Saturday, August 28, 2010

Your 1st Craft Show?? part 1

I have been thinking about this subjuct and people ask me all the time what is a Good craft show to do. Maybe my requirements are a little different than yours.
Let me say-- I have been doing craft shows for years. I have also been in charge of a few of them. I expect to have a good time. If I have great sales-whoopi- if I don't- it is ok. I want them to have lots of customers-so good advertising is a must. I have to say that I generally do well at them- but even the best of us has a slow day.

1) FINDING THE SHOW..Okay- I find the shows in the local Pennysaver, Craig's List and word of mouth. About this time of year--feel free to call all the churches and schools in your phone book and ask if they are having one. It is that simple. And get an application- Just because you get the application- you don't have to do the show. If you are unsure about signing up for a show- check in with your girlfriends who shop-- they would know what is a good show or not.
And DO NOT worry about more than one show at the same day as the one you chose. That is a great excuse of vendors as to why they don't have good sales. Nonsense. If your show gets traffic-- do not blame it on the other show- why you don't have good sales. Craft shows are like garage will see women (sorry men- but my customers and the vendors I see are 99% women)with newspapers and lists about the other shows in the same area that they want to hit.

2) MAKE YOUR ITEMS--Then once you have decided on a show to do..get cracking-- make up a supply of goods. If I am bringing out a new thing- I might have 6 of that item to see how it goes. (For me- that is 6 Christmas gifts if they don't sell). If it is one of my better things- I might bring 20 of that one item. I don't put them all out a once. Less is more. You don't have to overcrowd your table or racks. And don't under stock them either. Find a happy medium- have enough that people can look over everything without getting overwhelmed. You can always take orders.

3) THEMES-Another point- stick to a theme. I personally have a home line of goods and the pet line. I do one or the other at a show. But since I sew.. all my goods are sewn things. I don't throw in silk flowers to the mix. I can do silk arrangements- but I don't sell them at fairs. Choose your medium and stick to that. I really feel that if you have too many mediums on a table- it tends to look like a garage sale. You can do a wide variety on your etsy store or web site.

4) PLANNING-Back to the actual show...maybe before the show- at home- plan your space. Use your kitchen table and sorta plan where you will display your goods. Have things priced with tags on them--as you pack them to take them to the show. (I get to your booth and there are no prices on anything-I don't want to ask- I am just looking- I don't want to talk to you... I want to price shop.. I will walk away and not even ask you the price). Use displays to get things off the table-- more to eye level. Go to other shows and check out others displays and find one that might work for you and make something similar. I have 2 different displays I can use- depending on the venue.

5)BAGS Oh-- and now is a good time to save all your plastic grocery bags- You need something to put sales into. You can certainly go to a wholesale club and buy "Thankyou" bags. I don't see the nescessity now- if you make some big money- sure. But it is an expense you don't need. Just recycle.

6) TIMING Get to the show early. Figure out how much time you need to get set up and plan an extra half hour. Stuff happens and better to be set up early and ready to go. There are always earlybird shoppers.

7) THE KIDS Now this is a sticky point. Let me say I LOVE children. But not at a craft show. Not real little ones anyways. (Nothing cuter than say 5yr olds and older girls/boys wandering around a show shopping or helping mom).
But it is the infants that are brought. Most of us do craft shows to get away from the kids. I think if you can't get someone to watch the baby- then you should not be doing a show. I can't explain to you how annoying it is to be at your booth and the vendor next to you has her crying baby at the show. No one wants to come near your booth- because of the kid- who is clearly not happy. Leave them home. Your child might be nice and happy one- but in a strange setting and the noise in a show and the smells and lights- even the happiest camper, might get cranky. And if you have to bring your kids--Watch them! Some of us have expensive things on our tables-- or our displays are not meant to be leaned on etc. We have all we can do to watch our own customers who put their handbags on our items to get their money and the ones who's kids just ate candy and want to touch everything- we don't need to also watch your kids. (and I really do love kids--really).

And don't even get me started on husbands who come because they can't be 'parted' with the wife for 8 hrs. I have seen men snoring at the booth! Go home.
(off my soap box now)

8) THE MONEY Now as you set up-- remember to display your sales tax number- Not have it in your money box- display it-- as the law reads. Bring lots of change. The kitchen help does not want to be trading in your $20s for $1s. Bring dollars and coin. You have to charge tax for the county or city you are in. I believe- (but you might want to check with your sales tax people)-- that you can post a sign that says "sales tax included" and adjust your prices accordingly. But that might be just an urban rumor. I am in different localities and I just add it to the price. I don't have time to back things out at the end of the day. I personally- have a receipt book- the small ones and write a receipt for each sale. That is how I keep track. I put my name/date/show on the receipt. And give one to the customer and keep one copy for me.

9) CHAIRS- Even tho the application says that chairs are included. Think about bringing a law chair.. It is a long day on a school folding chair- if you have a bad back- they will not help. I personally stand the day. I like to make eye contact and engage my customer. I know as a customer- I won't even stop at a booth- if you are reading a book. I think it is great to work on your art while you are there- customers like to see the process. Look alive and talk to people. We are salespeople for our art.

10) Enjoy yourself.. bring your lunch or buy it there- your choice. Don't pack up early-- it is rude to the rest of us who stay. My best sales have come from someone who went home and thought about it and came back at the last mnutes of the show. As long as you have booked out the time to come to the show- what is a few more minutes? A lot of shows will not ask you back if you leave early. Besides if there is a bake sale there- the last half hour is where the deals are and you can go home with dessert!!

More to come about craft shows and my thoughts on them.
Have a great day!


  1. Dropping by from the Blog Hop. So nice to meet another GSD Person! You have a lot of excellent advice for those interested in doing craft shows. I used to have a floral design business years ago and we started out by doing the craft show route. I had young children then so my husband used to do the shows. We would come visit him for a short time always but bringing kids to a craft show is nerve wrecking. It's natural for kids to want to touch everything and I was constantly watching them like a hawk around the more fragile items. You pointed out a lot of great points like about leaving early just because it's dead or lack of sales. We had great weekends and terrible weekends. It's no different then any other business. We used to pray for cool cloudy or rainy days because people were more likely to want to do something indoors and it also gets people in that Fall Mode & they start getting that Holiday feeling.
    We also always had small items for a small price on the table to catch peoples interest. Floral pieces are usually large & pricey so we didn't want them just passing us by. Honestly it was a lot of work back then especially having 3 little ones at home too but at times I miss those days too.
    Hug's Erin & Mom

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog and suggesting pumpkin for dogs! My mother in law makes quilts, so your blog makes me think of her. She goes to quilt shows to display, but not to sell.

  3. Thanks so very much for the great advice! I just signed up to do my first craft show and was wondering what all I might need to prepare for. Now at least I have a good list to check off! Thanks!!