This past weekend was The Prodigal Carpenter's first experience participating in a Festival or Artisan Fair. For anyone who has undertaken one of these, we don't have to tell you the amount of hard work that goes into preparation, facilitating, and post event handling. We learned a lot from our "initiation" into the outdoor market world.
1 Nothing replaces personal interaction with potential customers. The feedback was invaluable. It was affirming to have so many folks express admiration for the quality and craftsmanship of our products and admire what we do.
2. Know your Target Market. Handcrafted items of high quality are not produced inexpensively They take time, craftsmanship and quality materials. Consequently they're not what everyone is looking for. That's ok. Stay true to your vision and maintain your focus, taking comments both affirming and critical in stride. Learn and remain open, but keep your creative integrity. In other words, if you listen well, you may find customer comments directing you toward needful changes or "tweaks", but don't assume everyone's critique is a game changer.
3 Demonstrate! We quickly discovered that picking up and handling the products ( we had ample opportunity as the dry Georgia conditions and relentless wind gusts of this particular weekend left a constant layer of red dust to be continually wiped away) draws people in to do the same. We also resolved to be sure to go prepared with cutlery and something to demonstrate the durability and function of our end grain cutting boards. Over and over folks commented "Oh these are works of art.............I'd never cut on them!" Despite sharing how durable and useful they are, maintaining their finish with only nominal maintenance, we quickly saw that a visual demo was worth a thousand words.
4. Be Prepared! For just about anything.............from weather conditions that present challenges ( we actually had to tie some things down to prevent wind gusts blowing them over and the large tarp we had included in our packing was a lifesaver for covering the dusty ground) to cleaning supplies to extra signage materials to wrapping and packaging supplies...........we were grateful for all the time spent on the front end anticipating what would be needed and of course, made several "notes to self" regarding things to include next go round.
All in all, the experience was invaluable. We met some nice folks, learned a few things regarding how to better present our products and got meaningful affirmation that the craftsmanship and quality of what we offer is "a cut above".
All that and a beautiful Fall Georgia weekend:)