I get several emails a week asking for advice for working markets. Be it a retiree wanting a new hustle or a college student needing to earn food/rent. People want to know what to make, where to sell, how much to bring and how much to charge.
It’s impossible to answer questions like this because all craft skill level is taken away, all location specificity is gone, all competition is eliminated. You get a wide variety of people entering and leaving market life like any business that is easy to enter, has low startup cost, yet is difficult to master. You have to be a marketer, accountant, designer, artist, salesperson, entertainer and sometimes carny. This is the work of being an art/farmers market vendor. It’s not the making.
My response to inquiries has to eliminate all of that.
Typically I’ll say there are no hard and fast rules. More variety is best (I never have enough variety), you will never sell more than 10% of available stock (if you do then you didn’t bring enough) and you can’t sell what you don’t bring. I price differently for different markets. If you don’t then you will lose sales or lose money. And yes you do develop a feel for what the customer will bear so I don’t label prices on big ticket items so I can adjust it up or down depending upon how much added value my salesmanship has brought to the show.
I also always like to mention that your time is worth something. Time includes: gathering material, transportation, marketing, paperwork, booth time as well as what you actually make. So that honey dipper you spent 5 minutes making needs to include its portion of all that other accumulated time. I seem to remember a salesperson adage that 90% of your time is spent looking for the customer. If you don’t pay yourself for that then …. And that’s someone who sells what other people make.
Costs also includes: rent (even if just a portion of mortgage of shop), insurance (portion), utilities (portion), tool depreciation (even if already paid), mileage, fees, display costs depreciated, etc… anything less and you are subsidizing a hobby not earning an income. And yes it’s subsidizing if all that other stuff was either given to you or paid for long ago. Just by others or at another time.
Also if you’re of the mindset that you just want to cover cost of material and maybe buy a new tool every now and then understand that the other vendors in all discipline of craft at the show might be trying to support a family. Rising tides raise all ships so don’t be the a-hole that sinks the fleet. Price dumping is not just an international tactic.