Uh, how long is a piece of floss?
How much stock to take to the first craft show we exhibited at was one of the hardest questions we had to answer early on. At this point we had no experience, other than the opinions of friends and family, about whether people would like our kits, but we had to start somewhere. So we had a chat about how we started and what we learned along the way.
Alison: Annie, can you remember the first time we asked ourselves this question?
Annie: Yes, we looked at a blank piece of paper for a very long time and then we discussed for a long time, came up with no answers and repeated those two things four or five times. Our over-riding feeling was that we had no idea.
Alison: Yes, we were worried about getting it very wrong.
Annie: In the end, what did it come down to, what was the key question that unlocked the answer?
Alison: How many kits can we afford to make up! We thought that we could take 10 of everything, as that sounded like a good round number, and then when we realised how much it would cost to buy all the floss, Aida, boxes, etc we realised we couldn’t afford to take that much. At this point, we were very new and this was our first opportunity to go out and try and sell our stuff. So we had very little money, especially after paying for the stand and knowing we would also be paying for accommodation (and wine!).
Annie: Yes, so we kind of worked it backwards, we then started with how much money we had to spend but still divided that up equally between the kits we had at that point, as we didn’t know what would be popular.
Alison: So what did we learn at that first show? What did we get right and what did we get wrong?
Annie: We definitely had enough stock! But probably not entirely the right audience. It was quite a general craft show, not particularly stitch-oriented, so the simpler kits sold better than the more complicated ones. We had enough room to store all our stock in boxes on our shelves and enough room in a van to carry everything, with more room besides, which we filled with things that we learned we don’t need to bother with – components for making up more kits, an extra chair we didn’t need, a metal cupboard that we didn’t use…
Alison: Yes, we’ve definitely simplified things and we’ve now learned that we can pare down in lots of areas, to the point where we can fit everything into a car, which brings our costs down.
Annie: What other things should we consider going forward?
Alison: Well, we definitely need to think about how much room we have to store stock on our stand without it looking untidy, bearing in mind we also need to be able to display things nicely. Also, we’ve now got the benefit of some experience and knowing what our best sellers are and what we need to take more of. And, as we develop new kits, where they are based on feedback, we’ll have an idea of how popular they will be.
So is there a definitive answer? Probably not. However, we can pass on the following advice…
- Work out what you can afford.
- Work out what you can carry.
- Work out what you can store.
- If it goes wrong, it’s not a failure, it’s an experience you can build on.
- If you sell out of anything, it’s a nice problem to have!
Comment below and let us know how you did it.