Having a table at Renegade Craft Fair has always been a maker-dream of mine. I’ve had a lot of trouble selling at fairs on Long Island, but I had this gut feeling that a market like Renegade would be different because of its emphasis on handmade. I knew that the people attending their markets are people who are looking for handmade, who don’t mind spending a few extra dollars for something that was birthed from someone’s hands rather than buying a piece of crap being re-sold from a catalogue.
I never applied because I was intimidated by the high table fee ($250 for the weekend), and I didn’t really know how I could work out the logistics of getting my display pieces and inventory from Long Island to NYC. But this new apartment has changed things. I have more space to keep my box of stock, and I temporarily had a place to keep my car to (ideally…*foreshadowing*) drive myself and all my stuff to the market.
Back in October, I decide to bite the bullet and apply for a half-booth at the Renegade Brooklyn Holiday Pop Up markets at Industry City. I received my acceptance the next day. A part of me really wasn’t expecting to be accepted because I thought there would be too many applications and not enough spots. But I got in and on Saturday morning I walked almost a mile to my car, in the snow at 7:45 in the morning. I put the key in the ignition and the car wouldn’t start.
Long story short, I ended up getting an Uber to the fair and by some miracle, I got there only 10 minutes after load-in was supposed to have ended. Turns out I wasn’t the only person who was late. I would say the only good thing about Saturday’s market was that I met some really fantastic people (linked at the end of this post), and my boothmate never showed so I had the whole space to myself. But my spot was located in a corner, in the back of a side extension of the space where the market was held. We weren’t in the thick of the action, so much of the foot traffic never made its way to us. Attendance was down because it had snowed that morning, and it just felt like the people who did come just weren’t buying. I ended the day having made $60 over the course of 7 hours and 3 sales. Not good. This is something I posted to Instagram on Sunday night about how I felt about the weekend:
The perfect quote to end this weekend. Yesterday was a pretty big disappointment, from beginning to end. I made only 3 sales all day and I was afraid I wouldn't make my back my table costs, plus an extra $80 in Uber/Lyft fares because my car didn't start in the morning. I went home last night defeated, discouraged, and disappointed because after a string of unsuccessful craft fairs on Long Island, I was hoping Renegade would be different. I seriously questioned why I do this. I came close to quitting it all. But I woke up this morning and got myself to Day 2 and it turned out to be a much better day. I asked to move to a better spot with more foot traffic. I didn't make much of a profit, but I did earn back my table and those unexpected car fares. I met some really wonderful makers and customers. I learned that sometimes you have to open your mouth and ask for what you want. Despite not making a huge profit, I'm left with very little inventory. I feel motivated again, and I remembered why I do this. I sell so I have an excuse to make more. I sell because I love this community of Makers. I briefly lost my way but then I was reminded that being a Maker is what I ought to be.
I learned so much this weekend about what people are looking for, and it felt like a weekend-long focus group. Most of my zipper pouches sold out, including some older ones, so I know people are willing to buy these smaller impulse items. People kept gravitating toward the same patterns, so I know I should expand on those specific lines.
I'm really excited to try more of these markets in the city, even though the logistics are harder and they're more expensive. Maybe it's time to finally raise my prices. I did get several comments that my prices are "reasonable" but that's code for I'm undercharging. But before I could apply to any other markets, I need to make more stuff! First step is moving all my supplies to Queens...