Something that I find amazing about working an art-related job is that there’s no telling what items will sell, or when. Selling chainmaille this past weekend at ConBravo! was mind-boggling – I never could have predicted the way our sales went.
First, some background. When Colleen and I first started attending shows with Ringcrafts, we had no idea what to expect. We didn’t know what would sell – or how much. As a result, we managed to over-prepare by quite a bit. We made five of each chainmaille design we had on hand, only to learn that at any given event we would rarely sell more than one or two of any given item.
Well, we learned. We cut back to three of each item, and when something proved popular we would up the number to five. Alas, as soon as we had plenty of said item, it completely stopped selling. Plus, we discovered that we were having trouble finding space to store and transport everything as our variety steadily grew larger.
So, we fine-tuned our system. When we make something new, we now only make one. If it sells, we make two for our next show. After that, every time we sell out of a particular item, we add one more to the total that we keep on hand – the idea being that we’ll always have one available for display. This is working remarkably well, and in part helps predict what is most popular and what will sell well.
This year, though, has been very strange. Items that have never sold before are suddenly our most popular items – alongside things that were popular in our first year selling, but that have received little interest for three years.
This weekend continued that trend, but in a new and unexpected way. Usually, most of what we sell are our low-to-mid priced items – keychains, bracelets, necklaces, earrings and such. We usually sell a tie or two per show and a few dragons, those being items that are getting into a higher price range.
At ConBravo! this weekend, we were astounded by the number of large items we sold – not only did we sell a beanie, belt and coif (higher priced items that rarely sell), but someone bought the chainmaille Spiderman mask that we’ve had on display for over two years. We were blown away – with the track record, we’d thought it would never sell.
We’ve talked to other vendors and artists, and they all say the same thing: you carry items around and have them on display for years without selling one. Then, suddenly, they’ll become the most popular product you have.
The ebb and flow of what is popular really is an inscrutable thing. I’m very interested to see in what direction this latest trend will carry us – and what will happen next.
Click here to find the charity anthology containing a couple of my short stories.