CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

A Guild Sales Booth

“That is so lovely!  Did you make it?  Do you sell your things?”

What weaver or spinner or basket maker has not heard those words from a friend, a relative, or even a complete stranger?
Most of us are hobby spinners and weavers, making things for ourselves and as gifts.  So there is no real outlet for us to sell a few items from time to time.  But if you are a member of a Guild, you are fortunate indeed.  Your Guild events can be a source of sales for you.

In 2001 Robin Lynde, a member of the Sacramento Weavers and Spinners Guild, suggested that we might have a small member sales area at our annual Open House.  Our Open House is a full weekend in February and public attendance varies between 600 and 1500.  The event is free and well publicized.  That first year there were a handful of sellers with total sales a little over $3000.

The rules for the Sales Area were simple:  allowable sales items are weaving of any kind (including baskets), handspun yarn, knitted items made from handspun yarn, millspun yarn from our own animals, carded roving from your own animals, and felted items.  No raw fleeces were allowed.

Before each sale, potential sellers must fill out and sign a contract stating what items they have to sell, a time that they will be available to work in the area, and agree to abide by all rules.   We require each seller to work a 2-hour shift, straightening and rearranging the sale items and assisting customers, answering questions, and of course encouraging purchases!  There are usually two or three people per shift.  We have 4 or 5 members who rotate working the Sales table, some are sellers, some just generous volunteers.  Our experience over the years has proven that it is better to have just a few people selling and writing receipts.  There are less errors that way.

After the sale all  monies and receipts are collected by the co-chair of the Sales Area, counted and hopefully balanced!  Then a spread sheet is prepared showing what each seller sold.  A copy of this spread sheet is given to each seller.  The money is then given to the Treasurer, who deposits to the bank and writes each seller a check for their total sales, less 10% for the Guild.  The first year of the Sale the Guild obtained a California State Sales Permit to cover sales tax.  That way, no seller needs to have their own Sales Permit.

The focus of our Open House always has been, and will always be, education of the public.  We have demonstrations and displays of every aspect of weaving, spinning, basketry, and weather permitting, dyeing.  Therefore, the Sales Area is relegated to the smallest area of our meeting place, a room approximately 16’ x 30’.  Over the years the number of sellers and merchandise has increased dramatically, making display of all the items a real challenge.  But so far we have not had to limit the number of items each seller is allowed to bring.  This year we had 22 sellers and total sales over $8000.  The public is very enthusiastic about the opportunity to purchase handmade items and meet the maker.  And our increasing sales of roving indicates that the art of spinning is healthy and growing!

Setting up a Sales Area for members of our Guild is hard work, but well worth it.  With the complete cooperation of all the sellers and the sharing of props with each other, the Sacramento Weavers and Spinners Guild annual Open House Sales Area has become a huge success!

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