Tag Archive | fair

COGS and COSTS

img_4652-1I was recently presented with the opportunity to sell some of my amigurumi’ s and children’s clothes and blankets at a farmer’s market. Most of the venders at the market were selling produce but there were a few craft vendors so I decided to join them. I would like to tell you about my selling experience and what I learned from selling my wares.

First off, I do not want to start a crafting or sewing business. Crocheting and sewing is my hobby. It’s what I do with my down time to relax. But, with that said, supplies are expensive. Yarn and fabric cost money. So, I decided that I could sell some of my amigurumi’s and children’s clothes to help pay for the supplies to make more.

img_4645I have thought several times before about selling some of the items that I have made, but every time I looked into the cost of doing so, I stopped there. I could set up an online Etsy store, but with the many amigurumi’s already being sold on Etsy, would I ever sell anything? Plus if I did sell something could I charge enough to make enough money to cover the cost of the store and shipping costs along with the cost of supplies to make the items? I could sell my items on eBay, but once again, after paying eBay and PayPal fees plus the cost of supplies would I make any money doing that?

Over the years, I have thought about selling some items at craft fairs, but once again, the cost of the booths stops me. When I asked how much a booth would cost at most craft shows, I was quoted between $75.00 and $125.00. That was too much for me. I did not believe that I would sell enough items to even cover the cost of the booth at those prices, let alone the cost of supplies.

img_5484You will notice that I never include the cost of my labor to make the items in my questions above. I learned long ago if you make around 50 cents an hour for your labor to make your crafts, you are doing quite well. Because of that I didn’t bother trying to include the labor portion of my cost of goods sold into the equations above.

When I talked to the manager of the farmer’s market, she said the cost would be $10.00 for the spot for the season plus 12% of my profits. That did not seem like too much to me, plus rather than laying out money up front, the cost was based on what I sold.

img_4647If I sold only a little, then they only got a little of what I sold. This sounded great, but, of course, there was a catch. I had to have my own tables and a canopy. I did not already have these things, so I would have to purchase them to be able sell at the farmer’s market. Luckily, I found both folding tables and a canopy on sale, but the cost was still about $100.00.

This initial startup cost almost stopped me from selling at the farmer’s market but after some thought, I decided that these were useful purchases, and could be used for other purposes other than for selling at the farmer’s market. Folding tables are always useful and nice to have on hand, and the canopy could be used in the back yard for holidays and family events. Plus, if I sold multiple weeks at the market, that $100.00 cost could be spread out over several weeks of selling.

img_4648Of course purchasing the tables and canopy was only the first step in getting ready to sell at the farmer’s market. Next, I had to figure out my COGS or the Cost Of the Goods I was selling, and then based on that number determine what I wanted to sell each item for. I decided to price my amigurumi’s based on size, complexity, and cost to replace the supplies to make the same amigurumi again. The clothes and blankets were harder to price but eventually, they were priced based on style, embroidery, and size.

Since this is my hobby, I did not calculate the cost of my time to make the amigurumi or the clothes. If I had added the cost of my time into the price, I would have priced myself out of the market and no one could have afforded what I was selling. So, luckily, I was not expecting a wage from my wares.

img_4649Selling at the farmer’s market was not easy or fun for me. I knew that I could not just sit on a chair by my tables of goods and people would walk by and throw money at me. I knew I had to sell my items which meant selling me, the creator.

Why would some one pay good money for what I had made?

I had to show and tell them why they would. I had to tell stories about my item’s creation. I had to express my love and concern that each of my amigurumi have a good home. I had to make small talk and entertain my potential customers and hope that my efforts were not in vain, and that someone would be interested and buy my goods.

img_4650This was very difficult for me. I had purposely over priced my items a little so that I could bargain a little with people, because everyone loves a deal! So, when it came time for people to get out some money to pay me or they seemed to not really be interested in what I was selling, I would offer them a lower price. This ended up not being a good selling practice, and it did cost me some money.

I really struggled with this, especially before I had made the first sell of the day, or when too many people had walked by without showing any interest in my goods. I can’t say that my selling techniques improved much over time, but luckily the husband was with me and he helped to keep me in check as well as to help with the selling of my items, especially on the rare occasion that I had multiple customers at the same time.

img_4651I learned very quickly that my amigurumi’s caught people’s attention and they would stop and look and sometimes buy, but that they had no interest in my handmade children’s clothing and baby blankets. In all the weeks that I sold at the farmer’s market, I only sold one blanket and one child’s shirt (which was sold at a deep discount).

I sold at the farmer’s market for a couple of weeks, and each week I sold a few items, but I decided that it was not for me. First, people did not come to the farmer’s market to buy a teddy bear or a little girl’s dress. They were there to spend their money on fresh tomatoes and peaches. What I was selling was an after thought for them. Next, I had to spend my precious days off selling my items at the market.

It was a full day event since I had to be there early enough to set up the canopy, tables and my goods before the market opened and I had to be there until the market closed. Then I had to carefully pack back up my goods and take down my tables and the canopy and haul it all back to the car. It ended up taking the whole day. The day off that I needed to take care of other things was spent trying to sell a few items. I was a little discouraged by this experience and did not think that I ever wanted to sell my items again.

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But wouldn’t you know it, opportunity knocked again…

I was asked to be the monthly featured artist at an art walk for one of the downtown stores in old town. It was just one evening for a couple of hours so I decided to do it. I arrived at the store an hour before the art walk started, and I set up my tables and displayed my wares on the sidewalk in front of the store. I was not really in the mood to sell to people, but I knew once again that if I wanted anyone to buy my items, I had to hawk my wares.

img_6541This time though, I did not cut any prices quickly and I did not care if I sold anything since there was no cost involved other than my time. At first, no one seemed to be interested in my items and I hadn’t sold a thing. After an hour or so, I commented to the husband that I doubted that I would sell anything this evening.

But shortly after I made my comment things started to change. More people started to arrive at the art walk and more people were interested in my amigurumi’s (Once again though, no one even looked at the children’s clothes and blankets. I did sell one child’s shirt, but this time not at a deep discount.)

img_6539I once again talked to the people who stopped to look and I sold my items, but this time I let them fall in love with my amigurumi’s and pay me my asking price. I did bargain with a few people but I felt better about these sales than I did at the farmer’s market. I believe it was because I had a better and more receptive audience for selling at the art walk. The people who had come to the art walk were interesting in seeing something fun and unique. Plus, I was much more relaxed about selling.

img_6540When the night was done, I had sold more in the couple of hours at the art walk than I had the several weeks at the farmer’s market. I felt better about the experience and I decided that I could sell my wares again but I would be very selective as to where and when.

But, before I can sell anymore amigurumi’s, I have got to get some more made. Between what I sold at the farmer’s market and what I sold at the art walk, my collection of amigurumi’s is now quite small. I would not feel comfortable doing another display of my wares until I get some more amigurumi’s made.

So, with that being said I had better get crocheting! Stay tuned to see what fun things I make next!

Until then, sew and crochet forth and sell on!

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Bye Bye Baby So Long – Part #2

This is a continuation from my previous blog post regarding the first time I have sold any of Amigurumi creations.

P1010766Three sales stood out for me that evening. The first started when a lady took an interest in T-Bone, my skeleton. My heart jumped with anxiety. When the lady asked how much, little beads of sweat, popped out on my forehead. Could I actually sell T-Bone? The voices in my mind erupted. NO! Tell her “Sorry, he is not for sell, just for show.” or I could give her an outrageous price and just scare her off, or just grab T-Bone and run away were some of the things that went through my mind. But, after calming those voices, like Snoopy, I asked the lady for a reasonable cost for my time and materials and she agreed. I was still not certain that I wanted to part with T-Bone at this point though so I began to talk with the lady. I learned that she was a fellow knitter and crocheter and owned a yarn shop where T-Bone would live on display. Phew! What a relief it was to know that T-Bone would be in a good home. She would take care of him and I now had some money to buy enough yarn and stuffing to make myself another skeleton.

P1040460The next memorable sale that night was to a young girl about 7 years old. She looked at all my amigurumi’s carefully and then asked what she could get for a dollar. I explained to her that I really did not have anything that I could sell her for just a dollar, but she continued to study the amigurumi’s and I started to look around for her parents. I did not see them anywhere, but after a few more minutes, she left.

She came back a few minutes later with $7 in ones and some change, and the question was asked again, “What can I get for this?” So, I asked her what she wanted. And as she was studying the display some more, I started asking about her parents, and I came to learn that her parents owned a restaurant down the block. After some thought, she decided that she wanted one of my one-eyed pocket pal monsters. How much? I looked at her $7 and said “How about $2?” I had sold the other pocket pals that evening for $5, but this was unique sell so I lowered the price for her a bit. She quickly grabbed the monster and holding up the remaining $5, she repeated the question, “What can I get for this much money?” After getting her a bag, we started to pick though the table. She decided to purchase a couple of other small amigurumi’s at a discounted price.

P1020517Now with only $1 left, the question was asked again. What could I sell her for just a buck? I then spied the two little bean monsters that I had made a long time ago and were not my best work. “How about a little monster?” I asked. She agreed and was trying to decide which one of the monsters she wanted for her $1 when I picked them both up and tossed them in her bag for her. A huge smile crossed her face as she was peeking into her bag at her purchases. As she started to leave, I called her back and told her that for being one of my best customers of the evening, I had something for her, and I gave her one of the small ghosts I had made for Halloween decorations. As I dropped the ghost into her bag, she grabbed me around the waist and gave me a big hug. My heart melted. At that point she could have had the whole table. It did my heart good to have someone want my amigurumi’s as much as she did.

IMG_1659 - Version 2The last sale that I want to mention from that night was my made by my sister, bless her heart. She and my two nieces came to my show to support me and purchased several of my amigurumi’s. Although I did give her a good price on them, I still felt guilty charging her money. They are family and I should have just given the amigurumi’s to her and my nieces, but they wanted to pay for them to support me at my first show.

DSCN0483At the end of the night I had sold about 1/4 of my amigurumi’s that I had brought to show. I was surprised by which amigurumi’s sold and which ones did not sell. No one wanted Porcine the pig or Paulie the Penguin? As surprised as I was I put my remaining amigurumi into three bags and packed them away in the trunk. The next day, we stopped by some friend’s to visit them. The conversation turned to the show and the sales of my amigurumi’s.

These friends had not seen all the amigurumi’s that I had made recently, so I retrieved the three bags from the car to show them off to them. When my friend fell in love with Porcine and her husband liked Corny, the candy corn guy I made last year for Halloween, my friend asked if she could buy these two amigurumi’s from me. Sure I said, but would you like any of the others? Her response was yes and she proceeded to go through the bags and wanted to purchase all the amigurumi that I wanted to sell. She said she is always looking img_0248-1for gifts for nieces and nephews and neighbor kids. So after this final sale, I came home with just one bag of amigurumi’s left. And I now have just enough fingers to count the number of amigurumi’s that I still own.

I have very mixed emotions about the selling of my amigurumi’s. I am sad that I have parted with them and I won’t be able to look at them daily, but also so happy that they are being enjoyed by others too. Plus, I have still great memories of making them, and now will not feel guilty when I purchase more yarn and stuffing to make more in the future.

So all in all I would call my Art Show Sale a sweet, but somewhat sad success!

Until next time, crochet forth and sell on.

Bye Bye Baby So Long – Part #1

IMG_1665Last month, I was asked to be the featured artist of the month, displaying my amigurumi’s, for a downtown business during their monthly art walk. I did not have to sell my amigurumi’s, just display them as art works, but I could sell them if I wanted to. As I looked around the house at the many amigurumi’s I had made that still needed a home, and seeing that I needed to purchase another bag of stuffing after completing Kevin the Moose and Porcine the Pig, I decided I would sell some of my amigurumi’s if anyone was interested.

I wandered around the house gathering up all the amigurumi’s I had recently completed. The pile included the amigurumi’s that I considered mine, like Roxie and Red the cows, Sara the dinosaur, T-Bone the skeleton, and the DSCN0300 - Version 2husband’s ninja army. I did not really want to sell MY amigurumi’s but they would be nice to have in the display as fill in’s so I stuffed the pile of amigurumi’s into four garbage bags. I had no idea what to price my amigurumi’s for, so I priced them based on the supplies that would be needed to make them again, and how complicated each one was to make, plus a little extra cost for the ones I did not want to really part with. I also decided to have a raffle for a Snowman blanket that was made many years ago, and to give the proceeds from the raffle to a local charity. The last preparation for the show was to make a portfolio of my work so people could see what I do. I decided to include some of my sewing projects, the little dresses that I have been sewing, some baby sleepers and blankets, and some of the kid’s t-shirts I have made in the portfolio. I would not have these sewing items in my art display since I just had a small display space, but if someone was interested in them, I would certainly be willing to sell them.

DSCN0302The day of the show, I arrived early, excited to set up my display. The husband thought it would be best to set my display up on the sidewalk in front of the business rather than inside the business and I agreed. The weather also co-operated and was a gorgeous fall day for an art show. I purchased some 12 packs of soda pop to make a stair stepped display for my amigurumi’s and then I covered the boxes with some fabric to make it presentable. With my amigurumi’s all out on display, I waited for potential customers to walk by and view all of my lovely creations.

DSCN0215After a few passerbys, my first customer arrived. He was out walking his dog. Guess which amigurumi’s caught his eye? Yup, you guessed it, Snoopy and Woodstock. If I sold only one item, why did it have to be a Snoopy? He wanted to purchase the last Snoopy that I had made and the Woodstock who was supposed to go with the other standing Snoopy that I had made and brought for the show. Whether this Snoopy was officially mine or needed to go to a good home, when the idea of parting with him was on the line, he immediately became MINE and I really didn’t want to let him go. When the man asked me how much, I gave him a higher price than he probably needed. Now it wasn’t a preposterous price or anything, but one I thought was higher than I would get for a crocheted Snoopy. But what shocked me even more was when he said very simply “Sold” without even trying to bargain with me! What? My Snoopy! Not my Snoopy! What had I done! I could not part with a Snoopy! The husband took the money from the man and I placed the Snoopy and Woodstock in a bag for him. Tears started to well in my eyes and I could not believe that I had sold a Snoopy that I had made to a stranger. What on earth was I doing? Oddly enough, this man seemed to understand, but then what did I expect from a fellow Snoopy fan? He explained how excited he was with his purchase and that he was going to take them right home and place them on his desk, easing some of my separation anxiety. As he walked away, I could tell the Snoopy and Woodstock were going to a good home.

P1040374Over the years I have given away many of the amigurumi’s I have made, and I have never had any problems parting with them before. I guess this was because I knew who they were going to or I had made a specific item for a specific person. This was different though. I was selling my work for money and had no idea who was taking them or if they would be in a good home or not. But, after I watching the Snoopy and Woodstock leave, the selling of my other amigurumi’s became easier. In fact, I had to use a little salesmanship at some points during that night. “Hello there! You look like you need a penguin?” “Don’t pass by without seeing the dragon!” Some sales were easier though, as “I just MUST have that monster! It’s so CUTE!” came from one customer that stopped by. And away she went with a homemade monster amigurumi. And so it went on into the beautiful fall evening…

I have more to say about the art show, but I will stop here for now. Stay tuned for part 2 of this post!

Until next time, crochet forth and sell on!

The New Pin Cushion

IMG_2157We attended a craft fair last week and I purchased a new pin cushion. Of course, what caught my eye was the Coca-Cola fabric, but it was also large, constructed well, and had a nice price. My problem is I have used the same pin cushion for almost 17 years. My neighbor lady gave it to me when I started to sew. It is one that she crocheted. Over the years, the yarn has become fuzzy as many a pin has been pulled from it and then returned to it, but it is still quite functional. As I removed the pins from the old pin cushion, I became very sentimental. Do I really want to give up my tried and true pin cushion? What did I need a new one for? Why did I even buy the new one when my old one is doing just fine?

I removed all the pins from the old pin cushion and poked them into the new cushion. I then tossed the old pin cushion into the good will box, but then promptly turned around and removed it. I decided I would not part with it yet just in case I disliked the new pin cushion and needed to return to using the old one. So, will someone remind me in a month or so to get rid of the old pin cushion so it does not just live in the back of the closet with all the other sentimental treasures. Thanks.