I’m currently planning my 2019 craft show schedule and it has me looking back on what I did last year and how I can improve for the upcoming season. I thought if I’m spending this much time figuring out my new plan I might as well share it and help someone else.
My first craft show ever was very last minute. A friend’s mom was running it and needed more booths to fill up the event. It was her first time organizing a craft show so it didn’t have the biggest turnout but I still had success. Moving forward I made my booth better and bigger at each show and paid attention to what other vendors did.
At one show there was another beekeeper and another soap maker and I couldn’t help but check out their booths. I noticed I had more customers than them. I’m not saying my booth was perfect but I take pride in it. I think my customers could tell how much effort I went through to look clean and professional. The other two vendors had fairly sloppy tables and no clear signs. If you look at my first table ever below you’ll see you don’t need much to look good.
As you can see I didn’t have that many supplies for my first show. I ordered my sign from Vista Print on sale and paid extra for fast shipping, I bought my baskets at the dollar store, the stand the candles are on is just a box covered in white tissue paper, the dish the lip balms are in was one I found at my grandpa’s house, and the table cloth is cheap plastic. But I still made sure to keep everything organized neatly and clearly labelled. I had a tester out for the salve, I kept my four-in-one bars on one side and my soaps on another, I made the most out of what I had time to do. I also made myself a cash box and bought plastic signs to explain a bit about my shop.
Things I don’t like about this booth is the way the sign didn’t lay flat on the table and had to be taped on, and I don’t like that the table cloth is not long enough to hide my boxes under the table. It’s a very simple booth and not very eye-catching. I think the honey and the candles adding hight to each end and the symmetry worked well.
My next shows I improved and expanded the variety of soaps I brought with me. I also think it’s important to plan for the type of event. Most shows I attended were Christmas themed so you need to keep the theme in mind. The burlap covering the top of the table will be at all of my shows to keep consistency, with either a solid or Christmas themed table cloth underneath.
In the above photo, there are still things I’d like to change. I find the table a touch crowded and am looking into adding shelves of some kind so I can have these products without the table feeling crowded. It would also add some more hight to the display which will create more visual interest. To keep the Christmas theme I used a Christmas table cloth and brought Christmas themed merchandise with me.
The most important thing is to have your prices and product names clear. People are very likely to just move on rather than ask for a price. I have my gift sets displayed on the table with pre-packaged ones underneath so I was ready as soon as a customer wanted one and didn’t have to alter my display.
From my experience, the best thing you can do is be ready to help your customer and tell them about what you do. I greeted each customer and gave them a quick blurb about Growing Green Co and myself. People are at a craft show because they want to support small local business, and they want a story. I always say something along the lines of “I’m Amanda I hand make all of the products you see here in small batches. I started as a beekeeper with my mom and expanded to making all of this from that. I use all natural ingredients and the traditional soap making methods our great grandmothers would use”. Keep it short and interesting. You can expand if they seem very interested or ask questions but no one wants to be trapped by a vendor. If someone’s looking at my candles I might add that I make each one individually, or mention some of the benefits of beeswax. What you want to do is encourage people to want to support you, but there is a fine line between helping and driving people away. Give them space to breathe and look around. No one wants to feel pressured or watched.
As long as you are organized, and friendly I’m sure you’ll have customers. I recommend starting very small like I did. I did several newer smaller shows which meant I could gain exposer and experience without much financial risk. Smaller craft shows cost between $25.00-$50.00 for a booth while some I will be attending this year are $100.00 for a booth. I would have never paid that much my first year. I’m hoping my new booth set up will help me cover my costs. There are still several shows I decided not to attend this year because they cost over $100.00, but maybe next year I can try them out.
I’ll post another day with a list of tips for craft shows but I hope for now hearing about my experience was helpful for you.