Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Baby Steps

"Baby steps onto the elevator. Baby Steps into the elevator. I'm in the elevator. Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!" ~ Bill Murray, What About Bob?

One Step at a Time

Me baby-stepping across a narrow footbridge in big snow shoes on Hurricane Mountain

There is some "moving forward" that I want to do right now, it's just a matter of getting the guts, not to mention the resources, to do it. I'm getting there slowly. I reunited with a friend from high school on Facebook a couple months ago. She saw in my profile that I make jewelry, browsed my website and decided she wanted to host a jewelry party for me. I politely declined. I'm not a salesperson, there is a reason why I sell online, so I don't have to make a sales pitch to someone's face. She asked me a few more times and I finally caved in, deciding it would be a good way to break into face to face jewelry selling should I ever get the nerve to rent a booth at a craft fair.

It was such a nice gesture on her part that I wanted to make it worth the guests while. I came up with a few give away ideas... free holiday earrings with a minimum purchase of $10, and for every $25 spent would get the shopper a raffle ticket for a turquoise necklace drawing.

I scurried to buy some displays and busts, and I got my business card couch from Stormy. I purchased some black velvet fabric to cover the tables with, and a pretty glass heart shaped bowl to dangle the free earrings from. I made some raffle tickets on the computer, created a constructive criticism feedback survey, and printed out instructions on how they can shop on Etsy in the future (particularly my shop). I took some advice from my pre-party blog post and had a variety of different types of bags for shoppers to take their goods home in, and some pretty tissue paper for the fragile pendants.

The drive to the party was almost an hour and a half north, and I was hoping to make $150 bucks, as my hostess figured 15 people were going, and they only had to spend $10 to get the free earrings. Only about 10 guests were able to make it. Everybody bought at least something, and I had a couple of big spenders too, going well over what I had hoped that I would make! I tried to listen to comments while they shopped, someone liked the velvet cloth idea (thanks TiLTcreations). I put out a spiral notebook for an "email list" and got a few contacts. Lots of nice comments about my angel earrings. I heard a few admiring some earrings but mentioning that they were too long for their tastes.

I went through my confidential feedback surveys, and got perfect reviews on all my questions. I just hope that they really felt that way about each question and weren't being nice. Not too many handwritten comments.

I took some poor quality pictures while shoppers were breaking for snacks. I meant to get some shots before the party started but some were confused about the time and came early.

What I got from the experience:

  • Black velvety cloth
  • Free gift with minimum purchase is a good idea as everyone spent the minimum
  • Had enough cash and quarters to make change with
  • Sales tax included & rounding price to nearest quarter is easier than math, pennies, and nickels
  • Business cards
  • Saving price tags to keep track of income was probably faster than writing it down as I went
  • Having a holiday section
  • Large price tags allowed me to write shoppers names on them so that they could set stuff aside as they browsed and buy later
  • Mirror
  • I was a lot faster at checkout when I worked at Price Chopper with a barcode reader, computer, and a bagger
  • Large tied on price tags got tangled en route
  • Nobody commented but I thought the display looked a little sloppy with only 4 busts to hold the necklaces
  • Jewelry party for people that know each other were trying to shop for each other with everyone there
  • I still don't know how I'd bag up goodies for a large crowd with out spending an unnecessary fortune
  • I'm over analytical of everything I say and how its going going to be taken, so I probably came off as socially awkward, trying to find the balance between being helpful without being annoying
  • The survey didn't give much as far as constructive criticism, actually no criticism or suggestions at all, just niceness
  • Necklace raffle. It was a lure to get people to come, but they loved jewelry so much that I think they would have come anyway. Nobody appeared to buy a little extra just to reach the next $25 mark either. Ah well, my biggest spender won it, and certainly deserved it
Next step? Perhaps a jewelry party with people I know? I think it's too late to rent a booth for a holiday craft fair, besides, I'm still unwinding from this one. Maybe by this summer I can beef up my inventory and my confidence and rent a booth at a craft fair then...


TiLT said...

Glad to hear it went well :)
When it comes to displays...I hear seasoned sellers say that it is a never ending evolution, so don't fret too much.
And it may not be too late for holiday shows - many have cancellations & sometimes even give booths/spaces out at a lower $$.
btw - I'll be blogging about some packaging type supply places soon, comparing costs & what they have - I'll make sure to post in etsyblogger thread - it may help the bagging up of the goodies for less.

uniquecommodities said...

AKJ! This was awesome! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us! I love blogs that share business and life experience! These are the blogs I follow and keep coming back to!

uniquecommodities said...

oh and where did you find the black velvet cloth?

A Keeper's Jackpot said...

Can't wait to read your post TiLT

UC - Thanks - Joann Fabric, clearance rack (Halloween section)

storybeader said...

Holiday section and free earrings were a good idea. I think you did very well, esp. for a first time. I use one bag for each item, with my card (and haiku) in it, and a price tag. Keeps them from tangling.

I always feel like I'm fumbling and rushing, but people don't really care and don't notice, they're usually busy talking to their friends. One thing for the future, if you will be putting yourself out there: get high tables, so buyers don't have to bend over to look. I've found them VERY helpful...

StormyDesigns said...

Congrats on your successful sale!!

agoodwitchtoo said...

That is totally awesome, AKJoe! Except for the part about the black velvet (shudders) ;)

This is such an awesome idea. I wonder how it would work for other products? Hmmm... now the wheels are turning!

Ingenious idea about a free gift with minimum purchase! Congrats on all the sales too!