I hope you enjoy my new blog, with fluffy love and quacks, Mother Duck xxxx

Monday, 24 February 2014

Craft Fair Dilemma ... small business handmade -v- hobbyist homemade and mass produced

Hello there long time no see!
Apologies for the lack of Blogs but having decided to close Dizzy Ducks Creations in the Autumn of last year my time has been channelled towards slowly selling off the contents of my workroom (still so much left to go) AND working hard to get into a position of launching a new small business; still a way to go with that.
fluffy love Mother Duck xx

Craft Fair Dilemma
A few days ago I was having a chat with a lady who was trying to decide whether her hand knitted items would be something that people would buy at a craft fair. It put me in a rather awkward position because whilst her knitted items were lovely they had an air of 'made by me nan' about them - anyone that wore hand knitted sweaters to school a few decades ago will know what I mean; whilst they were made with love they were still clearly homemade.

I personally believe there is quite a difference between handmade items and homemade; the first giving the suggestion of beautiful individually created items that people would love to buy and the latter being made with love by a family member or friend but not always of the best quality. This is a simplistic description but I think most people will understand where I am coming from.

Some craft fairs do have a selection of stands that are of the 'homemade' variety adjacent to those of small businesses creating stunningly unique individually designed items. We also have to bear in mind that they both can be standing alongside stands selling imported mass produced goods. I personally believe the price point can often guide the customer (should they need the help) which category goods fall into. Many of those selling homemade items, often as a hobby, might place their goods at a lower price point, dare I suggest they might be going for quantity over quality. The sellers of the fine quality handmade goods will be at a price point that allows them to cover price of the materials, overheads and profits. The imports are also often at the lower price point - buy cheap, sell cheap.

It can be soul destroying for a small business selling at craft events to find themselves next to a hobbyist or indeed someone that has bought in their goods. They might find themselves watching people buying items from the others and passing them by; this doesn't mean that their goods are priced too high but it could be as simple as the available funds just are not there. More and more people are tightening their purse strings and they see high quality handmade items as luxury goods and are finding the lesser quality homemade or the imported goods more to their budget. Small businesses, should also bear in mind that whilst they may be watching the homemade hobbyist and the imported goods sell,the sellers are not necessarily making a profit or indeed feel the need to make a profit, they may be happy just to get back the cost of their materials and the stand fee. So standing next to the hobbyist saying I made £300 today when you have made far less than that has to be looked at objectively; that £300 may not take into account all the outgoings involved in stocking their stand and actually standing at the event. I have personally gone home from an event distressed a low sales but having spent the day next to someone selling homemade knitted items being sold at 50p - £5 price point, comfortably competing with the mass produced knitted goods found at the low end stores on the High Street versus my cheapest item at £10 and most expensive being £40+

Here in Yorkshire we seem to have had an increase in people putting on craft events, some more successful than others (trust me I have had a stand at many) often populated by hobbyists encouraged by TV programmes & books convincing them that anyone can make to sell and make money in the process. The answer may be for the small businesses in the crafting world to attend those events that have a selection process, curated to determine the quality of the goods being sold with some guarantee that a high percentage of items to be sold are handmade. 

This will always be an ongoing dilemma but we have to remember that no matter how good the quality of the goods being sold, how well advertised the event is nor how many people through the door, nobody can force customers to open their wallets and buy. 

So what is best homemade or handmade or mass produced at craft events? I think each has its own place but not necessarily all at the same event.