This weekend, I vended at a rather large Christmas Fair here in Knoxville. I knew that there were going to be commercial vendors, but I was told that they would be kept separate. Unfortunately, this was not the case. There were very few true craftspeople (several people looked like their items were handmade, but after talking to them I found out that they were imported). There was an abundance of the same craft, which created too much competition (Sadly, many knitters/crocheters grossly underprice their items...which hurts us all. I would consider my items underpriced, but I am attempting to have penetration pricing (Look what I learned at school this year! LOL....Since I'm fairly new, I am trying to penetrate the market with lower prices.) And even my low prices are high compared to the casual seller that brings the price down for everyone.)
As you may be able to tell, this is a great pet peeve of mine. It hurts the entire market. That was not nearly the only problem with this show though. It was definitely not the place for my items. The show definitely had a "flea market" feel to it. With all of the commercial items, the people who attended the show were just looking for a deal. I know that I don't provide a deal. I know that you can buy the same items for cheaper at the Wal-Mart, Old Navy, etc. etc. What I provide is an opportunity to express yourself through your accessories. Granted, I know that most people cannot afford for everything in their lives to be handmade (myself included....but I'm working on that.) but I believe I am reasonably priced and I know that I do not create cookie cutter items. Personally, I am always trying to provide more and more unique items. I am by no means where I really want to be with my product line (Artistry is the beginning of where I want to go, but still not fully developed.) My ultimate goal is to sell one of a kind pieces (which is the case with the exception of scarves) that people truly feel show who they are.
I realize that this post is somewhat of a rant. I don't mean for it to sound preachy. Like I said, I am not always able to buy handmade. And I know that not everyone will feel like my particular style of products expresses their own personal style. But after watching so many people buy commercial products primarily because of the price, I just wonder what the future really holds for Gwendolyn's Gifts. I am constantly being told not to give up. I have lots of people who like what I make. But when do I stop being content with these "small successes" and face the music that making money with selling knitted items is unlikely? I've had posts similar to this in the past. I've always wanted to move into the realm of pattern writing and teaching people to knit. I have been sidetracked with Gwendolyn's Gifts because I truly do enjoy it so much (and those small successes have kept me going).
So what does this all add up to? That is what I have been asking myself. As it stands, I am planning on fulfilling my current commitments, but then focusing on school along with my TKGA Master Knitting Levels 2 and 3 plus the CYCA Knitting Teacher Certification for 2009. I'm sure that I will still do some Gwendolyn's Gifts activities. I love it too much to fully give it up (and I want to keep my finger on the pulse of the craft market to see if maybe it is all just bad timing with the economy). Of course, this is subject to change. LOL It has been a very taxing weekend and maybe I will have a better outlook by the end of the week (I'll have lots of family functions to rejuvenate me...or wear me out....depends on how you look at it!).
Thanks for listening to my whining! I have some pics of the show (and my new displays) that I will try to post soon (with holidays and finals coming up....it might be a long version of soon!) Have a great Thanksgiving!!!