Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Getting Ready for a Craft Show - Part One

Today we have a guest poster, Jodi Williams of Crafts by Jodi, who is going to share some great info on doing craft shows  with you.

Hi, I'm from Western PA. I've been crafting for over 20 years now. I am married and have an 11 year old daughter.  At Crafts By Jodi, we are proud to say that everything is handmade in my country home. We make wood signs, seasonal wood decorations, fabric crafts and we also do vinyl lettering.

Getting Ready For A Craft Show --Part One

   I receive a lot of questions about getting ready for craft shows. I have been doing them for about 7 or 8 years now and I learn something new every year!
  Seriously though there is a lot to keep in mind when you decide to do a craft show. I will go over everything from the shows, how to make your display, items you won't want to forget to take, and a lot more.

This is a picture of our show we do in October.  It's our inside show and we have 2 booths

  Right now we do only 2 shows a year. One of them is a 2 day show in September and the other is a 5 day (2 weekends) show in October. I have found that the fall shows are the best for me. You need to decide which will work better with the products that you sell. For instance, if you do florals, you may do well at the Spring shows. The best thing I did was to go to the shows that I was interested in and talk to some of the vendors.
  I would go to the shows with my parents, since we do the shows together, and look at displays. You will want to keep in mind the items you sell when looking at the displays to decide what is the best way to showcase your items. Every year we think that we have the booth exactly as we want it but we still change our booth every year! My dad laughs when my mom and I start a sentence with "we were thinking"!! He knows we have big ideas to change the booth around again!
  You will also want to look at where the vendors need to park and how far you will need to carry your items to the booth. It will help to know these things so that you can plan ahead. We bought a wagon to load our things on. You will want to decide if you would be able to do an outside show or if you need to be inside. Some shows have both inside and outside booths available. Sometimes the outside booths are priced a little cheaper. Just keep in mind the weather. If you make homemade chocolates, you may not want an outside booth in the middle of summer! One of our shows is outside and we have been lucky most years as far as the weather. We did set up the year when we had the horrible floods in 2004. We were lucky and didn't lose any merchandise although others were not as lucky. Sometimes the shows will offer to let you have an electric outlet. So if you need lights, or power for your register, make sure you ask about that. I bought a battery powered cash register because we do the one show outside and there are no electric hook ups there.
   We have double booths at both shows. We needed to get tents for the show that is outside. We were able to find ours at Sam's Club. I can't remember the exact price but it was roughly around $100. They are both 10x10 tents and they do have the sides with them. We have both a velcro one and one that zips. I like the one that zips, it just seems easier to me. They are both EZ UP tents. Now our first time trying to put it up... I did not believe it was the right name for the tent!! Luckily my dad, mom and I get along great and we just laughed at each other! After we realized what we were doing, it did go up pretty easy. We get quicker every year!      
  Our walls were made by my dad. He used pegboard and framed each panel. Yes, they are heavy but they work the best with our crafts. Some people use grid wire, wood, I have even seen chicken wire. Our other show is inside so we don't need the tents for it. Keep in mind that you want to design your booth so that your customers are able to move easily through your booth, so they can see everything. Our one show is so busy that the aisles are really packed with people and sometimes the flow of people just push people right past our booth. We opened our booth up so the customers can come into our booth and take their time to look at our crafts.
  We also put our cash register at one end of the booth. We get very busy and will have a line of people at the register. We designed our booth so that when this happens, our most popular items are not blocked by the line. My mom makes yardstakes and they sell so well, we had to figure out a way for her to refill them during our busy hours. Since I run the register and my mom wraps and bags the sales, it's hard to get away to refill our booth. She would try to get around the line and get through the crowd. It was really difficult to do it quickly so we asked my dad to add a "secret" door! We place the yardstakes right beside the door and then she just walks behind the booth, opens the door and refills the yardstakes without any problems.
  A lot of what we have learned has been through trial and error. You of course want to make sure you have lots of inventory for your shows. Even though we do just the 2 shows a year, we work all year long making crafts so we won't run out. Sometimes we still do! You will also want to keep in mind where you might want to keep your extra inventory. My mom and dad bought a trailer to keep their items in and we also put items behind our booth. Although some shows you must stay within your space.

My best advice is to visit craft shows you would like to attend, and ask questions!

My next entry will cover the items that you will want to make sure you take with you to the shows.

Have a great day!

To visit Jodi's website, click on the banner below.