Over the years I have done quite a few art and craft show. I have done some that went very well, that I really enjoyed and I have done others that I left knowing that I would not be back next year.
I am not an expert, but here are a few things that I've learned from experience.
Where to find the shows:
* The easiest thing to do is to look up local art shows or craft fairs on the internet. Usually you will get enough shows to keep you pretty busy. However the smaller shows don't always list their events online. The best show that I ever attended was a smaller show that didn't list online.
* Go to your town's Chamber of Commerce, as well as the neighboring town's Chamber of Commerce. They can usually give you a better list of events than anyone else.
* Don't be afraid to ask other crafters and artists which shows that they attend and which ones they really like. People always think that others will be put off by this, this is not usually the case. Most artists and crafters want to help eachother out.
Some things I've learned the hard way:
If I could go back in time, I could've saved myself a lot of misery. While I love going to the shows, I also think that if you are not fully prepared, it can be chaotic.
* Make sure that you are aware of the rules and restrictions of the show that you are attending. The people who set this show up work very hard to get it to run smoothly, you don't want to make it any more difficult for them.
* Start preparing the weekend before the event. If it is a big event, you may want to set up your table with all of your wares on it to see how it looks and what you will need to add or take away in order for it to look attractive.
* Make a list of everything that you need. Check it off as you load it into the car.
Some thinigs that I ALWAYS take to a show are listed below.
- Rain gear, a sweatshirt, and a change of clothes. You just never know, and believe me there is nothing worse than having to sit in wet clothes for hours on end.
- Snacks and drinks. Pack a lunch and put it in a little cooler. The vendors at the show are usually on the expensive side, and I'd rather keep my earnings. Some shows don't allow a cooler, so be sure to ask before you bring one.
- Ofcourse, you'll need your table, table covers, a sign with your logo and slogan on it and your displays.
- Your product, packaged or displayed beautifully. The truth is, the average person will not spend a lot of time at your booth. Most will just walk by if there isn't something to really attract them.
- Extra bags, price tags, pens and paper. Like I said, you never know.
- Cash box with money already in it to make change, receipt book, a calculator, if you accept charge cards you'll need an imprinter and slips and your state sales tax license.
- Business cards, coupons, brochures or fliers.
- A mirror if you sell jewelry or clothing.
- Special order forms. Have a sign that tells customers that if they like a product but they're not crazy about the color or size, that you can make them one just the way they want. Have all of your prducts named or numbered and put this on the form. Write down exactly what they want, you won't remember later.
- A repair kit with tools to fix your displays, scissors, tape, a screw driver etc.
- Baby wipes and bandaids. I've found that I need these more often than I care to admit.
*Have everything ready to go the night before.
* Get plenty of sleep the night before. Craft shows can be exhausting, and you want to make sure that you have a lot of energy.
* Be ready to order out the night of the show, or prepare dinner ahead of time. Trust me, you will be too tired to cook.
* Smile at every person that stops at your booth, no matter how briefly, and no matter how much of a bad mood you are in.
* Talk to people. I am very outgoing, but I am aware that some people are painfully shy. My advice, pretend you are very outgoing. You really need to talk to the people that stop at your booth. Ask them if they need help, if they seem open, start a conversation about something else, their hair, the beautiful weather, their pets or children. People love to talk about themselves and I've sold things because people like me and enjoy talking to me. You are selling yourself as much as your product.
* Brag. Yes, tell people why your product is better than the competitions. Don't put it that way, ofcourse, but you do want to tell them the reasons why your product is great.
* Do somthing that sets you apart from the other booths. If you sell something functional, demonstrate how it should be used. Something fun that I did one year was I gave scratch tickets that I had custom made with each purchase. Instead of winning the lottery, they won a free print, or 20% off their next purchase. This seller on etsy sells some of these tickets: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5240424. They would be great to ship out to customers too. Just make sure that you are in compliance with the show's rules.
* Make sure that your booth is VERY attractive and eye-catching. Have a sign professionally made with your logo and slogan on it, it's worth the investment. Use bright colors and an attractive table cover that compliments your products without taking away from them. Move things around until you find an arrangement that is pleasing to the eye and makes it look like you have many products. This is very important, you only get a matter of a few seconds to attract customers, so put a lot of time and effort into this.
Things that you should NEVER do during a show.
- Bring children under 12 or pets. You can't possibly focus on your customers when you need to take care of the needs of children or animals. I have both and I adore them, but they don't belong with you at a show. I think that it is fine to bring older, helpful children with you, if they won't be bugging you every five minutes.
- Read. This is a tough one for me, because I am a big reader. However, I know that when I browse a show, if someone is reading I don't want to ask questions. You want to be available.
- Hang out with your friends. It's great if they want to come by and check out your booth, but do not ignore your customers while they are there and NEVER, EVER invite them to pull up a chair and stay a while.
- Listen to the radio. Once again, you need to be available. You want to leave hand held games, the blackberry and all other distracting electronics at home. If you need to have a cell phone on you, don't talk on it unless you need to.
- Break any of the show's rules. I don't care if you think they won't notice. You want to be invited back.
- Don't be doing your craft. This is another tough one for me, because I need to stay busy. This makes you unapproachable, and this is the last thing you want to be. If it is slow, than you can double check your inventory, your set up, have a snack or have someone cover for you while you take a break.