Make What They Want…

Last post I talked about temptation leaders – those small-priced items made to draw smaller budgets and children (along with their parents) into your craft show booth. One key to temptation leaders is to know when to redefine their role in your inventory.

The Foolish Crafter

I remember a stained glass artist I saw in a very large show in Texas. Her work was lovely and her prices matched the quality of items – which put it out of reach of many. She had these great spiders she made from her left-over bits and pieces of glass. At $7 they were still a tad high, but they had a practical use (won’t give away her secrets here) and were quite clever. They were far and away her most sold item that day and were obviously bringing people into her booth. Many were walking around her large booth looking at her high-dollar items carrying their spiders.

I happened to overhear her talking to the artisan at the next booth. She was bitterly complaining about those damn spiders and these damn people (meaning customers like me; at the time I had approached her to pay for my damn spider). She complained that people were not buying her art and only buying her junk. Well, gee, not everyone has $1,000 for a stained glass panel no matter how lovely it is. And in the high-heat of south Texas in the summer-time, not everyone is in the mood to buy and drag around a fairgrounds a heavy piece of glasswork (her booth was some distance from the parking areas).

She was even talking about discontinuing her spiders because they sold better than her “real” pieces. Her attitude was a real turn-off and her ego was more important than her purse.

The Smart Business Person

Another stained glass artist I met used her leftover bits of glass to make hair barrettes. We were attending a professional class and during breaks she was wrapping the tiny pieces for an upcoming show. She laughed how she really didn’t like making them, but enjoyed how much money they made for her and allowed her to spend more on her main pieces. She said they were by far her best sellers and made for easy profits as they were relatively quick and easy to make and she was getting ready to increase the price yet again.

Temptation Leader to Prime Product Line

What is an artiste to do when her temptation items suddenly become her top sellers, often earning enough to ensure recovery of booth costs? The foolish artiste, like the spider maker, ignores the profitability of her top seller while maintaining her ego. The smart business person is the artist who recognizes that an item originally designed as a booth filler and cheapie; may be the next pet rock and capitalizes on it.

I’m in no way suggesting that the spider seller should discontinue making her fine panels; but, perhaps instead of only producing $1,000 and up pieces, she needs to recognize that not every craft show attendee has that kind of money to spend. If she was selling her art panels in a fine gallery – the spiders would have been rediculous. But, whether we like it or not, all craft fairs have a bit of flea market/swap meet atmosphere and people may not want to spend the big bucks on only one item.

Likewise, the glass artist who realized the value of her barrettes to her business and who really didn’t enjoy making the things either; recognized she had a wonderful money-maker on her hands and was capitalizing on it.

Even Michaelangelo painted portraits to help finance his artistry – don’t let an opportunity to increase your revenue pass you by out of some misguided sense of ego-driven artistic nobility.

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