Yarn Business, some advice

Hey folks it’s your friendly Fearless Leader here, offering some business advice to yarn companies big or small. Having been in your ranks selling my handspun yarn I have great empathy for vendor’s braving the various markets at events (big and small). At the Recent Sock Summit I heard tell of a few grumbles amongst the vendors because they felt the market place was too large to do them benefit. WOAH, you are so kidding me?

First of all, having been a vendor at various shows I can guarentee you that being in a small vendors market is no guarentee to making money versus being in a large show room. Second of all as a shopper I can tell you it won’t guarenttee sales either.

Why? I’ll tell ya why! Competition doesn’t decrease sales, monopolies do not guarentee sales (unless it’s a needed service like water or electricity), for consumer goods it’s what you got and how it’s displayed that makes all the difference. You don’t have to be into Feng Shui to understand that merchandising is an art form, and I am always intregued as I walk through a market place looking at the set up of the various stalls to see who created an inviting environment and who has not.

If you have your entrance barracaded with tables and stock behind you people are not going to freely waltz into your stall unless they are extremely extraverted. Likewise, you will not get people interested if you are so open and loosey goosey that the choices are overwhelming. You may want to read up on Feng Shui (at least a simple book) just to see how to make your booth attractive!  I’m not into Feng Shui much, but I know people who are and their homes always feel nice and I also know that how you display your goods and/or services makes a huge difference.

The next thing to consider is this, do you have anything unique to your stall/store? Put that up where people see it first. The biggest problem I saw for most vendors at the Sock Summit was the fact that about 60% of them were displaying various forms of Super-wash Merino sock yarn in various flavors. Some of the handpainted stuff was nice, and some of the quality of the fibers differed but in general if you all have the same thing, good luck with that. Also, if you are coming to either the Pacific Northwest OR the Northeast of the USA, understand that we have a bazillion local yarn stores and getting ahold of things like superwash sock yarn isn’t all that hard.

If you have stock you want to clearance, do it at a show, put a Clearance sign up and mark down your prices, people love a good deal. Not all of your stock has to be a good deal just some of it. Or if you have cute little doohickies like buttons, book marks, stickers, or stitchmarkers, put those up for sale where people can see them and impulse shop!

Now why doesn’t competition hurt you? Well, if you are smart about your business you will have something unique to your store and no one else will have it there! You should be able to see well in advance who is vending with you, check out what they have in stock in their shops online try not to dupilcate if possible, and if you do make sure your price point is a good one.

Big shows and vendors markets give consumers a lot of choice, and you make not make a lot of HUGE sales but you should make consistent sales. Caveat: You might just have the MUST HAVE product of the show and then you will rake in the dough!

A small market doesn’t mean you will make much money at all, more than once my higher priced handspun art yarn did ok, but faltered next to the guy who had discounted hanks of yarn! It was a small show, with lots of people, but the discount vendors made more…Why? everyone has a budget, most people do not have big ones, especially when they are traveling from out of town and have to pay for hotel etc.

Remember these simple rules:

  • Keep your booth open and inviting
  • Display your unique items up front
  • Have legible signs for sale and clearance items
  • Mark your inventory with prices
  • Highlight your strengths
  • Do a display of a technique or something special of what you do.
  • Smile
  • And make friends with your neighboring vendors, because you can send each other clients and customers!

Just some friendly advice from someone who has been in the trenches!

One response to “Yarn Business, some advice

  1. This advice also goes to brick-and-mortar shops — and also consider the fact that some of your clientele might not be on two feet. People in wheelchairs and who use canes or walkers need clear areas to be able to move around and see what’s out there — and if you put stuff up too high, they’re not going to be able to see what’s there and thus you might lose a sale.

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