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!


KippysSoMature said...

Wonderfully helpful!! I am going back to read the first two parts! Thank you very much for taking the time to do this! Greatly appreciated!!

hope you get better soon♥

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to write this...I don't know if I'm going to any shows, but I know it is helpful! God bless!