Craft Shows 101: Preparing for the Show

Craft Shows 101 Preparing for the ShowThings are getting real now! You’ve been accepted to the show, and it’s time to prepare!

First things first – making your products. When finishing up your items, it is always good to have some sort of label whenever possible.  If a customer loves your product, and want to buy more, you want them to remember your business name. Business cards work for this; however, many times, business cards get lost or thrown away.

An example of labeling: I sell soy wax melts, or soy tarts. For packaging, they are in a clamshell mold. My labels say “Own Something Awesome” at the top,  have a star in the middle that has the fragrance and description on it, “Soy Tarts” in larger lettering at the bottom, and “To order more, please visit ownsomethingawesome.etsy.com”. I do give every customer a business card when they purchase as well. They may lose the card though, and with my website on the label, when they use up all of the wax, they can order more very easily without trying to remember where the wax came from.

When deciding how much inventory to make and take with you, consider how your display will be set up, how long the show is, and the amount of traffic to be expected. You want to have enough inventory with you so that you do not end up with an empty table halfway through the day. An empty table may sound good to you, because that means you were successful in selling. What this actually means though, is that you may be losing out on potential customers who still come through and have nothing to look at. This means time and money lost, because you don’t want to pack up early. This is a BIG no-no in the craft show world, and chances are you would not be invited back. (Who wouldn’t want to be invited back to a show they did that many sales at?) Some people consider 10 times your booth fee a good amount to go off of. They consider that a successful amount of sales for larger shows, so try to use that and adjust from there based off your own experiences.

Example: $50 booth fee – make sure to take at least $500 worth of inventory.

Table Coverings

Another thing you will want to consider ahead of time is if you will need your own tables and what to use for table cloths. Now, when I say this, I can’t stress enough – make sure your table coverings go all the way to the floor on three sides of your table! There is a reason for this. Let me explain.

When you attend a craft show, it is, in essence, a collection of shops all in one building. Treat your space like your own shop. Table coverings that only go halfway to the floor will not cover up your empty boxes and totes from the public eye. You then start to give off the flea market/rummage sale vibe. (Don’t get me wrong, I have seen some FANTASTIC displays at flea markets and rummage sales, but generally speaking, not usually.) When you invent in a nice table cloth and/or table skirt, none of the clutter under your table will show. We now can get the upscale, downtown gift boutique look that people love returning to for their gift-giving and shopping spree needs.

I’ll be honest with you, my very first show I didn’t think about a table cloth until that week. (Normally I attended shows with my mom and she took care of these things.) After not being able to find any table cloths to cover an 8ft table at the stores nearby, and not having a sewing machine to make one, I took the stretchy black top sheet from a queen sheet set and ended up cutting holes in it. I tied it under the table so it would stay put. It was a Holiday Gift Shop, so I went to a dollar store and found the plastic table skirt in the party section, bought some tinsel to go around the sides to decorate it up a bit, and bought a couple little present decorations. It turned out pretty good. I was actually complimented by many people on how cute my display was, and even had an organizer invite me to one of her shows that has been going on for many years. The downfall of getting a plastic table cover though, is that many organizers either frown upon it, or don’t even allow them.

My very first display!

My very first display!

After that show, I took my profits and invested in a nice cloth table skirt and table cloth, and the plastic clips to Velcro the table skirt to. This is a very wise investment, and I recommend you do the same.

The New Table Cloths I purchased in Spring (I did need a steamer though, I made note of this for future shows)

The New Table Cloths I purchased in Spring (I did need a steamer though, I made note of this for future shows)

Again, I cannot stress how important this one detail is. A former event organizer once told me that this is one of their biggest pet peeves. She said that you would want your space to be as clean and professional as possible. Even the minor details like this can make a big impact on a customers’ overall impression of you and your work. Spend the extra few dollars to maximize your customer experience.

When choosing your table coverings, go with a solid color. You want to avoid a print on your table cloth because it could take the customer’s eye off of your products. You want your products to be what stands out and catches the customer’s eyes.

If you click on either of these pictures, it will take you to Amazon. These are the exact table cloths and skirts I purchased. For the velcro clips, I do own both in case a show I go to provides the table. I wanted to be sure that my clips would work for most types of tables that would be provided.
*Disclosure: If you click through and purchase any of the items I recommend, I could be compensated a small amount. My full disclosure policy can be read here.**

Displays

When I talk about displays – as you see in my pictures above, this is still a work in progress for me. Don’t go in debt before you even start! Build up your displays as you do more shows. 

When you shop, which is more visually appealing to you? I’m going to give you a scenario, and you can decide.

You walk into a building and see two booths side-by-side. We’ll say for this scenario that they both have candles. The table to the left has all the candles lined up neatly in rows on the table. The table to the right has tiered shelves on the table with candles on it. They have pie candles on a turning cupcake stand, a nice shelf in the front corner with a great selection that you can see from where you are standing, and behind their table they have a beautiful back drop with their business name and logo on it. Now, back to our original question – which table is more visually appealing?

The table on the right would be our answer. While the table on the left is neatly displayed, we are a 3D kind of world. It is like going from blueprint to something completely finished. The “finished” display is going to bring more customers into the booth, which is the goal. We’ll get to sales later.

I started out very 2-dimensional. You might too. You don’t want to start a business going thousands of dollars in debt right away. As you continue to go to shows, take some of your profit and invest in your display. Eventually, you are going to have that seasoned crafter, serious about your business, look too.

Another benefit to creating dimension is that you’re actually creating more space for your product. If you signed up for an 8-foot table, you only have 8 feet from side to side. When you can’t move outward, go upward!

If you need some ideas of how to display your type of products, there are several places you can look. You could go on a search engine and look up craft show displays. You could check out other crafter’s displays at shows for inspiration. You could also go to Pinterest, type in “craft shows displays”, and see a ton of pictures right there on your computer monitor with ideas.

Another great place to check out is your mall or local gift shops. Take a visit there and really look at how items are displayed. Also pay attention to the placement on the displays. This will come in hand later.

When you have figured out your display, do a trial run in your living room, or wherever you have the space. If it’s an outdoor event, set up you tent outside for practice and then set up your display.

Do you have a great display to show off? Feel free to e-mail me and I will include pictures of your display in a future post! OwnSomethingAwesome (at) gmail (dot) com  – Don’t forget to send a little description and any links to your shop or Blog and I’ll include them as well! 

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