2019 Maker Fair Followup for the Vendors

Greetings Makers,
I hope everyone enjoyed the Maker Fair and did well and had fun. The purpose of this thread is to solicit comments and opinions on what went right and what more could have been done to make it more successful. Taking part in a craft fair and sponsoring one are two different things so the expectations can be quite different. Since it sounds like we all would like to see more of these events now is the time to learn from our efforts.
So PLEASE - take a moment and add to the discussion on your experience, contributions, and more. Be honest, and keep it civil and lastly thank you to those who participated, planned and helped.

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This was my first Maker Fair although not my first rodeo. I’ll share what I know:
The sign-up was easy enough. Just had to find Beth @dryad2b to let her know I wanted to participate and pay my fee. At $10 it’s a great bargin as shows go (some of us have paid hundreds for shows). Personally - I’d like to see that raised to $20 IF and ONLY IF the fees go into paid advertising on both google and craft fair websites.

I’m sure advertising is going to be one of the big points of contentions. What did we do? What more could have been done. Before we answer that generally, What did each of the vendors do to help promote their own participation at this event. Sadly, I did none for myself. My contributions was gathering pictures and making suggestions and help setup.

Did we see enough people? I think all will say is you can never have enough people. There were a few peak moments but it was never felt full. What I would want to know is what was the mix of the public vs. members. In short, makers are lousy customers. Yeah I said it. It is the nature of makers that they are simply going to look at your wares and say “yeah, I can make that”. In fact several of us not only heard those exact words but were asked “I want to make that - when will you do a class on making them”. Here’s an idea - if you like it- Buy it. So back to the matter, I’d like to hear from the tour guides as to how many tours they gave to the outside guests which is probably a better metric on how we did.

Setup was fine but random. We know what each room holds. I would personally like to see a room matrix next time, so that as tables are sold they can be marked with the vendors name and location. I’m not a fan of holding table locations for people. Sign up is first come first served so this boils down to sign up early if you want a specific spot. The one fail was not enough tables. We pulled it off because some people brought their own. I couldn’t fit one in my Kia Soul so I had to rely on DMS. Like I indicated we know what each room will hold so lets set a limit based on that and have people indicate in advance whether they need a table or will be bringing one. Generally shows are selling slots and expect vendors to bring their own and will charge for a table rental. I don’t think we need to go that route, but it is something for consideration. The flip side is that the vendor usually expects more service for the money.

The show was Saturday. Planning and promotion for next year (if there is one) needs to start today not one month before the event. There are lots of websites for shows that vendors use to sign up. The public uses these same sites to find out what’s coming up. Now is the time to research these. Closer to home - was Craigslist used? They have a community category for advertising events. that didn’t occur to me until later but we should use all available free venues. Does the Thrifty Nickle paper still exist? I suggested signage at the 3 corners of Monetary lane and at the highway exit. Did that happen? I know it was cold and wet but that is important.

Anyway, to wrap it up. I enjoyed the show mostly because of the other vendors. I made enough for dinner and drinks. I’d like to see the next show much better prepared and think we need to start a list of things to do starting now. cheers!

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  • Fees: $10 was very good. I agree that I would be willing to pay $20 next year if it went to marketing. PR should decide what their marketing “wish list” costs would be and we can figure out what’s feasible.

  • Marketing: I posted on my business instagram and facebook in the weeks leading up to the craft fair, and every day the week of. I posted on my personal facebook the day before. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how much that helped because most of my facebook friends who aren’t DMS members are from out of town. Several of the attendees mentioned to me that they had seen the signage from the road and decided to check it out. It didn’t occur to me until after that there is a person on the Dallas reddit page who compiles a list of things to do in the area and we probably could have been mentioned there.

  • Did we get enough people? I feel like we had a lot. I wish there were a way to get an official number. Perhaps we could count waivers? Our room (pillar of solitude) had some lulls, usually not more than 10 minutes or so. We had a ton of looky loos who just came through and didn’t buy. For the most part I agree with you @nicksilva about Makers being terrible buyers as I had MANY ask when I was doing an alcohol ink and/or resin class. However, all three of my sales yesterday came from DMS members.

  • Set-up: As that I was the person who started the original thread back in october asking if we were going to do this winter fair I feel like I was one of the first to sign up. I would have really liked to have the option to get one of the booths in the Lecture Hall since I feel like some of those booths had more room to set up behind them. I had several large paintings that I had planned to put on full size easels behind me that I could not put up because there wasn’t even room behind me to lean back in my chair, much less have items displayed. Please note that I am not blaming anyone for this issue as I wasn’t even here for the set-up. I’m sure the volunteers did the best they could, but perhaps next year we can add that first come/first table pick option.

  • Sales: I personally only made three sales. I have a few notes for myself for next year. I’m going to remember to bring a table cloth this time, as well as a banner with my business name on it. I’m looking to redesign my logo to be easier to read. I’m going to look into some cheaper options in the $5-$20 range to offer. I feel like a lot of browsers really wanted to buy but they hadn’t budgeted at the prices for my originals. I have a feeling dye sublimation will be utilized for this.

  • Other thoughts: I personally just want to thank everyone who helped with this. This was my first craft fair. I have been a bit intimidated to sign up for other craft fairs because of my medical/energy issues. I was the only one manning my booth, where I saw several that had two or more people. It honestly meant a lot to be able to go to a craft fair where the other vendors knew and cared about me enough that I felt comfortable leaving my booth alone for a minute to go use the bathroom or get a drink. I was able to pull a more comfortable chair over without any fuss. It was invaluable for me to be able to be in this kind of environment for my first craft fair. I’m not sure if I will sign up for more craft fairs (still considering), but I will participate in the DMS craft fairs as long as I’ve got products to sell. Thank you @dryad2b for running this thing. Whenever I bring up an idea at DMS I worry that I’m going to be the one who has to lead it and with this being my first time as a vendor I wasn’t comfortable with that. I’m really glad that you stepped up and did that.

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Definately a to-do. It’s what is referred to as a ‘bread and butter’ item. They are usually quick sales which go to paying off the booth/table while we wait on that big ticket item to sell. Cheers!

P.S. My b&b was some wood Christmas ornaments. At $2 each they paid for the table.

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I’ve already been digitizing as many of my originals as can fit in the high res scanner in CA, so I’m thinking I’ll offer some dye sublimation options. I’ve had people ask about those tumblers and water bottles, and I think some coaster sets and/or ornaments should be pretty easy/cheap to make.

Edit: If anybody knows how to add gold foil to dye sublimation PM me. I’m currently in the researching stage.

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I’m definitely an outsider to all this, but it seems backwards to try and sell goods to an audience of people who explicitly want to make things themselves. Maybe something to look into next year would be setting up a fair in a more well traveled location like a park or square near a shopping district.

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That’s fair. I think the idea is that it brings people into the Makerspace and gives the vendors the chance to show off their items. I still got enough sales to make it worth it, especially for the low event fee, and I’m going to start offering classes. I’m considering also offering to do birthday parties and corporate party “workshops” in the not too distant future, so the fact that people wanted to learn how to do my craft isn’t so much annoying to me as it was just counterproductive to my goals for the day.

(our) Makers were in no way the target audience. If we do it outside it would not be a DMS event and of course would be much more expensive. I for one don’t plan to be outside in December.

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That’s a totally cool idea. That’s the other side of doing shows - making contacts or getting special orders. Good Luck.

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I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome that it brings people in, but I think we’re discovering there isn’t much overlap between the people who want to buy yalls work and the people who want to join the makerspace. Doing something outside the space could still get our name out there, but will hopefully result in more traffic for y’all.

Glad to hear it worked out though!

I don’t see why not, it’d be neat to do a ‘hey we’re dms and this is what we do’ event.

Ok, will throw in my two cents for what it’s worth.

First, yes, had a good time, thank you to everyone for volunteering your time and effort to this event, from everyone who got this thing rolling like Beth, and getting this promoted, PR, oh, boy, too many people to mention, to set up, vendors, people giving tours, thought it was nice to see so many people working together.

The low price to the fellowship fund, thought it was good to get more people participating. As some mentioned, wouldn’t mind doubling it to get a bigger budget for PR.

These kind of events are cool to me for gifts, to see what people work on and promotion of the space and networking, I’m up for a yearly event at this point, possibly twice a year if there is interest.

As for promotion, just shared the facebook event with friends. I do feel that the earlier facebook posts, the listing with art and seek, signs and the various PR measures made a big difference in turnout.

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We do have a table on the 14th city of Mesquite has invited us to show what we, do, make, are about. Could take a couple items from each vendor and show them off / put price tags on them

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It would definitely be more expensive, and we’d have to rent a venue. Plus, there would be little-to-no “accidental” promotion – we would have to do some serious, genuine advertising.

And, somebody else would be doing that. I’m already up for next year – Nick mentioned that we should get dates set for Next Year now. I won’t be working on that this week, but I’ll get started next week.

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And, the fact that we weren’t expecting big sales is one of the reasons that the entry fee is a mere token amount.

Yeah – in general one does better with the “bread and butter” items. Even if we are mostly marketing to fellow makers, the sensible ones know how little time they’ve got left before the holidays. They may be fascinated by your efforts, but they should realize that they aren’t going to learn a new craft and execute it before the holidays. But – they probably aren’t thinking of gifts so much in the higher ticket items. Especially since that would be a gift that they didn’t have a specific thing planned for.

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Charging more for advertising – I will sic PR on this. The thing that concerns me is how much more direct advertising might cost. I’m not sure we would get anything worthwhile for a few dollars more. I mean, if we chipped in an extra $10 each, that would’ve only been an extra $250. I think most big advertising is more than that. (I could be wrong…) The FB ad that Freddy boosted probably helped, and was within that budget. We got on the KERA list of “things to do”. I’m not sure if Dallas Morning News still does that sort of thing, or the Observer.

Set-up. Cats were only semi-herded. I didn’t plan on Lecture Hall at all, but it flowed that way. The minions did what they thought was best… Specific requests were followed. Kris asked for extra room. I guess that’s more the takeaway there – folks got what they asked for. Next year I’ll make sure to let folks know that they can start setting up as soon as we get the tables in place. Granted, I didn’t originally make the set-up very early, as I didn’t want to block the classrooms out if folks wanted to actually them for classes. That may not be a necessary concern. To me, I don’t do Friday night classes as I don’t see that as a time that many folks want to attend a class. Throw in the fact that it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving, and there was maybe one class in the whole Space…

I should thank @nicksilva for showing up about 5-ish, and doing much of the clearing and table moving by himself. Thanks to all who helped!

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I’m with you on the “not outside in December”. December weather is entirely too variable to plan outdoor events. I used to try that, and I am Done. It could be beautiful. It could be snowing. It could be a cold, nasty driving mist (bad for paper goods and customers don’t show up). The wind could be strong enough to bend 1/2" thick poles…

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This was my 3rd maker Faire and I always enjoy them but here are a few items for feedback:

On the sign up list for next year add a small list of things for new vendors such as bring your own table covering, way to collect money, and a suggestion of a good price point to sell at such as $5-25 items.

Music: we Chromecast holiday soft rock in the lecture hall, it was fun and inviting.

Most makers love to see what other makers make. I love owning items other makers make.

Thanks to @dryad2b, @nicksilva for setting up and running and a shout out to @FreddyCalvert and @thefinal for manning the waivers for outside guests to come visit. You guys rock!

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I’m not sure this will be shared by the originator so I will share the comment concerning the appearance of DMS. Messy is an understatement. People had to of course walk thru the common room and the galley to get and by the 104 entrance to get to the show rooms.
The common room and galley are constantly in a state of flux but the galley was especially messy. the 104 entrance has pretty much looked like a afterbirth since it moved. I know makers don’t especially care, but one of the purposes of events like this is also to bring in the public. And if first impressions are anything the messes can have an impact. Some effort should be put into clean up just as we do for the open house events - at least in the path taken. Just paraphrasing it so don’t kill the messenger. cheers!

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$10 is a steal, I’d pay $20 to help with advertsinng for next time. Most of my items are <$20 so I did pretty well. About the same as last year if I recall. According to my Square reports, my average sale was $22.

I played some Coffee House music in Interactive because dead quiet is uncomfortable.

I did have a lot of people asking about Leather classes as Nick noted. In fact, I was just talking to Tracy about changing what I sell a bit, so it’s more geared toward Makers.

Soo, yes, I’d do it again. I think a second show in the spring is a good idea. I’d pay more for the table, and would really love more advertising for non-maker visitors.

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