What do you do when you start making more spoons than you can sell or give away? You start selling them. But not just anybody will pay $10 or $15 for a hand-carved spoon. You have to get them in front of the kinds of people who are most likely to buy them.
Over the last few years, I’ve set up a display table at a few local craft markets. I don’t do this a lot, maybe three or four times a year. But my display table has evolved quite a bit as I’ve tried out different things and found out what works for me and what doesn’t.
This is my very first display table:
There was a lot of square footage to cover, so my product was pretty spread-out, sorted by type and price. I put a photo album of my other work out. And I had a tool chest with some of my tools so I could demonstrate my work and show off some of the tools I used to make spoons and other things.
It wasn’t a bad first set-up, and I sold a few items. My price-points were right for my local market. (I could probably get double for my work in bigger, more craft-conscious cities.) The tablecloth was the right sort of visual background.
But there were some problems, too. There was too much empty space on the table, and the product looked picked-over from the get-go. Everyone loves coming to a full display; only bargain-basement types will pay attention to a depleted display, and bargain-hunters aren’t my target market. Also, the album and tools were a distraction; they drew attention away from the things actually for sale. And frankly, I don’t like taking commissions from strangers, so I shouldn’t have even shown work that I would want to make again on commission.
After a couple unsuccessful displays at various places, I found a venue at a quarterly Night Market the Mobile Museum of Art. The clientele was exactly what I was looking for: savvy people who are serious about cooking and value high-quality, handmade utensils–and are willing to pay a fair price for them!
This display was more successful. A small table enabled me to come around and talk easily with potential customers. (I don’t like having to talk across a table.) I set out my most attractive items within reach of customers, and I covered the available space with my product. I tried to make my vertical display more consistent–I salvaged the boxes from junk piles around the neighborhood, and my wife placed Mason jars in them to organize the space. (She’s smart!) I also added some business cards.
It was a much better set-up, and I sold significantly more product. But the arrangement still needed to be tweaked a little bit.
My most recent display was by far the most successful. First, my wife and I had begun to notice which types of product were the best sellers, so we brought a lot of them. (Large spoons and wok spatulas are the most popular.) I added a couple matched sets, and I added my thumb-ring page holders. It’s important to have a variety of price points, and I like to have items that are affordable for everybody.
Most importantly, we turned the handles of the spoons toward the customers. If somebody picks up an item, there’s about a 50% chance that he or she (usually she!) will buy it. As spoons and spatulas are purchased, we replace them from the jars in the back so the table always looks full.
The business cards are buried in the center of the table. I don’t know that I have ever made a substantial sale that I could attribute primarily to a business card. So I don’t push them. I want potential customers to pick up a spoon, not a business card. But everybody has a business card, so I have one, too.
I’m sure there are a few more ways I could tweak my display to be even more effective, but it’s come a long way.