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Top Ten Craft Show Strategies

If you have never taken part in a craft show, here are some guidelines to help you be successful.  Deciding to actually do a craft show, juried or non-juried, can be overwhelming and scary.  Remember the quality of your work is within your control so make sure the product you are selling is of the highest quality possible.

  1. Take your first step with a small show where table fees are minimal ($30-50.) Consider your first few shows as opportunities for research, as you explore your markets, your niche, and public interest in your work.  Don’t focus on only making money.  Consider people’s comments as they peruse your work.  You may not sell much, but you can learn from the experience.  Are these the people you want to market to,  do you have to tweak your style, does your display need to be changed to attract more attention?
  2. Practice setting up your display before you go to the show.  Most juried shows require a photo of your set up as part of the entry process.  Spaces are usually 10′ x 10′.  Find out before hand if you can use tables for your display or if you need pedestals and grids for a more sophisticated set up.  Having a theme to pull all of your display elements together is helpful.
  3. Think out of the box.  Showing kitchen magnets on an upside down colander is inexpensive and creative.  Display jewelry using levels of acrylic boxes with different organic elements in them.  If your theme is the ocean, have shells scattered around your tables.  These are also a great diversion for children who are bored and are constantly being told “don’t touch”.  You can offer a sea shell for them to hold while parents are shopping in your booth.
  4. Is everything priced?  Consider how you mark your items.  Price stickers or hanging tags are there for the customer.  Their quality and placement can make the difference between your booth looking like a garage sale or a refined display.  Have a master price list in case there is a question.  Be prepared to negotiate.  If someone wants to purchase more than one item, offer a discount.  They will feel like they have received a great bargain and you have made two sales and have a new customer who will come back!
  5. Offer a raffle item for each person who signs up for your email list.  Make it clear that you will not share their email with any other vendors or companies.  It is another win-win situation.  You have their contact information for upcoming shows and events and they have the chance to win a free gift!  As the year progresses, you can send a special discount offers to these people.
  6. Be the first and be the last.  Arrive early at the show to set up your booth.  This gives you time to make necessary but unexpected changes that may occur.   You have the advantage by being ready to show and sell while others are still setting up.  NEVER break down your booth before the show officially ends.  No matter how poor your sales may be,  do not break this cardinal rule.  You have made a commitment to stay for the show’s scheduled hours.  Honor that committment and you will be invited to come back again.  Besides being good business practice, it is just plain good manners!  Another good thing about being the last one to break down your display, is that you will still be available to sell to late comers and others who could not make a decision to buy earlier.
  7. Human nature means people are reluctant to enter a booth and be face to face with the vendor.  Set up your tables and pedestals so that they are easy to approach and allow the buyer to browse in a non-confrontational environment.
  8. Bring some of your work to do while you are at the show to pique people’s curiosity.  Folks are intrigued by watching an artist or artisan working.  Offer to answer questions and then let them browse.  Share a story about the jewelry or painting, answer questions about the materials you use.  People like to know what they are buying.  You may want to print the information on a card to give to them with each purchase.
  9. Have an eye-popping piece at the entrance to your space.  Consider hanging items from the tent flap or inside the tent.  If you are selling wearable art, be sure to have a mirror.
  10. Computer printed signage is easy to read.  Is it large enough type to read from outside your booth?   Package your sales in an attractive bag or wrapping.  Ziplock bags do not make a good impression.  Decide if you want to accept checks, credit cards, and cash.  Be sure to have $100 in small bills to make change.  If you charge the local sales tax have coins for change making.   Using a two-part sales receipt book is helpful to keep a record of your sales.  Put your contact information on labels and affix them to the customer’s receipt so they will remember who they bought from. Always thank customers warmly for their business.  Include your business card with their purchase.  If it is a gift for someone else, put an extra card inside the package for the gift  recipient and give the customer a card as well.

After the show is over, take a minute to make some notes.  How were your sales?  Was this your market?  Would you do anything differently next time?  Any suggestions for the show contractor?  Do you need to add to or change your craft show check list?  Now is the time to do it while it is fresh in your memory.

Tools: Hammer, pliers, extra hanging hooks, pins, needles, supplies to fix anything you are selling, scissors, pens, pencils, clipboard, and notebook.

Set-Up: Tacks, twist ties, double-sided tape, cardboard for leveling tables or pedestals.

Display: Signage, shelving, lighting, extension cords, extra bulbs, multi-outlet strips and surge protectors, pedestals, tables, grids, business card holder, duct tape, pins, padded chair for you to sit on, cloth to drape tables and extra cloth to cover display boxes that otherwise would be unsightly and unusable.

Promotional Materials: Business cards, brochures, artist statement, display stands, price lists, schedules of upcoming shows, sign-in book.  Raffle drawing forms, order forms for special orders, a “wish” book for future purchases, credit card machine and emergency numbers for it, tissue paper, bags and boxes to wrap purchases.

Personal Comfort: Cooler filled with ice and plenty of water, baby wipes, hand gel, sun glasses, battery operated fan, snacks, lunch, band aids, comfortable professional clothing to change into after you have finished setting up your booth.

To share craft show strategies that have worked for you, please send us your comments at:rickie@therickiereport.com

Good luck!

For coverage of your events, listing of announcements in our events section, to place an advertisement, or speak to Rickie about appearing in The Rickie Report, contact The Rickie Report at:

Rickie Leiter, Publisher

The Rickie Report

P.O.Box 33423

Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33420

Rickie@therickiereport.com

561-537-0291

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