Monday, October 28, 2013

craft show 101

This weekend, I participated in my first ever craft show!  I've always enjoyed attending craft shows as a customer, but this was the first time I've ever been on the other side of the table!  In preparation for the show I tried to do some research online on what others have learned from their years of experience, but was unable to find much advice!  So, I decided I'd offer up what I learned this weekend to hopefully help another first-timer out there!  Enjoy!

Truly love your product. One of my biggest fears going into this show was that I'm not at all "salesy". I've never been good at selling things, but I can talk anyone into using something that I truly love to use!  I've used everything that I sell and because of that can offer first hand recommendations, suggestions, and advice.  When people ask questions about products, I'm not scrambling to think of something to say or making it up!

Variety is key. Craft shows can be a little overwhelming as you have no idea who is going to walk through the door and be a potential customer.  When I opened my etsy shop a few months back, I knew I would be participating in shows, but wanted a way to get my product out there and hopefully get some feedback from buyers to help guide my show.  Unfortunately, being a new shop with little exposure, I only made 2 sales.  However, with etsy's "favorite" option, I've been able to track more popular items vs. those with little interest.  I based my inventory off of these "favorited" items and tried to offer as wide a variety of products as possible so as to lure in the most variety of customer.  If you can get someone to just stop and look at your table, chances are they'll at least take a card.  My products are mostly geared towards babies, however it seems everyone knows a baby or someone expecting one!  Knowing that this might not appeal to everyone, I added some homemade vanilla I've sold in the past as well as some seasonal hedge apples {read more about why here} to my table.  Both of these seemingly "random" products helped to lure in customers who may not have stopped otherwise.  Also being the weekend before Halloween I had a jack-o-lantern bucket of candy that I offered to passersby, which slowed people down enough to look more closely at my table.

Make small talk.  Everyone who stops to look at your table is a potential customer.  Be friendly and strike up a conversation.  If they pick up an item to check it out, offer up an antidote of why you love that product.  "Isn't that fabric so fun!?"  "My son loves that crinkly sound."  "We love using cloth diapers, they've really saved us a lot of money."  By talking to customers you may learn that they are looking for something more specific and you could offer to make a custom order just for them.

Listen and take notes.  When creating product for my sale, I tried to be as varied as possible in my color/style choices.  I knew this would be a learning experience and wanted to see what people gravitated towards.  My top selling product was my tag blankets.  In creating these blankets I stuck with a gender neutral theme so as to appeal to the most customers.  However, after 3 different customers commented that they were looking for more "boyish" fabrics, I realized that my gender neutral choices may have backfired!  I wrote this down along with a few other comments specific to different products and plan to address these for the next show!

Network.  Being in close proximity with other crafters is the perfect opportunity network and learn from them.  I was lucky enough to be on a rounded corner of the show so I had a table to each side and behind me.  We already having crafting in common so it was easy to strike up a conversation with these lovely ladies.  It's easy enough to ask about their products, where they're from, craft show experiences, what they have coming up, etc.  Again, take notes, and share contact info/business cards, once home you can continue relationships through support of facebook pages, websites, and shops.

Set realistic expectations.  You never truly know what to expect the first time you do something, so don't set yourself up for failure with a lofty goal.  I knew going into this show that my only real expectation was to make back the fee that I paid to be a part of the show.  If I accomplished that, I wanted to make back the gas money it took to get to the show (my first show was an hour and a half from my house). Once these two goals were met, I figured everything else was icing on the cake!  Now that I have one show under my belt, my expectations for the next will be a bit higher, but still focused on the learning experience and how to make future shows more successful!

I'm still very much a novice in the world of craft shows, but after this experience, I can say I've learned a lot and am looking forward to my next few shows!!

Any crafters out there have other advice or suggestions for us newbies?  I'd love to hear from you!

1 comment:

  1. I wrote a post on this a while ago! I organize a Christmas show every year at my church with approx. 80 crafters. And I also participate in them too. Another thing I do is Open Houses in my home to friends I know. I make an event on FB. It's been a success. I do it after my Christmas show which is the first Saturday in December & I do one before Mothers Day. At both of the Open Houses I have made more money than I did at any craft show I ever did! You can make deal & mark down because you aren't packaging things up & you are not shipping them. And the people that are coming are coming because they want to buy from you!