as promised yesterday For those of you (a few have already asked me about this!) who are getting ready to do your own show, here are a few tips for ya:
Be Flexible. Your best laid plans will change. I had been planning for over two months for a 4-day festival. It turned out to be 2. While that may not be it for you, it may be weather, booth location, you get stuck next to someone who sells the exact same thing (that was my fear!), or who knows what else. This is just part of the experience!
Bring plenty of water, snacks, pictures of your kids, or whatever you need to pass the day. I didn't bring my own food because we were at a brewhouse with the most amazing green chili ever, so I knew I would be buying myself dinner both nights. I did bring snacks though, and I might have purchased an extra large bag of kettle corn as well. I also didn't bring an "activity" because I didn't want to be distracted from talking to customers and the artisans I sold with.
Have business cards on hand. There were quite a few people who were interested in custom orders or who wanted to check out my work closer to Christmas time, and I was able to hand them a business card with multiple ways to find me when they are ready.
Get to know the other artists. Our event was a bit different in that it was very communal rather than a competition for sales, but even if it had not been that way, I still think it's a great opportunity to get to know other artisans. One of the guys selling with us makes beautiful origami earrings. I bought some. I also traded another lady for some body products that smell super nice. I loved getting to know everyone else I was selling with as well and getting to learn about their lives and their craft.
Have lots of cash, know how much you have, and keep it separate. So, I had the cash, but both days I forgot to write down the exact amount I started with. I had a very good idea of the numbers, but my profit margin may be off one way or another by $5.00 because I forgot to write it down! I also used the same cash source for sales as I did for buying green chili. I don't think that's a good idea though. Have separate spending money.
Make a list and check it twice. Or thrice. I am big on lists. I keep a white board in the studio where I write all my to-do's, and I kept a list there of all the things I wanted to bring. (Inventory, displays, tape, scissors, ribbon, hole punch, notebook, pens, safety pins, clothes pins, apron, money pouch, ... ) When Thursday night rolled around, rather than wasting my time trying to figure out if I had everything or not, I was able to consult my list and just get it all together without losing my mind.
Bring your own packaging. Nothing says professional like a re-used plastic grocery bag. Right? If that's what your plan is, but you're not selling exclusively upcycled items, you may want to reconsider. I bought small paper sacks with handles at Big Lots so they were not expensive (and the customer can re-use them). I stamped the front with my store's logo and web address, and used 1 piece of tissue paper to wrap the goods in. I think this completes the experience for a buyer and they are going to leave with an impression of a better shopping experience. This same principle applies when you sell online, and there is good reason for it.
Get creative with your displays. I wrapped cardboard boxes in fabric to have various levels on my table. I found some magnetic displays at a thrift store and used my bulletin board from Indie Biz 2.0. I hung ribbon from the tent for my keychains, and made liberal use of clothespins all over.
Be rested. Don't plan on making inventory between show days for a multi-day event. You need to be rested before heading out there because it really is a long day to be outside constantly talking, selling, interacting, enjoying the weather, and so much more!
Have fun! The show was in many ways not what I expected (and I don't mean that simply in a negative way), but I really went into it with fun in mind. While I may not have met some of the goals I had set, I still enjoyed the experience. If money is the main reason you're doing a craft show, just know that there is risk involved in any venue of selling. Be sure to place your source of enjoyment away from the money.
And finally, here is another blog post I referred to multiple times while preparing full of Craft Fair Essentials.