Making tools and making changes… and straight talk about the craft business.

IMG_20141102_122513My First Frame Saw

October was a big month for us… not in the sense of big success but in the sense that a lot happened.

We started out with the craft show in Ozark, MO.  There were hundreds of vendors and thousands of attendees, and it was a lot of fun to do.  But from a sales standpoint it was not a success.  We barely made our booth rent back, and the sales we did have were almost entirely off of rubber band guns I made.  I’ve learned that kids stuff can save your weekend at these things, but I’m not trying to be in the toy making business.  And this has been the story for all the craft shows we’ve done over the past few years.  Making our costs back or sometimes actually taking a loss on the event.  The things we do see selling at craft shows are not the type of things we make, and we’re frankly not interested in making the type of crap things that are selling.  So we are re-evaluating the craft show side of our business going forward.

Also, October marked a year for us at Relics Antique Mall.  We ended up there after last year’s Ozark craft show, when we brought back more stock than we could fit in our house.  We were faced with the choice of a booth in a mall or renting a storage unit, and decided the stuff might as well be for sale somewhere.  In the course of a year, we’ve made our monthly rent exactly twice.  And we’ve sold more junk that we’ve come across at garage sales or cleaned out of the house than our actual crafts.  So November will be our last month there.  We’ve marked everything down in the hopes that we won’t be bringing it back, but I’m busy trying to figure out where all this furniture I’ve made over the past year is going to go.  This is the second flea market booth we’ve had, and while I really enjoy shopping at them I’ve come to the conclusion that they are not the place to try to sell new, hand made furniture.  People are there looking for bargains, and I can’t really put bargain prices on my furniture.  I’ve been told by other crafters I underprice my stuff as it is.  My response is always “If that’s the case, why is no one buying it?”.  Anyway, I’ll be glad to be rid of the stress and hassle.

The one event we’ve done over the past couple of years that has been a financial success as well as a ton of fun was the Ren Faire in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  We’re doing it again next spring, plan to have twice as big a shop as last time, and I’ve volunteered to do a woodworking demonstration booth.  I’m really excited about this, as it gives me a chance to make some period tools and polish my hand tool skills, as well as make some really neat projects that I wouldn’t normally try.

So now, since I don’t have production work for craft shows and the flea market to worry about, I can spend more time focused on preparing for the Ren Faire.  I’ve got lots of tools to make, including saws and planes, as well as period-ish furniture and woodenware to sell in our shop there.  So forgive me if you see a lot of that here in the next few months.  It’s my hope that if this goes well, I might be able to do more of it in the future and that Ren Faires and living history events might replace craft shows for me as an outlet for my woodworking and a source of income to keep me in lumber.

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