= Thoughts after my first farmers market =

First I want to say thanks to everyone here at r/woodworking for inspiring me to give selling a try. It was a good day and I will definitely be returning the following weeks. Here are some things I noticed about sales and what I'll likely change over the next couple weeks

*Booth setup was laid out to draw people under my canopy, but most booths at this market keep the tables at the front. Despite my efforts to get people inside, most walked to the side to look at the items on the tables. Next week I'll likely lay my tables out at the front of the booth to allow easier viewing

*Items: I should have guessed that the cheaper items sold the most. I had Drunken Woodworker inspired wine displays and I sold 7 of my 8. I had a few magnetic bottle openers sell, but I need a better way to show they catch the bottle caps. I'm pretty sure once I get a little display to show it vertical with the caps on it people will be more interested. Lastly I sold a long grain cutting board and a double salt cellar. Not bad for a first week, and I only expect more sales as the weeks go on and the market gets busier

*Competition: How do you guys deal with competing vendors at your markets and fairs? There's one other woodworker at this market and while he primarily sells wine barrel furniture (which looks pretty cool btw) He's got cutting boards that undercut my pricing by about $10. I'm pretty sure he's lowering the price because he can compensate with the profits he gets on his furniture, but do I stay firm at where I am, or adjust?
*Items for sale: Seeing that cheaper things sell well, I'm trying to think of other items I can put at the $20 price point. (Wine displays are $15) I don't have a lathe so any turned projects are out, but if any of you have a good idea that would be fabulous

Overall I had fun. It was tough and I was definitely tired and sore from standing for 5 hours but I made a couple hundred bucks I otherwise wouldn't have. Thanks everyone for the support and examples you've been. Feel free to leave feedback or share ideas. We're all in this together!

20 bucks is the perfect price point. If you can make profitable stuff at 20 to 25 bucks, do it

Also, cutting boards. My wife sells tons of them. We just did a "let's be real" assessment

Let's be real about species. We don't make fancy ones with exotic wood unless by request now. Why? People don't care. Woodworkers care, customers don't. Most people think you stained it. When you explain there is actually wood that color, they say "oh, that's nice dear". A long grain maple board isn't going to get you any karma, but it's going to sell instantly

Let's be real 2 - price. We are like that undercutting guy. Why? A decent sized (12 x 18 x 1.5) maple, cherry, birch, walnut, or any combination of such is less than 10 dollars in wood, glue and sandpaper (2.25 board feet). So 35.00 is over 300% markup

Yeah, yeah, pay yourself, your an artist, blahablah. Sorry, but that's a stretch. This dude is an artist. /u/tpodr kills it with his boxes. I'm a hack in garage

So just have fun. It sounds like yiu had a great time. Make what you like, and charge fair market for the item

As far as other woodworkers, that could be me in the next booth, or anyone here. You already have something in common. Go make friends. You'll probably find he's more interested in giving you tips than stealing your sales

Do the math and figure what your hourly wage would be if you lowered the current board

Competing for price is a slippery slope. Trying to make your product better (different species, patterns, shapes, etc) may be a better option

You look like you have a decent amount of room. Try setting up a "workshop". Makes dead time productive, and make people feel connected to how their product was made

That's awesome! Thanks for posting this and being a source of inspiration. I agree with /u/CaptainCaswell in that there are a lot of options with your area that can increase interest in what it is you do

First, build some cheap display stands. You could do wooden crates or whatever, but make them of varying heights. On the stands, have your items propped up so potential customers can really see details without having to walk in

You can have your displays themed to show how the items would appear in context, for instance, you could have the cutting boards surrounds by fake vegetables, dinnerware, etc. The bottle openers could have some bottles nearby and ready for demonstrations

Lastly, you could bring in almost finished items and actually show people how you plane the wood, apply finish, create a luster on the wood. It would allow them to grasp how much time and skill goes into creating these things. Consumers are used to seeing mass produced items and don't understand the work and scrutiny we put into our craft

Additionally, I've noticed that a lot of people I interact with that aren't creative or involved in woodworking have a hard time visualizing how something will look. Filling that gap can help set you apart from competition. Also, don't try to match prices of competition. But you can have several items that are easy to make and sell for cheap. Feature those and when people buy them, maybe hand them a pamphlet with a discount coupon and some educational material about whatever the discount is for (e.g. cutting boards)
In terms of your $15 - $25 price point stuff, back in the days before I was a turner, I busted out a batch of these little boxes for xmas gifts one year. Real easy to do- just need a router table with a dovetail bit to make the sliding lid and then hollow out the inside with a forstner. I think I got about 15 done in one weekend

If you wanted to make them fancier and charge more like $40-$50, you could chisel out the ridges between the overlapping holes and maybe add some leather or spray flocking to the bottom

I would think to do that, but I forgot to mention that everything sold has to be food or food prep related. It's a new thing they started doing a few years back. Older vendors don't need to adhere since they're grandfathered in, but I'm new so I get stuck with it

I'm pretty sure once I get a little display to show it vertical with the caps on it people will be more interested

Bring a cooler full of bottled root beer. You can sell those for a profit, too, and in the process demonstrate the bottle holder. So long as it's root beer, you don't need a liquor license

Most bottled root beers are twist-off, but if you have the Root Beer Store in your area, you can find ones that require an opener

I have recently listened to the avid woodworker podcast interview with Shane Rodarte. It was pretty interesting. Wha he was saying was basically, don't look at the prices others make. Try to sell a story with your work. I guess wine barrel pieces have a story, but only about wine. I try to get into jewelery, and my pieces will be reflections of my landscape. Edit: Fom my experience of fairs it is also nice if you can show them how you have done it. Make pieces there maybe?
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