Craft Fairs – Selling Jewelry, Painted Wine Glasses and Dog Treats!

Craft Fair

Even When There Aren’t Too Many Buyers, You Can Still Have a Successful Day:

This past weekend my daughter (Willow) and I set up a booth at a local craft fair. The venue was a local wine and beer brewing establishment… very fun.

Unfortunately though, not enough advertising was done in advance. So the turn out of potential customers was much slimmer than expected.

On the upside, I’m pretty sure Willow and I did better than most if not all of the other vendors. And that’s primarily because we planned to bring a lead product that made sense for the show… handpainted wine glasses in custom cedar gift boxes. Perfect for Christmas giving and good cheer.

The other day, I wrote about this concept of thinking creatively (and strategically) when it comes to marketing at craft fairs or specialty gift shows. You can read the article here: Selling Jewelry to Niche Markets

Another “craft fair article” that you might want to check out is here: Selling Handmade Beaded Jewelry. In it I provide a list of things to bring and how to prepare when you are getting ready for your next show.

One of the most enjoyable things for me this past weekend at the show, was getting to hang out with Willow at our booth. She sold her Woofies (gourmet dog treats) and learned a lot about how to set up a nice display. She also got some good practice talking with customers.

Willow is a very quiet girl and I was quite proud of her for stepping out of her comfort zone. She had to make change when customers paid her, and record her product sales tallies. She also learned how other people set up their booths, how they handled their customers and observed how they priced their things. All stuff you really don’t get to learn in Elementary School.

For me, I found that most of the visitors to the craft fair had not heard of polymer clay before. When I showed them the clay, some canes and talked about how the beads were made, they were fascinated! I think the next time I do a show, I will do some demos to help educate everyone about the creative process involved with polymer clay jewelry making.

Although the show was much slower than I had hoped, all in all it was a good day. I have some inventory all ready for another event; We ended up with making a little bit of extra Christmas spending money; And Willow learned a whole bunch of valuable craft show skills. Pretty good stuff, don’t you think?

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Marsha, 25 November, 2008

    What a wonderful example of planning ahead, being present in the moment, and finding the positives in life! Our U.S. Thanksgiving Day is day after tomorrow. Finding this site, really learning about and creating with polymer, and getting to know you, Cindy, are all definately on my thankful list!

  2. Iris Mishly, 26 November, 2008

    I enjoyed so much reading about your mom-daughter adventures! I think you are right about matching your products to audience and niche, sometimes it’s worth the effort of making new items and trying something new. thank you for sharing this with us!

  3. shannon, 26 November, 2008

    I just loved this post!
    Thank you for the advise about preparing ahead of time and tailoring your product to fit the market.

    And for giving me something to look forward to with my own children.
    I can completely relate to Willow being naturally quiet and soft-spoken, shows are very difficult for me for this very reason. I admired her courage and maturity!

  4. Cindy Lietz, 26 November, 2008

    Thank you Marsha, Iris and Shannon! It was a special day and your sweet comments make it even more special!

  5. Chris, 26 November, 2008

    Very fun post, Cindy! My daughter has been helping me at shows for several years and we always enjoy the mother-daughter time, regardless of how the show goes. Now that she’s grown up and moved out I really miss that.

  6. Cindy Erickson, 27 November, 2008

    Dear Cindy and Willow,

    What a special day the two of you must have shared together! I simply relish any and every time spent with my two daughters (and my son too!). This seems like such a rewarding experience for both of you! I am so glad that you took pictures and are sharing them with us.

    I’d really love to see some of your wine glasses up close, Cindy. I am adding my blog link for the first time, and you will be able to see a few things that I do, including some of my painted and baked stemware. This is my very first time going public, and my blog is just a “newborn” and needs lots of tuning up still, but I am happy to share it.

    Thanks for sharing your family experiences with us. You must be so very proud of Willow!!!

    Hugs to you both…Cindy E.

  7. Cindy Lietz, 27 November, 2008

    @Chris: I bet you do miss doing shows with your daughter! I have many years ahead with doing this sort of thing with Willow and I look forward to it. I will miss it too when she grows up!

    @Cindy E.: Thank you so much! I went to your blog and it was so fun to see your work and to finally put a face to the name! I wish you great success with your site! And yes I am very proud of Willow!

  8. Lupe Meter, 28 November, 2008

    Thanks for sharing your ideas with us. I had not thought about creating something specifically to go along with the theme of the craft fair, good idea. I also thought along the same lines of doing a demo at a booth, but wondered if other artists did the same for polymer clay. I mean I see a lot of beaders working on their projects at their booths, so why not work on some canes while you’re selling at a booth. Wonderful experience for your daughter and you must have felt pretty blessed to share it with her.

  9. Cindy Lietz, 29 November, 2008

    You’re welcome Lupe. I do feel blessed to have shared the day with her!

  10. Kam, 12 December, 2008

    I am a little late in posting…just read this now!! What a great learning experience for your daughter!!! That is what I want to do with my daughters when they are a little bigger ( 5 and 6 right now)…but great life lessons for her to get now!! Imagine what a great business woman she will one day be!!! YAY Willow!!

  11. Cindy Lietz, 13 December, 2008

    Thanks Kam! It was a great learning experience for her. I do believe she will be a great business woman one day. I am very proud of her!

  12. Colleen Mistretta, 02 March, 2009

    HI, I just read your review of PermEnamel paints. I too, paint on wine glasses…so far, so good. But yesterday, I found a couple of my glasses with peeling paint/glaze…I’m so upset. You mentioned baking them…Do you think that would really help? Also, do you think one or two coats of glaze are necessary? Thanks so much for your help…I would be horrified for someone to buy a glass only to have the paint job go bad…

  13. Cindy Lietz, 05 March, 2009

    Hi Colleen! The paint usually peels when the glass has a fingerprint on it, or if the paint has been watered down with a wet brush. Make sure to wipe the glass down with rubbing alcohol first before painting. I also liked to bake my glasses for a half an hour at 325F. Let cool inn oven so they don’t break. I never used glaze. Found it was a pain, put streaks on the glasses and didn’t help much.

    Although paints say they are dishwasher safe, I always hand wash because some dishwashers are too hot and the cleaner is to hard on them.

    Hope that helps!

  14. Jackie B, 08 December, 2010

    Have been a member for a while. Amassed some clay and decided to do a craft show. It went ok, making some custom sun catchers and jewlery. Looking for some direction if I decide to do another show (work full time too) what are the top 5 sellers at a craft show for clay? I have never covered pens, but seems like that is a favorite. I cannot quite grasp why pens are so popular. Not sure how much to charge? Live in a small town in upper Michigan. any direction, suggestions, would be helpful…. thanks again… Jackie.

  15. Cindy Lietz, 13 December, 2010

    @Jackie B: That is actually a pretty complex question Jackie. The top selling items and the prices they will go for, really depends on where you are selling, who you are selling to, the quality of your work, the way it is marketed and a great big bunch of other things. The best suggestion I can make is to do lots of research and lots of testing. This blog has several articles which will help. The link link by my name will take you one pricing article that may be helpful for you, and also use relevant keywords (selling, pricing, craft fairs, etc) in the search box to find many more resources. Hope this helps.

  16. Peggy Sheehan, 30 June, 2024

    Hi, I just read this and I too was selling hand painted wine glasses along with etched wine glasses at a local winery. I didn’t make enough to pay for the space? It wasn’t as well attended as it should have been due to lack of advertising and I thought I had a pretty decent product to sell. I love the idea of packing them in cedar boxes. Can you tell me a little more about that?? I did have several people comment on my display and how pretty it was but that was about it. At day fairs, I typically sell dog & cat toys along with hand puppets for the kids. I am hoping to do a “tails & wine” display at my next craft fair. If you can share any tips or give me any advice on how to draw customers in, I’d greatly appreciate it. Sounds like you had a fun time with your daughter & you can’t put a price on that!

    Thank you

  17. Cindy Lietz, 01 July, 2024

    Hi Peggy, thank you for your comment! It has been many years since I have sold handpainted wineglasses, so I don’t have the most current advice to share on selling them. I do have some past experience on merchandizing though, so I will try and help.

    Whenever you are making things to sell, you need to think about the product vs the customer. They need to be a good fit. You either need to cater your product to the customer that is in the location you want to sell in, ie. the wine shop. Or if you already have a product, you need to find the customer that would like what you sell. ie. Instagram etc.

    If your wineglasses are not selling to the customers at the wine shop, try asking yourself a bunch of different questions, like… Is there any foot traffic at the location? Does the customer coming in even want to buy wineglasses? If so, what price range? What quality? What style? Individually or in sets? For a gift or for themselves? Do they have time to browse or are they just popping in quick? All those things. The wine store could be packed full of people and they still might not buy what you’re selling if it isn’t something they want or need. So putting a lot of thought into the customer’s needs is very important.

    I believe you need to figure that out before adding any extra costs like putting your glasses into cedar boxes. We did that because we already had the boxes from a wine painting classes that I taught in those days. Doug had access to low cost cedar and made them in his woodshop. I needed a safe way to transport the wineglasses in sets of four, for each of my students, since I bought the glasses in bulk. And since we were selling the kits for the classes, the boxes were a great upgrade. It’s possible that boxes would work well for you too, but I think it would be better to wait until you are able to figure out a design that sells first.

    Also think about your customer’s price point and eye for quality… it could be that the base glass you’re painting on is not the quality that they are looking for… too nice for a barbeque and not nice enough for an elegant dinner party… and the designs matter too. It’s Wine O’Clock is cute for a BBQ but not so much for a fancy dinner party. I don’t know what your glasses look like and who the customer is, so I don’t know what to suggest to you.

    Lastly, I don’t know if mixing Tails and Wine will work. They are very different product lines. There might be a fit that works, like glasses with dogs painted on them, but I think it could be more confusing to the customer. People should know what the booth is all about from way down the aisle, so they know whether it is worth their time to slow down and take a look.

    Hopefully that helps! Good luck! :)

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