Craft shows can make even the most experienced crafter a bit nervous. Are your products good? Are they going to sell? Will I get a good turn out?
There are a few tips to follow that are from my own experiences as well as others I know in the craft show industry. Some may seem simple but they are important if you want to attract customers to your booth or setup.
I am Ready so Where are the Craft Shows? - If you know other crafters in the industry then they would be the ones to ask as to which they preferred and where the shows in your neighbourhood are. To begin with, it would be best to start close to home to get your feet wet if this is your first time. If you don't really know any other crafters in the industry then head to your local craft store and check their bulletin board or ask the employees, they will know some. This is where I found out about a few shows. You can check online by "googling" your city and then /craft shows.
check: craft store bulletin boards - local paper - your town arts page - facebook - craft classes - word of mouth.
Start off small, such as at a church bizarre or local fair to get started, many of these shows will be 25 dollars or less. This way you can tell if this is going to work for you without investing too much money.
Types of Craft Shows - There are many types out there such as "juried shows" and "fairs" and "outdoor shows". A "juried" show is where you send them a picture of your craft to give them an idea of what you have to offer. This will have to be done in advance.
Most shows simply ask you to fill out an application form, many are online so be prepared for that, and then send them a payment. Each show will have rules and will give you a list of what they supply. Look over that list carefully so you know just what you will need to bring. They will tell you the size of your space too.
Dry Run Craft Show Setup - One of the best things I did as a nervous new crafter, was to mark off the area I was allowed at the show at home in my living room, and then figure out how I would fill it up with my products and display units. It is at this point you might want to come up with alternative displays as well as the table they will be providing you. Many shows provide you with just one table.
They will provide you with the dimensions of your space as well as the table. This way you can see just how much room you have if you lay it out at home ahead of time. This may seem like a lot of effort, but it is well worth it. As you set up you can see the things you might need before you get to the craft show.
TIP 1 - Layout - If you get a large area and one table and chair, then here is a layout that is sure to bring in the customers.. Set your table up at the back of your space and then add two tables to the sides or display carousels, to create a "store" like atmosphere, instead of everything simply laid out on your table at the front of your space. (Many shows will rent you some extra tables and chairs) This way you get to put out more product and really use the space you have been rented. It would be worthwhile to invest in displays for your products if the craft show is your intended way to sell. Simply laying things on the table will have you blending in with everyone else around you.
TIP 2 - Show Some Interest - You don't want to be hovering over your potential customers, but you do want to look like you are interested. I have been to many craft shows, where the artist or crafter is sitting behind the table reading the latest romance novel and eating chips. The last thing you want customers to see is you mowing down on chips and burgers with your feet up reading a book. Look alive and show some interest.
Tip 3 - Have a plan for breaks. If you can get a friend to help you out this would be perfect. You do need someone who can watch your booth or stall while you go for a coffee, something to eat or to the bathroom. If not, you will need to at least take your money box with you and leave a sign that says you will be right back. This is the only draw back to running a craft show on your own. But you can get creative.
Tip 4 - Table Cloths - Have plain table cloths. If they are patterned or too busy they will take away from your products. Make sure the length of them is at the front of the table so as to hide your feet and your stock. You can put your bins of stock under the table to keep your area clear. Don't pile it up behind you.
If most of your product is a light colour, then get a dark green or navy blue cloth. If you setup more than one table have the same cloths to create a store like look.
Tip 5 - Check List - Once you have done your dry run setup at home and are happy with the result, then create a check list of everything you needed to set it up. Did you need some tools? ducktape? display units?. Write it all down as you do your dry run, and then type it and print it off and put in a plastic sleeve. This way you always have it. Or simply print off a copy for each show with a list of your products, your display units and tools and more and check it off as you pack it.
This way you are always ready. You will feel nervous and under pressure when you are setting up, as it will be noisy with others around you, so having a checklist and even a drawing or picture of how you set up your craft booth during your dry run at home will totally help. Pay close attention to the setup times they allow the crafters to have and try to use the entire time to get it perfect.
One of the best investments I ever made was to get this moving dolly or truck as they are called. Where you park your car and where your booth is can be quite far. If you can pack as much of your product in tubs with good fitting lids, then you can stack two or three on this moving dolly and easily get it to your space.
I learned this the hard way when I went to a outdoor craft show with a friend and our tent/booth was clear across the field. This was the best way to move the bulk of my products for sale. It also folds up and fits in your trunk. Just click on the picture or title to find out more.
Don't overload your car. If you can borrow a van it would be better. If you find that you enjoy this way of selling your crafts then consider leasing a van or pulling a covered trailer. It all depends on the size of the craft you have chosen. But don't overload your car.
Outdoor Craft Shows - These can be fun, but you need to be prepared. Many will only give you the space and it will be marked out with spray paint on the grass and numbered. This was the case when I did a Thanksgiving craft show. You will not be provided with a shelter, this will be up to you. You can get them online as I have shown in the picture below. If you like the idea of outdoor shows these are a good investment, but don't forget the weights to hold the legs especially if you setup on concrete or a patio or even indoors.
I have seen these setup at indoor craft shows as well to create a store like atmosphere and to separate your booth from the rest, as long as you stay within your allotted space. But for an outdoor show, you need to keep the sun and drizzle off you and your products. These tents fold up and are easy to set up.
These weights that you see above will hold the legs down of your tent. You don't want the wind taking it away. So if you are doing outdoor craft shows this year, then invest in these and add them to your checklist of things you will need for setup.
As always you need to have lots of products and a good note book. In this note book you will note which products sold the best and then you have an idea of which areas to concentrate on for your next show. Many crafters will work very hard during the first few months of the year to create product for the spring, summer, fall and Christmas season. You will have to decide ahead of time, how many shows you want to be involved with and where. If you are a serious crafter and want to travel to craft shows, then you will need to get a book such as the one below that outline the shows in Michigan for the year as an example. These are worthwhile.
HAVE LOTS OF LOOSE CHANGE AND A EMAIL LIST - Make sure and have lots of loose change for your sales, and also have a clipboard with a place where a customer could give you his or her email address so you can keep them informed of your latest products and where your next show will be. Never sell or give away these email addresses or that would be spam.
HAVE FUN at the CRAFT SHOW!
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