Con-fessions from my First Time as a Vendor

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I’m back after a crazy weekend at my first show as a vendor. There were ups and downs and a definite learning curve. It took me a few days to decompress after the show and get my thoughts together, and there are still things that I need to reconsider.

Steel City Con (August 10-12, 2018) was the first show that I have attended as a vendor. I thought it was a logical choice because it is practically in my backyard (about 25 minutes away from home), and is a show that I regularly attend as a guest. The layout and format was something that I expected, so I thought that would greatly help to ease my anxiety about selling my Luvvies for the first time.

Leading up to the first day of the show, I was having severe panic attacks. I wavered between concern that I wouldn’t have enough items to sell to no one buying anything. I also had severe concerns over my price point. As it would turn out, to an extent, all three were logical concerns.

As we were setting up, one of the other vendors came over and she said to me that my prices were far too low. That with the time and effort each piece looks to have taken, I should charge almost twice what I was. But, I didn’t want to do that. Yes, I want to be able to make some money from my Luvvies, but in the end I still am learning the craft and don’t feel I can charge the higher prices that some people do, who have been doing it for much longer than me.

And so it begins…..

I’ve gone to cons many, many times over the years as a guest, but never as a vendor. With that past experience, I still thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect.

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I figured Friday would be pretty slow and then as we progressed each day things would get busier.

Now, I wasn’t completely prepared for how small the table was, nor was I prepared for how much space my Luvvies would take up. So, even though we tried to keep everything tidy, the display didn’t look as organized as I would have liked.

Also, because I didn’t want to clutter up the space too much, I didn’t put all my goodies out on the first day. I tried to put the pieces I was most proud of out, but then I left the others to fill in as items sold.

To my complete surprise, Friday was rather busy. It wasn’t crazy, but it was steady and it was busy enough that I was worried that if we did that well for Friday, Saturday was going to be bonkers and there was no way that I would have enough materials for the whole weekend.

Friday night I went home and immediately started working on projects to make sure I could add a couple new pieces the next day.

Over the course of the con, I was able to make all of the pieces above. I went back to the con the next day, ready for the rush of people: It was Saturday, there were big named celebrities on hand, we did well the day before…it was going to be chaos.

Having myself so psyched up, imagine my surprise that almost no one bought anything. In almost 12 hours of being at the convention, I maybe sold three pieces, which was a serious drop off from the day before. What had looked like a weekend where I was going to have to worry about not having enough stock, suddenly turned into a concern of whether or not I would be able to break even for the weekend (spoiler: I didn’t).

I tried to think Saturday night what did could have happened. Were my prices too high? There was nothing on my table more than $22. Was my craft not good? Were my pieces substandard? Poor quality? For a person who struggles with depression and anxiety (and occasional compulsive tendencies), my brain definitely went into overdrive.

The bad thing was the final day of the con, we had a good number of people stop by the table and look at the Luvvies, but no one purchased anything (until right when we were ready to leave). I have to say, by the end of the weekend, my ego was pretty much deflated and I seriously was reconsidering whether I wanted to have a business or not. I also learned I do not take rejection very well. If not for the fact that I already had non-refundable deposits on multiple shows, I probably would have said I was not doing any more cons again. But, I do have money for multiple shows, so I am committed and I will try again, and try to learn from this experience and learn what I can do better.

Overheard at Con

Sometimes I forget not everyone is like me: Not that I am a perfect example of what a person should be like, but I try hard to be considerate of other people, their time and their feelings.

It was amazing to me the number of comments that people would say right to me, or would say loud enough in passing that I couldn’t help but overhear. Whether the comments were meant to be constructive/helpful, I don’t know.

Some people were very complimentary. One kind lady told me my prices were the most reasonable that she had seen, and that I probably should consider increasing my prices. But for every kind comment, there were negatives. Once person said that my work looked cheap and wasn’t designed to last. Another said my Luvvies weren’t meant to be played with (which I had to contradict her because Desi and I personally snuggle every Luvvie). Several people commented my prices were too high. One person indicated that with Sunday as the last day of the con, I should have lowered my prices.

I really did consider what everyone said. Several of my friends said they actually thought my prices were too low and that people didn’t want to purchase because they thought that if I was selling the items that cheap that I must not think they are any good. No, even though I have low self-esteem, I am very proud of what I create and I adore for my Luvvies to find their forever homes.

Lessons Learned?

I won’t lie; coming home from con I got into a severe depressive episode. I was mad at myself; mad that I didn’t at least break even. I really started to doubt the whole concept. However, I knew that I couldn’t just throw in the towel after one bad experience. Several of the other vendors around me actually said it was an unusual con for them, too, and that they didn’t sell as much as they have in the past.

Leaving the con, I think my approach for the next one is going to be slightly different. I think I am going to focus more on superhero/geeky related items – not so many generic animals and Luvvies. So, for Rhode Island Comic Con in November, I am going to try to have more Flash, Captain America, Black Panther, Wonder Woman type dolls. Also I learned that the dolls were bigger sellers than the snuggle luvvies. Only one of the snugglers went the whole weekend, which stunned me; I thought those would be the first to go.

Although I am devising a new game plan for November, I also am keeping in mind that this may not work. Each con is going to have its own personality. It is entirely possible that Rhode Island would want a wide assortment of Luvvies and not just have the nerdy/geeky ones.

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I guess I just need to have patience (not my strongest suit) and see what formula I can find that works for me. Who knows? Maybe conventions won’t be the way forward for the business, or maybe it will help me build a following and then I can step back from shows, or maybe it will help me decide whether to keep moving forward or not. I’m curious to see what the next steps are going to be, and I look forward to sharing the adventure with y’all.

Hugs and cuddles,

Elisha

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