I get letters from time to time from jewelry makers who are disappointed in the results they’ve gotten from selling at a “show.” I’ve learned to ask what kind of show it was, and I’m no longer surprised when they reveal that they tried selling their artisan jewelry at a flea market.
If you’re serious about selling your handcrafted jewelry to the right audience, you should NEVER sell at a flea market or similar venue.
Some beginners mistakenly believe that it’s easier to sell at a lower-end event, thinking they’ll get some experience in selling without much stress. Others are attracted to flea markets by the relatively low booth fees. Don’t do it!
There are a few reasons why you should never sell at flea markets:
1. Flea markets are generally associated with bargains. Handmade jewelry is not a discount item. It commands a higher price than mass-produced jewelry because it is one-of-a-kind and individually created. The “context” of the flea market leads many buyers to approach any jewelry table expecting to find a bargain, and they are often disappointed (and rightfully so) when the price of the jewelry is much higher than other goods.
2. Flea markets offer all kinds of products, not just jewelry and accessories. Because you can find everything from used kitchen gadgets to sunglasses, overstocked hand-soap and “Precious Moments” tchotchkes at flea markets, jewelry is often the nicest item being sold. In jewelry selling, as in real estate, you don’t want to be the highest priced in the neighborhood.
3. The “anchoring” effect works against you at a flea market. The “anchoring effect” is a psychological phenomenon in which — when applied to retail — the first price someone hears tends to become an anchor point to which they compare all other prices they hear after that. So, for example, let’s say you hear that a good used 2005 Honda Accord should cost about $8,000. That number sticks in your mind, and — true or not — you begin comparing all prices for 2005 Honda Accords based on that number. This applies to flea markets, because when someone enters and sees they can get birdfeeders for $3, their sense of what’s reasonable becomes anchored to the first prices they saw. Artisan jewelry doesn’t sell for $3, so even reasonably priced earrings, for example, will seem expensive in comparison to the other prices the prospect saw first.
Artisan jewelry — the kind that you make — is special. It’s unique. It comes from your mind, and is created with your own two hands.
Don’t undersell it.
Don’t undersell yourself.
Exhibit and sell your jewelry at venues that match the quality and price of your jewelry.
You’re worth it.