Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Craft Show Experience

My first ever craft show is finally over. It was a lot of work than I ever expected. I have learned a lot of things, a ton of do's and don'ts. And I will share them all here with you.
But first, let me write about how it went. There were 50 vendors, all of them from etsy. It was located at the German town in Huntington Beach. It was very secluded and no one would know that there was an event like that there because there were no signs in the streets. It was held indoors so no one can really see if they drove by. It was the promoter's first ever craft show event and naturally, a little foot traffic was expected but everyone remained optimistic.

Hours went by, I could count in my head how many people came through the doors. And everyone of them were clueless about the handmade lifestyle. I think, most of them didn't even know that the things on my table were mostly handmade. I should have told them but didn't.

We remained optimistic as hours went by but we can only hope for so long. Before I knew it, everyone was packing up way before closing time.

Some sellers bought from me. And we also shopped from other sellers. That was fun. There were a lot of great artists there and I had to stop myself from buying from each and everyone of them.

Lots of sellers were disappointed, some were vocal about it, some didn't say anything but you can see that they were quite disappointed. But what's beautiful about it was that everyone were so good to each other and helped out one another in giving out advice and even shared craft shows that were coming up. They didn't think twice in giving out the dates and locations and they spoke about them with so much enthusiasm. Thank you, you all know who you are.

Here are my own do's and don'ts and other things I've learned that hopefully would help artists and crafters out there that are about to join a craft show or those that are new at this.

1. Join craft shows that are juried. These types of craft shows charges more per table but it's worth it. They are the ones who gets hundreds of foot traffic (even thousands).

2. It's better to join one big craft show a year than many small ones a year. It's less work. Less stress. More money per table but you will earn it all back and more.

3. Plan how your table will look like ahead of time. Elevate them on eye level. Use a lot of props. Make the most of your space. Use lights. Use a beautiful table cloth, no prints, the better. Prints can take the attention away from your products. I used dark lace and that was a distraction.

4. Choose a few of your best sellers. Don't bring everything you make. If I had known better, I would have brought only my bath and beauty products or only my framed prints and nothing else. Having so many different things can be quite over whelming. I thought I had a theme going on but for some reason, it didn't work out that way. A table can never be like a brick and mortar shop. Having different things can work well at a retail shop but it won't work at a craft show or even on an etsy shop.

5. Bring a receipt. Most buyers need one.
6. Bring quarters, dimes and a lot of dollar bills for change.
7. You should have a make shift cash register behind your table to keep organized.
8. Talk to prospective customers. Don't be shy. Suggest your items or whatever will look good on them. Be friendly. Compliment them. Entertain everyone without being pushy. And if you are selling perfumes like me, let them smell it. I didn't do that. 

9. Smile.
10. Try not to bring items that are tiny. Bring big ones that would catch their attention as they walk by. My stuff were so small that most of the older people that came by had to wear their eye glasses as they checked out my things.
11. Put freebies like candies/lollipops. I had free pins and none of them took one. Some of them said they were dangerous for kids. They were right.

12. Use paper bags. I did that but most of the vendors there were so vocal about their items being green and does not use any plastic materials but then they used really thick plastic for bags. 

13. Don't bring kids to your craft show. They'll get bored and they shop too much :) And they play with the things they bought that they end up promoting your competition. Funny, really.

14. Talk to your fellow vendors. You will learn a thing or two and might even start a new friendship.
15.Sleep well the night before. So you will look fresh on the day of the event and you will have lots of energy to market your product.

Advice for buyers:
1. Talk to vendors and please say hi when they say hi.
2. When kids admire the vendor's products please don't pull your kids away like we have some kind of disease. Say it nicely, I'm sure they would listen.
3. Smile when we smile.
4. A little thank you after looking or touching the items can do no harm ( I read this somewhere)
5. If you take a business card after we ask you to take one, that makes us really, really happy.

Advice for first time/new craft show organizers:
1. Talk to each and every vendor.And don't frequent the same vendors. 

2. Don't be shy when speaking on the microphone. Try to speak louder and make sure you ask people if they can hear you well. Try to get everyone's attention before making any announcement. If they don't stop what they're doing to listen then maybe they don't hear or understand anything. 

3. A well lit venue is a must. And a venue where the event is visible from the street. 

4. Promote, promote, promote, up to the very last minute. As a concert producer/promoter as myself, I know a lot about this. Make sure you put signs on the streets. Come up with an amazing, attractive poster to print or  send to vendors so they can spread the word online. The design of the poster can really help draw in customers and visitors. Make sure it's well designed, creative, artsy and hip.

5. Take photos of the event for your website or blog.

6. Music played on speakers is better than live music. Live music takes the attention from the sellers.

7. Wearing a name tag, or the same shirt/color for organizers and their friends who are helping out at the event does help. So we know where to go to if we need help.

I hope these helps.

My hubby and I went around and gave out business cards. He talked to almost all of them about their thoughts on the event and about their products. And we learned so much and we met so many great people. And that alone made everything worth it. No regrets really. Only lessons learned.
We then celebrated after with some good food.

It made everything better.

*All images are from the actual event.


PetSugar said...

wow this is really really great advice! i really wish i could have been there.

Chickything said...

Such a long post really :)