked a particular bracelet but her boyfriend told her it was too chunky for her and the one next to it would suit her better. She explained that she had really small wrists and when she found the size small and they didn't fit I told her I could easily do a re-size. She walked away after that saying that she had just got there and wanted to see the rest of the stalls. I had a lady try on all the finger rings until she found one that fit and just stood there staring at it for ages, then took it off and walked away. Apparently while I was on a food break a man also looked at all the finger rings and was trying them on when his family walked on without him and he put them down and hurried off to catch up.

Of everyone who came to my stall only one person picked something up, saw the price and quickly put it back down. I don't think the price was a turn off for all the others though as they could see the prices on every item clearly marked before they started playing with everything.

My friend who was with me thinks that everyone thought my prices were fair but didn't buy because even though they were fair they weren't the bargain expected at a suburban weekend market. He thinks if we keep going for a few weeks people might come back looking for our stall because he thinks they won't impulse buy this kind of thing but if they liked it so much they might think about it and come back.

I did give away a couple of business cards so those might have been to people who wouldn't buy on the spot but would consider buying something as a gift or something later... I'm only guessing.

Next week I am going to change the signage to make it very obvious that everything is hand made and to offer free re-sizing. I think I'll also set up another table where I can work on some maille items so people can see how its made and that resizing wouldn't be hard.

I'm very anxious about next week's markets as I could really do with some extra $$$. I'm trying to work out what I did wrong but I can only think of three things that can be changed - location, price, stock. I can't change the location yet because I can't afford the higher stall fees at other locations, I can't afford to put the prices down as they are already rock bottom, and I don't have the materials to make different stock right now. I know in the end maybe this isn't a viable way for me to make money.

I am wondering if its normal to make no sales the first time. If you can think of anything I might have done wrong please tell me. Thank you.

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I used to do weekend stalls at a local flea market. I would have to say yes it is normal to not sell much on the first few times at a "every weekend" market.

The regulars go with money for the specific thing(s) they were going there to buy. The non-regulars are most likely not going to buy anything anyways... they are just out there for something to do. You will find that once people are used to seeing your face they will open their wallets.

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Don't get too discouraged if you don't sell anything at small shows. The first show I was at was a little 'freebie' at my university, and while everyone thought it was nifty, I didn't sell anything. The most recent show I was at was a bellydancing show, and I barely broke even on the table fee. I've seen people do fairly well at the ren faires and craft shows, however, but haven't asked them for numbers (which I figure is the height of impoliteness mid-show).

Moral of the story is that the general markets don't really draw the sorts of people who'll be looking for handcrafted goods, whereas the specifically themed events are better at bringing those people in.

Hang in there, we're all in this together.

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You might also try engaging the customers who really looked at items and seemed to really love something and see what is keeping them from buying it.. maybe its just a little bit too expensive or maybe they don't have enough cash on them, but would be willing to put half down to reserve the piece. Who knows, but maybe if you can engage them in conversation before they get a chance to walk on you can find out what is sticking point for them.

I don't know how you have your pricing set up, and I haven't had the opportunity to try this yet, but a lot of people have said that "volume pricing" a few items really helps increase sales. What I mean by this is something along the lines of a $15 area for earrings that are $15 for one pair, $14 ea for two pair and $12 ea for three pair (or something similar). Some people just can't resist the bargain and if they really only wanted one pair go get two more to get the better deal. It also makes a great upsell at the counter, they bought one you can ask if they noticed the discount on two pair etc. Just another thing to think about.

Good luck at the next one!!:beer:

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On the flip side, if some people see a low price, they think its low quality... Sometimes higher prices actually sell better. Hard to tell if this is whats going on, but something to be aware of.

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On the flip side, if some people see a low price, they think its low quality... Sometimes higher prices actually sell better. Hard to tell if this is whats going on, but something to be aware of.

I've found that to be true as well. I had a non-customer tell thier friend " that bracelet couldnt be REAL silver or it would cost more" *shaking head* good luck and dont get discouraged

Bill

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My first show was a Christmas craft show at a local high school. I sold a few things but not a lot. Most people seemed to be looking for Christmas items and gifts under $25. I then decided I needed to try the more expensive, juried art shows and that is where I have been successful.

Though the entry fees are higher I have more than made up for it in my sales. Folks who go to art shows expect high quality handcrafted goods. And they expect to pay a higher price for it. My first juried art show in 2007 had an entry fee of $110 and my gross sales were about $2,400. At the same show last year my sales were down about 20% (the economy) but still in the $1,900 range. I've been told you can consider a show 'good' when your entry fee is 10% -20 % of your sales and I have been averaging below 10%.

I should mention that 90% of my items are in silver, gold fill and copper and many are embellished with semi-precious stones. The rest are what I consider the 'cheap' items in anodized aluminum and epdm. I keep them in bins and offer them at 2-for or 3-for prices. I thinks it's important to have a wide range of prices. My prices range from $8.00 for the cheap stuff up to $300 for some high end pieces.

Don't get discouraged. Try to think of it as a business and decide who your target customer is and where you will find them. And don't underprice your items!

Good luck!

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I know exactly how you feel. I've been attending a monthly Farmer's Market/Craft/Trade show over the last 4 months. Finally last Friday I made a few sales. Several people would stop by my table and make comments on how much time it must have taken me to make my stuff or on how pretty it all was. Then they would wander on to the next table. It probably didn't help my sales with 5 other people selling different types of jewerly there.

I think you just have to find your target audience. Some times it takes a while and some times it happens by accident. I took my wife to a medical appointment at a near by hospital. I decided to take a few rings along to help pass the time and to finish off a few bracelets. While I was working on the bracelets in the waiting room a nurse stopped me to ask what I was doing. In a few minutes I had 6 other nurses watching me. I ended up selling 7 bracelets and being invited to the hospital's trade fair.

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Don't Give up!

I think we have all been at a show that simply stinks for sales.

Also don't let a bad show make you question the value of your work. If you don't believe in your art, who will? We also have found higher prices sell better. The first year of Christmas Shows I was selling sterling bracelets for $35. We couldn't give them away. Next year I raised the price to $50 and we sold MANY. Now we sell the same bracelet for $75, and again they sell well.

It really depends on your market. I find the high table cost I pay to sell at a show, the more we sell! If you want to have some cheap items, key chains, earrings, rubber bracelets -- things at the $5 mark give people some options.

Good Luck! Try a Christmas show -- They are great sellers.

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You need to talk to every person that stops... don't wait for eye contact. It can be something simple as a "Hi, how's it going?" just to acknowledge that they're there. It doesn't have to be a huge discussion and sales pitch. But have that ready too for when they want to talk. You need to sell your wares to them and explain, in simple layman's terms why something is worth what you're asking for it. Avoid jargon too. They probably have no idea what ID/OD, closures or what 16g 5/16" means on a sign (but they might!).

Also, coming from having trained dozens of cashiers for retail stores... have at least three different greetings and closings for anyone you talk with and cycle through them. There's nothing worse than a robotic "HI HOW R U?" for each person that comes up. It makes it look like you don't care. Also, try to vary your greeting based on the age/appearance of your customers. When I do a show, you can bet I talk differently to a pack of teens than I do to an older customer. Not that either one may have more money than the other, but there's just different social graces that are expected.

Don't be afraid to ask for the sale too. When they try something on and like it, especially if you see that glint in their eyes that says it, then just go to close the sale. Let them know what forms of payment you take and you'd be happy to box it up for them right now. If you sit back and wait for it, you may lose a lot of sales.

Good luck. Keep at it.

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Wow. Thank you everyone for the advice. This has all got my brain going at 100 miles an hour.

Just a little more information to fill in the blanks.

Most of my jewellery at the moment is made from bright aluminium and anodised aluminium. I've also used some glass beads. The only things that have silver in them at the moment is earrings which are enamelled copper and silver. But, I also have a few BA and AA earrings. I also have some copper and some brass bracelets.

The silver earrings got some looks but the only ones that got considered were AA. None of the necklaces got looked at at all. All of the bracelets got looked at - BA, AA, copper and brass. The fingerrings got lots of looks - mostly the ones made from BA but I also had some there made from BA and EPDM rubber that raised a bit of curiousity.

I think I have a little problem with my location. It is very much a working class area and I think this means having less of an appreciation for "hand made" plus needing to be tighter with their money. This is one of the reasons why I have been working with cheaper materials and have tried to keep prices down.

On the weekend I thought about adding a silver necklace as a display item and my friend and I talked about pricing it properly so people could see comparative value. I was also thinking about ditching the necklaces I have at my display but my friend said I should keep them for the same reason - it helps people understand the price of the bracelets etc.

After reading all of this I do think that my best chance to make money is to move to a different location and start adding more silver. It has even occurred to me today how the price of a finger ring is mostly labour so even if I switched BA to silver there wouldn't be a huge price difference but it might make all the difference in desirability.

I must admit also that its been a long time since I worked in retail and I'm very rusty on my sales technique. Plus, whilst I'm confident in my work I was raised to be modest and its really hard for me to have to sell my own work.

At this stage I'm thinking I will go to this market again for a couple more weeks so I can practice my sales technique, try different things with signage etc, etc. Basically, I think I should make my mistakes there and then save up to go to a better location. Also, by the time I move to a better location I hope I'll have some new silver pieces and I'm thinking I'll review my prices.

My only reservation with increasing prices is that I am putting a website together and have already started handing out business cards (at the moment I just have a page holder website). I don't intend to put prices on my website until I have found the right ones. What I'm concerned about is having potential customers maybe follow me from this market to the next one and being shocked about the price increase.

There's so much information in this thread I'm going to save it to my computer and check back on it from time to time to help me ask myself the right questions as I go. Thank you so much everyone.

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I don't know about where you live, but everywhere I've lived in ontario, income has not really decided peoples desire for jewellery...

It could be as simple as ppl think that your work is too cheap to be quality, or maybe it just isn't quite right for them.... Remember, customers are always looking for reasons to not buy, it's your job to 'fix' ther 'problems'... whether that is based on price, or more often based in misconceptions...

Generally the best way to find the solution to your problem stems from talking to your potential customers... in some cases even askign why they don't want to buy... you may be suprized what you learn.

I hope that makes sense...

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To be honest, I wouldn't sell BA/AA for bracelets or necklaces myself, it just seems like such an insubstantial material! Totally awesome for light earrings, tho. Don't forget that you can also use Stainless Steel as a lower-cost but better quality material :) Since you do you use copper/brass be sure to give out good cleaning instructions as they DO tarnish pretty quickly (but are super easy and quick to clean).

I haven't done a show so that's really all I have--other than to wish you great luck next time :)

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I sell TONS of AA bracelets.(starting at 20 bucks) It's inexpensive, it's very colorful, it's fairly durable, and very easy to clean. It does take a bit of explination, but people get it. I don't sell many Stainless Steel bracelets. Nickle is in Stainless steel and many people react to nickle, even when it's alloyed with iron(including me) for the same reason I never sell anything made of Nickle silver. I never sell brass, except as keychains, just tarnishes too fast. Copper is to soft, Bronze is a better choice.

I carry an entire rainbow of colors with me when I do shows. I'm always working on something. I always offer to customize/create peieces for people. I was making AA bracelets on wednesday and selling them before I could get the clasps on.

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i know it is difficult to jump into, but we have found that selling metals other than sterling silver hurt our sales. one big silver sparkle seems to make the entire display look better.

ditto on the higher prices.. but the kicker is that you have to actually believe it is worth the higher price. when i first started i had some silly ideas of providing a superior product and an inferior price. people just won't buy it. now, a superior product at a superior price, that's gold.

kim

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I keep BA and AA at my shows because its cheaper and more accessible to the younger market. They are looking for cool and funky.

Most of my sterling gets sold to people 45 and older. I sell lots to the 65 and older category which always rocks!! I like the idea of a granny in chainmail!!

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Firstly, before I say anything else, I have to say thank you again for all the replies since my last post. It certainly makes things a bit less mysterious to hear from those with more experience than myself.

I went to the same markets again yesterday and again didn't sell anything. Again there was a lot of interest in my work but no interest in buying. There's been a LOT of cases where families are walking through and one member will stop to look and the rest keep walking then the one who stopped at my table runs off to catch up. Interest has varied and I've had young children 8+ stop - girls look at the jewellery, boys look at the key rings, and then also men and women of all ages up to the rather elderley. Yesterday I was working on a bracelet whilst my friend watched the table and spoke to people. I found out my periphery vision isn't as good as I thought when I'm working but my friend reports when couples came to the table the men watched me work whilst the women tried on the jewellery.

I wanted to ask people why they would look for so long, pick something out and then elect not to buy but my friend who was with me said this is confrontational and rude. I didn't want to upset anyone especially as there's a possiblity they would try to find my stall again at a later date.

At the end of the day I talked to some other vendors who confirmed that its a really, really slow time for everyone. Of the people I talked to I was the only one who hadn't sold anything at all this week or last week. The people I talked to weren't selling anything handmade - mostly imported goods sold below the price you could get them in a shop. I decided that this just isn't the right place for me to sell.

I have decided that the risk that comes with the higher stall fees at the more centralised and bigger markets might be worth it. Next weekend I'm going to do the rounds checking out the various locations and then will apply to those on my shortlist.

I think I now need to add more silver items to my stock as there will probably be some people with plenty of money who come through the other locations. My only reservation is that I can't afford to have a small, medium, and large version of every design in silver - not at the moment, its more outlay than I can afford. I'm thinking of making everything in medium so its a fit for most people then offer to resize or do commissioned pieces. Does anyone have any advice on how to go with this?

I'm also thinking about repricing for the new location. I have been using a formula of Price = 2 x Materials + accumulated labour + overheads. Its all a bit arbitrary though. Accumulated labour is where I know I spend time on admin, preparation, selling etc and I need to price that into the labour cost of the piece. I've worked out I spend about half my time making and about half my time doing other business related tasks. I wanted to get $20 an hour but prices were through the roof with accumulated labour at $40 an hour. So, I've decided on a base wage rate of $10 which translates to $20 accumulated labour. I hope over time I can give myself a pay rise. Also, I hope the accumulated labour cost will go down as I've had to spend a lot of extra time on admin to set up the business structure etc. (This is all Aussie dollars btw). As for overheads its hard to determine as I don't have a years worth of data of total overheads or a years worth of data on how many pieces I can sell in a year. Instead I've gone with very arbitrary rates on a sliding scale based on the size of the piece $1 for key rings through to $6 for necklaces. I think my whole pricing procedure is really messy... I'm charging 2 x materials to help me expand my business (so I can make 2 new pieces for every 1 I sell) but on pieces sitting side by side made out of aluminium and silver this might look like unfair pricing - some would say I'm overpricing the silver and gouging the customer. I've read a lot about pricing formulas and everyone seems to have their own that they prefer. I'm wondering now if I should just do material costs plus labour multiplied by a percentage mark up - the percentage markup to cover overheads and materials for additional pieces. I think the prices need to translate to something the customer sees sense in. I think this whole pricing thing will play a big part in my success, or lack of it, in selling.

I've written heaps more than I meant to so thank you if you're still with me. I just also wanted to make a specific reply to a post:

Kapplow - I understand what you're saying about income not deciding desire for jewellery and would have agreed with you a couple of years ago. Since my financial situation has changed though I understand the hardship that many are going through. I live in an area that has traditionally had a high crime rate and low housing costs but even here rent has gone up very significantly. Its very much a working class area and most here have not received a payrise at all recently, or if they have its been nowhere near close to the increase in the cost of living. Petrol and grocery prices have gone up significantly in the last couple of years. I know there are a lot of people in this area who are living by the seat of their pants week to week. For a lot of us there does come a time when we can look at and dream about a desirable item but just can't justify buying it.

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For the sizing issue: I tend to make most items on the long side as it is much easier to shorten a piece in a couple of minutes than to lengthen it. Granted, there are some pieces that would need adjustments beyond what can be done at a show. I have a few signs throughout my booth that read: "Adjustments can be made to most pieces at no cost while you wait."

What is also important is to tell people that as they pick up and try on pieces. (No matter how nice and big your signs are people will not see them ;).) I tell them I tend to make things a little long and I can shorten it in just a few minutes.

This is also a nice way to engage customers and begin a conversation. As stated in other posts, establishing a rapport is important for sales. You will find this especially useful to do when you start showing at higher-end shows.

Don't give up!

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I live in an area that has traditionally had a high crime rate and low housing costs but even here rent has gone up very significantly. Its very much a working class area and most here have not received a payrise at all recently, or if they have its been nowhere near close to the increase in the cost of living. Petrol and grocery prices have gone up significantly in the last couple of years. I know there are a lot of people in this area who are living by the seat of their pants week to week. For a lot of us there does come a time when we can look at and dream about a desirable item but just can't justify buying it.

What you definately need to do, if you can manage it, is to do shows out of this area ... try to target area's that haven't been hit as hard, even if it means shelling out a bit to get your booth space.

The other thing to do is find a "theme" event and sell there ... my chainmaille doesn't sell at craft shows, but I make a killing selling at medieval festivals ... all because of the venue.

Good luck in finding your market! - Dunedon

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The other thing to do is find a "theme" event and sell there ... my chainmaille doesn't sell at craft shows, but I make a killing selling at medieval festivals ... all because of the venue.

Good luck in finding your market! - Dunedon

I agree strongly that being aware of your target market is very effective. Some examples:

Artisan markets: Silver(or other precious), embellished, one of a kind pieces. If you going to sell next to an oil painter with three digit canvases you need to represent the artisan you are. Bulk identical items are the selling point.

Craft Fairs: Some jewelery balanced with other objects like candle holders, chain trimmed picture frames etc.

Weekend flea markets: Lower cost volume items.

Event vending(typically music venues): Colorful items targeting the young crowd. Glow in the dark great at concert events, totally self advertising. Cell phone charms are a good one too.

Motorcycle events: Anything masculine(bulky weaves) sells to both sexes. Lengths of pre woven chain sell awesome as alot of bikers like to trim saddle bags, jackets, and just about anything you can fasten the weave to. As a note I have never had a biker even care about haggling or question the prices. If they like it they buy it, and have had more trouble having stock.

Trade shows: Can be harder to gage. Do some research as to what businesses will be attending, and perhaps you can get the table next to the tattoo artist(I find allot of tattoo customers attracted to maille).

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I've only read your first post so someone may have already said this but it's not unusual to not make many (if any) sales at a show for the first time. It is likely that the more shows you do, the more sales you will make.

I do think it's a good idea to make it very clear that everything is handmade. What works well for me is to have a small space on the table where you can work on making something there in front of the public. This gets people interested and they can see how much work goes into making an item.

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I have sold AA at many shows. People love it for the color and weight and the fact that most are not allergic to it. Bracelets, necklaces, earrings. I am ALWAYS working on pieces, ALWAYS. That is how, besides my signs, people know that everything is handmade. What it seems you are up against is the commercial market. I hate doing shows where they allow commercial products. We, those that hand make our pieces, can't compete with the prices. Look for hand crafted shows in your area.

Don't give up!! The economy is bad right now, but it will get better.

Just my two cents...

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