So you've signed up for a craft show! Now what? There's a lot to accomplish between now and the date of your show! Check out our list of do's, don'ts, and everything in between to make sure your show is a success.
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- Do your research
Start by learning as much about the show as you can. How many people are expected to attend? How many vendors? What kinds of vendors will be on hand? A lot of this you may have already researched before signing up (as you should!), but now's the time to fill in any gaps in your knowledge. If the show is outside, are there provisions for inclement weather? Will you have access to electricity? The more you know, the easier it is to make your plan.
- Decide on stock
Once you have a good idea of what you might expect, plan what you want to take with you. Think about seasonality—holiday items go great in November, but are a tougher sell in July. Some crafters suggest bringing a range of items at different price points, but don't worry if that doesn't match your brand. If you sell nothing but high-end handbags, don't worry that you don't have an inexpensive offering available. Doing so can actually make customers less likely to buy your wares because they feel your best, more expensive products might be overpriced. Try to know your audience, but always be true to your brand.
- How much to take?
Another tricky question. You don't want to have to rent a trailer to haul everything to a show where you make two sales, but you also really don't want to sell out before noon. A good rule of thumb is to have at least twice as much stock as it would take for you to break even on the day. If you have the ability to easily have more on hand, it's great to have options!
Create a timeline
This will help you make sure you stay on track as you prepare for your event. If there are any deadlines the show has placed on you (such as submitting information for a program or pictures for marketing), make sure to place special emphasis on those. Also add dates that can help you stay on track in making your stock items. It's easy to think "I've still got time" when the show is months away, but it will arrive before you know it. Make sure to order print materials and other supplies early in case there are any issues with quality or shipping.
Any craft show worth its entry fee will be doing quite a bit of advertising on its own, but don't leave everything up to them! If you have an email newsletter, make sure to put the word out to your list about any upcoming events and shows where they can find you (if you have the ability to segment your list by location, that's even better, since you can alert specific fans when you'll be in their area). Use your social media platforms to announce the event, and check to see if the show has its own social media profiles you can follow and share. You can even create special offers to existing customers who attend the show. Try to be creative. Remember, the more people on hand who know and love your work, the more likely you are to make sales!
- Plan your display
Those three little words don't do justice to this step. Planning your display is a lot of work, and more than a little nerve wracking. After all, you only get one shot to draw a customer in and engage them in your work. You want to make sure your design is attractive, yet shoppable, that your items are easily accessible, clearly marked, and that there's enough on display that your customers want to keep shopping. So how do you do it?
The truth is, there's no one right answer. What works fantastically well at one show may not catch customers' eyes at the next. There are just too many variables, from location to weather, that play a major role in how your display is perceived. But there are some tips and tricks to setting up your display that are generally a good idea:
- Use lifts and levels to create different heights in a tablescape
- Keep the look and feel on brand
- Make your items the star of the show and avoid relying on props
- Use unique and attractive displays, like dress forms for clothing
- Keep to a simple color palette
- Consider adding lighting if feasible
- Think like a customer and pair related items for extra sales
- Add a mirror if you let customers try items on
- Make sure each item is clearly priced
- Pack up for the big day
Don't leave packing for the last minute. Store finished items in their travel boxes as soon as they're completed, and pack up most of the rest of your materials a day or so in advance. Make sure you know how long it will take you to get to your show, and that your departure time leaves extra in case of traffic or detours. Pack the bulk of your booth items so that they're some of the first items you get out. It's easier to set up your booth when you're not tripping over boxes of inventory items in the process. Make a detailed list of all the things you want to bring along and check them off as you go. We've got some ideas below to get you started!
- Got Everything? Check the List!
Your individual list will vary a bit depending on what kind of venue is hosting the show, what your booth design is, and what kinds of items you sell, but here are some ideas for your craft show checklist!
Business and Money
- Permits, licenses, and entry paperwork
- Cashbox and change
- Credit card scanner and charger
- Cell phone
Stock and Displays
- Appropriate number of stock items
- Tables, racks, shelves, or other displays
- Tablecloths, lifts, stands, and decor items
- Canopy and weights (for outdoor shows)
- Lighting and extension cords
- Bags or boxes and tissue for wrapping sold items
- Mannequin, hangers, or dress forms for displaying garments
- Business cards
- Pricing signs
- Price stickers or tags
- Custom order forms
- Large banner or standing sign
- Cart or dolly for moving materials
- An assistant if you can find one!
- Pens, pencils, and scrap paper
- Snacks and water bottle
- Handmade projects to work on
- An extra layer of clothing (in case the weather turns or the venue is cold)
- Chair or stool