My idea: faire merchanting - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 01-11-2010, 04:52 PM - Thread Starter
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DH and I are in the SCA, a medieval re-enactment group. We make a lot of things ourselves: soap, wooden toys, basic leather goods, padded toy swords, basic furniture, dyed things, clothes. I'm thinking about starting up a small store at the events we attend and sell toys and gifts. There isn't enough for kids to do at these things or really to buy for them either. Ideally, once we get far enough that it's large with lots of things, kids can play there as long as they bring a responsible adult too, including mine. I'd need to bring a babysitter for my oldest and keep the baby with me.

Merchant fees are low, $0-$5 at most events. I'd need tables ($60) and *eventually* a larger medieval tent than we have($1000). DH wants a pavilion anyway merchanting or not though. I know how to design and code websites, I guess I could set up a web presence too, DH has paypal stuff set up already for other things. I know about vistaprint, I'll get business cards.

Unfortunately I would need to lay out a lot of money to get materials and start making products for the store. Some stuff I have already, but some stuff I'm out of. To do most of the products I want I need about $500 worth of materials.

What should I consider when starting this up? Should I try and do just a few things right away that won't take a lot of investment but might not sell well and wouldn't give much variety? Or hold out til I might be able to make lots of things? What would you want to buy at such a place?
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#2 of 4 Old 01-11-2010, 08:05 PM
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Look at selling at Ren Fests too. We actually just made friends with a couple who do what you're talking about. He has a leatherworking store (makes guitar straps for Disturbed I think it was!) and does the SCA stuff as well. We've been thinking about something similar but different format and this is what I took into account for expenses.

*storage of merchandise
*length of time to produce
*costs of materials
*marketing materials
*website presence
*costs of booth items (racks, tables tableclothes, etc.)
*costs associated with travel to and from events, as well as lodging, etc. for events
*shipping methods and costs

For merchandise to offer, I'd offer either 1-3 really good products and do them well with variety within them (for example really put the effort into the soaps with quality labeling on them, and for SCA probably cloth wrapped, etc. with about 5 varieties rather than 2 soaps 2 of this 2 of that, etc.) and then slowly add things in as you can or else I'd have a small selection of many things and set it up to take orders on things with a decent turnaround until you have the capital to get a good stock.
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#3 of 4 Old 01-11-2010, 08:33 PM
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at any sort of festival I am most likely to buy something pretty but inexpensive for me or something the children can play with right away. I would pick 4-6 toys (be sure you have equal amounts of stuff that appeal to boys and girls) and make about 3-5 of each item. Pick toys that can be opened up and played with right away. perhaps something that fits into the theme of the festival.

It sounds like most of the associated costs have been covered. be sure to look into sales tax laws as well as anything the festival requires (sometimes insurance). Tables, storage, if your items become big you may need another way to transport them. So keep your hauling needs in mind when producing stuff. and you are not just hauling your items but your tables, tent, storage containers, etc. (definitely get a tent. you don't want your product ruined from weather).

and finally, careful with vista print. I got some cards for our homeschool group there and realized later that in order to get my free cards I had inadvertantly signed up for something that involved charging my card every month (you pay shipping) also, when considering shipping costs, printing my own is almost the same and the graphics are more related to my actual business.

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#4 of 4 Old 06-17-2011, 03:40 PM
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hi i have been a merchant at faire and sca events when going into these type events,i always plan on a tripling formula if it costs me $5 i must sell it for $15, this allows for, booth fees and expenses,replacement of the item for the next faire ,and one third to feed myself.i also look for well established faires .as far as products go selling kits does well for sca,i heard often" we could make those at home" so kits and supplies to do it go well. at ren faires i have to remember the family pays to get, in they always eat, and they want a gift to take home all to fit in a reasonable budget so i have found the $20 price range fits well with a turkey leg and a drink and ticket to get in! i try to make or resell items which are useful handbags pouches belts bowls cups boxes,etc. items which will translate into the mundane world also. so good luck just to encourage you i am fat the term starving artist does not need to be true!!

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