I ended up bringing about 160 items with me to the fair, because I wasn’t sure how things would go, and since I knew there was the potential for a lot of people to come through, I figured it was better to have too much rather than too little (because I could always sell the excess in my Etsy shop). I didn’t get as much done as I had hoped, because I wanted a little more variety by including a few different sizes of metal frame clutches, 40” x 40” baby quilts, etc. But considering the still-crazy workload at my full time job, plus the pregnancy, plus other family commitments, I just didn’t have enough time or energy.
My friend Heather was a godsend and helped me put together my booth the day before I left. She supplied a couple of the props, and also helped me make signs with her fancy Cameo printer thingy. The case for the box pouches is actually the shoe organizer from my closet. I decided it would be perfect for the pouches (and it was), so I violently ripped it from my closet and dumped all my shoes out (which still remain in a giant pile on my closet floor).
Overall I did pretty well, especially for my first time out. After talking to a lot of other vendors, most of whom do several stops on the Renegade tour, I found out that not only is the Austin show one of the slowest in general, but this year was particularly dead. There were a lot of graduations going on that weekend, plus we had 4 other events at the Palmer Center to compete with. Given all of that, I think I was really lucky to have made my money back plus a little extra. If nothing else, it was a really fun vacation! Ray had never been to Austin before, and he loved it. Especially when we went out to Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood - he was in HEAVEN with the brisket and pecan pie!
In case you’re considering Renegade or another craft fair, here's a quick summary of what worked well for me:
- By far my best sellers were the box pouches, key fobs, and surprisingly the Strap Clutches, which were one of my most expensive items.
- People really liked when the box pouches, flat zip pouches were lined with a laminate/PUL to keep makeup, toiletries, etc. from staining the interior. Huge selling point!
- While the chevrons and bright colors drew people in, they ended up buying the items made with more unique, one of a kind prints like Melody Miller, Joel Dewberry Aviary, Lizzy House Outfoxed, etc.
- The key fobs were a great way to get people into my booth. A lot of people were there looking for small, cute gift items, so I put the key fobs right near the front of my booth where people could see them as they passed by. I could have charged more, and several people encouraged me to, but my marketing ploy was to have a quick, cheap item people could easily hand a $5 bill over for, and it definitely worked. I sold 22 out of 30 key fobs, and made a good profit on them even at $5 since they only cost about $0.80/each to make. And since most people had at least $5 in cash on them, I didn’t have to pay any credit/debit card fees. And once I had them in my booth, a good portion of people ended up buying additional items after they had the Fob in their “cart”.
- There is a shortage of hand-sewn items at events like these, so I was lucky and didn't have much competition unlike the vendors who sold jewelry, soap/beauty products, and art prints. This was VERY encouraging to me, and should be to you too!