Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Often times people have such great success making hypertufa that they consider selling their items. Go for it! You can sell from your own yard by having an actual "Yard Sale" or you can think bigger and look into the craft fair market.
Choosing the appropriate venue is key when selling any item. When selling "light-weight cement products", remember that most people will not want to be lugging them around all day because, yes they are lighter weight but not actually light weight! With that in mind, you may want to decide on your delivery policy. My first year I sold at a craft fair, I know we would not have been as successful if we would not have delivered the items.
If you live in a tourist driven community, you need to be aware that most tourists do not want to have to box up a large heavy item to haul home with them on an airplane. You will want to look for a venue like a yard and garden expo that will attract locals interested in sprucing up their yards.
Some communities allow roadside vendors, while others will fine you heavily for trying such an atrocity! Check out your local bylaws before jumping in. In most cases you will need to have a business license which can be obtained for around $25 in the state of Hawaii. Prices in other states may vary. You may also have to purchase a vendors license for the day.
Once you choose a venue, you will need a checklist so that you don't leave something vital to your sales at home. Here is the checklist I used when setting up at the Kona Coffee Festival:
2 chairs (although I hardly remember getting to sit down!)
1 6'folding table with custom fit table cloth (I made my table cloth out of dark green sheets. I made it fit over the table with a slit in the back so that I could store things under the table but have easy access.
Risers I use risers to elevate my items to various eye levels. For the risers I used the boxes that I hauled the items in.
Fabric overlays These will be placed over the risers to make an attractive display area.
Plants I use plants to dress up my display table and to show how hypertufa items can be used as planters or plant stands. I use poinsettias around xmas time and other plants as seasonally appropriate.
Supplies to do a demo: This will include molds, tools, a stepping stone to unmold and carve, gloves, plastic stencils, water jug, tufa ingredients
Bags at my sale I had items besides the tufa to sell so I took recycled bags to put items in.
Tissue paper or newspaper You may need to cushion an item in a box that a customer is taking home.
Guest Book Some people will leave their email addresses with you for you to contact regarding your next sale or a class you may be giving in the future.
Photo album or portfolio This will give people ideas of what you have made in the past and they may place orders with you.
Rubbish bags A no-brainer...leave the area cleaner than you found it!
Cooler with drinks and food You may not have time to even walk over to a food booth to get a bite to eat if you are real busy!
Money belt or fanny pack I want to trust everyone but the fact is that you can not. So keep your money and change on you.
T-pins and safety pins You just don't know what you may need if it gets windy or some other unforseen catastrophe.
Pens and a Pen holder
Wisk broom and dustpan
Business cards Lots of them!
Hypertufa "How To" sheets The craft fair I did was more of a community service event. I was there to demonstrate a craft to the community. I made sales because as one man told me "I have more money than I do time", so he wanted to purchase items that I had on display. I was willing to take his money off his hands since we both benefitted.
Your venue will also dictate other things you may need. A tent may be required. Do they provide tables? If so what size are they? What are the rules and guidelines of the particular craft fair you are doing? One that I participated in required you to be set up by 9am and to not begin breaking down until 3pm. Make sure you follow the rules.
How much should you take to sell?
This question can never be answered to ones satisfaction, but I try by saying take more than you expect to sell and hope for the best. People don't stop by a booth that has little to show. So take a variety. For myself and the kind of items I make, I would take one large Japanese Lantern, two Tufa Torches, 3 pillars of different heights, 20 stepping stones of different diameter, 3 square planters, 3 Ikebana vases, 2 beach ball pots (to be shown in a future post), and other items of various price ranges. For instance I sell embroidered dishtowels right along side of the tufa at the coffee festival if it has a coffee theme.
This is always a difficult subject. How much should I charge for something I made? Well, luckily, the ingredients that go into making hypertufa are very inexpensive. I have found that people in my area willing pay $7-$10 for a stepping stone, $75 for a beach ball pot, and $150 for a large Japanese lantern. Prices will vary by location. If you live in an area where it is common to make crafty things, you may have to ask less than someone who lives in an area where people don't customarily make their own things.
I have found that many people are interested in this product but for some reason they are afraid to try it. Because of that, they will still pay you to make it for them.
Best of luck to you. Please drop me a line and let me know if you have learned other tips to success along your journey.