Craft sales THIS year

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TheGecko

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I've made the decision to pull out of the last two I signed up for before COVID. One in August is generally 250 vendors. After speaking with some of my doctors I just don't feel comfortable being enclosed in a tent with customers who usually pile in. I'm also not wanting to wear a mask for 8 hours for 2 days each in 80 plus weather. I already have breathing issues and wear a mask all day at work. I don't want people touching and smelling soap even though they are wrapped. If they won't refund or carry over my money I'll just eat it this year. I would hate to end up sick or someone else getting ill. Hopefully, it won't stop them from accepting me next year. I just don't think the time is right yet. So, for the first summer in a long time my daughter and I are going to take our two grandkids on a vacation renting a camper and traveling to the upper peninsula of Michigan. It's one of my favorite places and excited to take the grandkids to experience it too.
I was planning on doing 'display' soaps...they will be fully sealed in shrink wrap with holes poked in the ends (I will have at least 3 or each so I can sanitize and rotate). The actual soap to be purchased will be wrapped in decorative waxed papers and be behind the table. For lotion bar testers, I have 2-oz deodorant tubes...like the display soap, I will have 3 of each that can be planned and sanitized.

I don't know if it will be worth the effort or if we are even having holiday craft fairs, but soap doesn't go bad and I won't make the lotion bars or testers until it's time.
 

lucycat

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I have been following this thread and see that others are in the same position as me. I have been selling at craft fairs since 2005 and it has been a really wonderful part of my retirement. I have been fortunate to have good fall shows and a strong repeat customer base. I am not ready to quit but even if shows exist I don't want to attend. It is the social interaction I enjoy while customers find scents they like. That really won't work this year and I think caution for my own health seems more appropriate.

When this is all over will the fairs even be around? I don't mind one year being lost but I do tend to believe the setting will never be the same. I have been fortunate to have sales from regular customers each month but it is really lower than the amount of soap I would like to be making. So, as age is making it harder to set up a booth is it time to move onto a different phase in my life or is it time to change my business plan. I hope by year end I have some idea.
 

cmzaha

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I have been following this thread and see that others are in the same position as me. I have been selling at craft fairs since 2005 and it has been a really wonderful part of my retirement. I have been fortunate to have good fall shows and a strong repeat customer base. I am not ready to quit but even if shows exist I don't want to attend. It is the social interaction I enjoy while customers find scents they like. That really won't work this year and I think caution for my own health seems more appropriate.

When this is all over will the fairs even be around? I don't mind one year being lost but I do tend to believe the setting will never be the same. I have been fortunate to have sales from regular customers each month but it is really lower than the amount of soap I would like to be making. So, as age is making it harder to set up a booth is it time to move onto a different phase in my life or is it time to change my business plan. I hope by year end I have some idea.
I am right with you Lucycat, I am having such a struggle with this. With 70's we are finding it harder to setup and tear down. But my hubby and I also love getting out meeting and seeing our customers and vendor friends. We started approximately 10 yrs ago in order to do something during retirement. We are finally starting to come to terms that it is probably time to move on. I am not necessarily afraid to attend the holiday fair I normally do if they still have it, but I am not sure it will be cost effective. The owner of the property is 93 so I do not foresee too many more craft fairs at this venue. So, I am thinking if they do hold the fall craft fair I will attend at least the first week and pass out cards, which I have not done in at least 4 years, so folks can contact me if they want products in the future. My daughter took down our website a few years ago when she quit her m&p and scrubs end of the business.
 

lucycat

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No easy answers. It would be a lot simpler if I was tired of making soap.
 

amd

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It would be a lot simpler if I was tired of making soap.
I agree! As I'm sitting down and planning 2021 soap and product lineup, hubby and I are also discussing our financial situation. I'm realizing that for the amount of time I spend weekly on my business I need to be making a lot more money than I am. Maybe it's time to move on to something that I can invest the same amount of time into and make more money - which sadly means I won't be making soap or other products. This area just can't support it. No one around here makes soap/B&B for a living. Most of the other soapmakers rely on FT jobs, or have other goods (breads, baked goods) and the soap etc is just a very small portion of it. Inside though... I'm screaming because I still have sooooo many soap ideas!
 

MarnieSoapien

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Just a question for those of you considering leaving the soapmaking business... have you looked into other options beyond markets? Like pairing up with a Bed & Breakfast or boutique hotel to make guest size bars? Do you think you would have any luck getting your products at a brick and mortar store, like a florist? I hate to think of such talented soapers leaving the soaping world behind.
 

shunt2011

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@MarnieSoapien I have given thought to it but unfortunately, I work full time and the time it would take to go visit to promote my soap and other items is near impossible to put into it. I probably won't leave totally but will cut down and possibly just put my energy into a website. Haven't decided as yet. I do know this year is a wash though for shows. Just can't put myself into the situation I'm in my very early 60's. Can't retire for at least 5 more years. Then we'll see what happens. It saddens me as I love making soap. The other issue is that there are sooo many soapmaker's these days.
 

lucycat

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I do not want to make a decision soon. I usually send email/postcard mailings before fairs to mailing list customers. This fall I will send them with shipping being the option. Hopefully, it will be enough to keep the joy in soapmaking and put off the decision to another year.
 

cmzaha

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Where I live, it is almost impossible to get into B&B's and Brick & Mortor's. My daughter and I tried that years ago with no success plus the price they would pay frankly made it not worth the effort to make the soap. At my age, it is just not worth the effort. I will not completely sell off everything for several months waiting to see what happens next year.
 

maxine289

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I doubt I'll do any shows before a vaccine is available (I'm over 60). I got into soap making as a hobby, because I needed something to occupy my time. I started selling because I made so much soap I needed to figure out how to get rid of it. Going to fairs and festivals then became an important social activity for me (I'm single without children). Fairs allowed me to pursue my hobby and not become overrun with soap. With no fairs I've just scaled back making soap. I make it whenever I feel moved to do so. Without the fairs there's no pressure to make a lot. I've got a lot of inventory on the shelf if people want to buy from my website. People spend money on gym memberships and go skiing and other activities. I spent my money on soap. I'm fortunate that I don't have to rely on soap sales for income. Those that do are facing a tough time and choice about going forward.
 

Megan

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I'm excited because 4 shows just opened up for me. I realize it's risky, but I will be wearing a mask and hopefully customers will as well. I also plan to bring hand sanitizer and sanitizing spray. I will probably keep a good amount of my stock under table too. I need to do some shows before this baby is born!

Question: if it were you, would you offer a hand washing station? I feel like it's the perfect time for one, and the camp sink I have is foot powered....but I'm still deciding.
 

Angie Gail

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We (my mom and I) were going to do our first outdoor shows this year and the first one we were going to was in March and it was cancelled the day before. The only other one we had already registered for was scheduled for April but it's been moved to October. I hope it won't get cancelled too. We did our first craft shows (indoor shows) in October and November of last year and it was so much fun. We're really looking forward to more holiday shows as we have some really fun tent decor and I love holiday decorating and shopping (for us selling :)). I have a goat milk and honey lotion that I sell (it's from a premade base and I add fragrance) and for testers I am going to use .5oz squeeze bottles. The full size jars I sell the lotion in have safety seals around them so no one will be able to actually touch the lotion or contaminate it.
 

Misschief

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I'm excited because 4 shows just opened up for me. I realize it's risky, but I will be wearing a mask and hopefully customers will as well. I also plan to bring hand sanitizer and sanitizing spray. I will probably keep a good amount of my stock under table too. I need to do some shows before this baby is born!

Question: if it were you, would you offer a hand washing station? I feel like it's the perfect time for one, and the camp sink I have is foot powered....but I'm still deciding.
I have a few markets under my belt this year and things have been a little different than usual. I don't know if I'd go for a handwashing station, as perfect as it sounds at this time. For me, it comes down to the less I have to set up, the easier the tear down. At the market I'm in, a local distiller has provided sanitizer for every table. Bottles are returned at the end of the day. I have a sign at my table letting people know it's okay to pick up and sniff as long as they have sanitized their hands.

I've found that most people are hesitant about picking things up; they're fine with me picking up the samples and allowing them to sniff.
 

Megan

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For me, it comes down to the less I have to set up, the easier the tear down.
This is my main concern. I do plan on having hand sanitizer as well, and I may just stick with that. I will be setting up alone, so the less I have to worry about, the better.
 

cmzaha

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I'm excited because 4 shows just opened up for me. I realize it's risky, but I will be wearing a mask and hopefully customers will as well. I also plan to bring hand sanitizer and sanitizing spray. I will probably keep a good amount of my stock under table too. I need to do some shows before this baby is born!

Question: if it were you, would you offer a hand washing station? I feel like it's the perfect time for one, and the camp sink I have is foot powered....but I'm still deciding.
I absolutely Would Not have a hand washing station. If you're are pregnant I would not risk doing a market open air or not. Believe me, people will pull down their mask to sniff touch their nose to the soap or whatever and put it back. It is Not worth the risk for a few dollars. I know the few markets here that have opened up, one's I quit attending, vendors are telling me they are losing money.
I absolutely Would Not have a hand washing station. If you're are pregnant I would not risk doing a market open air or not. Believe me, people will pull down their mask to sniff touch their nose to the soap or whatever and put it back. It is Not worth the risk for a few dollars. I know the few markets here that have opened up, one's I quit attending, vendors are telling me they are losing money.

@Angie Gail I have a goat milk and honey lotion that I sell (it's from a premade base and I add fragrance) and for testers I am going to use .5oz squeeze bottles.

If it was me I would dispense the sample myself onto a stick and hand them the stick, with clean gloves on. I am really wondering if customers are going to purchase lotions they feel are made in someone's kitchen. These are such difficult times.
 
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Becky1024

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I am doing an outside farmers market this summer but I doubt if I will do any indoor fall or winter shows. I think it's too risky. I'm starting to think of ways to drive customers to my website for holiday sales.
 

Megan

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I absolutely Would Not have a hand washing station. If you're are pregnant I would not risk doing a market open air or not. Believe me, people will pull down their mask to sniff touch their nose to the soap or whatever and put it back. It is Not worth the risk for a few dollars. I know the few markets here that have opened up, one's I quit attending, vendors are telling me they are losing money.
I have been grappling with how to handle people touching the product. I plan on having most items behind the counter and handing out samples myself rather than having people sample themselves. I have sticks for the scrub and balm type items, and I will use a vegetable peeler for soap samples . Some product I plan to "sacrifice" to the table and it will be sanitized as needed and after the event will be left untouched for at least a week.

Luckily, I have a KN95 that I will be wearing to protect myself, as well as gloves that I will sanitize between customers...

To be fair, both events were very very cheap (one event I will need to make one sale to earn back my entry fee and the other event I will have to make 2 sales) and I don't actually expect a huge turnout, but am hoping for enough to make it worth it. Thoroughly cleaning between customers should not be an issue in these venues.

I think, if I were actively quarantine-ing I would not have even given thought to doing something like this...but I'm working, my husband is working (in the service industry) and my two kids are in daycare...so the amount of risk that this adds upon my daily life, is unfortunately negligible. All I can do is follow proper protocols and hope for the best.
 

amd

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I'm in the same boat. I have my first show that hasn't been cancelled the end of July. It's outdoors. Our numbers are very low here, so the best I can do is protect myself and do what I can for those coming to my booth. I stocked up on hand sanitizer to put out and will be wearing a mask, even though the majority of the public here does not wear them. Until reading this thread I hadn't thought about people bringing soaps to their nose to smell... and their gross tendency to press the soap into their nose (WHY? Just... WHY?)... so I may need to give this more consideration.
 

shunt2011

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There is just no way to sanitize products properly at shows. It would ruin my labels. Plus even with a mask people are touching things and every time you touch your mask you risk infection. K95 masks unless properly fitted are no more protective than any other mask. My residents and physicians are fit tested every year as well as if they grow facial hair or lose/gain weight. It’s absolutely each persons choice on how much risk they want to take.
I’m fighting pneumonia for the second time in 3 months. My CT scan looks like that of patients that have had COVID. I tested negative for Covid but tested positive for antibodies recently. It’s not worth the risk to me. I’m sad not to be seeing my customers.
 

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@shunt2011 I am so sorry to hear this. You have my prayers for a full recovery soon.
 

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