by Julie Chen of Life Verse Design
About a month ago, I wrote a post about the pro’s and con’s to participating in arts and crafts shows or farmer’s markets and today I would like to share with you my tips for preparing for a show now that you have decided to take the plunge!
SOME GENERAL UP FRONT ADVICE FIRST:
1. Be organized and well prepared: I created a mock booth in my basement before my first show in order to see the spacial reality of what would fit and how it would look, as well as thinking through what the shopper’s experience would be in my “store for the day” (ie: the flow; where their eye will go first, room to make transactions, etc…). That move was priceless (partly due to the fact that I am terrible with spacial dimensions!) I even drew out the layout of my booth in my handy notebook to take to the real show. One reason you will want to do this is that you normally will only have a 2 hour window to set up and be ready for customers, so the more you can plan in advance, the better off you will be. I also label each box of my display and inventory so that what box to unpack first. Oh! And have everything packed in your car the night before so that you do not waste time in the wee hours of the morning when it is too late to pack more anyways.
2. Be resourceful: Ask other crafters for their advice, such as where they buy supplies, what credit card company they use, what shows are “good” shows to participate in. Research (online & locally) best prices for supplies such as bags, table clothes, etc… Garbage pick or reuse items you currently have in your home to add charm and uniqueness to your booth (see that tower holding my 4×6 frames? it is a Pier One CD tower that I garbage picked 2 of and get the most comments about how people LOVE them)!
HERE IS A CHECKLIST OF ITEMS YOU SHOULD TAKE TO YOUR SHOW:
1. The checklist itself. Yes, get a notebook and write your list and check through it before you leave home. Create a layout of your booth like I did.
2. Money. I suggest $200 cash.
3. Inventory. Your work to display for sale, as well as back up inventory to store under tables and restock as needed.
4. Items needed for display. Tables (I suggest the 6 foot folding tables), white table clothes which are used to go to floor to hide merchandise and materials under your tables, colored fabric or table clothes to create beauty and highlight your product, a folding chair, a small 2-step ladder (if your booth requires hanging high things), tape to make sure clothes stay in place (I use gaffer tape so that it is very strong, but doesn’t leave the sticky residue). Any decorative touches to add beauty and uniqueness to your booth (I use bird statues and scatter pinecones throughout to create a homey atmosphere, as well as baskets to hold my artwork).
5. A banner or sign. This is a must have, as you will be surrounded by other booths. Your sign will most likely be the first thing a passing customer sees, so you want it well designed and very readable to pique interest of customers (I get mine printed at vistaprint.com on the vinyl so that it will not tear).
6. Business cards. Hand out as many as you can. I have gotten several sales 6 months after a show of someone who took my business card!
7. Bags. And maybe wrapping paper to wrap your items too; have your bags reflect your item or feel of your store if possible. For instance, I use simple brown kraft paper bags with the raffia handle to reflect my natural look (from storesupplywarehouse.com)
8. Scissors and tape
9. Notebook for you to write down your transactions or carbon copy receipts so that you keep record of purchases for your accounting later on.
10. Credit card machine & receipts. I use the old fashioned knuckle-buster which I bought on ebay. Then, when I get home later that night, I run the transactions through propay.com.
11. Notebook or journal which customers can sign up for your shop’s email list.
14. Food & drink.
I hope this list has been helpful! Your booth is the first marketing tool you create at a show and first impressions are everything. If your booth is creative, reflects your business personality, and is well put together, your customers will immediately think your product is of good quality. Enjoy making it “your own”!