Craft Fair

When preparing for snowbirding in Arizona this winter, I had to decide what to do about my ETSY shop. I don’t have a huge inventory or tons of traffic, but I decided to put everything in a plastic box and bring it with us. If an order happened, I could fulfill it from the road.

The RV resort has a store where residents can sell their hand made products. Last year I bought a cute visor cap and a water bottle carrier there. Apparently this store is well known in the area and gets shoppers from outside the park. I had the idea that maybe I would be able to sell my ETSY shop items at the store, but when we got there I found out it was closed this winter due to Covid.

The cap and water bottle holder I bought at the RV Park craft store last year

Instead of a physical store this season, a few residents had organized an outdoor craft fair once a week for a couple of hours. I decided to try selling my ETSY items at the event in the RV park.

My table at the craft sale

Notice the perfect fake grass behind my table, and in the next photo, some ladies practicing yoga on it. There is a nine hole golf course in the RV park with real grass, but other than that all the landscaping is desert appropriate.

Ladies doing yoga on the fake grass in the plaza area. Real grass on a golf hole in the background.

There is a big question of whether participating in a craft fair, or selling homemade products in general, is worth the time and effort. Whenever I think about it, I remember that I don’t want to make dozens of the same thing. I decided to try the craft fair at the RV Park, since the set up effort was minimal, I had the inventory all ready to go, and only a couple of hours per week was required.

It turned out that the woman who sold me the hat I bought last year was in charge, and my booth ended up being next to hers on my first day. I enjoyed talking to her about where she is from, how long she stays in the RV Park, what kind of sewing machine she uses, where else she sells her things, etc. She sells a large assortment of fabric items such as sandwich wraps, reusable snack bags, bags for microwaving a potato, aprons, small purses, caps, etc. She does all her sewing in the summer, and sells at this RV park, and at one other large craft fair in her hometown. The prices on her items were very reasonable. I have to wonder how much profit she is actually making after taking into account her time and the cost of materials. I told her about my struggles using a 40 year old serger sewing machine that takes forever to thread and then usually does not work right. After learning about her newer self threading serger, I am tempted to buy one for $1000.00 (or more). That will not help my bottom line.

Shown below is a sandwich wrap and snack bag I bought this year, which are lined with Polyurethane Laminated Fabric (PUL) that has a polyurethane film on one side to make it waterproof. PUL fabric is durable, breathable and waterproof. It was originally developed for hospital settings, but is now commonly used for diaper covers, baby bibs and other products benefitting from a waterproof layer. The information I found said it is safe for food and the environment, but I am slightly suspicious. Eventually whatever product is made with it will be in a landfill, but that has to be better than using disposable diapers, or single use plastic bags for snacks.

Sandwich wrap and snack bag made with a layer of PUL waterproof fabric

My wool yarn and hats were not in demand in Arizona. People walked by and admired them and chatted. It was pleasant for the most part and I enjoyed meeting other residents at the park. On the forth week, it was really windy. I was spending all my energy trying to keep things from blowing off the table, or running after things that HAD blown off the table. I was about to bail out and pack up my stuff, when someone pointed out a different place for my table that was less windy. I decided to give it a try. After that someone bought a hat!

Another woman sitting at a booth near me was selling handmade cards. It turned out that she was manning the booth for her Canadian friend who could not travel to the RV park this winter due to Covid. She was looking for kitchen scrubbies, so I told her I could make some if she bought the yarn.

The following week the woman brought me 4 skeins of YarnBee Scrub-ology 100% cotton yarn. I found a pattern on Ravelry called “Scrubby Set” by B.Hooked Crochet that looked good. After I figured out what was going on with the pattern it was easy and quick to make. However the yarn keeps catching, and if you yank too hard it starts to break. I made several scrubbies in time for the craft sale the following week, selling one for $5. I won’t get rich on that, but it is enough for 1 Caribou Mocha haha, except that they do not have Caribou Coffee in Arizona.

Four completed scrubbies

Later I bought three skeins of “Sugar ‘n Cream Scrub Off ” by Lily at Joann Fabrics. It is similar to the Yarn Bee yarn, but there are lengths of smooth yarn alternating with sections of the abrasive yarn. It is also 100% cotton. I knit up a few scrubbies from this yarn, and between the two types of yarn I sold four the next week.

Sugar ‘n Cream Scrub Off yarn and a completed scrubbie
Scrubbies from two kinds of yarn

My other experience with craft fairs was in November and December of 2019, when Torri and I participated in a Holiday Artisan Fair in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Getting all the inventory documented and tagged, and setting up the space, took quite a bit of time and energy. The booth was in a large space with many vendors and a common central sales counter, so I did not have to sit there or process any sales. I sold three items, but at the end one item was unaccounted for, probably lost to shoplifting. Not a good use of my time and energy.

I have some ideas for things to make that could be sold on a limited basis, but I won’t be doing any big art fairs or farmers markets. Strictly from a financial perspective, if you add up the hours I spent sitting at the craft sale in the RV park, compared to the amount of money I made, it was not a good use of my time. However in this case it was a nice way for me to get to know some people at the park.

Published by Meg Hanson

Hello. I am a recently retired empty nester. My husband and I moved to Jewett Lake in Otter Tail County, Minnesota, after living most of our lives in the Minneapolis area. I have no trouble keeping busy with knitting and spinning of wool, selling yarn and handmade goods, reading, walking, watching movies, surfing on the internet, traveling, doing bookkeeping for our family cabin, and spending time with family.

19 thoughts on “Craft Fair

  1. Hi Meg! Sounds like you generally enjoyed your time meeting people and sharing crafting stories. I really like your items, and can understand why snowbirds in AZ aren’t purchasing your hats. 🙂 What fun that you are following your interests and using the beautiful yarns you have. Happy hugs to you and yours~. M E

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The social and creative efforts are time well spent. Plus thanks for sharing it gave me a chuckle! It was fun to see the subject sponge in the fiber form!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Arizona looks lovely to this Upstate NYer. I have only tried selling at a craft fair once. I did not like it. I do find it better to team up with one or two others so you don’t have to bust your hump getting a full table. I love Caribou coffee!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your work is so beautiful. Please be sure to link to your etsy shop again in fall – when I start thinking about Christmas shopping. Anytime I have thought of making things to sell, I can always think of easier ways to earn more money than I would make. Sometimes though – there are added benefits, such as you mention. Or in some cases, all you want is just a bit of fun money. I also think handmade gifts are the best. Enjoy your day!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Selling at a craft fair sounds super hard. It would be such a bummer if you paid big money to participate in the fair and then didn’t cover your expenses. Takes really dedicated artists, or people who can’t balance investment and expenses! But they are great money makers and exposure for some artists. The Uptown Art Fair is back on for 2021 (yah!) and their website said their artists and vendors sold something like $1.2M in 2019.
    I am curious how effective on dishes are the scrubby cotton items. I will check them out when you get back to MN!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Meg. Thanks for folllowing my blog. You like to make the same things I make and found that an outlet is hard to find. I’m glad you have a park that is willing to have a craft fair!
    When boondocking, I don’t get to see anyone and when I do, I end up giving my crafts away. This year was masks! Keep up the beautiful crafts and see you down the road.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that you bring your sewing machine on the road. We are hoping to buy an RV, so I am interested in your glamping experiences as well as your crafting experiences. Happy Camping!

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      1. Thank you! I never have electricity when boon docking so I have a 1000 W Jackery power station that can be powered by the Sun using a solar panel. It provides all the power I need. For the sewing machine that I take outside sometimes, I have a little 160 Watt Jackery. They came out w a new one that is 300W and it will ring the coffee maker too! Lol

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      2. I was wondering about how you powered the sewing machine. My husband has done some “car” camping, but I need a bathroom!!! We are trying to learn about the options for using an RV with and without hookups for electricity/water/sewer so this is very helpful info.

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      3. Go on YouTube and watch Creativity RV. Robin wrote a Be A Nomad Change Your Life ebook on Amazon fir $2.99 for a special sale. Its a fantastic book whicn is living with active links and it us very helpful. She was in insurance and is very knowledgeable on buying and selling RV’s. She had Class B+ Van, an another bigger one and settled on a huge 5th wheel with a $40k truck to haul it.
        Watch her videos. Never buy new! Get a used year or two model an you won’t regret it. I bought 2 brand new rigs. Class C Thor Chateau 24′ long and there were all kinds of water issues with it. Had to trade it in to get this one at this price because I could not sell it in good faith with the water issues it had. Thor had it 2 Months and could not fix it. I had it 3 years and said enough! Go 30′ or less to get in National Parks. Lots of restrictions on size. Good luck.

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  7. Oh oh the bathroom, I have a toilet, sink and shower in my van ar 22′ I would not say its a couples coach like dealers like to call it. They all have black tanks (poop and pee) and separate grey water (dish water, shower waste water). Its how you use them is the secret. I never put toilet paper in my tanks. Use doggie bags for that. I use a hospital triangle and bowl to collect urine and put it in a separate jug and dispose of it at a restroom at a rest area or water a bush in the desert. It is organic after all. Even emptying the tanks at a dump station is no biggie. Just always have the hose in the whole before opening the valves!! Black always first, then grey water to flush the hose. All dump stations cone with water hoses to clean your hoses. Some rigs come with black tank flush jets you hook a hose to to spray sides if tank. But you must gave the valves open so you don’t back up the tank and spray out the top! I have never used mine. I just fill the toilet bowl with water and give it a hard press on the flush pedal. It goes into the tank with force and cleans the sensors. It works. I know TMI but wanted to ease your fears of bathrooms in RVs. Ha

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