Holiday Boutique- Brown School- recap

Holiday Boutique- Brown School- recap

Best Sellers:
Soap: Lavender, Pomegranate
Lotion Bars: Autumn Amber
Lip Balm: Chocolate Truffle

Observations: My cousin's son attends this school and she attended this boutique for me because I was in PA and its in NY and I had a ton of other things to do. However, I think that she wanted to/ expected to do better, but the volume of sales personally pleasantly surprised me. The boutique itself is only for a few hours (like 4) on a Friday afternoon. It is set up so that when parents home to pick up their kids, they can come in and shop for a bit, and the kids can do a little shopping too. To put it into perspective, she sold only 1/3 less at this 4-hour show, than I did in 13 days at the Holiday Craft Boutique in Chalfont. It was also the first show that I had out a new product that I am working on: Lip Gloss. They sold quite well: as much lip-gloss as lip balm. It solidified that in the New Year I am going to make a final decision on what flavors I will be making and I will be adding them to my lineup of products for '06.

Holiday Craft Boutique- Chalfont- Recap

Holiday Craft Boutique- Chalfont- Recap

Best Sellers:
Soap: Wisdom
Lotion Bars: Lavender
Lip Balm: Raspberry Crème

Observations: I was using this year's shows (spring and fall) to decide if this venue was still working out for me. Based on sluggish sales I have decided that I'll take a break from this show. There are lots of reasons why my sales may be down, but I think that I have been at the show both spring and fall now for three plus years. People like new products, new crafters, and I think I have just outstayed my welcome. I wasn't at the show when it was open to the public so I can't comment on attendance, but that might also be a factor. I know of another crafter who had bad sales as well, so attendance may have been a factor. What I did sell a bunch of was lip balms. Well, I hope they sold and weren’t stolen because this was the first year my table was set up out of the main room, out of direct sight of the cash register. There is certainly a big possibility that what I expect my final sales tally to be and what it will end up being will be two different things…

Follow Up: This was the case. My expected check was to be almost $40 higher than I received. I need to try and straighten out the mistake, but I have a feeling that stuff just grew legs and walksed away. Right now I am not even sure if it is worth the effort to try and figure out what went wrong. Its so darn busy around here and all.


Weekend 1 Recap

Best Sellers:

Soap: Rejuvenation
Fizzys: Oatmeal, Milk & Honey and Lavender (tie)
Lotion Bars: Autumn Amber
Lip Balms: Chai, Mango & Watermellon (tie)

Weekend 1- Chriskindlemarkt:

Sales were up from last year almost 10%
I met a cool new customer who is helping me to develop a new product for '06.
It was only really, really cold on the first day
Lots of new people signed up for my mailing list
Saw some old friends who I only get to see a few times a year
My idea of using organza bags so people can make their own gift bags is a hit
My neighbor crafters aren't annoying
I even got some schoolwork done
They lowered the price for next year by close to 10%

I have a different space than last year
They mailed me my name tag- it was squished- I already lost it
Empty booths- they are having trouble getting crafters
My neighbor across didn't open till 11:30- we were supposed to be there at 10.

There is an admission fee for this show and it is a catch-22 for the crafters (and the promoters too). If they continue to allow crafters to "set their own schedule" and not enforce the fact that the show opens at 10 and closes at 8 then invariably someone who pays an admission will feel as though they did not receive the full value for their money. They will see vacant spots, and closed booths and wonder why they bothered coming in the first place. This means next year they will either 1) not come at all or 2) come another weekend. Either way that means less people for the vendors who are there when they should be, lowering their sales, and eventually they get discouraged and come in when they feel like it, or stop doing the show this weekend all together. Starting the cycle again until no one comes- attendees or vendors.

Perks: Some little things would boost morale in a huge way and cost little to no money. I especially think that vendors who attend all four weekends and who have done so for years in a row should be given some things. This would encourage other vendors to do the same- and should increase the number of core vendors for the event year after year. 1) Give us a real nametag. Volunteers get this nice shiny, hard, nametag with their name on it (from one of those P-touch machines). We get flimsy, plastic, squished in the mail, name tags. 2) Each year volunteers get a pin with the year they volunteered on it. Vendors who do all four weekends should get them too. We should be encouraged to display them or wear them each year, showing our dedication to the show, year after year. 3) We should be pre-approved. What I mean is that we should be able to forgo the jury process for the next year and know that we have been selected and admitted for the next year. We should still pay the application fee and the space fee, but spare us the hassle of sending in slides again and again, year after year. 4) Priority spaces. People who attend the whole show and want a particular space should be given the priority of having it over people who are there only one or two weekends. And if this isn't feasible, at least let us choose where we want to be if we can't have the same space as the previous year.

Overall for all vendors I think we need a little place to call our own. This year there was an empty booth and they put in benches and closed it off so crafters have a quiet place to sit for a bit. But it needs a little more. I for one would like some hot water for tea or instant coffee. I'm not even asking for free tea bags or coffee, just the water to be able to make it. It burns me every time I want some tea and a food vendor charges me $1 for it, and all I want is the hot water- not the bag! I mean Friday morning it was 27 degrees out. The tent may be heated, but it is by no means hot and comfortable. And when a heater dies, its just plain cold in there!

Week 47 Accomplishments

The week was filled with me slowly getting sicker and sicker and then finally fighting it off, only to give it to C, who most likely will give it back to me in a mutated, more ornery form than it started.
Monday was spent fighting the ills. I tried my best to get things done and succeeded to a small degree. I finished the whole week of algebra homework I had to do, so I didn't have to think about it over the weekend at all.
Tuesday, J came and we worked. She made a ton (ok about 500) bath fizzys and I finished labeling product for the Main Line Arts Center show, as well as started to clean up my workspace some and get some orders shipped out. C came down and helped make 4 batches of basic soap, so those will be ready to go as soon as I have time to make soap again.
Wednesday: T came and wrapped the fizzys. I packed for my weekend craft show and she helped me out by ironing table covers and such.
Thursday was Thanksgiving. I just gotta say: I love the Honey Baked Ham Company- because they do Turkey too! And the fixings! So it was an easy Thursday. C packed the van in the evening and we slept a bunch and watched TV. So mellow!
Friday-Sunday- The first weekend of Chriskindlemarkt


Week 46 Accomplishments

Home from NY, Visited my cousin B for a few minutes. She is selling for me at a boutique at her son's school this Friday so I also had to drop off inventory. Stopped and visited with J and got a good portion of my Christmas shopping done. This is good because usually I am so stressed by Christmas that I am sick to my stomach with the dread of going shopping. The rest I will do on line or at Chriskindlemarkt. Once I got home I ran some errands- like going to the post office, but that was about it.

Tuesday: Made soap, ordered some needed supplies, paid bills, made an appointment for my car to be looked at, went to the bank and updated this blog. I also did a bunch of homework that I hadn't gotten done while I was away.

Wednesday: B came over to help me. She edged soaps while I made soap and got some orders ready. I also got inventory for a store ready to go. My contact was killing me so I had to take it out and fend one eyed all day. I could have put on my glasses byt they annoy me, I am always knocking them off, and they make me a little sea sick, so I am better off with only one contact in.

Thursday: B came over again, she finished edging the soaps and she wrapped all the bath fizzys. This gave me an accurate idea of what I need to make in the next week before all the chaos starts. When C came home we emptied the car of all the stuff from the last show, and when B's husband got out of work, we all went to dinner. I also got soap made- 4 batches of basic soap and a few batches of fragranced as well.

Friday: I started out bringing the truck in for a service that I thought would take 15 minutes and sat there for 2 hours. Glad I brought some homework to do. I still have to bring it back next week. My tailgate sometimes doesn't go down and they think there is something electrical going on with it. All I can say is that my dealerships service department has the same ability to communicate with me as a dead fish does. I am not sure how they keep their 5-star rating, because they are just awful! I got home, made more soap, and just generally tried to catch up on things to do.

Saturday: We had a bunch of general running around to do and I stated feeling ill. Sore throat and stuffy. We managed to have a little fun exploring a few places on the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail. Most of the stuff isn't all that good, but we did find a few that we liked. The rest of the day I worked on homework- am trying to get ahead so it is easier during Chriskindlmarkt. I also have two big papers due in one class so I am trying to make sure I have plenty of time to write them.

Sunday: I stayed in bed most of the day just trying to get better, This sore throat could go both ways- either stop in a day, or lay me flat on my back. I don't have time for the latter so I took the day to lay around, do homework, and watch the last NASCAR race of the season. C will be so happy that he doesn't have to listen to vroom-vroom all Sunday afternoon for a few months. LOL!


HCCC- recep

Best Sellers:
Soap: Lavender
Fizzys: Love Potion

Nothing else stood out sales wise. Everything else was pertty even across the board.

Herkimer County Community College Art & Craft Fair

Well I won another blue ribbon this year for best soap booth. Part of me says its isn't much because there are only 3 or 4 of us in the show, but the other part of me gets excited, I am the outsider, I am the only one that comes from out of state, and I have only been there for two years (won blue both times!). So although a small accomplishment, it is still an accomplishment. Some day when I have my store I'll have my collection of ribbons framed and put up by the register.

The show itself went well. Saturday was very, very busy and I really thought I was going to have a record show, but Sunday tapered off more than last year, so it just ended up being average. Mom comes to the show with me and she loves the opportunity to help and I love having her there. I got a little annoyed at my roommates, as I think they took up much more room than what is allotted to us, and I get very cramped and antsy when that happens. That is one thing that I dislike about many indoor shows, they just don't give enough space to the vendors, and sometimes even the walkways are too narrow for the customers.

I sold a ton of bath fizzys- most to one person. She is going to put them in small bail or canning jars and give them as gifts. I thought that was a terrific idea and may expand on that myself in the next year. I sold out of my extra large bail jars full of fizzys, so I have to go pick up more of them as well.

But the show as a whole went well. Easy load in, easy load out, they bring lunch to your booth for you, and get lots of attendees (even though they charge an admission).

Week 45 Accomplishments

Monday: Errand and Miscellaneous day: blog, bank, bills, post office, mailing list, deliver to Holiday Craft Boutique

Tuesday: do homework, pack for trip, make 3 batches basic soap, print flyers for show, make soap for swap

Wednesday: pack truck for show, meet with B, clean the house a little, drive to J's, go to dinner and do some early Christmas shopping

Thursday: Meet with my grandmother and pick up some old trains of my dads, get a hair cut, pick up dinner for Mom & Rad

Friday: Go shopping with mom, cook dinner, go and set up craft show

Saturday & Sunday: Herkimer Craft Show


Almost 2000

Well according to the hit counter, I have had almost 2000 unique visitors. The blog started in January, and hit 1000 around mid-July, so another 1000 in only 4 months. Pretty cool!

So if you are a regular vsiitor who just doesn't leave comments, let me know who you are. Tell me what you like or dislike. You know so much about me, and I know so little about you, LOL!

Anyway, I have found this little corner of the World Wide Web to be quite cathartic. Sharing my littel rants and raves. I also like being able to look back at things and see how far I've really come this year. A baby business, growing by baby steps.


Week 44 Accomplishments

Monday: Made soap, got an order ready, made up my donation basket to Main Line Art Center, started to get fizzys wrapped.

Tuesday: Fizzys made, bath salts made (and all in the new containers with the new labels), made more soap

Wednesday: Main Line Art Center to put labels on postcards to send out about the fall craft show, delivered my order to Country Coop in Coopersburg, post office, finished labeling bath salts, J came with Little Miss M

Thursday: Ran errands with J: BJ's etc. wrapped more fizzys, generally hung out with the Little Miss

Friday: Packed for the show, laundry, drycleaner, picked up a prescription, switched cable companies and C needed to deal with the install, printed flyers, and wrapped fizzys

Saturday and Sunday: Apple Festival, Peddlers Village, Lahaska

Apple Festival Recap

Apple Festival Recap:

Well I lost my bet, due to the inclement weather a few weeks ago; my bet was it would be snowing this weekend. Instead I got 74 and sunny on Saturday, and overcast, and breezy, bit still pretty warm on Sunday. We got out before the rain came, lucky us.

Best Sellers:
Soap: Black Cherry Oatmeal (by a landslide)
Bath Fizzys: Rejuvenation
Lotion Bars: Lavender
Lip Balm: Strawberry

Apple Festival Day 2

Today was a little less uneventful than yesterday. I met a nice woman who works for a chemical company in NJ, they also import oils. It may end up being a good lead for some supplies. Her companion gave me some hints about having labels printed and commented on how nice the bath salt labels are. Score for the new labels! I also got a wholesale inquiry, need to send out samples now, the store is in NJ. It got really windy; the afternoon's entertainment included watching the booths near me hold their tents down, because no one had stakes, newbies….

Sales were brisker than expected. Usually Sunday is about ½ of Saturday and it was closer to 2/3 this year. It was a pleasant surprise. I had a brief conversation with one of the jury members about how even the stores have been hurting the last 3 years. Since I ended up almost exactly the same as last year, I'm OK with that. It's also good to know that the store managers are also trying to make the show better, because the stores really benefit (much more than the crafters) from these events. And its nice to know it's not just me in my little craft world feeling the brunt of this wartime economy. The stores at Peddler's Village are all pretty much artsy, eclectic boutiques, so I think it's just the nonessential artsy, crafty that is hurting.


Apple Festival Day 1

As usually this show is just plain uneventful. You go, you set up, you sell, and you go home. The foot traffic is primarily because of the busses of tourists that come in. This means that in the morning, you get locals who come before it gets busy, and in the afternoon you get the bus riders who didn't want to carry stuff around all day and buy just before they get on the bus to go home. It is great for me; my stuff is small and light. But I think people with larger items have trouble selling their stuff, because people can't put it on their lap, and have trouble fitting it in the bottom of the bus, or worry about it breaking, etc.

The bad thing is that for the past few years, sales are slowly declining. This year looks like it will turn out to be about the same as last year, but its still not as good as it was 3-4 years ago. I have to remember though, with so many other shows being down in sales, and hearing from some many other vendors that their sales are down, staying even is really just like going up. It's just hard to think that way sometimes.

C and I were discussing yesterday how the typical person reaches his/her earning prime in their late 40's to early 50's. That really gives me at least 10 more years before I reach my prime. Just with a small amount of growth each year, that puts me in a pretty good position in 10 years, and the last 3 years I've been doubling sales, so I think I'll be Ok in 10 years. It's just hard to think that far ahead. Heck my 5-year plan seems so far away…

I would think that many small businesses have the same problem. I want to grow and I want to grow, NOW, but I don't want to take out a huge loan to do it. I could, but then I'd be working for someone else, the bank. And I want to work for me, I want to be able to walk away if I want to or need to, without going bankrupt in the process. So instead, I grow slow, I save up, I plan, and I go stir crazy, watching others pass me by. I hate to say it, and then I watch some of them (not all) crash and burn, and then fall away, picking up the pieces. At least I know I won't be that falling star…


Visit from Little Miss M

J brought the baby over to visit. And I actually held her! I have this thing about babies when they are small and rubber like and tough to hold onto, but M is much stronger than her sister was at this age, so it wasn't too bad, I actually kinda liked it!