I've been doing craft shows since late 2007. Four years later I'm still learning the dos and don'ts of having a successful and stress free showing.
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part 1: BEFORE THE SHOW
Yay! So you're participating in a craft show. These are some tips on how to prepare for the big event!
• Put an ad on your blog that you're participating in an event at least one month prior to the event date.
• Do a blog post about the event.
• Send out and email to your email list about the event. I like to send ONE email out a week prior to the event. You may want to include a coupon for your existing customers to use at the event.
• What is the size of show? Is it for one day or two days? How many participants? As the hosts of the event if they have any stats for previous year's events. This will help you decide how much inventory you need.
• Do you need a staff to help you at your table if the show is longer than 7 hours or one day?
• Unfortunately I have no magic number or formula of how much inventory you should have for your product(s). I usually do 200 cupcake bath fizzies per craft show. And I may have other Dirty Laundry product to sell for variety for my returning customers.
• Have much more inventory than you think you will need. Have a range of price points to plan for all types of shoppers. If you have left over product you can put it on your Etsy shop and or send out to your retailers.
• Have an inventory sheet to keep track of what you have and to check off items as you sell them at the event.
• Have your inventory completed at last 4 days before the show to have time to do administrative tasks, like pricing, labeling, making signage, etc.
SOME ITEMS YOU'LL NEED
You have your inventory all ready, but you're far from being done! There are other items you need to get before the day of the show.
• Moving dollie to help you bring in your items whether you have help or not.
I have a two way dollie similar to this one that I bought at Home Depot for $85. I bought it for the Maker Faire and it was a life saver! I was by myself and I had no idea how far it would be from my car to my craft table. And it was FAR! And it was RAINING! I wouldn't of made it to the entrance of the event with one item if it wasn't for the dollie. It paid for itself the 1st two minutes of use!
• Plastic bins or suitcases to pack small items into large bins. Combining items into one large carrying item will be easier to carry and you'd take less trips going back and forth getting small items from your car. And/or they stack nicely on the dollie.
• $100 in change.
• Receipt book. I used to write receipts when I sold aprons. But I no longer write receipts for my $5 cupcake bath fizzies. But I keep a receipt book just in case someone wants one. I keep track of my sales with my inventory check list.
• How do you accept payment? Cash, check, charge?
In April I got the Square iPhone credit card reader. The reader was free, it's easy and you only pay around $0.02 per dollar for the service. Sales will increase when you accept credit card. How many times has someone run out of cash as soon as they come to your booth? With accepting credit cards people will also tend to buy more.
• Shopping bags for your customer's purchases (a variety of sizes). Keep it simple. If you have time to put your logo on them then go for it!
• Business cards
• Freebies and/or promotional materials.
• Email sign up sheet for your growing customer email list.
YOUR TABLE / BOOTH
What do you want your table to look like?
- Your logo (table signage / banner). I got my 2ft x 5ft matte banner with brass grommets for only $20 at GotPtint.com.
- Price signs.
- Other info about your product.
Are these items provided or you have to bring?
Make it festive! Design your booth to be warm, welcoming, neat and easy to navigate. Do a mock up set up at home before the event.
• Cover you tables with a table cloth. Hide any clutter or extra stock under the table. You want to keep your backdrop clear also. You don't want any clutter behind you or your table when taking photos. You want a nice backdrop.
• Give your table display interest with height. I've collected a lot of pieces at antique and vintage stores over the past four years to improve my display.
• Keep your display full. Half empty shelves are not an indication of how well your product sold. Restock right away. Or reduce the number of display units or have something to act as a filler for empty displays. Make sure everything looks full, neat and clean, but not crammed.
• Have a checkout area.
• Don't play music to create your atmosphere. It's inconsiderate to those around you.
Everything looks good... now what about you?!?
Look cute during the event. You don't want to look like you've been up the past 24 hours (which you have) nor look like you just got done pulling crap out of your garage (which you have).
You could go as far as my friend Emily and have a set up outfit and event outfit. She inspired me to always present myself the way I present my products. Or just wear comfortable shoes and bring another top to change in. Usually I wear flats and the outfit that I'm going to wear for the day. I'm just extra careful as I'm setting up not to get too sweaty.
• Indoors? Bring a sweater / jacket incase it's too cold. I did a winter craft show once in this warehouse and I kept my winter coat, scarf and gloves on the WHOLE TIME!
• Outdoor? Wear layers to take off and sunscreen. I do wear sunglasses, but I take them off as I'm talking to customers.
• Makeup and deodorant to freshen up after you get done setting up. LOOK CUTE!
• Bring your snacks & lunch. Or find out if the event is providing some kind of lunch or refreshments. When I'm outdoors I like to keep my snacks in a cooler with a closed bag of ice.
• Water! Please stay hydrated if you're outside.
THE NIGHT BEFORE
• Have everything packed up, sitting out and ready to go the night before. It's helpful at least 2 days before to pull out all of your fixtures, shopping bags, signage, etc. to see what you have and if you need to go out and get anything. You may have to launder your table cloth at the last minute. It's better to NOT do these things the night before.
• Pack your vehicle up the night before or make sure you have enough time in the morning to pack up your car.
• Bring your camera! Take lots of photos of your table. Use the photos for your blog post of the event later. And you'll be able to see what to improve for next time.
• GET PLENTY OF REST the night before! You have a BIG day ahead of you.
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Whew! That was A LOT! And I have TWO more craft tips posts to share with you: during the show AND after the show.
I hope you found some things helpful!
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