Presentation is Everything

After several posts that focus on marketing and building your websites, I thought it was time to return to a post about selling crafts.

We recently went to an area craft fair and spoke to a number of the artisans who were showing their creations. One artisan that we spent a great deal of time with was the catalyst for this post. The gentleman made the most beautiful hand-turned wood bowls, pots, and plates. He used a wonderful variety of woods and unlike some other turned bowls we saw recently, his were smooth and varnished on both the inside and the outside.

He did a good job of talking up his product explaining how much work was involved and his pride clearly showed. Upon closer inspection we quickly realized his work exceeded his pitch and was terribly under-priced. The most ill-priced item on the table was a lidded jar – he wanted only $25 for it. When we made it clear that we weren’t buyers but work with crafters to improve their businesses and waiting until there were no customers nearby, we had a heart-to-heart with him.

After sharing with him our thoughts about his pricing we talked to him about his much larger problem. He had his beautiful pieces on a white tablecloth – a plastic white tablecloth! Yuck! It made his booth look cheap and tacky. He said it was clean and cheap. That it was – it screamed cheap. We stood at his booth and pointed to some of the booths around his. We showed him that many were using fabric yardage – not expensive tablecloths like he had assumed.

So he had his brown bowls on a stark white plastic tablecloth. There was no color anywhere in his booth. Nothing to say “Hey, come over here and look at my art!” When we suggested laying fall leaves and perhaps some flowers on the table he suddenly realized that a better table display did not have to mean a huge investment.

He had two small rocker baby cribs. They were wonderfully constructed and looked absolutely hard, cold and terribly uncomfortable. He had been smart enough to enlist the assistance of a friend to make a layette for the cribs and those layettes looked professionally made. The problem was they laid flat and looked decidedly uncomfy. He said that he had never been able to sell one despite his fire sale price of $65. When we told him that they looked hard and uninviting he quickly realized his mistake. He clearly needed something more fluffy and inviting. Who wants to lay on a flat, hard board only covered with a thin quilt, even if it has it’s own flat little matching pillow?

Long story to get to the point – yes, I do like my examples…when selling crafts in person, or any item for that matter, make sure that your display isn’t making your product look undesirable or less valuable.

Yes, it’s hard to invest in table dressings when you’re first starting out, but there are lots of places to get fabric to cover your tables. If nothing else; use a blanket or sheet, go to your local thrift and look for fabric remnants or linens, layer several pieces to create a bit of interest and to ensure full coverage of the table; but please leave the cheesy plastic cloths for your next picnic.

If you are selling something hard, make it look soft with your table decorations (you have used flowers, what-nots and other things to accessorize your table haven’t you?) or use inviting add-ons (you sell these too) to make your products more inviting. If instead of having those thin quilted blankets in his cribs my wood crafter had a fluffy knit or crochet blanket it would not have looked so hard and uninviting. A big blue or pink bow might have been just the thing to convince someone that his crib was the perfect gift.

Selling crafts or any item in person is a challenge and the competition is keen. Don’t waste all your time, energy and talents making something special and then detract from its wonderfulness with a weak presentation.

A few suggestions for further reading...

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