Monday, October 25, 2010

Craft Show, notes to learn by

I set up a booth at the local craft show this past weekend and I wanted to share what I learned. I collected a few pointers that I will plan to go by next time I enter a show. You can take a look and see if it is something you may want to apply to your booth plans as well.

Preparation Tips:
*Keep the show date on your calendar and remind anyone else involved of the date on a regular basis. (Babysitters, booth sharers, helpers, friends, customers on your newsletter list).
*Set timelines and goals to reach by certain dates. (ie- I will have x-amount of x-product made by x-date)
*Set up and test your booth before hand so that you know how long it will take to set up and what form of help you might need (I needed to enlist my Dad to carry some heavy things for me)

Booth Tips:
*Be flexible with your booth arrangement. You may have to alter your plan if you space is slightly different then what you envisioned, or the position of the booths next to you might affect traffic flow
*Traffic Flow is key. My booth looked great and employed the "U" shape I have heard recommended... but, we found it to be a bit of a traffic trap. People would come in to get a closer look, and then other people would come in behind them and they would get blocked in and the people in the back could not see in. The space in my "U" was too small. People were getting trapped and other were not able to enter. I also didn't think about strollers needing extra space for their driver to maneuver them around. For my next booth I plan to go with an L shape so that traffic can enter and have space to loop in and through with plenty of space to accommodate strollers and people who like to get a hands on look.
*Buddy: Have a friend who can man the booth with you or at least stop by to help with set up, a middle of the day potty break, and clean up. My Dad came to help me set up and carry heavy tables with me. A couple of friends contributed items to the display and spent time with me during the day keeping me company, answering customers questions, and helping watch the booth.

*Have an area set aside where you can accept payments, package items, and customers can use as an area to stand or write checks and not feel in the way. One lady I saw at the show set up her booth so that customer could sit at small table she had in order to comfortably write out thier checks. They could also take her business cards from there. I thought it was a great idea.
*My favorite parts of my display were the whi
te cubes that I purchased at Michaels. I stored some of my products inside the drawers for travel. Then at the show I just open up the drawers and drape the items out. When done I just pack them back into the drawers and we are ready to go
*Table skirts allow you to have space hidden from view for storage totes and trash bags.

*Don't forget tape! I had another booth who needed to barrow my tape and was so glad I had it!
*Bags, something cute for shoppers to walk away with. Throw your business cards in the bottom so customers take them with them!
*For the cupcakes we decided we needed to have napkins for next time, as well as cardboard trays for people who wanted to take more then one home with them. *Have a calculator on hand
*Signs to make it clear to shoppers what forms of payments you take, suggestions for uses of products, and pricing. Bring supplies for making signs or price tags on the spot if you see one has gotten damaged in transit, is missing, or was overlooked.
*I opted to wear my craft apron for a few reasons. I wanted it to set me apart as one of the crafters. I also used the pockets to hold things I needed quick access to: extra pens, business cards, and money pouch.

Plan Ahead:
*Price your items with easy to add amounts that don't require more change then you have on hand.
*Know ahead of time in your mind and share with your booth buddy what items you will accept haggled prices for and how low you will go. (My booth buddy was running the booth while I was taking a stroll to check out the other booths and a customer asked if I could take a lower amount for a blanket, we hadn't discussed it ahead of time so she asked the customer to stop by again before she left to ask me when I was back, but we didn't see her again).
*Customers will ask what show you will be at next. Be prepared with a hand out you can give them that lists the upcoming shows you will be displayed at.

Learn while you are there:
*Chat with other booth owners to learn from them. Ask what other shows they do and how long they have been selling.
*Take notes on booth set-ups and displays seem to be working and see if you can apply them to your booth
*Take business cards from your favorite booths so you can follow them online
*Listen to your customers. Pay attention to what they say and make mental notes of what items get the most questions or the most compliments. Next time you can change your set-up or add to a sign so that those questions are answered before they are asked. Items that receive the most compliments may do well in a featured spot or you may want to plan to have the most stock in that item.
*Remember what is working, eliminate what is not. (ie- My high heeled boots were NOT working! I ended up standing behind my display because if I sat down I disappeared because my chair was too low. Next time I have vowed to wear tennis shoes because no ones really sees my feet. I will also bring a high stool instead of the low chair.)

Thank you for reading this blog post. I hope you found some valuable tips here. Please post any advice you have or things you have learned from doing your own craft shows! It's great to learn from each other!