My first craft show…

13 Jun

Summer is looming…it’s hot in Phoenix, so why not go to the mountains and while I’m there do a local craft show…sounds like a good idea, right?  First, I had to send in my application, money and pictures.  It was a juried show, after all.  In anticipation, I ordered the Square to take payments, opened a small bank account for my business, found some commercial display stands at garage sales, and was relieved I already had a state tax license.  I applied late for the show, and was told they were full and would put me on a waiting list. Just in case, I scrolled through Pinterest, googled booth layouts, read advice for craft fairs,  and laid out all my hand crafted jewelry on the dining room table.  

It was the Wednesday before the craft show.  I assumed I didn’t make it in the show.  Mid-morning I was walking into a movie with a girlfriend and my phone rang, I didn’t recognize the number so I almost didn’t take the call.  I answered, and here was the question, “We had a cancellation, do you want to be in the show?”  My answer was a stuttering, question filled, “I guess”.  Side note here…if you are in charge of a craft show and someone tells you they’ve never done this before, take the time to answer their questions or direct them to a website or something.  The first timer is freaking out!

Leaving the movie, (yes, I sat through the whole movie, I can’t remember it but I didn’t want to leave my friend by herself),  I called my husband.  He is amazing in a pinch, offered to borrow tables, print signs for the booth, and do whatever I needed to help.  The next day I went to Costco, bought a white canopy tent with sides,  scoured thrift shops for black tablecloths, then made up business cards on my printer.  I spent that evening pricing my handcrafted jewelry.  The next morning I headed out with my car loaded to the roof.

That afternoon we sat up the booth.  

I spent two, hot days, hawking my jewelry, meeting people and learning a lot.  Here are some of my observations:

There is a lot of jewelry competition.  Sell something unique.  

The tent is tricky to set up the first time, there is a front and back.  Of course, we had it backwards. For weights (to hold the tent down in case of wind) use pvc piping with cement inside and eyelet hooks at top, no more than 25 lbs or they are too heavy to carry.  Put the sides on right away, you can roll up later, but it’s much easier to attach at the beginning.

Meet your neighbors.  They gave me lots of insider information, for instance; it takes about five shows to dial in the process, attract repeat customers and know what sells.

Leave product somewhere safe overnight (I took it with me in a rolling cooler) and bring it back in the morning.

Set up tables, tablecloths and displays the night before. (Take a picture so you can reassure yourself later)

Bring packing tape (I used to tape the tablecloths down), screwdriver and hammer for tent set up, stapler, binder clips, safety pins to pin tablecloths to each other at bottom, step ladder (I couldn’t reach the top of the tent for signs)

Pvc pipe for leg extenders on the tables to make them counter height

A comfortable chair, counter height is best.  Bring water and lots of things to do, down time was the worst part.

Rearrange product often (another vendor told me this) so if someone comes back by they may see something new

I re-configured my tables on day two and stood behind a table instead of in the middle.  Worked much better.

Be ready to change a clasp, lengthen a necklace with an extension chain, take orders, whatever it takes to sell a piece of jewelry.

Remember what an interested customer is wearing, a hat, clothing color, or something to identify them if you see them again.  I had a lady interested in one of my nicest pieces but she didn’t like the length.  After she left I got to thinking that I could modify the piece and did, but then I couldn’t remember what she looked like to find her.

Another vendor shared this tip…burn a candle, the smell will attract people.

Include sales tax in your price to avoid making small change and figure sales tax amount owed later.  You can then pay it out of your profit.  

Doesn’t this set up from day two look better?  


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