I love going to craft shows - Both as a customer and as a vendor - I have a few Do's and Dont's for setting up as a vendor. Having the right booth set up, product presentation, customer engagement strategy and yes, even mindset will have a huge impact on your success at your upcoming event.
Booth Set Up
There are plenty of ways to set up your tables under your tent, but my favorite is the L or U shape - putting you inside your tent behind your tables and your customers outside the tent. People are free to browse without having to enter into your space. A lot of people will walk past a booth if they can't see your items front and center and many don't want to walk in to your booth. Keeping your products clearly visible to people without them having to come in offers them the ability to view your wares without committing to shopping with you by being inside your tent.
Don't forget weights for outdoor shows! If you don't have any, grab a few cinderblocks they will work too.
The way you present your products and yourself are very important - Make a good impression on potential customers and stand out from the rest! A beautiful presentation brings more value to the event and also to your business.
Create Height: Display your products at different levels - don't just lay them flat on your table. Create height by using different product displays. You can find things everywhere that can be used as a display - Crates, Planter boxes, floating shelves - One of my favorite displays is actually a wooden spice rack that I found at Goodwill!
Tablecloths: Make sure to cover your tables with fabric tablecloths. Don't bring plastic party tablecloth and don't leave your tables naked - bring tape or string to tie your linen ends to your table legs. I have several different seasonal sets of tablecloths and table runners - canvas table runners for your fall shows are a great option. I get a lot of attention every time I use my faux fur table runner for my winter / holiday shows. Finding festive and seasonal ways to dress up your tables draws more attention and makes a good impression.
Price your products: Make sure your prices are visible - many people don't want to have to ask for your prices. I designate specific areas or displays to certain prices - A pendant board for pendants that are X amount with the board labeled as such - A table where the bracelets are all X amount with the table labeled as such and so forth.
Stand out: Bring something to draw attention to your booth - be it a banner, an interesting display, a large crystal - I had a friend who had built a beautiful bracelet rack out of tree branches that drew a crowd every time. We have used a giant copper wire tree my husband made to display necklaces to catch attention - we ended up selling it when someone offered a good price. Now, I generally bring a larger crystal to set front and center to draw attention, even if I don't intend on selling it. People see it and come to look.
Make an Impression: Make sure to come dressed nicely and comfortably in something that you feel confident in - look your best!
Be approachable, not aggressive: Be sure to be available to your customers and engage as much as possible without soliciting - calling out to people as they walk by is a big don't. It's a "read the room" type of situation - If they don't make eye contact and are looking straight ahead walking by don't try to engage, don't try to flag people down. If someone makes eye contact with you as they are walking by your booth definitely greet them with a smile and a nod or a "hey! how are you doing!"
Bring a stool to sit, not a chair: Although its more comfortable, a chair will leave you down below eye level and having to get up to engage properly with your customers. Some customers may be less likely to engage with you if you are sitting down in a chair for fear of disturbing you. Instead of standing the entire time, invest in a tall stool!
Act Busy, be available: I usually bring something to do - a necklace to knot, my planner and a pen to write down ideas, etc - look busy while being available. You don't want to hover over your customers while they are just browsing.
Greet and Inform: When someone approaches your booth, greet them and watch from the corner of your eye to see what product catches their eye. When you see that something has gotten their attention, offer some information about it. I will usually tell people who approach my booth the prices of each category of items and follow up with "feel free to try anything on!" then let them go about their browsing while discreetly watching to see what they like, ready to tell them more about it.
Cut a Deal: - my first craft show, an old wire wrapper and full time craft show dealer gave me some good advice - he said "you can't eat it" - he was talking about my pricing. He told me to price my items with the type of crowd and the type of event I'm at in mind. He said "what's one item you can make for cheap and easy, that you can sell for $5-$10 that people passing by can't pass up because it's just too good a deal? Make a ton of them!" That's what my husband and I did with our rings. And when people would be trying on rings trying to pick one out because they were only $8, they would end up seeing a more expensive item they really liked too, and then another for their friend - it adds up, you just have to get them to be at your booth long enough to find what they like - and if they've already got it in their head that they are for sure buying something from you, then they are more likely to end up buying more from you. A lot of our success at shows can be credited to this advice - have a little bit of something for every budget. Don't ever sell yourself short but be ready to make a deal or two!
Bring Change: It is so important to bring $1s, $5s and $10s - Generally I will bring at least $200 in $1 bills and $100 in $5 bills. Do NOT be the person who has to ask your neighbor for change - you may lose a sale and you will be putting your neighbor out as well. Keep your change ON YOU - I keep mine in an apron, fanny pack or zipping coat pocket.
Business Cards: have plenty of them! Hand one out to everyone who stops by - if all they did was browse, before they walk off be sure to say "before you go, let me give you my card!" When they buy something, be sure to include your card with the item they purchase.
Bring Supplies: Tape, pen, paper, string, snack, water, whatever - If your show goes into the evening bring some LED rechargeable flash lights and something to hang them up with. Bring a portable phone charger, especially if you accept payment with your phone!
Believe it or not, your mindset and attitude going in is probably just as important as the quality and desirability of your products.
Remember - the more effort you put in, the more you will get out of your show! Come with the desire to and the belief that you will bring value to the event.
Never get discouraged about your booth placement - stay positive until the end, and if you didn't hit your goal, take it as a lesson learned. You will find that you and your products do better at certain types of shows and certain areas. Some people do great at flea markets, some do great at art fairs, some do best at seasonal festivals its all about what type of crowd you are more desirable to.
Have an abundance mindset rather than a competitive one - know that there is plenty to go around - Just because someone buys from someone else doesn't mean they won't also buy from you - Even in a saturated market you can stand out if you present yourself to do so - know that even if there are 100 other jewelry makers/ wood turners / candle makers/ whatever you make - that your product stands out! What makes your products special? Be ready to tell anyone who wants to listen!
What are your Do's and Dont's for craft shows? Let me know in the comments!
by Janice McManus