Julieincharge and I are off to spread the word about Etsy at Renegade Chicago this weekend, so we have craft shows on the brain. Before we depart for Chicago, we want to help you, dear sellers, get ready for your Fall and Winter craft shows too! Read on and join us September 11th, 2008 at 4pm Eastern in the Online Labs for a live discussion on this topic.
First of all, if you haven’t done a craft show before, talk to someone who has. The Forums are a great place to start. This 19 page forum post was chock full of great tips that I’m going to reference in this article!
There are many things to consider when planning out your booth set up. First let’s touch on display.
littleputbooks says: Use height to fill your booth and attract attention.
I could not agree more! Use risers (how about the boxes you’ve packed your merchandise in, covered with the same cloth you use for your table?) to create different heights. If you have all your work lying on the table, only a few people can hover over your items at a time. Having different levels allows you to be seen from further away and by more people at once. One little trick? Use magnetic clips or hooks to attach to your tent’s legs and hang packaged merchandise from them. I’ve also spruced up these metal legs with flat magnets with my business logo printed on them. Then people can easily grab your info on the way out — and a magnet is something they are less likely to just toss in the trash.
Now what about you? Does it matter how you put yourself on display? YES! Here are some tips from the Etsy Forums:
molecularmuse says: Oh, and… have an opening line/greeting. (I usually ask if the person wants a free molecule temporary tattoo…)
LittleBirdhouseStore says: Be happy regardless if you are selling or not. I just did a show this weekend and the lady across from me was not doing so well and you could tell it on her face. NO ONE went in her booth because she looked grumpy. So smile, smile, smile. Also know what you are selling, be able to answer questions. “I don’t know” doesn’t cut it when someone is asking about something you made.
ktracton says: When someone compliments your work, do NOT say “Thank you”! That is a conversation stopper right there. Say, “yes, these are great because…(insert reason here)”. This keeps the conversation going and you may make the sale on issues they were initially unaware of.
countrywindows says: I use a director’s chair if I do sit down. People can come up to you and talk to you eye to eye, because the chair sits up so high. A lot of people slump down in a lawn chair, and to me, a customer may think that you don’t want to get up and [therefore] don’t [want to] bother you; I can almost be standing up in a director’s chair.
One last tip for your booth: hide your junk!
hairflair says: Have your table covers go all the way to the floor, so you can use underneath for storage.
Want to see what other people are doing with their craft show booths? Check out this Flickr group, Show Me Your Booths. You can also look up the photos from previous year’s shows to get some inspiration.
What to Pack
If you are doing an indoor craft show, first of all, thank your lucky stars! You’re only going to need to pack a small percentage of the following:
- Pens, markers
- Paper (scrap and nice paper for signs)
- Invoice book
- Labels and price tags
- Tape (EVERY KIND YOU CAN THINK OF: double sided, duct, scotch, packaging. If they make it, bring it.)
- Mini-first aid kit (band aids, pain relievers, eye drops, antacids, etc)
- Tools (screwdriver, hammer, pliers, wire, zip ties, aka The Crafters Need to Have Supply!)
- Weights and tarps for your tent (Tip: bring milk jugs and fill them with water to use as weights)
- Apron or waist pouch for change
- Plenty of change to put in your apron or waist pouch
- Wet naps and hand sanitizer
- Water and snacks
Here’s my personal tip: Leave your dog at home. I brought mine once to an outdoor show and shoppers would come to my booth and start looking at my work until…they realized I had the cutest dog on earth sitting at the booth. And then they would forget about how much they wanted that bunny necklace and pet my dog instead! Rover can be a serious hindrance to your sales. (I would think a really cute baby would be the same way.) So if you have to bring your baby, child or pet, try to make them look less cute! Unless you sell clothing or accessories for these little creatures, in which case:
littlehanddesign says: I design children’s clothes so I TAKE ORDERS! I bring a fabric sample book for ideas & a BIG photo album of past sets & I take orders, hand out tons of cards AND parade cute girls around with cards in my sets to mingle
Cash or Credit?
You are going to want to have lots of change on you, especially if you only take cash. Also, decide before you go if you are going to accept checks. It can be awkward to think about this while you have the customer and their checkbook right in front of you.
What about credit cards? Is this your first craft show? You might not want to invest in a credit card service this early. If you’ve done a few shows and know this is the right route for you, think about using a service through Paypal or Propay to accept credit cards.
AliciaBock says: At my last show 80% of my orders were paid for by credit card. I never had to make change.
Have another service you use to collect credit cards? Let us know in the comments below! This is a hot topic in the among craft show discussions.
I found some really great tips in the previously mentioned Forum post about inventory. I’m telling you, your fellow crafters are the best resource there is!
madebycarashop says: Don’t put WAY too many things on your table—it overwhelms. (I did that my first craft fair—people don’t know where to look.)
yippihippi says: madebycara, this is also something I’m learning (don’t put too many things on your table at once). I had some bottle cap magnets at a show in July, and people were crazy over them. So what did I do? Run home and make tons more, and filled up my magnet board for my August show. Not a single one sold. I think it was too crowded and there were too many choices. I also wonder if your items look a little more “exclusive” if you find the right balance of amount of product to display.
gentryart says: I sell my gourd art at a reenactment festival. Last year I had 3 or 4 gourds that I was working on, coiling on a pine needle rim. It takes about 30 un-interrupted minutes for a small one. Thank goodness I had helpers. Three different people stopped to watch and asked if they could buy the one I was working on—and later came back after visiting the rest of the show. It took me by surprise, I wasn’t expecting to sell these. From now on I ALWAYS demonstrate.
bexcaliber says: Price everything and have lots of signs or information out and visible; people are shy [about] asking sometimes.
DawnLewisImagery says: The best tip I ever read was to have a draw card … like a giant crocheted squid!!! Something that’s not necessarily for sale, but is big and interesting to draw people to your booth. It’s a great conversation starter! You know people will ask if it’s for sale (even if they don’t intend to buy it), which gives a great opportunity to say “No, but his baby brother is.” 😀
Drop The Hint
If you’re doing a show after October 1st, I’d say it’s safe to start dropping the Winter Holiday hints. For one show I bought a mini-Christmas tree and tied my earring cards with ribbon and hung them all over the tree like ornaments. Little wintery touches can remind your shoppers that even if this might not be the perfect item for them to purchase for themselves, that it might be just right for their friends or family! I would also think about some great packaging and display one of your wrapped up items. That way it’s easy as pie to give an item from your booth as a gift!
If you want more tips and tricks for doing those Holiday Craft shows remember to come out to the Online Labs September 11th at 4pm Eastern! See you there!
Find More Craft Show Tips Here: