Yesterday, I sold at a well-established arts and crafts fair at a local Catholic school. Hundreds of people came to this event, and there were hundreds of vendors. On one side of me was a man who built wooden lawn and home decorations – all with a Christmas or Thanksgiving theme. On the other side of me was a woman who sold gift baskets filled with candy, wine and nuts. They both did really well. They sold a lot of products continually throughout the day.
My booth wasn’t as busy as theirs, but at least that gave me plenty of time to finish knitting a new hat, which I added to my inventory.
Whenever I sell at a show, I really get my fill of “people watching.” You see all kinds of people at these shows, and it’s interesting because different shows attract different types of people. However, there is one thing in common with all of them, and that is when they walk by my table, they have to touch the knitted stuff.
I love it. It makes me smile.
Just the simple act of touching a warm, soft wool garment is so satisfying to people. They may not even look at it, but it means everything to feel it.
They may walk right on by, and never stop to browse, but they will notice the work, and they will reach out their fingers to touch the scarves, the hats. A few pieces, in particular, attracted everyone’s attention. My new Lee’s Wavy Tam was one of them as well as my beloved Midnight Scarf.
A woman stopped by my table and looked carefully through my hats. Then she picked out a couple, and I lent her my mirror so she could try them on. She narrowed it down to two hats. She kept putting on one, then the other, then the first one again. She decided she liked the green one best. Then she started browsing the other items on my table. She noticed a lace neckwarmer that was knitted in the same lace scroll pattern as the hat she chose, though it was a different color. She said she really wanted this neckwarmer. She didn’t know that I knit this a few years ago, so we bargained until we both reached a price we could appreciate. She was very pleased, and she left with her new items.
An hour later, she returned, and said, “I’ve been thinking about this lace scarf since I left, and I’ve decided that I must have it. It’s beautiful.”
This particular scarf was my Midnight Lace scarf, made with Madelinetosh laceweight Merino wool yarn. It was one of the first lace scarves I ever knitted, and I wanted to create something simple, but elegant. It was made up mostly of the veil stitch–a very simple lace stitch. The color of the yarn was a deep, dark mixture of blues and blacks. To me, as a finished piece, it was the perfect union of form and function. Even though it was a simple scarf, it had a diaphanous effect to it that could only be found in fine lace.
I fell in love with this scarf and priced it accordingly because deep down I didn’t want to let it go. So for three years, I held onto it. Until yesterday.
She said she just really loves things that are handmade, made with care, made with a story behind it. She loves beautiful things, and out of all the vendors at the show, she liked mine the best. How could I resist letting her have this scarf? It was right to let her be the new owner of it. So I told her my story behind it and I could see how happy she was.
There were a few people like her. Another woman came and bought a hat and told me how she loves going to craft shows and art fairs and seeing the original things that people create. She bought my hat because it was unusual, and she hadn’t seen anything like it before. She liked how the colorway of the yarn looked grey from a distance, but up close there were dozens of other shades in the yarn, including purple.
This might be elementary to any artisan, but I had a moment of enlightenment yesterday. I realized that my goal is not to sell as many products as possible in one show. My goal is to find the right customer. My customer is the person who loves handmade work. My customer understands that good handmade work takes time to create, and he or she appreciates that. Bargain-shopping is not the goal. Obtaining a beautiful work of art is. This is not the majority of customers. This is the minority. Those are the people I’m seeking.
And I have to say that I get a real warm and fuzzy feeling when I meet a person who is going to love something like that Midnight Scarf as much as I did. It took a long time to make it. It makes sense that it may take a long time for the right owner to find it. It’s like a puppy waiting a long time the right person to adopt him.
I’m also kind of excited because now I can start a new lace scarf, which I probably fall in love with as well!
To my surprise, I did really well at this show!