Monday, October 1, 2007

National Alpaca Open Farm Day, 2007

We participated in National Alpaca Open Farm Day. I wanted to test the "national advertising" and see how relevant it was to our market. We had approximately 50 people come in about 10-12 groups. Only two groups of people had seen it on TV. However, the local (and I mean local) paper had received a press release put out by AOBA and they contacted us to do an article. Most of the rest of the folks came because of the article. A few came by because they saw the signs.

I have read about other farms having over 200 people and I am always concerned about that happening but so far, our third Open Farm Day, it hasn't. I have been purposely low-key in my advertising each time to avoid being overwhelmed. This way, we get to spend time with each group that comes to the farm and answer their questions.

One woman stayed for a few hours with her kids and when no one else was there, I was able to let her in the pen and have her touch the animals, talk about each one and she fell in love with one in particular.

She has since visited at least one other farm and came to the Coastal Classic.

Saturday was a steady stream of people and Sunday was a bit slower but still folks came. The weather was windy but otherwise picture perfect and I thoroughly enjoyed the day. This was the first year I had yarn for sale. I had some of my own yarn for sale that I had had processed by NEWAIM Fiber Mill. Nancy Williams makes an absolutely splendid product, soft, soft soft.

I also had product from Fiber Pieces. This is a new collection process initiated by some folks in Yarmouth. They collect fiber up front and you pay $20/lb of fiber to have it process. Then when it is processed, you can get back fiber or cash. The minimum was 10 lbs of fiber I opted for 1/2 and 1/2 which gave me 22 skeins of yarn and cash. The yarns they make are blends and make beautiful heathered colors.

I sold both yarn and fleece and connected with folks in a fun way.

Things I want to do better next time:
  1. Signage. I am determined to work out something so that our sign posting is easy and highly visible. The signs we have made today do not stand out enough and even with directions people had a hard time finding us.
  2. A guest book to determine what people's real interest in- fleece, yarn, a Sunday drive, or owning alpacas.
  3. Someone spinning. I had someone spinning last year and it was a great conversation starter. I'd love to have more than one spinner here.
  4. Pricing: Pre-price the yarn to make it easier. It is hard because it in the rush of the moment it is easy to under or over price. I did both! I tracked down one customer whom I overcharged but she said she didn't mind because she loved the yarn so much and wanted the balance in the "farm yarn."
  5. More panels for penning animals in a simpler way. We just don't have enough panels and we end up moving them from places we need them in order to pen the animals on the lawn on Open Farm Day. Having a few on the lawn makes it easier for them to see them, as well as having the girls in the pasture. The combination works well. There is something so compelling about seeing the group in the green, green, grass. One of my favorite vistas.
Want to read past posts or see the animals? Click here: Maine's Bellemont Farm Alpacas.

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