Craft show season is right around the corner…..Are you thinking about maybe doing one this year? If so, I thought I’d pass along some tips that I’ve learned over the past few years.
KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER & COMPETITION
Whether you do one show or 20, you will want to take into account the type of customer and types of vendors each show will draw. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the demographic of the people attending? Older folks tend to like less flashy, more classic items, while younger people may like brighter, more modern fabrics.
- What other vendors will be attending? By knowing who will be there, you can cater your inventory to stand out. Lots of handbag vendors…you may want to focus on home decor. Lots of jewelry companies….why not sell some jewelery pouches?
- Is there a show theme? Christmas, Chanukah, Fall, Easter? Be sure to offer things that fall into the theme of the show. Church Bazzar? Street Fair? The type of show and theme will give you an idea of what the people may be expecting or looking for.
KNOW YOUR VENUE
|Christmas themed show at a Church|
- Will a table be provided? If yes, know what size so you can bring a table cloth (make sure it is long enough to hide all the stuff under the table – sheets work well) and you can figure out your layout prior to getting there.
- Will there be electricity? Most small craft shows do not provide electricity, so don’t rely on having a plug for your computer, lights, etc. If bringing something that relies on electricity, be sure to have charged your batteries beforehand and always have an extension cord.
- What is the price of admission? Know what you are expected to pay. Is is a percentage of sales? A donation of goods? A flat fee? At minimum, you want to sell enough to cover your show cost!
KEEP IT SIMPLE
This is the biggest lesson I’ve learned. I brought a TON of stuff (variety and quantity) to my first few shows. Way too much stuff. It not only overwhelmed my table and my customers but it was torture to carry back and forth! Remember, storage is at a minimum and too much stuff can actually hurt your sales potential.
|Find creative ways to
show off your goods.
- Offer a small selection of items. Don’t bring everything you make….keep in mind the people shopping and bring only a few of the things you think will sell well. Offer a good variety of choices in color and design.
- Table Layout. This should be simple too. Don’t squeeze everything you bring onto the table. Make sure each product is highlighted and there are a several choices to look at. This allows the customers to actually see your products without being overwhelmed. If you see someone admiring a piece, strike up a conversation and let them know you have more of a selection with you….perhaps they would like to see it in blue?
- Don’t mark all your pieces with prices. It isn’t attractive. Instead opt for one or two signs that clearly state your prices. Besides, if people ask for prices it gives you an opportunity to talk to them. Talking sells…
- Creativity Sells. Think about how you will layout your productts. I have lovely wooden coat rack for my bags, and use baskets to help pretty up my table display. I also prop small boxes under the tablecloth to display items at varying heights.
Start preparing way ahead of the show. You do not want to be crafting under stress. Trust me…..it is not enjoyable and your products will show the “rush job”. Take your time and enjoy making your pieces….I have already started crafting for the holiday shows. The night before the show, gather all your things so you can enjoy your cup of coffee before heading out the door in the morning.
|A test run set-up on my cutting table|
If you sell online, keep in mind that the prices you fetch on the web are not even close to what you will get at a show (unless you are participating in a very high end show). People are looking for fun, easy, and affordable options at these shows. Things that sell well….keychains, clutches, bibs, etc. If I sell a bib for $8.00 on my Etsy shop, I will sell it for $5.00 at a show. There is a reason that costume jewelery and cheap CD vendors sell a ton a these shows! Do keep in mind your cost of goods though….you still need to be able to make a profit. While you don’t want to price too high, you can’t undersell yourself either. Shows are also a great way to get rid of that stuff that you can’t sell online. Mark it to sell. Get rid of it!
|Use signage….it’s nicer and easier than 100 individual price tags.|
Round your prices to the nearest dollar. It makes change giving easy and keeps coins out of the equation. If you collect sales tax, include the tax in the sale (check with your state to see if this is allowed – some states do not allow this). There are reverse calculators online which can help you figure out the sales tax and product price based on the final total.
Most craft shows are primarily cash sales. Have a cash box and a receipt book (you can get one at Walmart for a few bucks). I always bring $50 in change, at least $30 in singles. Know how much you start with so you know how much you made at the end of the day!
If you are going to allow credit card sales, be sure to make sure your customers know which cards you accept and if there is a minimum purchase required. I put this on a sign on the table. Be sure to write up receipts for all credit sales.
WHILE AT THE SHOW
Talk: Strike up conversations with customers and vendors. Talk to customers about your products, yourself and be sure to hand out business cards. This is the key to future sales! Talk to vendors too – I’ve gotten some great referrals for other shows and I’ve also ended up with some great barter deals. I scored the cutest handmade knitted kids hats that I traded for a bag.
Schedule /Plan for Back Up. Craft shows can be long….5-8 hours. You will need a break. While you can have lunch at your table, you will need a bathroom break. If I’m close to home I typically have my husband bring the kids by about 1/2 way through so I can go to the restroom and grab a drink. If I’m far from home, I typically rely on a neighboring vendor to watch over my things and will do the same for them. Bring a few snacks and/or a lunch to keep yourself energized.
Bring Something To Do. Every show has a down time. I always bring a book or magazine just for those times. Or take advantage of a lull in activity to check out your neighbors stuff and chat.
Enjoy! Most importantly, have fun. I know it can be stressful, especially if you are doing your first show – but a craft show is typically a laid back experience. It’s fun and you get to meet a ton of new people!