Tag Archives: Sock Summit

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!

Sock Summit: Day 2 more loot & Superheroey Goodness

Biff and BAM!

Biff and BAM!

Ok, so today I remembered to put the SD card IN my camera! Whoo! There’s a thought.  So I woke up late today, and had to run into Portland to get to Jasmin and the crew of the Knit More Girls Podcast. Despite the K word in the title of the podcast, these lovely ladies are cheerleaders for Croch-equality! Crochequity! and well all the fine stuff we are!

I realize that they have a lot of pointy stick listeners, and so I was to the point…get it? To the point? Never mind yet another horrible Fearless Leader pun. We had a fun interview, even though poor Jasmin was feeling quite unwell (she had recovered later in the afternoon, and I was so glad to hear that. Her mother is a doll by the way!) So, we discussed the publishing industry, and the CLF’s beginnings, I tried to plug as many of our beloved CLF members as I could think of (and I hadn’t finished my morning coffee yet, and I know I missed more than a few of you!)…I brought my tunisian knit stitch swatch with me, and showed them my version of the k activity. They were mystified and impressed! YAY…Damn fine if you ask me ;)(I really have my tension down on that stitch now, and it looks really polished)…but we also talked about how silly it is to judge crafts, and how important it is to enjoy what you do no matter what. Because really, isn’t that what truly matters? But I did not leave out how hurtful, and personal putting down crochet (or any creative activity) has been for so many people.  I even mentioned that I had been fully prepared to deal with an at best lack of acceptance of crochet at the Sock Summit, even in the market place …but was pleasantly shocked that I got NO SNUBBING! Not once. What a record…And I wasn’t even sporting CLF regalia when I did my first lap through,because  I was testing the waters. (Don’t worry had their been snubbery, I’d have gone straight into action using my Crocheted Super Hero Cape!)

So what did I get today? More Laurell Hill Hooks (cause I just knew I’d regret not doing it), and a skein of very pretty silk/linen yarn, and a fabo swift from Paradise Fibers, and some devil ducky stitch markers from our very own Craft Kitten’s friends! I also got some beautiful buttons and some camel/silk roving from Crown Mountain Farms!

OOOH OOOH! And I won a door prize! How cool is that or what? I never win door prizes, and it was two beautiful skeins of handspun! I was so stoked! They came with a Cowardly Lion Doll!

However the highlight of the day was doing a second “photo shoot” with CLF Member Mortaine, aka Stephanie of Handk…Heros! (Which is a bistitchural comic book btw and very freakin’ funny!) Check out more secret identity photos on the Handknit Hero’s website!

Before the fight

Sock Summit Today!

I am so excited, today I get to hit the market place at the Sock Summit! Yay! One booth I’m very excited to see is CLF Member Mortaine’s! She has a pointy stick name involved with her booth, BUT how can you look down your nose at handworking superheros? I hear tell there be action figures…stay tuned for more!little 003

So if you see me with the sock, yes that little sock pinned to my clothing, you know it is me!

Back to Portland, Sock Summit Here I come!

I am packed, ready to go, and I can’t wait to leave tomorrow morning! I get to go back to Portland, and this time we’re celebrating socks! Hopefully I get to see Karen Whooley who is the ONLY crochet teacher at the Sock Summit. I do have to say, I know she shall represent the hook fabulously well there!

For CLFer’s like me who couldn’t make the fabo stuff in Buffalo, if you can stop into the marketplace at the Sock Summit you may just spot MOI! I have a couple of fun, Crochet Ambassador pins to pass out. So if you see me ask if I have any left!

My miniature sock is firmly on a pin, and I shall proudly wear it! And I’m just finishing up the toes on a cute pair of Merino/Alpaca anklet socks I shall be sporting through my Birkenstocks 🙂 It is PORTLAND we’ll be hoofing and hookin’ around!

So, look for me, I’ll be hanging out in the market place. I may stop by for an little bit tomorrow when I reach PDX, and for sure I’ll be around on Friday and Saturday, possibly Sunday.

See you there! (If you’re not having your picture taken with me in Buffalo! LOL…you’ll see!)

Fair Week again…and the Sock Summit!

If you’ve been with the CLF over the past two years (which by the way our Birthday is July 26th!) then you will know that for about two weeks a year my life is consumed by the local community fair! I love it!

Today I went out to the fair grounds, opened up the old log cabin, and swept, mopped, and dusted. Things weren’t too bad, no rat droppings (yay!), a few mice had tried to take up residence, but thank heavens were not in evidence. I do not have to paint, or do any major repairs to the inside of the building. Starting Tuesday from 10 am until 6pm and on Wednesday from 10am to 8pm I will be recieving entries for the Hand Spinning and Fleece Department at the Stanwood Camano Community Fair. This really is the “Best lil’ fair in the West!”

If you are in the Puget Sound Area and want to have some real old fashioned fun with the family or sweetheart come on out! I’ll be running around doing Superintendant type stuff, but let the folks in the log cabin know you’re on the fair grounds and I’ll try to meet up with you!

We have the best time every year, and we’d love to see you! And yes, of course crochet is very represented!Bec Thomas and Laurie Wheeler Spinning

Oh and the Sock Summit! I’ll be leaving on Thursday Aug. 6 to head down to my friends’ house in Oregon City, Oregon (near Portland), to stay for five whole days! YAY! Some of that will be playing with sock yarn, and sockie kind of activities at the Sock Summit. Some of that visit though is just for me, unadulterated visiting with folks! YAY!

If you’re at the Sock Summit I hope to run into you at the mega vendor’s market, that’s where I’ll be lurking!

Interesting times…

So, there I was feeling all sad because I had to make a choice as to whether I went to Buffalo for some awesome crochet fiber fraternization, or upped the memory in the old laptop…Then I have a person PM me on Ravelry asking if I was going to go to the Sock Summit in Portland. My first thought was, “Isn’t that for knitters?”

Then I remembered that my friend, Karen Whooley, was teaching down there, and so I used the link on the front page of Ravelry to look at the website. Karen is teaching some pretty fun crochet sock classes, so there’s at least a bone being thrown to crochet. Not a big bone, but a bone and that’s something. I love crochet socks, I love designing crochet socks, in fact my best selling and favorite sock pattern (and first one that ever got published “for real”) is my Looks Knit, Great Fit Sock Pattern.

So, in reading the website, I see the vendors market…AHHHHHHHHHHH Fibery goodness. Yummy, fibery goodness, big big big vendor’s market…lots of opportunity to spread the good crochet word…And an opportunity to really bring home the point that the Crochet Liberation Front is PRO-Crochet and not anti-knit. An opporunity to wear some really awesome socks and show off the mad sock skills that crocheters possess 🙂 Ah yes, it is a true moment to evangelize the Crochet Good News! Hookaleuia I say! Let’s show em what we can do…

I’m a little sad that the sock museum doesn’t really give room for crocheted socks. Which is sad, because all through the ’30’s, 40’s and 50’s crocheted stockings were quite the thing. Beautiful lacey affairs that really were sexy and practical. But, I don’t think it’s any anti-crochet sentiment, I think it’s oversight…and like I said, I’m going to spread the good crochet news 🙂

So,  I will get to play with fiber, make a little noise, and have some fun in my favorite town on the planet. I also get to stay with my dear and awesome friends in Oregon City, and have some R&R after a very busy summer.

So, I guess things have just played out the way they were supposed to. A) I can afford this trip, B) I get to visit with my friends C) I don’t miss out on fibery fun! D) I can stir the pot even more in a heavily stick dominating arena 😉 GRIN…Oh now, I’m not going to make trouble, you know me, far too diplomatic for that, but let’s see if we can make some crochet positive change for the next Sock Summit 🙂