My first craft fair of the season was this weekend, and it suuuuuuucked. Well, partly sucked. Most of the stuff that I really like about craft fairs was still there–checking out the other vendors, gossiping with customers, my daughter drawing with permanent markers on brown paper bags at my feet.
There was really only one thing that didn’t happen: the buying.
There was looking, mind you, from the fewer than normal customers who attended the craft fair. There was admiring. There even was buying, of some of my items in the $1-$5 range. Overall, though, it was slow, slow, slow.
It was a pretty conventional craft fair, with a few fair trade craft or indie craft vendors like myself. And it left me wondering–is this whole craft fair season going to suck?
Traditionally, the crafts industry has been thought to be pretty stable (if not totally hot) during times of economic downturn. The theory goes that the more people struggle economically, the more interested they become in handmade.
And businesses seem to trust in this logic. The publishing industry, in particular, has been noticeably turning to the publishing of crafts and other how-to books, and some crafters like The Crafty Chica and Amy Butler have been establishing themselves in numerous markets.
The thing, is, though, that while this likely reflects an increase in the average person’s interest in making, say, a Mother’s Day present, or a few picture frames, it may not at all reflect any interest she might have in buying any of the stuff that I’VE made. Especially if I charge what I believe they’re worth.
I’m afraid that indie craft fairs, in particular, being a niche market in the already-niche craft fair industry, will suffer even more than more conventional craft fairs.
Or not? Most of my sparse sales at Sunday’s Luna Fest came from members of the all-girl roller derby teams that were handing out flyers for their season–they appreciated themselves some comic book pinback buttons and kitchy record bowls enough to shell out their hard-earned cash, and to do it with appreciation for my work and excitement about their new cool stuff.
Could I make a living wage setting up a merch table at roller derby games?