Craft Fairs near San Jose Ca

The setup for Elephant Dance: elegant crochet hats Last October, November, and December my bf and I participated in several craft fairs. Some members of the SF Etsy team asked for some insight into craft fairs in the south bay so I wrote a little about my experience. Here are my four most notable experiences of last year.

I was told of the great annual show at lynbrook high school hosted by the high school band. Its Nov. 20 this year. I was really excited about the one day event but when push came to shove, it was a real miss. Personally, I and several people around my booth who had a booth didn’t do well – I didn’t even make enough to cover the cost of the booth. however, with the background it has, I would try it one more time – last year could have just been a fluke right? (unfortunately, I won’t be attending any fairs this year due to my schedule). i just received an email from them saying more info will come out around august. email limbfair@yahoo.com for more info.

Bishop elementary school in Saratoga was great. It was a three hour event on a Friday. The booth price was very reasonable (maybe $35 but don’t quote me on that). Everyone was happy – customers and vendors. They host the show in the cafeteria and provides a nice large table (i would say double the size of normal places). Many sales came and many happy customers were amist. They had pictures with Santa and a raffle (the raffle wasn’t too organized). Customers were happy to purchase handmade. I sold three crocheted baby blankets to a customer that asked me if i had anymore! I asked her why she wanted so many and she said she was preparing just in case any of her girlfriends have a baby. It seems as the crowd plans for gifts for the future (not just for christmas). Shelley was in charge and may be in charge again. Shelley had a booth herself but I could see her number one priority was organizing the fair. I don’t want to post her email
address since its her personal address but you can message me
personally and I can send it to you. (click the contact button at the top.)

For the heck of it I tried the flea on Berryessa Rd. on the free Saturday (one a month i think). it was hit or miss, like any flea market. They also host an annual craft faire section in Nov/Dec (this year its on Nov. 13). The craft fair is held within a tent in the market (I think its marked expo center on the map). I found out about it because a Flea representative came by my booth and told me about it. I made a very lucky custom sale so I though why not. I personally did well there but lots of haggling was done – I hate haggling so I left it to my bf to do that part. Unfortunately, other crafters did not fair so well. I think my luck was partially due to my bf’s fun in haggling, our position in the fair (our booth seemed to get traffic), and well, it was cold so it reminded people that they needed hats? (I’m not sure.) But due to my luck, I would try it one more time. After all, the price was right for the two day event.

One show I absolutely recommend never to do is one hosted by Donna Kimble. I really hate to write bad reviews, even when I purchase something not fitting the description it promised. However, to prevent other crafters from losing not only their money invested in the booth space, but the time spent to prepare and attend, I have to provide a very bad review on this show(s). (Please note that I wrote this about six months after the event and still decided to write about this.)

She claims to host many shows during the holiday season. I say claim because she does actually get the space, but other than that nothing is done. She explicitly agreed to provide tables and lunch. There were no tables and no lunch. She said the place where she rented her tables couldn’t make it. Then, when lunch time rolled around, she claimed the caterer just never showed up. Then, at the end, when a crafter asked if we would get a refund for lunch and tables she said yes. She would mail it to us. Well, its been six months and nothing yet. I wrote to her a couple weeks after the event and she said she was working on it.

Besides the lunch and tables, no customers came. The venue was the back room of a coffee shop. A few coffee shop patrons came by to see what was up. Besides that, nobody. Come to find out, there was no advertising AT ALL! Apparently she just expected customers to just show up. There was a little sign plastered on the window of the shop but nothing that could be seen by passing traffic.

Unfortunately for some crafters who bought into her discount on multiple shows, other crafters had already paid for more shows with her. Some said they didn’t care about the money – they wouldn’t show. Others didn’t know what to do. I, personally, just purchased one show to see how it would go so I was lucky not to be in that situation.

Overall, I highly recommend Bishop. Others are hit and miss but if you are willing to test the waters, I would try them all again (except for the Donna Kimble poop out).

Always Carry Biz Cards

biz cards are important

There is nothing more annoying than to search through your wallet to find no business cards right in the middle of a great conversation about your hat or necklace that you are wearing. Just this week, I have experienced this three times!

I was at the post office and I had one business card to show the clerk to get my mail so when the customer in line right in front of me commented on my crocheted hat, I had nothhing to give to her – a lost connection!

Then, while waiting for my bf at the hospital, I began speaking with a patient there after she asked what I was doing. What a perfect opportunity to show my business card but!!!! eek….. I had no business card to give as I left them all in the car. What a shame.

Then today, I was at the Tax Collector’s office and the clerk saw my note to visit Modern Mouse (in Alameda, CA) and she asked if I was the owner (I am not but I know the owner). We began talking and she told me she was helping her friend fill out a form to consign his artwork there. So what a perfect person to hand my biz card and again a lost connection.

So, the moral of the story is carry a load of business cards where ever you go as you just never know when you will need them.

So what kind of biz cards should you have and where should you get them? Its all up to you. If you only need a couple and quality is not too important, I suggest purchasing the free cards provided on vistaprint.com . I say purchase because you’ll have to pay shipping and that in its self starts adding up. If you need a 1000 or more I highly suggest gotprint.com as they provide quality cards at a very good price. I purchased 1000 one sided business cards for a total of $25.03 (that includes tax and shipping). The quality was great as well – very thick and sturdy and the colors were brilliant.

Shipping International

Aworlds part of a business decision for an online store, one must decide whether to ship internationally. The great things about opening your client base to everyone is the increased number of potential clients and the ability to virtually meet people across the world. These two reasons are my number one reason why I offer international shipping.

Before deciding to ship internationally, I suggest a number of things to consider:

  • Cost (both cost of shipping and related expenses such as additional time, potential for lost mail, etc.)
  • Practicality (if you sell small items, its probably practical to send overseas but if you sell large heavy items, it may just cost more to send than the item itself, which often makes it impractical to sell abroad)

It is really exciting to send a package to a country I have never sent before. In fact, I have had the occasion to send packages to countries I did not know even existed.

I’ve also learned (the hard way) how the different countries process mail. For example, when sending to France (I suggest using this precaution all the time), do not use their company or username as the recipient: instead, if the customer fails to provide their name, send them a message or email requesting their full name. In France at least, there are several places where one address is used by many houses so if the name is not recognized, the mail man will not leave it for the residents, which will result in lost mail!

Another tip I suggest is to use the United States Postal Service (USPS) Shipping Assistant when creating labels to adhere onto the packages. The Shipping Assistant will allow you to create both the address label with sender and receiver as well as the customs form that is necessary to ship internationally. This is great so you do not have to go to the post office and spend the time to write on the customs form.

Before the Shipping Assistant, I often had a difficult time determining what was inside the package so that I could write the description and value of the item on the customs form. Often (or rather every time), by the time I get to the post office, the package is sealed along with the packing slip so I would have to guess on the description and value!

In addition to creating a handy shipping label with customs form, if you know the weight of your package, Shipping Assistant will calculate your postage so all you have to do is stick the proper amount of stamps on the package. So, when you arrive at the post office, all you have to do is cut in line and drop off your packages saving you that long wait at the post office.

If you find yourself with many international sales, I suggest purchasing international shipping postage online. The only service that I have found to provide this for First Class International mail is Endicia.com. (If you sign up, please use promotional code 728488 – get one month free.) For $15 a month, you can use their unlimited service to create your shipping labels with or without postage. I find this a valuable tool for several reasons:

  1. It creates International First Class postage along with the customs form.
  2. It also creates all the other postage you need such as domestic first class, priority mail, and express mail.
  3. It will include the electronic delivery confirmation, just like any other online postage service provider.
  4. It keeps a log of your postage purchases and mail sent so you can easily keep track of who you sent to (I find it very difficult to search for mailing sent on Paypal.com).
  5. You can print directly onto smaller envelopes such as 6″x9″ and smaller. I find this perfect for my mailings as most of my packages are 6″x9″. This saves you on time (cutting and adhering labels) and it saves on paper and tape! I’ve found a significant saving in time, paper, and tape since I started using Endicia.com.