Monday, July 14, 2008

Tips for doing a large Arts & Crafts Show

I did Renegade DIY show this weekend, and will post about it later. This is the largest show ( 170+ vendors, 10X10 booth space) show I have done and I learned alot about what worked and what didn't. I love the social aspect of shows but get stressed out preparing for and setting up. Here are a few of my tips for anyone doing or about to do a craft show for the first time.

  1. When you pack up your displays, put all the screws/nuts and tools in a separate bag and put them in your PURSE. Mine went AWOL and created a Bridezilla fit when I was setting up. (NOT PRETTY to those people around you)

  2. Figure out your booth & display set ups before hand. I was sharing a booth with my friend Jessica. Since neither of us do shows on a regular basis, we had various tables of various sizes. Doing a grid layout in photoshop and then figuring out the best set up of the tables for maximum table space but also traffic flow was key. It saved us headache the morning of, and knowing how we were going to set up our displays also saved time during set up.

  3. Price and pack everything at least 3 days before the event. This way you can remember if you forgot something crucial and you aren't stressed out trying to get everything done at the last minute.

  4. Bring/hire helpers! I had Rob on Saturday but Sunday was on my own. Jessica was on her own both days. Both days had thousands of visitors. Whenever one of us left to go to the bathroom, a horde would descend upon our booth and it was difficult to man alone. If I do another big show like this I will have at least one person extra to help talk to people, sell, etc.. I never got to go look around or shop from the other vendors because it was so busy.

  5. If you are doing a show, TAKE credit cards!!! I think this show about 70% of my sales were CC's....if you don't want to open a merchant account & buy equipment, check out They will process for a higher fee, but can call them in on your cellphone while the customer is there and get it verified. You will need to take a manual imprint, but you can buy slips and use a pen to write if you don't have a manual machine.

  6. If you do more than 4 shows a year, think about somekind of wireless credit card processor. If I did more shows, I'd get a wireless machine or something like which uses a card reader and a cellphone.

  7. Have LOTS of business cards and give them to everyone, whether they buy or not. Just because someone didn't buy that day, doesn't mean they won't remember you and buy later.

  8. Take real food and drink that isn't smelly or messy. You don't know if there will be anything there or if you will be able to leave. I had nuts, trailmix, a thermos of tea, tons of water, carrot & celery sticks, granola bars, etc....small things you could sneak of bite of here and there. You don't want to pass out from a blood sugar drop!

  9. Bring wetnaps & paper towels. Money is dirty, people will spill food & drink, you may spill something so have stuff to clean yourself up.

  10. If you can put up some kind of wall behind you and hang a big sign for your business-DO! It really catches peoples attention.

  11. Bring plenty of change, and a secure cash box to store it. An apron with pockets is great for doing transactions, but you want to store extra cash elsewhere. I lost $200 at a show because I went to the portapotty bathroom and it apparently fell out of my apron. Of course it was long gone when I realized it and went back to look.

  12. bring a comfortable chair. I took a small foldup yard chair and it was miserable.

  13. Wear comfortable shoes, You'll be standing ALOT. Really, ALOT.

  14. if you are PMS'ing that time, make sure to take lots of vitamin B, and vitamins so you don't have a bridezilla moment (ref tip #1!)

  15. Friends are wonderful support! Make friends with others who are vending and have friends come and visit you there. It will boost your spirits if things aren't going well and spur you on if you're doing great.

  16. most of all, go with the expectation that it will be a great experience because it will!


Cindy Gimbrone said...

Barbe! You did the Renegade Craft Fair?! I soooooo want to do the one in Brooklyn but it's 8 hrs away. Will you do it again? It seems like the perfect place for your work - cool and DIY :-)


Barbe Saint John aka Saints & Sinners® said...

Yup! It was good and INDOORS unlike Brooklyn-which is why I've avoided applying for that one LOL. I would do it again, and have better displays and paid help.


auntieal said...

To save time setting up, preset as many displays as possible. Ex. Load bracelet bar displays and wrap in bubble wrap and secure with rubber bands. Do the same with earring racks if possible. Also make notes on which items go on which racks or jewelry busts. Many shoppers get to shows early, so getting set up quickly equals more sales.