Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tips for a Great Craft Show!

So, you've signed up to do your first craft show? Great!

So, now what do you do?

Ok, so lets start with some simple basics.....

Have plenty of merchandise at all price points. If you have lots of lower priced things, people tend to purchase more than one of those at a time. Think of the "add on" sale. Make peices that coordinate each other so you can make even more money by selling things together as sets.

Have something for the kids. Even if your craft is not child specific. Bring at least 2 or 3 types of items for the kids. Parents are suckers for buying for the babies! A little necklace, or pillowcase dress, even a small doll, or a mug for them to drink out of, all of these are great ideas for kids. And they can range in price from very low to very high.

Have your Set up prepared, and ready to go for the day of the show! There is nothing more stressful than running around trying to find everything last minute for your show.
Here are some basics you'll need:
A Tent of course, At least 2 six foot Table, Table Covers, and displays for your products
These are the Big things.
And here is some advice on setting up a professional looking booth:

Remember, the goal here is to bring people IN, not have them walk by without giving you a second glance! So.... remember the horseshoe or U shape.... Set your tables up with two on the side and a smaller one in the middle of the back. This brings people in, giving you a chance to welcome them to your area, and them to get a hands on feel for your merchandise.

Use Risers. Set the Back of your booth up high, and then lower it as it gets to the front. This way there are some items eye level, and it also gives a nicer appearance. Appearance is a VERY KEY selling tool! You have worked yourself to death, getting ready for this show... Why would you just throw your stuff out there just any old way? Make it look good!

Advice on raising your items:
Use the boxes you brought your crafts to the show in, and put them underneath a table cover, then flounce the table cover around. You can also put larger boxes in the floor in front of the table, covered with table covers and topped with merchandise. This way you are utilizing all of your space and getting as much of your product out as possible.

And if you would like to buy professional looking displays there are lots of links online that you can buy these from. Or if your lucky like me, you know someone in the retail industry that you can simply borrow these displays from.

Ok, so now we have our merchandise, and we have our setup.... What else did we need to bring?
Here are some essentials, you'll be so glad you remembered to pack:
Lots of pens
Business Cards
Receipt Book
Ribbon or string
Extra Price Tags
Duct Tape
Safety Pins
Calculator/Adding Machine
A small table to work on
A money apron, not box... keep your money on you...

And speaking of price tags: Remember to price all of your merchandise! Some people may be interested in your items, but are afraid to ask for the price. If you price each one, or have a Clearly printed or Typed Sign then you will have a better chance of selling your items.

How far are we now? We have merchandise, we've priced it, we have our set up, and our extra stuff.... We sound like we're ready for anything right?


The first, most important rule of doing your own craft show:
Young and Old.... You MUST speak to each customer! Tell everyone hello, welcome them to your booth. Let every customer know that you are there to answer any questions they may have.

Also, pick out your favorite piece. Anytime you can, you show that piece to customers in your area. They may say: "My, your things are beautiful" and you reply with: "Let me show you my absolute favorite!"

Strike up a conversation with this! If they don't particularly like this one, find out what it is about it they don't like, then you have a better idea of what they are looking for and you can go from there.

And if you find the perfect item for them, and they simply can't afford it, give them your business card at that point. It may also be helpful to let them know that you sell it higher online, and if they got it now, it will be X dollars less and no shipping fees.

Remember to be polite! Say yes ma'am, no sir, please and thank you. These are your customers, and you would like to take home a little of their money.... Also, you would like to hear good feedback about your craft too... So, being nice is a vital part of selling your items!

And make sure you let people know a little bit about the creation process..... "Did you know it takes me 7 hours to make each of these!?!" Or "I make all of my own dyes for this". Anything that they can tell their friends, "I got this from rockerchic, she sells on a website called Etsy, and she said it takes 7 hours to make each one of these dolls" And then, always make sure, you let people know your special order policy.... You can have 52 dresses, in 51 different colors, And surely the ONE color you did not bring, is the ONLY color anyone wants that day! Be sure you let everyone know that you are able to do these things, how they can get in contact with you, and how long your turnaround is. Everyone wants something made just for them, their idea, so why not accomodate that?

Ok, Ok... so this is getting much, much longer than anticipated... so I'll close up with these last little tips:

If you can wear it.... WEAR IT! If you have clothing, for goodness sakes... wear it... you make tutus for kids? Wear one yourself! Jewelry? Wear it! If you make toys, stay by the front of your tent and play with the toy. Display, and Demonstrate. Two of the most important selling tools. Display properly, and Demonstrate the use of your products!

NEVER, talk on your CELL while a customer is in your booth! When a customer walks into your area... You stand up, You welcome them, You let them know you are available to help them... You can even butt in and start showing them your favorite items. They'll either hang around to see more, or become distant and not want you to bother them. Read their body language, and back off if necessary. BUT NEVER, EVER sit back down until they leave! Sitting Down, talking to a friend, or on the phone is the equivalent of leaving your booth. You may have left because now the customer knows you are no longer interested in them.

BE EXCITED about your merchandise! If someone asks you a question, get excited about it... tell them how much fun it is to do what you do! NEVER let someone know how you labored and almost threw that thing out the window, you hated making it and never want to make another! If you aren't interested in your merchandise, then why should the customer be? You took the time to make it, they are just checking it out!

When there isn't a customer in your booth. It's ok to take occasional breaks, but try to be active in your booth. Straighten merchandise, or clean up. Just keep moving and touching your merchandise. Don't look bored or worried. you have to look approachable and interesting. When soemone sees you straightening your merchandise, they'll be more apt to come in and see whats going on, than if you were hiding at the back of the booth, with your ipod in.

And the last thing I'll say is this:
No matter if you "made a killing" or lost money... ALWAYS BE PROUD OF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS! You did a craft show! You were prepared! You got feedback from perfect strangers about your merchandise! YOU ROCK! It takes alot of guts to show people your handy work! But you did this! There are many, many crafters who would never imagine trying to sell their wares.... but you had enough confidence in yourself to give it a go! And if the first one bombs, who cares? You learned enough from your first show to know what to do differently at the next! And you will learn and one day you'll be so good at it, you could do it for a living!

So... I'm done now, and I hope this has helped! I've been in retail for the last 8 years or so, and I have learned alot from all the training and merchanding from my job. I try to incorporate that into craft show, and it has worked for me! I hope that this also works for you!


MadeByJade said...

OMG!!! You need to write a book!!
Amazing. You have covered alot of great information. I can't even think of a question that wasn't covered. Really you should look into getting published!!
Your Buddy Tricia

mamashai said...


ChildishThoughts said...

Thanks for this, I needed it now just to get my butt up and make enough items to go and do a show, that is my problem, I never feel as if I have enough product, and honestly I probably dont, LOL.

Anonymous said...

You guys are WAY too kind! lol! Thanks for the positive feedback!

sara said...

great post! maybe someday i will need this post

Sherie Sloane said...

Superbly written! Thanks for the great tips. You definitely got a knack for writing. I agree with Madeby Jane, you should pen a book :)