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Topic: How to know which shows are best?  (Read 2016 times)
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ElleJay
« on: December 28, 2012 01:17:10 PM »

Hi,

I hope that I am posting this in the right place.

I am new to craftster.org and also new to the business side of the craft world. I have been creating for as long as I can remember and have have sold some of my work over the years.

Being a new stay at home mom I am able to pursue my dream and jump in to the business of craft!

I recently did a gift show which was a flop for myself and just about all of the vendors there. I paid $50 for my table and did not even make that much back!  Cry

I know that there are no guarantees on making money at a show, however I was wondering if there is a way to know which shows are a better risk than others?

Thank you for any advice! I am really happy that I found your site.

xoxo
ElleJay
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Chris in VT
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2012 05:12:46 AM »

I made $20 at my first show. That was in 1980 and I have been doing shows since then. Full time since 1994.

First thing I must ask is what do you make? And please don't tell me it's jewelry. That is one category that is by far the most competitive in this business. Only the best make any real money. When a show has 1/3 jewelry, even the customers' eyes glaze over and nobody does well.

I always see where exhibitors want only the best shows. Sure, I can rattle off some GREAT shows where I have made thousands in a weekend. But a beginner would be totally lost there. You have to find the shows that are good for you, not everybody else. Besides, the 'good shows' aren't $50, they're $200-$500. And for that money you have a 10x10 space that consists of two chalk marks on the floor and a plug. Our job is to transform that space into an attractive booth.

Where do we begin? Well, first, what did your display look like? Was it all laid out on a table just like everybody else? Or was it different? The key word is different. That's what draws the customers to your booth, not table. And different is the key to selling. You have to have what nobody else has at that show.

How many shows did you attend before signing up? I always tell  beginners to attend as many shows within a 100 mile radius as possible. Small shows, big shows put on by professionals with professional exhibitors. Look at the displays. Nobody has a table set up, they all have 3 sided booths with lighting and displays. Here's a site to search for shows in your area:

http://festivalnet.com/

Do a Google images for craft show displays. Get ideas. Here's one site for a promoter I do a lot of shows with. You can click any image to bring it up. All of the shows are in New England.

http://www.castleberryfairs.com/photoalbum.php

Helpful tips. Never sit down at a show! Unless you're handicapped or something, you always stand and be ready to greet your customers. Just a simple "good morning" with a smile is all that's necessary. You don't see the employees at a store sitting, so why do we think it's ok? Dress nice. I use the trem "dress for success" literally. Nothing fancy, but you do want to look professional.

It's a beginning. You will learn at every show you do. Good luck.
THIS ROCKS   Logged

There's NOTHING at a craft show, or on Etsy, anybody NEEDS. NOTHING.
www.shadypinestudios.com
ElleJay
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2012 12:58:11 PM »

Hi Chris,

Thank you for your reply and guidance! I would love to see your work I see you are closed I will check in a few days.

The show that I did was at a church. I figured out quickly that the event was not in support of the vendors but a way to bring money in for them. The space was uncomfortable, badly lit, Announcer/DJ blaring loud and you nailed it toooo many Jewelry vendors. There were 20 of us in all and probably 70% had jewelry. Most were sitting and looked bored, but then the announcer kept screwing up our names and products and kept pushing the bar. Basically the "shoppers" got tipsy and sampled all the free samples (a baker had cookies and coffee). By the end everyone was dropping their prices by as much as 70% or buy one get on free and the vendors were trying to solicit each other! I was stunned, exhausted but not discouraged!

I make handmade gifts for babies and crocheted items. I was given a 6' table which I wrapped in beautiful silver paper. I had long rectangular canvases which I sponged in silver paint and draped my hand stitched felt mobiles over them. It wasn't the best but pretty good, I would do something similar again.

I used part of my table for hand quilled snowflakes.

I did not sit while I was there and smiled and said hello to everyone who passed by. I had many nice conversations and got lots of compliments. Although I do admit when two ladies stopped in front of my table and rested their drinks to chat, I took a break and sat for a minute (I needed a break).

I started packing up early and the announcer let everyone know it was their last chance to make a purchase from me, when I looked up the other vendors had also started to pack up. I thanked all of the people running the show and left.

I will admit that my display was not breath taking and if I had more time to plan it would have been much different (the opportunity to do the show was last minute).

I have been to many craft fairs and love the shops in the New England artist shops. Sadly I live in the NYC area and there isn't a lot of craftsy stuff going on here. One our goals in the next year or so is to make a move to New England in part for my future in the arts.

I am using this time for research and development. I will explore more shows and try again soon when I am able.

Thank you for sending me the links I will bookmark them and take your advice to prepare and learn from what others are doing.

Happy New Year!
ElleJay
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Chris in VT
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2012 04:46:51 PM »

Not a lot of craft stuff in the NYC area? There's plenty of shows!

I grew up in New Jersey and I could find a show every weekend from March to Christmas. I have since moved to the country (Vermont) and yet I'm able to do 40 shows a year. I still go down to Jersey twice a year for a great show in Chester. It's worth the five hour drive.

I chose Vermont as it is a state that recognizes the value of the arts. We even have "open studio weekends" twice a year where the real artists and craftsmen literally open their studios to the public. And the State distributes maps to the studios. I don't take part as I have gotten older and my product is more a craft than art, so I just do shows.

I found heaven in Vermont. We got 15 inches of snow the other day and another 5 inches yesterday. And when the sun came out today it was breathtaking!

If you're at all interested in persuing crafts, there's a school in Ludlow, VT that gives weekly classes in a number of mediums.

Here's their site: http://fletcherfarm.org/
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012 04:51:55 PM by Chris in VT » THIS ROCKS   Logged

There's NOTHING at a craft show, or on Etsy, anybody NEEDS. NOTHING.
www.shadypinestudios.com
NaturallyAlternative
Making natural gifts for everyday life
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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2013 04:21:57 PM »

I'm having the same issue. I did a craft show a few weeks ago selling more "natural" products (cloth diapers, wipes, wool dryer balls, wool felted soap, etc) and it was a TOTAL flop. I was heart broken. It wasn't that my stuff wouldn't sell, it was that there was barely anyone there. I think the best thing to do is talk to the person running it. How many shows have they ran before? How many people have they gotten before? How much advertising will they do? That was my mistake... and I've learned better now x-x
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Chris in VT
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2013 04:03:31 AM »

Everybody has a show where nobody shows up. It's just part of the business.

One thing I tell all new exhibitors. Fine one medium or genre and concentrate on that. Those with a mishmosh of media confuse the customers. All they see is a flea market style of booth. And once you have only one style, you start to stand out from the others.

Don't be afraid to "interview" the promoter. It's your money. How long have they been running the show? What kind of advertising are they going to do? The absolute best advertising is a simple sign out front that says CRAFT FAIR Nov 30 on a 2 ft by 4 ft sandwich sign placed out a week before the show. BIG letters that can be read by a driver going past the venue at 50 mph. That's all it has to say.

To me the biggest question would be, is it a true craft fair or are they going to allow commercial vendors like Mary Kay, etc?
THIS ROCKS   Logged

There's NOTHING at a craft show, or on Etsy, anybody NEEDS. NOTHING.
www.shadypinestudios.com
shadojake
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2013 03:16:32 PM »

I recently did a gift show which was a flop for myself and just about all of the vendors there. I paid $50 for my table and did not even make that much back!  Cry

I know that there are no guarantees on making money at a show, however I was wondering if there is a way to know which shows are a better risk than others?

I feel your pain.  I attended an event this past spring that had the outcome.  That event, along with some other experiences have caused me to look at events more closely before signing up.  The one that was like yours ... the only advertising they did was some kids out front with some posterboards decorated with markers.  Of course virtually no one showed up!  The event was a fund raiser for a church's mission trip.  The vendors each paid a booth fee.  Whether we made money or not, they go their money.  I am not disrespecting the church or the purpose of the event.  However for ME to go back, they will have to sink some money into a proper sign as Chris wrote about.  It is relatively cheap to take an ad out the Sunday paper just before the event.  It doesn't have to be a full or even 1/2 page.  There are plenty of opportunities to get FREE coverage in the paper in the community events section, an article, etc.

I just atttended my 4th out of 5 craft shows for 5 weeks in a row.  I am completing my first year in the craft business.  I am growing really fond of "juried" shows.  They are not perfect but do make it more selective.  I prefer not to be in shows with b/s (buy/sell) like Mary Kay, Tupperware, etc.  Those are not arts nor are they crafts.

It is a lot of work to get product ready, load up a vehicle, unload at the event, pack up what's leftover, reload the vehicle, and unpack when you get home.  The effort is so worth it if there is a good avertising & attendance.  I can sit at home and sell more than I have at some events that didn't advertise ... just make a few cold calls, send out a promotional email, etc.

As someone else suggested I would interview the organzier before signing up the first time.  I am doing that with a spring 2014 event.  I am leaning towards not going because of some of the responses and lack of response.  I specifically asked if it would be a "juried" craft show.  I was told no, but then read in some of their paper work that it's juried.  I have also read they are allowing stuff like Mary Kay and Scentsly.  That is not a juried arts and crafts show with b/s.  I am thinking they are
a) confused about what juried means (at best)
b) have NO idea what it means or are
c) really unorganized.

Also, they are saying this is their 1st annual craft show but somewhere else they say it "fills up quickly".  Really?  How do you know that if you've never had one before?  They way things are worded in their paper work makes me think they copied and pasted someone else's information and instructions.  They also state not to harrass the volunteers working the show.  It all just seems odd to me.

One more thing, they send the paperwork via PM over facebook.  I specifically requested it be sent by email.  They have yet to do so or even acknowledge my request and that was 3 days ago.  Sad

So my point is ... for new events, really read the paperwork carefully. Look for inconsistencies.  I don't mean to imply they will purposely have inconsistencies or will be lying about things.  It just may show you how much thought they have put into the event.
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God Bless,
Cindy

Given enough coffee, I could rule the world!
Chris in VT
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2013 04:06:13 AM »

The term "fills up quickly" is a scam to get vendors signing up out of some fear there won't be any spaces left. As soon as I see that on an application, it goes in the circular file as that's the first indication they don't know what they're doing.
THIS ROCKS   Logged

There's NOTHING at a craft show, or on Etsy, anybody NEEDS. NOTHING.
www.shadypinestudios.com
shadojake
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2013 05:14:53 AM »

The term "fills up quickly" is a scam to get vendors signing up out of some fear there won't be any spaces left. As soon as I see that on an application, it goes in the circular file as that's the first indication they don't know what they're doing.

Yes, I know.  It's a figure of speech in the craft show world.  I have not seen the big shows in our area use that line.  It has been the small fairs and usually the ones that allow b/s.
THIS ROCKS   Logged

God Bless,
Cindy

Given enough coffee, I could rule the world!
shadojake
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2013 01:12:14 PM »

I was at one of my suppliers today and we got to talking about craft shows.  I was at one that was very successful and has been going on at least a dozen years.  It has much more than crafts ... a duck race on the bayou, music, car show, etc.  We were very successful considering we have been open for only 11 months.

There was another craft show that had it's first event.  The supplier I was talking with said he knew someone who had a booth there.  The reports coming from it are terrible.  No one was there shopping.  No one was able to sell anything.  Vendors were mad, understandably.

We talked about how when you start a new venture like a craft show, check around to se if any major events are going on and try not to compete with the majors when you're still a small fish.  There is never a "perfect" weekend to host an event and there will never be a weekend when nothing else is happening ... however, you can plan your weekend to limit your competition.

I feel bad for those who were at an event where no one showed up to shop.  It was probably because shoppers were at the event where I had a booth---a much more established and promoted event.
THIS ROCKS   Logged

God Bless,
Cindy

Given enough coffee, I could rule the world!
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