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Craft Show Tips (that work for your shop too!)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Earlier this month I was a vendor at Portland's super awesome Crafty Wonderland Spring Event. It was such a positive experience & I'm so thankful I took a leap of faith to try it out. Though it really took a lot of time to recover- being 8 months pregnant and all ;)  I've really thought about my experience & wanted to share some tips...most of which can be applied beyond a craft show, and to your shop as well!

Prepare for the worst: Ok, so that's probably a little dramatic. But at craft fairs, little things can feel like catastrophes. Like walking in all excited for my cute yellow & gray booth only to find the vendor behind me was using a 80's neon green tarp that inadvertently became my backdrop. Although I almost had a little meltdown over this discovery, I gathered my wits and realized I had an extra matching gray table cloth we could cut, adjust, and hang to cover up the electric greenness. Whew. Disaster avoided.  

Be Active: I'm not the best saleswoman. I realized this long ago during my stint as a department store sales associate (I will be the first to tell you not to buy a dress if it's unflattering). I discovered though, that actually making things at the booth was a great way to show off my products & break the ice. I finished tons of felt poppy flowers while there and people enjoyed seeing my work in progress. It felt wonderful to focus on connecting rather than selling. 

Listen to what people to say:  Throughout the day I answered tons of questions about my products & it made me realize- these are probably the same questions folks have when they visit my shop- I better address them in my descriptions! Also, people were so forthcoming with new ideas as to what they'd like to see me make...I discovered that my organizers are also fabulous Kindle holders!

Don't listen to what people say: Some comments can be hurtful or annoying or just plain off the mark. Instead of stewing about them see if you can weed through it and find some constructive bits....and if not, just throw it out the window and move on! 

Vary price points: You may know your market really well. Something to consider though, is that people attending a craft show may only be a fraction of your market...so offering items at a variety of price points allows people to own one of your fantastic products- at a price they are comfortable with.  Thinking about myself, for example, I tend to buy only small items like cards, earrings, mini sets, etc. at craft fairs just because I usually need a lot of time to think before I make bigger purchases- so I often return to a shop later online and buy more then. 

Accept credit cards: Drawing from the advice of many other sellers and considering my own habit of never carrying cash (because if I do, I lose it) I decided to accept credit card payments. We used a handy little gadget from Square and it really couldn't have been any easier. I was nervous at first, but just offering this service allowed my buyers more options and increased my sales a lot (judging from the comments like "oh good, you take Visa! I spent all my cash already").
Whew! So even though this show was a tremendous success, if there is a next time, I'll plan for a little bigger of a table area, I'll mingle with other vendors a bit more, and I'll ask a friend to join me at the booth!

{more craft show tips from Kitty Baby Love}


Pili said...

Great tips for sure! And glad to hear the craft show was a success for you!

Simple. Chic. Simply chic. said...

Oh, I can so relate to having a neighbor behind you with a not-so-pleasing look!

Anonymous said...

I noticed several vendors there who were "victims" of the booths around them. Besides competing decor, some of the smaller booths were swallowed by a larger, popular booth next to them. Your booth was lovely though...congratulations on a great show!

markjacobs said...

One more tip: Make sure your husband doesn't cross his arms and frown while he mans your booth when you take bathroom breaks.

laura said...

very helpful!! :)

Candice said...

Thanks so much for these wonderful thoughts- I have been so scared to actually take the craft show leap, and these are just brilliant and things that my brain doesn't think of! Thank you!!

Allisa Jacobs said...

So happy to hear these tips are useful! I especially like the contribution from my hubby - I would agree, discourage husband's from crossing their arms & looking bored at your booth :)

Marisa said...

Hi Allisa! I just read your post on OMHG and clicked over to your shop. Your wooden handle bags are gorgeous! Saving my pennies for one starting today. I grew up in Gresham and now live near Hood River—I love when I find new Portland area crafters.

See you around! :)