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!!


Anonymous said...

Great craft show articles! Thanks!
Bloomfield Beads

fishprincessdesigns said...

Great idea about the digital photp frame!

I find out it helps to have someone else look at your set-up. So many times we get so used to looking at it, we don't realize the little things that need to be tweaked!

I've loved this series of posts!

Jennifer said...

"If you love what you do, you’ll talk about it .. with enthusiasm .. and enthusiasm is contagious!" I love that!! Great tips... thank you!

Sue Runyon said...

Thanks so much for this great series. I want to come be your sales helper and learn from you in person :-)

Would love to see some photos of your booth on your blog!