This year I’m trying to make my furniture building hobby official by turning it into a business. In the past I mostly built things for my home, and then when I wanted something new I just sold it on Craigslist and used the cash on lumber for my newest project. Now that I feel I have some experience under my belt, it seemed like the right time to jump on the opportunity to sell furniture for real. In January I used an insurance refund check to pay for my booth at the 2013 Wimberley Market Days. The first market was on March 2nd, and things went well. Very well, in fact.
It was a different tone than my trial run back at the December market. Then, I had paid out of pocket for the day rental fee, and was stressed the entire time about recouping that cost as well as the cost of materials for the things I sold. Miraculously, I did! I wasn’t very well prepared (ironically I had broken my foot about a month prior so I couldn’t build anything new), and had a few too many large items for a mostly smaller sized market. So this time I brought more things that could be easily transported. I brought in a step stool, bucket ottoman, made some new height charts (the big rulers in the back) and six vintage barstools as well as other pieces we built in the past that don’t have a place in the new house.
Oh, how those barstools nearly killed me! I planned to get started on them when my husband came home from overseas, but by that time I was completely wiped out by the whole single-parenting-a-toddler-24/7-while-pregnant. I needed to recuperate! Where normally I could have finished them by myself in two or three days, Jacob really stepped up and helped me get them done over the course of two weeks. I cut the pieces, then we tried a new method of glue and 2″ nails to piece the backs together (I really wanted to avoid all those Kreg holes that need annoying plugs that don’t fit well and leave an outline – and the glue/nail combo was PERFECTION!), then he helped me finish the bases, and I finished things off with the seats and braces. I hated that he had to help me, since he works outside all day and the last thing he wants to do when he comes home is build. But they’re my #1 seller and pull more people into the booth than anything else, so I really wanted to get them finished. Once we sanded them, I used a vinegar oxidation solution made with steel wool, rusted old bolts and a handful of pennies. It made a warm, pecan colored stain with a lot of depth. I topped that with Feed N Wax (a beeswax and mineral oil combo) that really made them feel vintage and worn. I sold 4 of them that day, so it was worth all the extra time and effort!
So, how did I do? Well, after the cost of the booth ($111 per month since I had to pay for the yearly dues as well as the structure this year), materials, sales taxes and income taxes, I made a PROFIT of $28. WOO HOO! I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, and probably breaks down to paying myself something like $2/hr for all the work put into what sold. But as my goal is to just not lose money this year, and since the booth is pre-paid with the refund check, I have about $139 to set aside in savings to file for my LLC later. I’ll need about $400 total for all the paperwork and fees. I’m really hoping to get there by May, so fingers crossed the warmer weather will mean more furniture sales!