Cash in on Your Hobby: Boutiques

These boutique markets pop up seasonally in your neighborhoods. They typically feature handmade goods, but you’ll also find higher end items like fine art and photography.

Heidi Loewen, co-owner of the Oh Sweet Sadie Art & Gift Show, shares tips for making it a success.

1. All shows are not created equal. There are some great, successful shows out there and choosing the right one is important. Some considerations:

• Decide if you want to get into every possible one you can for exposure, or if you’d rather find the one that is right for your product.

• Fine art will do well in some shows and hair bows and pettiskirts will do better in others. Some shows only accept 100% handmade.

• Smaller, less tenured shows shouldn’t cost you as much as ones that are established.

• Know where they spend their advertising money, make sure they have a proven good shopping crowd.

• Expo shows give exposure to more shoppers, but is it worth several hundred dollars in a booth fee? Will you be sharing a show with several other vendors who sell a similar product?

• Give a successful show a chance. A second or third time can help, particularly with more expensive or specialty items. It gives shoppers the opportunity to see and think about your product before they are ready to buy the next time. (As gift show owners, we often get calls and emails requesting info on items they saw at the show, but couldn’t buy at the time).

2. Keep up and create trends. Silk flowers are out. Fabric flowers are in. It’s important to keep up with trends or to create your own twist on one.

3. Create a space-effective and appealing display. We tell vendors:

• Look professional. If using a craft table, cover it to the ground. No one wants to see your back stock, garbage or even the table legs. Even better, use a piece of furniture…a hutch or sofa table that has drawers and cabinets that can open to display product. A “homey” feel is very appealing.

• Brand yourself. Use a professional looking sign with an eye catching logo. Many artisans sell at various places both in person and online. When shoppers see similar items for sale at different venues, it can boost your business to have an appealing BRAND that people think, “I’ve seen/purchased/heard of that before.”

• Use levels and height to your advantage. Most shows allot you a certain amount of space. Take it vertical, and you’ve just made your investment more worthy. Gridwall, pegboard, baskets, and covered baskets are all examples of this. It’s cost effective as well as easier to shop…people don’t have to bend over to look at your products.

• Fill it up. It’s uncomfortable to shop in a nearly-empty store. A smaller display that is full is better than a larger space that is sparse.

• Make it worth your time, or do it just for fun. I started into the boutique business 11 or 12 years ago with cookies on a stick. Each treat was a little piece of art. At first it was pure fun. Then I never wanted to make another cookie as long as I lived. So I moved onto a hundred other things that were fun and a little more worth it.

• Pricing tip: Bundle items: One item for $10, two for $18, that sort of thing. It seems natural to set your price and then offer a discount for purchasing more than one, but the wise business person would take their price point, $9, double that for their two-for price, then add to the original price point for their single price. The buyer gets a deal for buying more, but the seller isn’t out for selling more.

Contact Heidi about becoming a show vendor at the Oh Sweet Sadie! Art & Gift Show.

And be sure to visit her upcoming Valentine boutique:

Oh Sweet Sadie! Art & Gift Show

February 5th & 6th

9:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

SoDa Row, Daybreak

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