Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Oh So Crafty

I survived my first craft show. For weeks, actually months, I've been obsessing over my first craft show for You Fascinate Me So. I've been pouring over craft blogs and Pintrest and anything else I can think of to figure out how to display hundreds of feathers in such a way that none of them get damaged and they are eye pleasing...yet not too distracting. Tall order right? Plus make enough product to accessorize a small army. Then you, know, sell the stuff. If you ask Mike he will say I was a complete basket case last week. Then the morning of the event I was calm, cool and collected. It was as if all that planning paid off and I knew what the hell I was doing!

I chose to enter my first show for a local mom's group. It was small and that's what I needed. Better to learn on a show that only has a $25 entry fee than to have everything fall to shit on a $250 two day event. Right?

It took me forever to set up...b/c you know...OCD. Then after I'd been setting up for an hour the ladies next to me got all shifty in their seats and redid their table. But it worked well for them and looked much better. I was fortunate enough to be seated next to a lovely woman and we chatted when we didn't have customers. This, unfortunately, was quite often. The other vendors all told me it was very very slow so I shouldn't make any assumptions based on that one experience.

Lessons learned:

*lots of preparation helps. Lots. I have everything sooooo agonized over in my head that it was pretty easy

*pack the car the night before. In the morning I had to get myself ready and hop in the car. If i had to pack the car as well I would have been crazed and sweaty before I got there.

*speaking of sweating...wear layers. I had a short sleeve silk shirt on under a blazer. It was cool but I got hot unloading the car. Then it was stifling in the room until the air kicked on as the show began. Had I worn long sleeves or a sweater I would have been miserable

*Have stuff on wheels. I was jealous of all the fold up dollies people had. I had a small drawer organizer on wheels that I kept my cash box and wrapping supplies and things to work on. That was my only wheeled item. I wish I had more.

*have something for the kids. I had a bowl of chocolates with my business cards in it. One adorable little boy wanted a hair flower in the worst way. His mom was NOT going to buy one for him. I offered him a chocolate in exchange and he happily put down the hair clip and took his candy. Smile from mom. Excellent.

*Bring a hand mirror if you sell something you wear. I bought a pretty mirror at Home Goods the day before on a whim. My first client asked if I had a mirror. Almost every person that came up asked to look in the mirror.

*Wear your own product and ask if they want to wear it out or have it wrapped up. If someone sees the beautiful hair accessory walking around the show they might want to know where it came from...over here!

*Have a wrapping station. I had my wrapping supplies and cards and promo codes and everything I needed to wrap up a purchase neatly laid out and easily accessible but not in sight.

*have a trash bag out of sight. Where the trash came from I have no idea but it did. I just tossed a plastic grocery bag in the garbage on my way out the door. Easy.

*Buy interesting pieces to display your product. I went to Goodwill and found almost everything I used for my displays. The rest were household items I already had at home. I got many compliments on my interesting display. Anything that catches your eye is good and draws people to your booth. A black table cloth is boring and so is your product...probably.

*Rather than clutter your table and make it overwhelming don't put everything out. If someone doesn't see what they like, pull out more but keep a minimalist (sort of) table. If something sells fill that spot with something new. I say this and there was nothing minimalist about my table but I didn't fill every nook and cranny with product.

*Go vertical. As I labored over my booth and made the vendor next to me nervous they realized something. Putting a box under their table cloth made a huge difference. Bringing the product UP to the shopper is good. Draws the eye around the table and you can show more product without being overly cluttered.

*Have a receipt book. I didn't tally anything until I came home. I keep the carbon copies for my tax records.

*Have a discount for second items. I had my flower clips priced at $9 or 2 for $15. I sold plenty of the 2's b/c of the discount.

*Take credit cards. Who knew? I didn't. I lost 3 sales b/c I didn't have a credit card swipe. NEXT show I will accept credit cards. I suppose, though, a craft show is the quintessential place for impulse buying. I'm all for an impulse buy if its MY product. I should be prepared for the person who has already spent all their money.

*Think about ALL age groups. Turns out old ladies love the flower clips but not for their hair, but a lapel pin. Next show I will offer to sew a brooch pin onto the back for just such a lady.

*Talk to other vendors. I found that everyone was very nice and willing to offer suggestions or recommendations for other shows. There is a whole other subculture of craft show people that I never knew existed.

*Good signage is important. Most people don't want to ask how much something costs. If you have it clearly marked they are more comfortable. I hate searching for prices. Oh and build sales tax into the price. Who wants to mess with pennies when you can deal in even dollars?

I didn't exactly make out like a bandit but I did well enough, especially considering it was very slow. I have high hopes for the next show!

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