I’ve had a goal for the last couple of years to participate in a local craft show. I really wanted to interact with people, get some feedback on the products I sell and meet other vendors. With all the wedding chaos, I didn’t think it would happen this year. But I found myself with extra time, and used much of it to increase my inventory level. I felt like I had plenty of product to fill a booth, but had missed the application dates for some of the shows already. I decided since I had inventory, but no plan, I would just apply to two shows. They happened to be two very popular shows, so I didn’t think I had any hope of getting in. At first, I was right. I received my rejectograms, but one said I had been added to the wait list. Not knowing where I was on that list, or whether everyone was added to it, I let the whole idea go.
Twelve days before the Siren Nation show, I received an email letting me know a space had opened up and asking if I was interested in it. I waited for my husband to come home and talk me out of the craziness of accepting, but instead he said he thought I should go for it. With not even two weeks to prepare, I jumped in. Today I’d like to share a few of the tips that helped me make it in time!
1. Order a credit card device (Square, PayPal, Etsy, etc.) the moment you apply for your first show. They’re free, and if you get accepted you’re going to need one. I actually ordered a Square and PayPal and brought them both, in case I had trouble getting one of them to work.
2. Make sure you already have enough stock on hand, or at least enough you can fill any holes in your inventory in the time remaining until the show.
3. Enlist help. Whether it’s assigning the kids to make dinner a couple of times, asking your significant other to run some of your errands, or getting someone to help at the show, don’t be afraid to ask for some assistance.
4. Make a list of the things you need to accomplish before the show. It’s much less stressful for me to take a few minutes to write down my tasks and work from that list than to find myself bouncing from one thing to the next, trying to remember what I might be leaving out.
5. If you have the space, set up a table with the area you’ll have available marked off. Since this was my first show, I didn’t have a plan in place so I found it easier to have it there where I could fill it and tweak it as I went. This is my table in my studio, with blue tape on the right to mark my area.
6. Use as many items you already own as possible for your display. I used mason jars for my business cards and pens, and repurposed a small clipboard to hold my mailing list sign-up sheet.
7. Make a list of items you think you might need at the show. I felt better taking everything I could possibly need and maybe not having to use it. This is what I brought for our indoor setting. I would add to it for an outdoor show.
8. Take photos of your booth set-up with your phone so it’s easy to replicate once you arrive. I had planned for a 30” deep table, but once we arrived we found it was deeper, so we had to adjust. It was helpful to be able to look at how it was laid out at home to decide where we could make changes.
9. Which leads me to my next tip – be flexible. If you find something isn’t working don’t be afraid to change it. We found that customers weren’t really seeing the coffee sleeves in the crate, so we spread them on the table later in the day. Also, I hadn’t planned to display a wrist strap on a camera, but since we had extra space I added it and it really helped to show customers how it works.
10. After the show is over, write down what worked and what didn’t for next time. I’d also recommend sending a thank you to the organizers. The organizers at Siren Nation never stopped to take a breath while I was there!
I won’t say everything went perfectly, but considering the short time I had to get ready, I was pretty happy with the way everything turned out. Do you craft sale veterans out there have any advice to add?