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. 


  1. Well said Mother Duck. I've only done a few events and it broke me and sometimes I look around in Facebook land and see some "handmade" cards and I think "Wow! They are amazing. That must have taken hours to create" and then I see some and I sadly think "OMG! A 5 year old could do better" yet they sell because of the price, generally 50p. Personally I am highly critical of my own handcrafted cards, if a matt is just slightly wonky I'll get myself in a tiz about it. If it's a hand coloured image this can take the total time of making the card into several hours but will still only put a price tag on it of £3 - £5 depending on size, which people will quite happily spend in certain card selling shops or supermarkets yet will quibble and try to barter the price with our handcrafted creations. I could go on but my fingers will start to ache :-)
    Take care and I wish you all the very best with the new incarnation of Dizzy Ducks xx

  2. Very enjoyable read, and that there is a place for 'Homemade/hobbyist' and another for 'Mass produced' and yet another for high quality handmade/small business- I also believe that is it the organisers responsible for separating between the 3 or at least letting potential stall holders know of the mix- I too have been too many events and being placed next to mass produced with their eyes gleaming with all the sales and then the question "how did you go today' with my reply 'Not sold a thing' and a smile still on their face with a reply 'Really'.....
    I love receiving homemade as a gift and i really love buying quality handmade and well crafted products but to be honest I try and stay clear from mass produced crafts- this is not saying that I haven't never bought any- my 4 year old doesn't understand the difference when she is buying for herself..... :) :)

  3. I must say that I totally agree with you Mother Duck, I too, have been behind a stall at many "craft" fairs & I hated it when along side my handmade, unique, all occasion cards were stall after stall after stall of other handmade items as in jewellery, knitted items, crochet, more jewellery with the odd stall selling "mass produced" items, and everyone, inc the mass produced, were selling their own versions of "handmade" cards (apart from the mass produced as he brought in some cards!!!!). Many a time I didnt sell enough to cover the cost of my stall let alone a profit, oh what is a profit???? That is another discussion point. The so called "organisers" hadnt got a clue about what is classed as handmade or even stall layout (as in ho gets what space/stall).
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading it all, & yes I do not buy one single massed produced or seemingly "handmade" cards since I started making my own, no matter how bad they first looked. (Sad aint I??) lol ;) Im happy now, with what I create and I have regular customers so I must be doing something right??
    Keep up your fabulous work Mother Duck, I, for one, will keep watching & reading
    Marg B ;)