Saturday, April 18, 2009

Madison Knit-In

Hi Friends!

Here is my weekend round up of my trip to Madison a couple weeks ago, when I went to vend at the Madison Knitter's Guild Knit-In.

The best thing about the weekend was sharing it with Blogless Carla. She is the best yarn assistant in the world! She puts the booth together better than I do. (Waving to Carla!!!!!) Thank you!!

You might remember that I've only done this once before; last fall at Yarn Con in Chicago. So I learned a lot again at this show and kind of used the weekend to test whether I want to add vending to the etsy selling on a regular basis. It is a LOT of work.

My booth here was a lot bigger than the one at Yarn Con. The other major difference was the flavor of this show. There were a lot less indie vendors and more professional booths. I felt a bit self conscious with my plastic bins (see below), next to all the professional display racks.

I also learned that I need a big sign. I had smaller signs distributed along the tables, but nevertheless, one lady thought my booth was named "Gym Lights". (You'll have to embiggen the photo above to get that.)

The last thing I would say, is that many vendors had the ability to take credit cards, and I didn't. I did lose a few sales to that. Except for one at the end, when my friend Marilyn from Black Water Abbey (love her and her yarn!) heard what was happening and offered to run it for me. Thank you!

So. Sign, credit cards, more interesting/professional booth display. These are the things I would work on if I were to do it again. Please don't write and say I'm being hard on myself! I am just trying to be objective, and give myself constructive criticism and learn. Read on for the stuff in the "good" column:

Things I wouldn't change: the yarn, the customers, sharing a fun weekend with a great friend. I think I will try to do it again, maybe just 2 or 3 a year, especially shows close by.

Oh yeah, and I won't change the little candy display, (which was a huge hit at Yarn Con with the Candy Corn). This seasonal display was Easter M&Ms and Easter Basket yarn. Yum and Yum!

Here's one more thing I want to discuss. The use of samples. I have heard so many stories recently about samples being stolen from yarn stores and yarn show booths, so I've a little reluctant to display knitted samples. At Yarn Con, I took a few shawls, scarves, socks and fingerless gloves and kept them under the table and brought them out when people had questions.
However, I know from my own experience how well samples help sell yarn. I have been drawn in many a time to a beautiful shawl hanging in a booth. Before Madison, I knit another little baby sweater and a pair of booties to show how much you could get out of one skein. (Yarn color Pale Rose).
I also set out a few scarves and fingerless gloves. It is especially helpful for people who walk in the booth and love the yarn, but don't knit socks, and want some ideas for other things you can do with it.
I think that if, instead of using my own items that I have knit for myself/worn/loved/become attached to, that I knit a few items specifically as samples that I would feel better about using them.
What do you think about samples? What do you like to see? I would love to hear your opinions. Have a great weekend, everybody!

(Cute Baker's Rack above courtesy of my mom. Thanks Mom!)


Blogger Karen said...

I think you've got some great ideas for improving your vending. And I agree samples sell the yarn, especially showing things other than socks made with your sock yarn. Of course people will fall in love with the items and want to know where they can get the pattern, so be prepared.

10:59 AM  
Blogger kimchi said...

yes, knit up some items that are purely for sample-showing at shows. and even little 4"x4" swatch squares are nice to see how the color distributes in the knitted fabric. I also agree with the need for a big sign. I know you'll come up with something beautiful and creative! Congrats on another vending experience under your belt! :o)

7:31 PM  
Blogger stbyra said...

Use ProPay for the credit cards. It's only so much per year (not monthly charges) and you only pay transaction fees if you actually have a transaction. There are several different levels depending on how much money you think you'll take in in one year, and they are super EASY to work with. Check it out, you'll love it.

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes to samples. Those of us (much) less talented than you love to see what we can do...and buy the pattern to go with it. I believe you when you say samples are stolen...but yet I can't believe it. Could you somehow attach/sew down the sample to something... Good luck with the vending.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

Regarding samples, I recently heard a helpful tidbit: don't put out a pair of anything (socks, gloves, etc.) A single sock is less likely to be taken than a pair.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Candied Fabrics said...

Your tables look LOVELY with those quilts!!! It emphasizes the hand dyed nature of the product! I don't think the boxes look that bad, it's tough trying to decide how much $$/time to shell out for display items, so I try to find double duty items. Case in point the stand my hubby built to hold supplies and provide a check writing surface holds baskets of shoes in the front hall the rest of the year.

Samples...yes. Why would you worry about samples being stolen LESS than a skein of yarn - that seems eminently more grab & stuffable.

I've done...10-12 shows now, and wrote up a post about things I've learned, it's here if you're interested.

12:18 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I think you're on the right track with all your ideas. As far as a sign, I'm really happy with vinyl sign I had made at Kinkos--wasn't expensive at all (I think around $30-40). I put grommets on the corners, so I can either hang it on my tablecloth, or hang it behind me.

I also had few photos of my stuff enlarged at Wolf Camera (also inexpensive) to hang behind my booth. The photo that you use for the note cards would be gorgeous enlarged!

1:19 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Almost forgot--make sure to put an "as featured in" sign in your booth--I know that your gorgeous yarns have gotten some great press in various blogs and other venues!

1:22 PM  
Blogger Judy H. said...

Samples can be wired down or hung enough above eye level that they are hard to get at. Be sure you have the pattern!

Mirrors are also handy, so that people can see which color would look best on them (for buying shawl and sweater amounts of yarn).

4:32 PM  
Anonymous Cathy R said...

Samples are a definate crowd attractor. Especially since there are several people out there who don't knit socks.

I know, I know, I don't understand it either, but they do exist!!

I like the idea of knitting items specifically for display (other than using your loved personal items) - and also second the recommendation that the pattern (or at least the name) be made available too.

Good Luck!

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not use baskets or those fabric boxes to hold the fabric if you don't like the look of the plastic?

11:46 AM  

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