Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Craft Shows -- a few last thoughts

Well, I have a few last thoughts before I wrap this series up.  I appreciate all the kind feedback and I”m glad that it’s been helpful for some of you!   I was going to split this post up but wanted to get it all finished in March .. JUST made it!!

Plan for easy set up and tear down.  You don’t want to spend a lot of  time getting set up before a show and when it’s done, you’ll be ready to hit the road and head for home.  Craft shows can be a LOT of fun, but they can also be tiring – when it’s over, you’re ready to be out of there!  So, when planning your display, plan for keeping it easy before  and after.  Easy tear down can be especially important for an outdoor show – sudden bad weather can cause you to have to hustle.  We were at a show where a tornado watch closed the show down – we had to get packed and out in minutes!

Plan for security.  Make sure your whole display is easily visible from wherever you are going to stand or sit.  It’s not pleasant to think of people stealing from you, but it happens.  Don’t make your display part of the problem.

Plan for storage.  Not that this will affect your sales at a show, but if you’re considering your display, keep storage in the back of your mind.  You may have a gorgeous display – but if you can’t get it in your vehicle and get it to the show, it won’t help you much.  I’m “space challenged” (I live in an RV full time) so it’s a much bigger consideration for me than for most but just because you have a whole room where you CAN store your displays doesn’t mean that you want to USE a whole room to do it!

If possible, show how your craft will be used.  Some things are obvious – if you make aprons, wear an apron.  If you make jewelry, use some busts.  If you make crocheted hats, put some on mannequin heads.  Something I’m considering (another item on my wish list) is using a digital photo frame in my display that slideshows through photos of my jewelry, including people wearing it.  As I want to do more to market to brides, I can show photos of brides and wedding parties wearing my jewelry.  But I don’t want to limit myself to that – so I’ll also show photos of women in business suits or teen in t-shirts wearing my earrings.

Now, go wander through your local building and craft stores – keep your eyes open for ideas and be prepared to think outside the box.  If you’re not handy, you probably know someone who is – tap those resources.  There are lots of ideas on the internet – some are good, some not so much.  Take your time and think through your display plan.

I have ideas for different types of displays (because we are builders, I spend a LOT of time at Home Depot and Lowes).  If I were selling bath/spa products, I might make a display of risers, maybe 2 steps high, using 4x4" spa green bath tiles – the fronts of each step would be a tile high and the shelf of each step would be a tile deep and to keep the weight and size manageable, I’d make it about 4 tiles long.  If I wanted more display space, I’d make additional units..  Something like this would give the display a spa feel while doing double duty in giving it vertical dimension.  I might also add a tall glass column vase filled with bath puffs or soaps.  The whole display would be in spa green, white and tan and maybe next to the vase, I’d put a seashell.  Add a small stack of folded towels and you’ve got a great display!  If I made candles, I’d definitely use the digital photo idea – you can’t have open flames at most craft shows, so I’d take short digital movies of candles in different settings and play them continuously.  

If you’re having a hard time being objective about your display, you may want to give this a try: set up your display in your garage or backyard, and then PLAY with it.  If you have more than 1 table, move it around in every possible configuration, even if you don’t think it will work that way.  Once you feel like you have a good traffic flow, start arranging and re-arranging the way your display is set up.  And my biggest recommendation here is that you take a picture of EVERY change you make .. in arranging the tables and then arranging your display.  If you have different colored table cloths, try them. If you have or can borrow different colored table skirts, try them.  Use cardboard boxes to stack things.  If you find an arrangement you like, you can use appropriately sized crates or fabric covered boxes or acrylic shelves.  If you don’t use tables, try ladders, shutters, or shepherds hooks.  Could you use a small antique cabinet or an antique child’s chair?   Look around your house and your garage – be open to try anything -- think outside the box.  But keep taking those pictures.  Our brains overlook or look past things sometimes – the camera sees it all.  I discovered this principle just this week.  I’ve changed my display from last summer and needed new photos for some juried craft shows.  So I put my whole canopy set up together to take photos – when I looked at the photos, I saw some things I hadn’t really seen before.  I have 3 small tables that I’ve loved because I could configure them any way I needed to depending on my booth space – so I took my photos in several different configurations.  Turned out that one of them is really awful – looks crowded and if more than 2 people are there browsing, it’s going to be tight.  I’ve used that configuration a couple times – never saw if before but it was SO obvious in the photo!

And then, always be READY.  
I took those jury photos in to be printed.  When I picked them up, the photo lady RAVED about my jewelry, my photos, and my display.  She said that everything looked professional and was so beautiful – it was a great massage for my ego!  I gave her a business card. 
Last Saturday night, after we’d been at our craft show/expo for the day, my dear honey took me to our favorite restaurant for dinner. We have gotten to know some of the staff and the hostess who seated us knows what regulars we are – we always chat for a minute when she takes us to our table.  Of course, coming from a show, we told her about our day.  Turned out her sister is getting married this summer and hasn’t found jewelry for her wedding party yet.  We got a few necklaces from the car and showed them to her – she loved them!  She took my card to give to her sister.  She also gave me her card with her sister’s name and wedding colors.  I stopped at David’s Bridal on my way home and picked up the swatches.  I have crystals to match.

I don’t know if either of these situations will result in sales – I’m hoping.  But my point is, there are opportunities if you’re keeping your eyes open and ready to meet them.  You don’t have to be pushy (I’m really quite shy in person) – just let people know that you’re AVAILABLE and you have solutions to meet their needs.  If you love what you do, you’ll talk about it .. with enthusiasm .. and enthusiasm is contagious!  

¸.•´ ¸.•*´¨)¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•`¤~♥ ♥ ♥ ¸.•*¨)Sales fairy dust on you all!!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Bad and The Beautiful

Having just written this series of blogs, during a lull in the show I just did, I walked around and observed the displays and vendors of various booths.  This show was an expo, not a craft show .. so the vendors were not only crafters, they represented various home based sales companies and small local businesses.  Some of the displays were very professional, some were not.  I don't want to sound critical or arrogant, but display issues have just been on my mind and it would have been hard not to notice the bad as well as the good.

One lady had a nice display – not spectacular but pleasant enough.  But as I walked by, she didn’t even look up from the book she was reading.  I didn’t stop. 

Another lady was selling some kind of hand care product .. she nearly chased me down as I passed.  I politely told her “no thanks” and smiled as I walked away ...she was still calling after me when I was 3 booths away.  I wouldn’t have wanted to be the booth next to her. 

There was a lady there, selling jewelry, whose display needed serious help.  She had the part right about different levels, but nothing else.  I felt bad for her actually.  Her booth was in view of ours, and very few people stopped to look at what she was selling.  She had 2 long tables, covered in cloth ... but not table cloths ... and the cloth had edges that weren’t finished, so had a couple fraying strings dangling down.  There were 2 cloths on each table (so 4 pieces) in 3 different colors – black, white and blue.  One cloth hung over the edge of the table with a 6" drop, the other at a 10 or 12" drop.  Then she had quite a hodge podge of different jewelry display pieces – some in white, some in black some in gray and some that were wood – they were all different shapes and sizes and there was no rhyme or reason to their placement.   It made for a pretty chaotic looking display. Simply having 1 cloth on each table, edges finished, well fitting and having even drops would have seriously improved her display.  And if she had at least grouped the same colored display pieces together, her booth would have looked worlds better.  I know she didn’t see her display through the eyes of a prospective buyer.  Her work was nice .. some very cute stuff .. but her display really detracted from it and I’m sure her sales suffered for it. 

On the other hand, there was another gal there, who sold handpainted wooden knick knacks and yard decor – also very cute – and her display was very cool.  She had taken louvered closet doors and painted them all a distressed white.  Louvers were strategically removed and white shelves were placed through the gaps, creating a rustic and very interconnected look.  Her wares were then placed, grouped by color and she’d used the space from the floor to just above people’s heads.  She must have had 2 booth spaces because she had several of these units forming a U shape with an “island” unit in the center..  Customers walked through her display like a little path – and I don’t think a single customer walked PAST her booth.  Not everyone who looked made purchases, but everybody looked!

A home sales jewelry company was represented.  Their display was very attractive and well designed (I’m suspicious that the company offers design plans or some kind of professional training or help) and the ladies in the booth were well attired – made me think “I need to spiff up – this is my competition”.

I took a look at my own display – not bad but needs a little spit and polish (well, maybe we better stick to polish!).  The lights are great – really make the crystals pop!  My table cloths are a little too big – sewing project coming up.  My current cloths are white but not long ago, I picked up couple new colors (Bed Bath and Beyond was having a clearance!) – we’ll experiment with which colors look best.  We may consider scaling down a bit but display to give more emphasis on specific styles.   Note to self – making my display look “fresh” to me isn’t necessarily looking fresh to customers -- keep looking at it with objective eyes..  And we’re going to start looking for folding chairs that are more of a directors style or bar stool height – it would put us at better eye contact with customers without having to stand all day – which might help us feel a little “fresher” later in the day. 

Oh Man! I Forgot ... Again!!

In January, my husband had the opportunity to go to the International Home Builders Show in Las Vegas.   Builders, like my husband, attend this show to see the newest innovations and technology being used in the construction industry and it covers all phases of construction from design to completion.  Exhibitors pay thousands to hundreds of thousands for their space for this 4 day show.   We have encountered some specific problems on our current project and Keith wanted to see what kinds of solutions were available, since there is usually more than one solution.  Why would a vendor, who has spent thousands of dollars for a booth, have people working for them who spent all their time on their cell phones?  Keith knew he wanted to talk to several companies but at a couple booths, the people were on their cell phones and made no effort to interact with customers.  In fact, Keith returned to these booths a couple times and no one would talk to him ... because they were on their cell phones.

We've attended other types of shows and had the same experiences -- people who are supposed to be there to answer questions, take our money or tell us about their product -- but they weren't available because they were on the phone.

When you are selling at a craft show, and there is anyone remotely near your booth, STAY OFF THE PHONE!!  If you are on the phone, you WILL lose sales... and aren't sales the reason you're there?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Craft Show Selling Tips

Craft Show Tips for Success

- be sure your product is high quality and well made
This may sound a little harsh, but you need to be really honest with yourself about your product and the quality of the work you do as well as the quality of materials.  If you’re going to be successful, it has to be top notch.  When I started selling jewelry, I used silver plated findings – they were less expensive and actually, because silver is a soft metal, findings that were nickel with silver plating were sturdier.  BUT, if the silver plating chips or wears off and exposes the metal beneath, the customer may have an allergy problem and you risk making the customer unhappy.   Unhappy customers aren’t return customers.

- have adequate stock
Plan to reasonably fill your table or display space.  Figure on 2-3 times the amount you might typically sell.  I have actually been concerned a couple times that I might have too much available – that it’s overwhelming for the customer and they are unable to make a decision, so they walk away.  But I’m leary of cutting back on my stock for fear that I’ll lose sales because I don’t have a color readily made.  It’s a dilemma.

- well displayed
See my blogs from March 24 and 25 for more details about displays.

- priced to sell
Don’t price too high.  Don’t price too low.  Pricing too high will discourage sales, but pricing too low will affect the “perceived value” and people won’t buy because they are afraid it’s poorly made.  If you’re really uncertain about your prices, attend a couple local shows and check out the prices of vendors whose work is similar to yours or check online stores..  I include sales tax in my prices and keep my prices at whole numbers – making change is quick and easy because I deal in all dollars and no coins.  It’s also a good idea to have a range of prices to appeal to a range of budgets.  I have several trays of small, simple earring styles that I offer for $5 each – my higher end necklaces top out around $75 and I offer a variety of items priced in between. 

- update your stock
My designs are intended to be duplicated.  I currently offer 47 colors of crystals, and customers can order any design in any color crystal.  But that doesn’t mean I should display the same earrings show after show, year after year.  I’m too creative to stop at my current portfolio of styles .. and it wouldn’t be good for my repeat customers.  My market would be very quickly saturated if I only offered the same old designs all the time.  I change some of my stock from season to season – in spring I may display a particular pair of earrings in pink, light green, violet or light blue.... in summer, I may display the same style in fuchsia or turquoise and in the fall and winter, I may display them in autumn colors or jewel tones.  And I’m constantly developing new designs which get added to the displays.  Slow sellers are eliminated – so you need some idea what’s selling and what’s not.

- be prepared to answer any possible question
Can I ship?  Internationally?  Would I be interested in selling on consignment?  Can I lengthen or shorten that necklace?  Do I gift wrap?  What are my wholesale prices?

- look professional
Be on top of your personal hygiene – have hair fixed, smell freshly showered, brush your teeth.  Be clean.  Use deodorant.  Wear make up.  Make sure your clothes are clean and pressed... and well fitting.  Jean may be comfy, but unless your craft really demands them, you need to wear something a little nicer.  No t-shirts, especially with printed messages on them (seriously ... no beer ads!).  Think “Smart Casual”.  Men should wear “Dockers” and either a button down shirt, polo style shirt or sweater.  Ladies should wear dress pants or skirts and a nice blouse.  A cheery, feminine sundress can be great for summer shows.  Make sure your colors match and know that they are a good color for your complexion.  And the most important thing to wear?  A smile!

- have professional supplies
Have sharp business cards.  Have some type of neat packaging to protect purchased items – plastic bags, paper bags, gift boxes.  Unless you do calligraphy or some kind of phenomenal handwriting, use a computer to print any important signage.  Consider promotional literature like rack cards, brochures or coupons and make sure all your promotional literature is carefully printed.  I’ve noticed that I like my business cards printed on glossy paper – they look a LOT classier!  This is not to say that you can’t use fun fonts to create coupons or flyers – just keep it clean.  I attended a show and visited the booth of a jewelry maker whose style was similar to mine.  She handed me a card with her contact info and a price list – the information was poorly laid out and confusing on the card, and the card itself had crumpled corners.  It was just tacky – not a positive impression for me at all.  I went home and examined my materials trying to be objective – and I made a few simple changes that really polished up my stuff!

- have prices visible
Let customers browse and make your prices easy to find.  If they have to ask about every item that interests them, they will get annoyed and walk away... especially if you’re too busy to answer them.

- demonstrate if you can
At craft shows, I offer to make custom jewelry “on demand” – and if possible, when setting up our booth space, I try to be seated where customers can watch me work.  I’m a bit on the shy side, but do well with kids – it’s not unusual to have a child or two watching me work... and mom shops.   The more jewelry I sit and make, the more I sell -- it’s like a magnet!.  25 to 40% of my show sales are custom made, either by substituting posts, making custom color combinations or even sitting with a customer to make their own design (they LOVE playing ... and seeing their own ideas become a reality!).

-be prepared to take special orders
Some customers may want something in quantities or colors that you don't have on hand -- but you can do a special order for them!  I've had special orders that were as much as my sales for the day -- made an average day very profitable!  Take a notebook or order book along to your shows (you can find order books in office supply stores).  Decide ahead of time how you want to handle policy issues -- payment, shipping, returns -- so you're prepared.  Consider customer needs when making your payment policy -- remember that if you were the customer, you would want some way to protect yourself financially.  If you don't have a Paypal account, it would be wise to establish one -- it allows the customer to pay with a credit card as well as offering some protections for them.  You may know you're ethical, but to most customers, you're a total stranger.  Your policies should give them confidence in you and your professionalism.  Just one good sale will make all your efforts worthwhile!!

-take a sales partner
Usually, some time during the day, you’re going to need to find a rest room or something to eat – having a person there to help is a huge benefit!  And if it gets busy, you’ll need the help.  And in my case, because I’m making custom requests, I need someone to keep the sales moving and keep an eye on things.  We like to think that customers are all honest, but unfortunately, you have to be prepared for “light fingered” shoppers -- my selling partner (usually my husband) is a second set of eyes, especially when things get busy..  Also in my case, because I’m shy, it can be hard for me to “sell”, but my husband, who is very outgoing, is great at talking to people – he’s never met a stranger!   So I make, he sells ...together we make a good team! 

- NEVER indulge in your vices while at a show – this is not the time to smoke or use alcohol.  Never use foul or crude language – it’s just not professional.  Never argue with your sales partner or raise your voices.  Never talk trash or be critical .. of anyone.  

- Don’t read.  If you look bored, people will walk right past.

- Don’t sit and chat with your sales partner while customers are browsing your wares.  Your customers deserve your attention and expect it.   Some customers may feel that they’re intruding on your conversation .. .and they’ll walk past your booth.

- Don’t eat or drink if it’s busy in your booth.

- Don’t just sit there while customer come by to browse.  My husband stands for nearly the whole show – if I’m not making something special, I try to stand to give him a break to go sit down.  We’ve noticed that if we both sit, people just keep walking past. 

- Be friendly and courteous, but not pushy.  We have a short “opening spiel” that introduces some basics to customers when they stop by my booth.  It’s informative and usually includes some little humorous line to keep things light.  We let people know that everything is made with sterling silver (so is likely not an allergy problem), that my crystals and pearls are all Swarovski and that I can make any style in any color or mix of colors – my husband usually adds “school colors, team colors, birthstone colors, colors for your wedding party” and sometimes something fun like “my husband is hunting so I”m shopping colors” – always brings a laugh!  It seems to put people at ease and they linger longer to browse .. and often buy.  And this might be a good place to mention that sometimes, customers are rude or critical -- don't let it shake you -- SOME people are just never happy.  "Just smile and nod, boys.... smile and nod".  :)

- let people touch your items
Some people need to pick it up, handle it, try it on ... and letting them do so can really add to your sales.  If you sell something wearable, be sure to have a mirror handy so people can see how they look.  If you sell earrings, don’t let people try them on – if they don’t purchase them, you have something that’s been in someone’s ears ... and that’s just gross for the person who eventually buys them.  But let them try on a necklace.  Let them feel the weight of your product, see the color, feel the softness of the fabric or the smoothness of the wood or the thickness of the quilt.  If you sell something that can be offered in samples, by all means, offer samples!  People use all their senses – feed their senses!

- keep your display neat
If customers pick up items, they don’t always put them back down in the same spot – and your display can get to looking untidy, which will discourage passing customers from stopping.  And if there’s a lull in the action, being out at the front of your display makes it look like someone is there browsing ... and customers seem to like shopping at a busy table. 

- Be friendly and courteous to other vendors.
Some of my best sales have come from other vendors.  If they’re having a good day, they have the extra cash to buy too.  And being sociable with other vendors is just good practice – keeping things friendly makes your whole day better.  Be conscious of where your displays are in relation to your neighboring booth – don’t infringe on their space.  If we are next to someone who is working alone, we will offer to watch their booth so they can take a break.

- have adequate change on hand
If you run out of the right change, you could lose a sale.  I usually take $100 in ones and fives, with a ten or two – and that’s normally sufficient.  You may not need quite as much for a small sale but you may need more for a really big craft show.

- take credit cards
You’ll get higher average sales and more impulse purchases.   I use Propay and have been happy with it.  They have several options ... you should be able to find one that’s right for you.  Check with your bank or credit union – some of them offer good options too.

- take a bottle of water and something to snack on
It’s almost inevitable that there will be down time sometime during your show day – take advantage of the lull to catch a quick drink or snack.  We don’t eat at the same time – so one of us is always available for customer service.  If it’s a warm summer show, the extra water isn’t just a convenience ... it’s a necessity! 

- above all, have FUN!!!
If you’re having a blast, it will be contagious .. customers will be drawn to you and your booth.  So get enough sleep the night before.  Do some pre-planning and organization ahead of time so that on the day of the show, you’re able to relax and feel confidant that you’re ready to take on the day!  Smile warmly, laugh often and have a good time!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Display Thoughts - Creating a Scheme

Ha!  Couldn't wait until tomorrow!  I started
writing about color in this morning's post
but as I wrote, I decided it merited it's own

One consideration when choosing your color
scheme comes from the  color wheel. You may
be familiar with this, but if you’re not,
or you haven’t thought about it lately, 
we’ll  do a quick primer.  
There are 3 primary colors: blue, red and yellow.
All colors, with the exception of white,
which is all colors and black which is the
absence of color, come from the 
use and mixing of these 3 colors.
Mixing blue and yellow 
produces green, blue and red make purple
and red and yellow make orange.
Those mixed colors are
secondary colors.  
Mix those 6 colors with their
next door neighbors and you end up with
the 6 tertiary colors – blue and green equal
blue green.

Now that we have our 12 basic colors, we can play!
By mixing any of these colors with a primary color, white or black, thousands of colors are created depending on the proportions of the mix.  From those mixtures, we’ll put together a combination of colors to use in our booth displays.   Certain combinations of colors are more comfortable than others while some combinations create drama or intensity.   This is a list of the most common color "harmonies":

Mono-chromatic colors 
   - using 1 color in multiple shades of light and darkness
Complimentary colors
     - using 2 colors that fall opposite each other on the 12-color wheel
Analogous colors 
     - are any 3 colors that fall beside each other on the 12-color wheel
Triadic colors
     - 3 colors that are equal distance on the wheel

As artists, most of us probably have a better “inner sense” about color than others.  When we see a striking floral arrangement or a stunning quilt, much of what makes it beautiful to us is the combination of colors.  As you think about the different color harmonies, what thoughts pop out about each type?  Mono-chromatic done poorly is boring ... mono-chromatic done well is striking and elegant.  Complimentary colors can be bold .. and you can get away with it!  Think of a purple pansy with a yellow eye or a bowl of ripe strawberries, rich and red with their green stems still intact.  Such colors need to be used with care however – if the quantities of the colors are off, it can also create tension.  Analagous colors often exude a certain softness, even if the colors are bold.  Red on it’s own is pretty intense, but a mix with a bit of it’s analogous neighbors can subdue it.  I find triad combinations pretty harsh on their own, but when using the mixed versions, they can be very comfortable.  Take purple, orange and green – a perfect triad, but a little too much color!  Add white – now you have lavender, peach and minty green – a lovely spring combination.  Or go dark and gray them down – you have plum, persimmon and forest green – very rich!    

Colors have their own language and different colors evoke different emotions -- there is a "psychology" of colors.  Think of reds, oranges and yellows as "hot", sunshine colors.  They tend to bring out more intense feelings -- they may make people feel warm and friendly but can also stir up feelings of anger.  They are also active colors -- they can attract a lot of attention but also make people want to move.  A few years back, as more color was introduced into the wardrobes of the business world, red was a well known "power color".  Think of blues and greens as "cool" colors -- they are passive colors -- they make people relax or feel calm, although they make some people feel sad.  Blue is a very popular color -- very often given as a favorite, and it's associated with peacefulness and calm -- but it's also the color we use to express depression ..."I've got the blues today".   Colors have strong personal associations for people as well -- of you were in a terrible accident with a green truck, you may dislike green because you associate it with that painful memory.  When choosing a color scheme for your booth, consider how certain colors make you feel -- you'll be spending a lot of hours in your booth during a show so it needs to be a pleasant experience for you.  If a color makes you feel depressed, you're not going to want to spend 6 or 8 hours with it -- by the end of the day, you'll be emotionally exhausted.   This list gives the common and typical associations for colors:
Red       love, strength, danger, anger
Orange  warmth, enthusiasm, liveliness, demands attention
Yellow  joy, happiness, sunshine, cowardice
Green   nature, health, spring, fertility, generosity, envy
Blue      tranquility, calm, harmony, integrity, trust, sadness
Purple   royal, spiritual, wise, mysterious, exotic, mourning
Black     power, sensuality, elegance, formality, wealth, mystery, fear, mourning
White    purity, cleanliness, simplicity, coolness, sterility

Pastels (color mixed with white) tend to soften the impact.  We associate them with new life -- spring and babies.  Most are considered pleasant.  Colors mixed with gray, such as burgundy (red + gray), denim (navy + gray), seafoam green (green + gray) also tend to soften the effect and are often a bit more calming.  Colors mixed with cream, like rose or herbal greens, are warmed and softened.   Certain colors are characterized as "traditional" -- colors like navy, hunter green and burgundy.  They may rise or fall in popularity but they are timeless and always in good taste.  Trendy colors would follow current fashion or decorating trends and can be used quite effectively for your color scheme, but plan to change your booth every couple years or you'll look outdated.

Years ago, it was all the rage to have your “colors done” – based on your skin tone and the colors of your features (like eyes and hair), you were characterized as being a certain “season”.  Each season had a particular palette of colors that looked best on them.  Winters and Summers were “cool” seasons and look best in cool colors.. Springs and Autumns were “warm” seasons and look best in warm colors.  One the odd things they found though, is that we tend to gravitate toward the colors in our own season.  If you think about the clothes in your closet that make you feel your best, your most confidant or bring you the most compliments, chances are, they are colors in your season.  My mom and I got our colors done together – she has always loved peach, I’ve always disliked it.  Turned out she was a spring (think peach, yellow, green) and I was a winter (think blue, red, black) – she looks sick in black but great in peach, I look fabulous in black and horrible in peach.  So our feelings about colors are different based on our own natural inclinations.  It doesn’t make a huge difference in selecting your color scheme, but if you pay attention to your own preferences, you may notice a trend – and it’s a good idea to understand it.  For what it’s worth, more people are “cool” than “warm”.

TIP: when considering your combinations, whatever you do to one color, you should do to all.  If you add white to one color to make it more pastel, try adding white to your other two colors.  It’s not a rule, but you may find the combination to be more pleasant.
TIP: 1 color should be dominant, the other colors should be in smaller doses
TIP: our brains like to process information in odd numbers .. which is why 3 is very common grouping.
TIP: we may like odd numbers but we also dislike too many colors; if using a lot of colors, such as an African print, be sure 1 color is very dominant

And here’s a link to the colors that people like the most and least:

SO ... now that I’ve totally confused you with way more information than you ever wanted to know about colors, it’s time to consider your options.  It might help to answer some of these questions: (make a list of the colors for each answer) 
Is your craft associated with a particular color or theme? (Like pastels for baby items?)
Would your craft be considered a certain style (Victorian, retro, cottage, modern)?
What colors are associated with that style?
What kind of message do you want your colors to convey?
   Bold = daring
   Traditional = comfortable, safe
   Pastels = sweet, innocent
What colors would draw attention without overpowering your product?
What colors do you like?

Now that you have your list, is there a particular color that pops out at you?  Picking a scheme is as easy as choosing 1 main color, then applying one of the harmonies to come up with a combination for your display.

Play around with different ideas.  Ask your friends what colors appeal to them.  See what stores do in their windows (if you can find a store with a window).  Then put together a stunning craft show display!

Display Thoughts - Creating a Theme

Your craft show display has a number of practical elements to it -- size, cleanliness, traffic flow -- but it should also have personality!   An interesting display will attract more people and potentially more sales.  Your craft show booth shouldn't look like an afterthought -- it should be one of the tools you use to lure people in to look at your product.  Consider that large department stores have professionals to design their window dressing -- and there's a reason for that -- their goal is to attract customers.  Your craft show booth may only be 10x10, but you still need to think like a window dresser!
Create an overall theme or color scheme.  If your product is for children, use bright cheery colors.  If it’s for babies, use sweet pastels.  Consider your style too and make your color scheme fit.  I make jewelry with lots of crystals and pearls and most of it has a fairly Victorian feel to it (and these days, I’m also trying to market to brides) – so my table skirts are hunter green, my table cloths are white (although they are also interchangeable with pale green or pale pink cloths) and I decorate with a few small bouquets of pink roses.  Make sure your colors or scheme don’t overpower your product – they should enhance it.  By the way, I’ve followed through with my theme in my business cards, which are hunter green background with flourishes and a few little pink roses (if you look at the banner in my Etsy shop, it also coordinates – it’s part of my branding.  If you have a web page or Etsy shop, utilize some of the elements in your banner to create a connection in the minds of your customers.  And be creative about your theme – if you sell jewelry of semi-precious stones, consider a Caribbean or African theme; if you sell teddy bears, do a “teddy bears picnic”; if you sell aprons, add a couple touches of retro kitchen; if you make soap, try to create a “spa” atmosphere.  One online friend makes macrame plant hangers – she’d found a great deal on a rack used for apparel in department stores which was ideal for displaying her wares, but knew she needed a little something more.  I suggested that she head to her building store and get a small section of fence and place it at the end of her rack, then decorate it with flowers to create a garden feel – she loved the idea!  You don’t necessarily need a lot to set the mood, but a couple good props, strategically placed, can make your booth way more interesting – and isn’t “interest” what you want?

A word of caution however -- don’t be too busy looking.  If you look cluttered or disorderly, it can be overwhelming.  Keeping things in the right balance between full and neat will really pay off.  Make sure your display has a visual flow that’s natural for the eye.  Think of your display as a room, needing a focal point -- put a best seller in a prominent place and arrange the rest of the “room” around it to enhance it.  I have to be honest here and tell you that I haven’t actually done this as much as I’d like to yet – but as I’ve been considering how to polish my displays, I’ve realized this is an area I need to improve.  My husband and I are working on a plan to develop a stronger focal point in my display – and I'm very optimistic about the direction we’re going.

To music or not to music?  That will depend on the show and may depend on the time of year.  I think a little Christmas music helps set a great mood at holiday shows!  Music can add to the overall feel of your booth.  Just be sure you’re not too loud and not competing with someone else’s music.  Your music selections (and volume) should draw people, not repel them, and they should be appropriate to your theme.  Sweet little lullabies would be a great addition for the crafter making baby apparel.  Fun pre-school songs would be great to enhance kids toys.  Pachelbel’s Canon in D would be a great addition to my booth.  Nature instrumentals would work for spa products and a little homey bluegrass might be a good choice for the maker of fine jams and spreads.  Do keep an eye on your show information -- some shows may not allow music.

Keep in mind that your attire can reinforce your theme – wear a denim skirt and checked shirt if you make homestyle jams or wear a rich African print if you make stone jewelry.  Guys who do woodworking look great in buffalo checks or flannel plaids.  As we consider doing bridal shows, I know that my husband will wear his black suit with his silvery gray shirt and tie while I wear my silvery gray linen dress – it’s a classy combination and perfect for a wedding venue. 

Lighting can be important, especially for indoor shows.  Keep in mind that at indoor shows, most lighting is going to be flourescent, which will distort color – if you make a product (particularly with fabric or glass) where the color is important, consider the use of lights.  Place lights so they enhance your product but don’t glare into customer eyes.  We use a string of puck lights, placed behind and slightly below our earring displays – the light comes from behind the crystals, making them sparkle – and it attracts a lot of attention.  Even if you’re not concerned with color distortion, consider using lights – good lighting look professional and can be part of your scheme. 

Signage should look professional.  Use your computer and quality cardstock to make attractive signs.  Most craft stores offer individual sheets of cardstock – choose colors to compliment your theme.  I have not yet invested in a banner for my booth, but that’s on my “wish list”.  Banners and signs should be sharp and crisp and  should further enhance (not detract from) your display.  Memorable is good!

Tomorrow -- A Primer on Colors

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Display Thoughts - Making a Plan

First and foremost, what is the most important point in developing your display?  Why, sales of course!  So the focus on your display should put the focus on your display.  What do you need to do to draw favorable attention?  What will catch the customer’s eye and cause them to stop at your booth?  You used imagination to create your product ... now use some imagination to create your displays!   And remember that this is a shopping “experience” – how can you make the experience pleasant?

Your display should show off your product to it’s best advantage.  Does your product fit a certain “style” – is it Victorian or cottage or modern?  Make sure that the displays you use are in keeping with your style.  How would these items be displayed in a brick & mortar store ... can you get any ideas from visiting one?  Product should be clearly visible and easy for the customer to pick up.

Use multiple layers/levels.  I’ve seen shows where vendors just laid everything out flat on a table ... BO-RING!  Use stacked crates or something to give your display a stairstep feel.  Hang items from a pole.   If you are using busts to display jewelry, use some taller and some shorter busts or if using all the same sized one, figure out a way to elevate some of them   A length of dimensional lumber (like a 2x4 or 4x4), covered with a piece of cloth, could be an excellent way of adding height to busts or your small craft objects. 

Group similar items together.  If you make gourmet jams and salsas, keep the jams together and the salsas together.  This may seem self-explanatory, but I’ve seen displays where it wasn’t done – it was hard to find what I was looking for and the whole thing seemed disorganized and cluttered.

Keep it clean.  Table cloths and skirts are going to get dirty, especially if you’re doing outdoor shows.  Make sure your product is clean.  Make sure your business cards have no bent corners.  Everything should be crisp and sharp.  Because I make custom items during the show, I also want my work area to be neat and clean.  Organized is good – it makes things easier for you and your look more professional to your customers.

If using a table, use well fitting table cloths and table skirts.  Too big looks droopy and dumpy .. too small looks like you were too cheap to buy enough to do the job.  If you are just starting out, and you’re doing a couple small local shows, you probably don’t need table skirts for your first couple events – but don’t wait too long either – they really do add a professional look to your display.  Oh, and one last thought about tables – I use 3 tables that are 2'x4'.  Booth spaces vary and I can adjust my configuration to accommodate different size booths.  They are also easy to transport and easy to store and most vendors won’t need more than 2 feet of table depth – if it’s deeper, it’s also more awkward for customers to reach near the back of the table.

When planning your space, be sure to have a comfortable traffic flow.  You may need to experiment with the space ahead of time at home – set it up and walk through it as a potential customer.  Is there a natural flow?  Is payment made at the end of the shopping experience?   When I can, I try to set up so that customers can watch me work on my custom orders – it seems to draw a lot of interest and some customers love to see it happen.  Some customers have their own ideas of what they’d like so it’s helpful for me to have some “design space” where the customer and I can create together.

Coming tomorrow -- Creating a theme.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oh Man, I Forgot!! The Hunt, pt 4

I almost forgot one of the great ways to find more craft shows!!!  Do you have family or friends who live away from you?  Planning a visit to their area?  I have a son and parents in Michigan and 2 daughters in Colorado and friends in other parts of the country.  If I'm planning a trip to see them, and my schedule can be worked out, I look for craft shows in their area using the internet hunting techniques I've described in my earlier posts.  You can find some wonderful shows that way!   Use the Etsy team connections to inquire about shows.  

One thing to keep an eye on are the sales tax procedures -- every state and sometimes locales can be different.  If you are doing a show in Michigan, and you only plan to do 1or 2 shows in the state this year, they have a wonderful option for paying tax on a single event (I REALLY wish every state had that method!!).  In Wisconsin, you can be exempt from sales tax for your first $1000 in sales in a calendar year.   However, in Florida, you pretty much have to have a sales tax license to breathe.   That local Etsy team may be able to advise you on their tax procedures and most states have a "Department of Revenue" with info online.  Generally a Google search for the state name plus "sales tax" will get you where you need to go.

So happy hunting!  Get out there and find those shows!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In or Out?

At first blush, you wouldn't necessarily think there was much difference between an indoor craft show and an outdoor one ... and to some degree, you'd be right.  You have to have a reasonable stock of merchandise to sell, a way to display it, the usual supplies of business cards, gift bags and ready change.  But each type of show also brings it's own unique set of concerns.

Obviously, at an outdoor show, the biggest concern is weather -- wind or rain can really put a damper on the show.  Since most organizers make no guarantee for beautiful weather, your profits are a bit more at risk when applying for an outdoor show.  When you attend an outdoor show, you'll see that most vendors have some sort of canopy -- it gives shade on sunny days and protection from rain should a sudden storm blow up.  Some vendors use sides on their canopies.. I don't.  I only do a handful of outdoor shows in a year and didn't want to make the extra investment in sides (at least, not yet).  I also find that the sided ones have less air circulation, which can be stifling in hot, humid weather.  My overall set up is fairly easy to move to one side or the other if a sudden storm pops up and our rack is designed to hold up to windy conditions.  We did have to develop displays that are unaffected by a breeze, including business card holders, and the little extra props I use to decorate with.  And frankly, if the weather is too nasty, nobody is going to attend -- so trying to manage the worst weather situations is unnecessary -- I'll go home.  The upside to outdoor shows is that, as an artist using crystals, the natural light is phenomenal!  At one show, the vendors were in a park in the shape of a giant oval -- as the afternoon wore on and the sun got lower, it made my crystals sparkle!  One lady, shopping on the opposite end of the oval, caught sight of my jewelry and hurried across the oval to shop with me -- she had seen my jewelry shining from 400 feet away ... and couldn't WAIT to see what I was selling! 

So, indoor shows would seem to be ideal, right?  Not always.  While you may not be faced with wind or rain issues, those factors can still affect attendance -- who wants to get up on Saturday morning and trudge out in the cold damp rain (or snow) when they can lay around home in their jammies and drink coffee?  Indoor shows can also be a lighting challenge -- they usually have commercial or industrial lighting that may affect the appearance of your items.   Our perceptions of colors can be significantly altered in such lighting -- and with something as sensitive as crystals, it can be an extra challenge.   We have started using a string of puck lights that we can strategically place behind and below most of my earrings -- they help to keep the true color of the crystals and give them a little extra shine visible from the front of our displays.  Because indoor shows are often in large areas with concrete walls and floors, they can also be louder environments -- less "soft" to absorb sound in a  confined area makes more echo.  And someone may be playing music -- if you're the one near a speaker, it can make communication with customers a bit more difficult.   One upside (if you need it) is that some indoor shows will provide a table for your display and a chair or two for your booth -- outdoor shows rarely offer these.  And it's great for craft show newbies just starting out -- who are usually making quite an investment in supplies to have enough product -- nice not to have to invest in tables and chairs too.

So as you can see, each type of craft show venue has it's own unique issues -- the key is to plan ahead and be prepared.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Great Hunt, part 3

I have a few last thoughts about searching for craft shows ... hopefully they're helpful!

I mentioned in the earlier posts that some craft shows are attached to festivals or other events and in that part of the hunt, I'm looking for "craft shows".  However, sometimes shows are not included in the statewide craft show listings because festival planners don't think to advertise specifically for the show.  They advertise the festival and list the show as one of the featured events.  Nearly every small town has some sort of festival at some time during the year -- so when I'm checking the events listings for the towns near me, I look for their festival guide to see if there is also a craft show.  Once again, if the festival sounds like fun and sounds like it will attract  a lot of people, it's usually worth the gamble.

Keep your eyes open in your local newspaper in the classified ads -- in some areas, that's a common way for organizers to seek vendors.  These shows may be a bit on the smaller or newer side, but they are excellent  if you're just getting started.  Shows seem to "grow up" too -- as they grow older, they seem to get more and more juried, develop their own reputations, and have less need of being advertised.  

Some churches have craft shows to raise funds.  If the church is large or the show is well established, these can be very productive shows.  Most parishioners will support the event and will be great word-of-mouth advertising.  If it's a new show, or a small church, ask around to check it out -- or be prepared that your day may not be predictable.  Being small isn't always bad ... but it may not be a guarantee of good either.

I have, on several occasions, found show compilations online that are available for sale ... either by buying their book or purchasing their membership.  I have never purchased show information -- some such sites will give lists with either the name of a town or the name of a show -- and that's all I need to Google to find the information for free.  As I have never made these purchases, I can't address their value -- they may be worth the costs if you are heavily dependent on your craft show business (for me, my business is our second income) because some offer detailed show information (such as average attendance, etc).   I could see where someone like retirees, who are willing to travel extensively wandering from show to show, supplementing their retirement incomes might find this type of resource very helpful.  My current search method is sufficient for my situation.

When you're doing your internet search, don't avoid previous years show listings that you may find.  You can get an idea of what their dates should be (like, 3rd weekend in October) and as some shows get more established, they no longer need to advertise -- you may not find the information readily available for the current year (at least, not early enough to apply for the show -- you may not see anything about the show until it's being advertised which may be too late for application).  If you don't know who to contact now, look who is sponsoring the show or who was the past organizer and start by contacting them.  If that's not available or you don't have any luck, contact the town's Chamber of Commerce, tourism office or municipal offices -- usually you'll find someone who knows something about the show.

One more source for locating craft shows is by talking to other vendors.  I met a vendor at one show I was doing who had a bookmark for her customers with a list of the shows she was participating in over the next few months -- that little bookmark was a gem!  Not only was it a great way for her to advertise and seek repeat customers, she had been doing shows for some time and was able to tell me which shows were the most profitable.  One of the shows on her list never came up in any of my searches -- but it's been a very good show for me.   So if you attend a craft show, watch for such lists being given by vendors.  And there are other ways to connect with show vendors --- if you are part of the Etsy community, there are teams for nearly every state and many countries.  Find your local teams and ask who does craft shows.  Even if you don't want to join the team, many teams are quite friendly and by contacting the team leaders or reading the team forums, you can find out who is doing craft shows .... and who are the good bets to contact about shows in your area.  

If you are selling jewelry, keep in mind that your chances of getting in to a show are better if you apply earlier.  Due to the number of jewelry makers, many shows these days are limiting the number of jewelry vendors (usually some percentage) they allow. 

In the next few weeks, I hope to do a blog or two about preparing for craft shows -- the differences between indoor and outdoor shows, my preparation list and some of my observations for what and what not to do at shows.  Hopefully, this has been helpful for someone.  Just keep in mind that my thoughts are based on my experiences and my observations -- and if you live in another part of the country, your experiences ( and local practices) may be different.  
Catch ya soon!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Great Hunt, Part 2

Yesterday, I explained my process for finding good craft shows .... but I missed a couple points that I think I should share.  And I have some observations for other types of venues.

The size and attendance of a craft show can be a factor to consider.  I have no hard and fast rules about this because it hasn't seemed to matter.  One of the best shows I ever had was an Oktoberfest with only 10 or 12 vendors.  The festival was brand new and there were only a few hundred people in attendance -- but because there were so few vendors, my sales were excellent.  Another excellent show I've done has about 150 vendors but they must have had close to 7-10,000 customers and was a benefit for a school.   Obviously the greater the ratio of customers to vendors, the better my potential earnings ... but it's not guaranteed.  I like having an idea when I apply and I'm more concerned about these factors so that I am adequately prepared with supplies like business cards, etc.

The last factor I look at is whether or not there is an admission fee for customers.  When I first saw that some shows had such a fee, I avoided them but I've come to like those shows best, especially in the early fall.  This might sound odd, but we came to realize that for a lot of people, craft shows are not only a form of entertainment, but a lot of home crafters attend with an eye toward "shopping" to find craft projects they can copy... they have no intention of purchasing and when they do buy, their purchases are very small.  An admission fee, even a small one, seems to help weed out some of those non-buyers.  There's something about the mental attitude that if they are willing to pay a couple dollars to get in to a show, they're also willing to drop some dollars shopping.... they are more serious buyers.

Some seasonal notes -- I tend to do ok at summer craft shows and those into the early fall.  My best shows are usually in late October and November.  The saturday before Thanksgiving is often one of the best shows of the year and if the opening day of deer season falls the saturday before that, it's a  great show -- while the guys are out hunting the wives are out shopping.  And people are looking for Christmas gifts.  I've done a couple shows in early December -- found them disappointing.  We figured that most people were at the mall.

There are several others types of venues for selling crafts and they all have pros and cons.  

I did a winter flea market while on a project in Florida -- it was ok but I'm not sure I would do it again.... at least not regularly.  People going to flea markets are looking for great bargains on cheaply made junk -- not the best venue for handcrafted items.  The price wasn't bad -- my booth fee was only about $15.00 so it wasn't a huge investment but I didn't see great sales either.  However, I heard from some other vendors that there are the occasional summer flea markets in the north that cater to a more high end shopper.  I would want to check out a flea market before getting involved .. and would want to talk to vendors about it.

In some places, farm markets allow handcrafted items from local artists and crafters.  Farm markets can go either way.  I've attended some and went away feeling that it wasn't the right venue for me.  I don't want to sound snobby but there are some crafts that have a lower price point and appeal to a less spendy group of customers -- some of my items are out of that price range.  Last summer, though, I was involved in a farm market that was a pretty good venue for me -- it was in a town that has a lot of summer homes for big city executives.  Those customers love the small town feeling, the fresh local produce and most of the craft items were of a more artisan nature.... and they weren't afraid to spend money on items they liked.   I would want to attend a farm market before I applied to be involved.  One other note -- most farm markets are a weekly event.  Crafters need to be aware of how quickly they could "saturate their market".  If you don't sell something that's "consumable" you may run into problems with sales dropping off, either toward the end of the season or in the second year.  I have one friend who makes beautiful miniature scrapbooks -- she did great her first year but very poorly in the second.  But another friend who sells handcrafted soaps does well all the time.  Just something to consider.

Women's expos can be a great venue although there are some differences from craft shows.  Expos generally are open to all the home based sales companies as well as local small businesses, not just crafters.  Most juried craft shows are only open to crafters while some open shows are also open to a few home based sellers.  In my experience, the craft show customer is less likely to shop online, less likely to use a credit card and  more likely to be older.  The expo customer is more likely to be younger and does a fair amount of internet shopping.  Most expos have looser display restrictions than a juried craft show but the more professional the display, the better.... the crafter is "up against" some home sales marketers who have fairly professional "boutique" displays.  Expos usually offer "gift bags" to customers so most require a supply of samples, business cards, catalogs, or other promotional items.  I've seen fees range from $50 to $500 -- have done several with the lower fees, none of the pricey ones.  Factors to watch for in choosing expos are organization and location.  Is it well put together and well advertised?  Is the location familiar to the community and easy to find?  Is it clean?  I did one expo that ended up being on a road under construction -- poor attendance resulted.  My last expo wasn't bad but it wasn't good for sales .. except for the wedding jewelry order I got from a bride-to-be -- her order equaled my sales for the rest of the show.  Made my day!!

Because I sell jewelry, and because I can make a design in custom colors, I'm hoping to expand to include Bridal Shows -- I can make any of my styles in colors to match a wedding party.  I'm currently researching and have made some observations.  The fees are quite a bit higher than craft shows -- I've seen fees run from $275 to $1000 to participate.  With other types of shows, the profit is more instant -- at a Bridal Show, I may not get orders for several months afterward.   So, it will be a larger investment and a bit more risky ... but a better market with greater potential.  It will require a more "long range" view.  And displays definitely need to be more "boutique".  Professional promotional materials are also important -- rack cards, brochures or catalogs are critical.  The investment is greater but the potential for return is also much greater.  Bridal shows could also be a great way to round out my show year -- most farmers markets are in the summer, craft shows (in the north) tend to be summer and fall but the biggest bridal shows tend to be in the winter and spring.  So they could fill some of the gap in my show year.  Working on it!

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Great Hunt

How do I find good craft shows to participate in?  Because of our ministry, we usually move every 6-15 months and usually the moves are to entirely new states.  All the advice I've seen about finding good craft shows says that you should attend one year as a customer to get a feel for the show, then apply the next year if you want to be a vendor.  I don't have that luxury ... I'll probably be gone next year.  So how do I pick the shows I apply for?

I start my internet search by using Google.  I use key words "craft show" then the cities and towns in my very near area.  I make a list of my finds with a few pertinent details -- date, location and fees if I can find them, and whether the show is part of a festival.  If the info is available, I also note how long the show has been in existence and whether it's juried.  Then I use alternate phrases like "craft fair", "art fair" and "art show" and keep googling.  I also expand to include the state, rather than the specific towns near me.  I've found that some states have very organized directories -- those are wonderful!   I also check the various towns for their own Chamber of Commerce, visitor information or city events listings.  Compiling this list can take some time but is well worth the effort.

Once I have my list, I begin the sorting process.   I first eliminate anything that is both a Saturday and Sunday sale -- our ministry comes first and we've committed not to do sales that take us away from our Sunday worship.  Most shows want the actual vendor in attendance, not just a representative .. and some are very specific about it.  I then look at distance -- how far is a show from my location?  I like to keep them within 45 miles, although if a show sounds really great, I'll go further.  I next look for juried shows -- even if I've missed the application deadline, I"ll check to see if they have space available -- sometimes they do, especially if someone dropped out.  In my experience, a juried show that has been in existence for many years is a good bet -- they will likely have quality arts and crafts with a good reputation which usually draws serious buyers.  But sometimes, that's not the kind of show available .. so then what?

Open shows can be good or bad .. and there are several factors that I look for.  How long have they been an event?  Are they supporting a school, team, or community group?  Are they part of a festival?  What is their booth fee?  If I can find out previous attendance and how they advertise, that can be valuable information.  The longer they've been around, usually the better they are and the better they're known.  A long running annual event will generally attract repeat customers and because of word of mouth, will have a larger customer base.  Those shows benefitting an organization will depend on how actively the community is involved -- and I can't always tell that by looking online.  I've done one show benefitting a fire department that had hundreds of people -- another show, in the very next town only had about 150 attendees.  Festival related shows have also gone either way.  I've come to the conclusion that if the festival sounds like lots of fun to ME, the show is worth the gamble.  The 2 best shows I've ever had were part of festivals .... as were the 2 worst shows I've ever had.

Often the booth fee can be an indication of a show's success.  For one, shows with higher booth fees have bigger advertising budgets.  Most of the shows I do fall in the $50 - $100 range.  Shows that are cheaper are usually poorly advedrtised, with fewer attendees -- and lower profits.  Shows that cost more require that I sell a lot more just to break even. 

Organization and a "friendly professional" attitude are also factors that I consider.  Once I've decided to apply to a show, I generally contact the organizer to make sure there's space available.  Their response is important to me -- how quickly they respond, the tone of their message and how organized they sound are critical factors.  There are some shows I've thought sounded like good possibilities until I heard from the organizer.  If they sound like they don't have a clue what's going on, I avoid it.  If they sound cranky, I avoid it.  I do like shows that have applications that can be downloaded from the internet or are sent as attachments in that response email -- it seems that if someone is tech savvy enough to make their applications electronically available they are savvy enough to use tech as one of their advertising tools.  Frequently, the potential customer who is tech savvy is usually better educated, younger or from a higher economic demographic -- all of whom tend to be better spenders.  And since my objective is to make sales, it's nice to have customers who want to spend money.

When I first started doing craft shows, I did all open shows.  They are usually less investment up front and don't require displays that are as professional.  Every juried show I've seen required table skirts and sometimes other display options.  The profits weren't as large in those early shows but I learned a lot from them.

There are other kinds of shows for the crafter to be involved in and there can be differences in shows in different seasons ... next time!