NEW PALTZ, N.Y. — Ulster County Fair offers the makers of craft items an opportunity to connect with real-world consumers in a way that can’t be done in the alternative universe of online shopping.
Kerhonkson creative specialist Carrie Donnelly did bring her QR codes and web addresses to the six-day event but finds there is little that makes up for having visitors provide an in-person touch when making purchasing decisions.
“I started out selling Tupperware and going to craft fairs,” she said. “I had my first child and was looking at hair bows that were really nice but realized I could make them just as nice and make them less expensive. That’s what I started out with. I watch YouTube videos and followed instructions that people gave me, then began making other things because I needed stuff that was for boys.”
After expanding to keychains and lanyards, Donnelly upped her talents with T-shirt printing and making sure all her products were being displayed well.
“I have a friend who told me that if something is not selling, it means that you have change the display,” she said. “It means that it’s not being seen or it’s not in the right position. Even during a show, I’ll change a display if I don’t see people looking at it.”
Donnelly said her circuit of events is limited to travel time of about two-and-a-half hours. It is the events that help bring customers to her online endeavors, which she acknowledges are based on having a personal connection.
“I will take pictures and post them, and then people message ask if I still have them but for things like Etsy it’s hard to keep up with the inventory,” she said. “During the summer, I’m booked every weekend June through September, and I’ll put the QR code on my card so people can easily find me.”
Sayings and pictures are put together on items when Donnelly is struck by artistic inspiration.
“If I see pictures online or sayings online I’ll match them up,” she said. “I started telling my husband to go sit on a cactus because he was driving me nuts and the next thing I knew I saw this picture of a cactus … so I made a t-shirt that says ‘go sit on a cactus.’”
Donnelly was also seeking to provide quality that customers would appreciate, which lead to her learning to print with sublimation.
“I really like to learn so I watched videos on printing with sublimation and found that it was something I could do well,” she said.
The Ulster County Fair at the county fairgrounds on Libertyville in New Paltz runs through Sunday. Visit ulstercountyfair.com for more information.
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