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Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Craft Fair: Tips & Tricks For A Smoother Day

Even though the summer craft season is winding down, the fall and holiday craft show season is just heating up! I am always on the hunt for new info about upcoming show, tips, tricks or any other info that I may not have thought of that will make my life and show experience easier.
I have seen alot of info over the years, so here is just some of my tips that will hopefully help you or at least give you ideas!

{TIPS}
Having done Craft Shows & Fairs for awhile, here are some of my following tips and info that have helped me over the years:






  • Price all items to the dollar to avoid dealing with loose change. So if something is $3.50, either price it at $3 or $4. It is easier and will save you and the customer hassles.



  • Bring a buddy along, even if they don't stay for the whole event( some people just can't seem to get up early on the weekends) ask them to come for a couple of hours to man your table during peak times like 11-3 or 12-4, etc so that you can take a break , walk around or etc.



  • Bring CHANGE, CHANGE and more CHANGE. I have found that people tend to make a stop at the ATM before a show, anticipating buying, so they pay with nice $20 dollar bills. The best ratio I have found is fifty $1 dollar bills , two $10 dollar bills and six $5 dollar bills for a total of $100 dollars. Whatever ratio you do , just make sure to bring alot of ones like you are going to the strip club.



  • Because people are going green and trying to conserve , I have found that lately more people are not giving out bags with there merchandise. But it is handy to have some because there will be people who ask for them. If you are not going to provide "Company Bags" , (which we highly suggest )with your logo on them or etc, then those good ole plain plastic bags or paper bags from the will do.



  • If you have never done a show before and have the time and space, try setting up your table in your home (or garage) and see how it looks, that way you can fix anything you don't like about it before you get to the show.



  • Don't bring out your whole inventory, I suggest bringing out a nice range of pieces but not each and everything you make



  • If you cannot enclose the sides of your tent and need to, just purchase heavy shower curtains (the ones with the metal grommets) and clamp them underneath canopy to metal frame with grommet size down. Then tie down bottom ends thru grommets at each corner to pull tight. Viola! Four walls and since shower curtains come in a variety of colors you can find a solid one in to match your canopy color.



  • No need to buy a Tablecloth, just purchase a Full or Queen size flat sheet(not the fitted) for your table cloth. You can purchase these at any linen store, Walmart, Kmart or Target in variety of solid colors for just a few dollars. And the good part is that they come in hundreds of colors are durable and can be easily replaced.



  • I suggest an apron or pouch for the cash , as I have heard horror stories of those big cumbersome cash boxes getting taken. With a pouch or apron you can always have it on you.



  • Make sure to take a variety of priced items, especially with this economy. This is a buyers market, so people are more apt to make a variety of smaller priced purchases as opposed to one large one. Of course this also depends on your product. So if you have a larger product maybe make smaller items "specifically " for the craft show and label them "Limited Edition" so that customers know this is the only place and time to get it.
{TABLE}
One of the best tables that I have found ( and trust me I have reasearched and gone thru alot of tables) is this 6ft Folding Table (standard craft show size) at Walmart. They also sell the brand at Target as well. Though the standard price is around $89, they usually have it on sale and you can get it for $40-$60, maybe even cheaper. This table is sturdy and has a nice hard High-density polyethylene top as well as easy to carry and set up with handle to carry. If also comes in 4ft size for those of you needing smaller tables.

Or you can also get a nice 6ft Resin Folding Table at Amazon , just remember that a table without the center seam will always be more durable. If you don't have a car that can carry a non folding table, then these are the best ones to get. And if you still are unsure about the amount of weight the table can hold, you can always place a "stablizer" underneath the table where the seam is located. Like maybe stack your cartons/boxes that you carried your products in under the seam.

{CANOPY}

If you are serious about doing craft shows, you will end up at some point needing a canopy. They are large, cumbersome and can be annoying to lug around, but they are necessary.
The most popular canopy is the EZ UP, pop up tent. Though they are easy to use( most of the time) , they are not "Water Proof". And that is VERY IMPORTANT. Most Pop Up tents are "water repellent" and not "water proof", so that means that the water will bead off for awhile, but eventually it will soak thru ( as I have found out the hard way)
If price is the main issue for you, then you can get an EZ UP or any other pop up tent from EBAY alot of them coming with four walls and some with a roller bag for easy transport. If you want to spend a little more to get a good tent, we recommend Swiss Gear Canopy, it is Water Proof , pop up construction and comes in a canvas zip up bag with wheels for easy transport. You can get them for about $100 but check Ebay as you may get it cheaper. Just remember that most craft show spaces are 10x10, so just get the 10x10 tent size .
The following are places to find canopies of a variety of prices and styles.



{WHERE TO APPLY}
One of the number one questions I get asked is "Where do you find the info for the shows? So I have compiled a list of some( I am sure not all) of the better avenues to find show for your area. The good thing about all of these is that they can be categorized by city/state. But one of the best resources is "word of mouth" , so when you are at a craft show talk to your neighboor. Find out how they heard about the show, what other shows they do and more importantly what kind of turnout business the shows tend to do. Actual first hand account of an event is the best information to have...do you actually think the promoter of the event is going to tell you the "real truth" about turnout and buying?

{CRAFT SHOW RESOURCES}
_____________________________






  • Indie Craft Fair Guide-geared towards the large heavily publicized annual shows, like Renegade, Bust, ETC



  • Indie Craft Shows- geared towards the true handmade artist so they have alot of smaller crafts shows listed as well as the larger ones



  • Craftlister- large comprehensive list of events, not just craft shows, but fleas, markets, streetfairs, and etc. Can search by state or zip code for free for up to one month. Since you will need to apply to shows several months in advance you can get free limited time (days-week) searching up to one year in the future by either paying or commenting on crafts shows past and present. Time of access depends on how many comments you make.You do have to sign up (for free) to access the free membership comment program.



  • Event Lister- Same as Craftlister, with benefits, membership program, etc



  • Craft Fair Online-group shows and resources



  • Art & Craft Yellowpages- subscription service, catagorized by state



  • Bob's List- List by state



  • I Want Crafter's Guide- For Tri-State area and a little bit beyond, so includes NY, NJ,PA, Delaware,Maryland & Virginia



  • Also Google "Craft Fairs or Street Fairs in... insert city" and some will come up that you may not have known about.

There are no hard and fast rules about craft shows but hopefully this will point you in the right direction.

Have any craft show tips, tricks or resources? Send us a comment..

5 comments:

THIS IS FABULOUS! Thank you so very much for all of this information! I have book marked this page and a few other pages as well. You have made me a follower of your blog! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

This is VERY good information as I am preparing for my first art & fashion show this coming month! Thank you so much for sharing!

I'm curious to know more about the Swiss Gear Canopy. Just wanted to be sure the model that teh link goes to is the one with the wheeled carrier. Thanks!

I am by bus and so ANYTHING that makes that easier is golden!

Yes, the Swiss Gear canopy comes in a blue heavy canvas wheeled duffel.....

I know about lugging everywhere, which is why I liked it , since I can wheel it around. lol

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