May 3, 2002

Opportunities for Crafters in San Diego

By Valerie Colston

Is your idea of an exciting night out is at the midnight madness sale at your local Michael’s Art and Crafts stores. You know who you are-the crafting obsessed. You love creating and giving your handmade gifts to appreciative friends and family but you are tired of contributing to the billion dollar craft industry and getting nothing but a pat on the back in return. You would like a piece of the crafter pie. Does this sound familiar?

There are many opportunities for marketing your crafts in San Diego. Consignment stores, weekend craft fairs, city festivals, the internet, farmers markets, and other venues provide arts and crafts artisans with a low cost solution for testing their handmade products and selling skills. Even beginners can find a niche for their crafts in the San Diego crafting market. . .but you need a who, what, and where plan.

Who Are You

First you need to decide who you are. You are a crafter, yes, but also a designer, an illustrator, an artist. Don’t limit yourself. You are also a jewelry maker, photographer, doll maker, wood sculptor, furniture maker, gift designer or more. The more hats you wear the more you may be able to sell. A crafter may be limited to Arts and Crafts fairs, and Consignment stores. An artist, however, can exhibit in the many art galleries throughout San Diego County.

What Should You Sell

Perhaps you are a skilled woodworker. Handmade, hand carved birdhouses are your specialty. You’re good at it. After all, you’ve been creating them for years. Don’t limit yourself. Use your expertise to expand your market. You could also create custom functional furniture, picture frames, wooden toys, dollhouses, and other items. You could sell your patterns or even cut wood patterns as a paid service to other crafters. Painters can create portraits, paint on fabric, paint a mural for a local restaurant, create custom made mailboxes. Do you sew? You could make specially designed doll clothes for the many doll collectors across the U.S., create custom made clothing for local musicians, golf bag covers, ties, flags, or how about his and her matching boxer shorts. You are only limited by the market and your imagination.

Where To Sell

A good place to start selling your crafts is at craft fairs. Schools, churches, non-profit organizations, and local chamber of commerce sponsor weekend fairs and festivals. Entry fees for participating range from $25.00-75.00 dollars per weekend. Usually the sponsor provides a 10 x 10 space and table-sometimes electricity for an additional charge. Sponsors should tell you what licenses if any you will need to participate. You can locate a number of local Craft Fairs by subscribing to Craft Times and Craftmaster News .

Consignment stores such as the Craft Cottage 619-226-8556 provide the crafter with a space, and the convenience of a sales person. For these services the crafter pays a monthy fee and/or a percentage of the cost of items sold.

Online auctions such as Ebay and Amazon offer the crafter an easy method for selling their crafts 24 hours a day locally, nationally, and internationally. For a small fee and a little computer knowledge you can set up an online store at these sites.

Don’t Limit Yourself. There are non-traditional ways of selling your crafts. Remember, large corporations buy millions of dollars worth of business gifts; explore the local bridal industry; contact local contractors for the possibility of selling home related or custom designed crafts; hotels, hospitals, museums, and airports have gift stores that may be receptive to your handmade gifts; a local beauty salon may be happy to place your jewelry, hair assortment, or other gift items on consignment. Don’t forget the large department stores, and the small gift stores. The San Diego Zoo Giftstore will accept inquiries from local crafters. Send a letter describing your craft (you may send a photo or sample, but be sure to send a SASE for sample returns) to San Diego Zoo, Merchandizing Buyers, P.0. Box 120551, San Diego, CA 92112. Organization such as Friend of Cats sponsor craft fairs. Contact Louise at Squeaks Catique 619-528-1010 about upcoming craft fairs or consignment opportunities.

Enter your favorite crafts in the Home & Hobby Exhibition at the Del Mar Fair for just $5.00. Deadline for registering is May 10. Call 858.792.4207. There will also be a One Day Contest, June 15th at 1:00 p.m. Your handmade soft animal, doll or toy donation will get you a fee admission into the fair, and the possibility of a $50.00 first place award. Contact the Entry Office at 858.792.4207 for more details.

With a little research and hard work you can turn your craft into cash and have fun doing it.

Do you have a question about selling your arts and crafts in San Diego? Are you a consignment store, or do you know of a good local craft fair? Contact Valerie Colston at

Upcoming Art and Craft Fairs and Festivals

May 11th : Pacific Beach Community Foundation Block Party. 619-641-5823

May 18th: Kiwanis Club of Tierrasanta. 858-268-0044

May 19th: Escondido Street Fair. 760-945-9288

Valerie Colston, M.A. teaches “Where to Sell Your Crafts,” at Cuyamaca Learning Center, and is an instructor of other art classes throughout San Diego.

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