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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Your First Craft Show? Don't Panic!

Sew Pink & Blue - by Emily Thomas. A great booth display!
There is a wealth of helpful information available to get you looking like a craft show pro in no time!

If you're about to attend your first craft show as an exhibitor, understandably you might be feeling excitement mixed with some nervousness. You will certainly enjoy your first craft show more if you are well prepared. Here is some valuable information that will help you have a great first show.

Tips and Hints

Creating a mock up of your booth at home is a great way to test your booth display and plan ahead. When attending your first show, it is VITAL that you do a test run before the show to be certain everything you envision will work as you intended. Be prepared for it not to work the way you planned it in your mind - it probably won't.  That is why you should test it out!  Even if it does fit the way you thought it would, you may figure out a better way to do things just by experiencing the set up.  There is always room for improvement.  You will also get an idea of how long it will take you to set up your booth, and it gives you the opportunity to resolve any issues or make changes.  The first time you set up your display should NOT be at the show. 

It's easy to do.  Just measure out an area which will be the size of your booth space and set up your booth as you planned to for the show within the confines of the space you have reserved.  Be prepared to make some changes along the way, if things do not quite fit, or look as good as you hoped.

This is so important I am going to say it again: It is VITAL that you do a test run and set up your booth before you attend your first show.

Need some Inspiration? Viewing online photo galleries of craft show booths is a good way to get some ideas for your own booth set up.  Try these for ideas:

Show Me Your Booths:

Arts and Crafts Fairs and Shows:

Cash: You should bring at least $100 worth of change in different denominations as well as a cash box or other tool to hold the cash. Don't get caught not being able to make change for your shoppers when they purchase from you. Many seasoned exhibitors will tell you it is easier if you price your items using round dollar amounts.  Consider instead of charging $19.50, and giving  50 cents for change, just charge $19.00 or $20.00. This is easier as you do not have to carry a lot of coins to make change. You may not think it's much of a big deal, but it really does save you a lot of time and trouble.

Sales Tax:  You are required to collect and pay sales tax on your sales.  You may decide to build the sales tax into your prices too. It makes things so much easier when you’re conducting each transaction.  If you do this, you might want to list on your display somewhere that "prices include tax" so your shoppers know.

Credit Cards: Accepting credit cards is easier than you might think. There are services that allow you to take credit card payments right from your mobile phone.

Here are two options:

Receipt book: You should have some place where you can record all of your sales at the show. t's up to you what information you record.  You might make note of the date, the item, the quantity, price etc. This lets you easily calculate your state tax (speaking about US states, this is typically payable to the promoter before you leave the show, per state law).  Then when you get home you can enter your sales into wherever you usually keep your records.

Bring a buddy. While shows can be exciting and profitable, they can also be physically and emotionally exhausting. That's why it's helpful to bring along someone to help you work the booth if you can. This will also give you a chance to take a little break when needed.

Packing. Besides your products, you'll also need to pack your booth.  You may need chairs, table(s), other display items, bags for shoppers to carry away their purchase, business cards, brochures or other marketing materials, etc.  Make a list before you start to pack. Then check it twice.  They check it twice more.

Your Booth.
Looks do matter! Make sure your display table is clean and attractive and that your products are well displayed with prices clearly marked.  Customers are more likely to enter your booth and browse if your items and neatly displayed.

Neatness is not enough though, you need to put some thought into your booth display.  If you want to be taken seriously at a craft show, you need to show you take yourself seriously. Don't throw you items onto a table as if you are at a flea market - you will be expected to charge flea market prices, too.  It will also reflect poorly on the reputation of the show and you may not be invited back.  Be sure to show pride in your work and display your items in a manner that entices people to want to peruse, and shop, your booth.

Table covers. Use sheets, table cloths or whatever else you like, just make sure the table cloth is long enough to reach the ground on all sides. This is generally a requirement of a professional show to maintain the cohesion and professionalism of the show. Also, your table cover lets your hide your packing boxes, etc under the tables out of sight.

HINT:  Most shows that impose a color restriction on the table cover color will usually have black as an option.  Black is the best option when purchasing a table cover for use at future shows.  If you don't want just black, you can always drape a smaller cover over the black cover, giving your booth a layered look and a pop of color. Switch out the top cover for a different color whenever you like.

HINT: If your table cover is made of fabric that creases easily, make sure you iron it before a show.  It's not a good look to have a badly crinkled table cover.

Your display. Any number of display items can make a fun and attractive display.  Definitely try different things and see what works best for you and your products.  You can be creative without the need to spend tons of money. You just need a little time, thought and creativity.

Demonstrate. People enjoy watching a craftsperson creating artwork in their booth, not just selling it. Of course, this isn't always possible, but for those who can, demonstrating can lead to customers staying longer in your booth, and lead to more sales.

Build a mailing list. Shows are a great way to develop your customer database. Consider having a give-away.  A chance to win a piece of your artwork in return for giving you their contact information like email address or business cards. This way, you can send email inviting potential customers to your next show.

Marketing: Advertise yourself. Lots of people may be perusing and checking things out but not buying.  Make sure you have business cards ON DISPLAY so people can take one with them in case they want to buy from you later.  When your booth is busy, don't make people wait around until you are free just to ask you for a business card.  They won't always wait and you just lost a potential sale. It may be for themselves for a future purchase or they may wish to pass on your information to someone else. Make it easy for them to do that.  Cards do not have to be professionally printed.  You can easily and inexpensively make your own business cards at home.

Do a search online for business cards. You can usually find a printer having a sale where you can pick up some nice cards at a great price.

TIP: Vista Print offers free business cards. You must use one of their templates, and they include their own website address on the back of the card.  But, the cards are indeed, free.
 I hope this information helps you to have a great first show!

 August 25-26 2012
Jackson, MS  USA



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