Sep 22 2009
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere (United States, Canada and most of Europe) autumn begins today at 5:18 pm EDT. And you know what that means — cooler air, changing leaves, and craft shows are right around the corner. I have participated in many craft shows over the years and have learned a few tricks along the way which I am happy to share with you.
If you have been toying with the idea of selling your quillwork at craft shows, now is the time to start preparing for the 2010 season.
Keep an eye out for all of the shows in your area and attend as many as you can. You may see an ad in your local newspaper or hear about it on the radio. Where I live, some craft shows are listed in the Events section of my water bill and electric co-op monthly magazine. If you live in large cities, you could try Internet searches.
Before attending any show, purchase a small purse-size notebook to take with you to record your comments and observations. This will become an invaluable reference guide in deciding which show(s) will be the best match for your quilled art.
Promotion. For each show, make a note of how you found out about it and whether it was promoted in several places and how often. Why is this good to know? If you have a hard time finding out about a show, so will the paying customers and attendance will be off.
Location. Is the show an outdoor show or inside show? Your booth display needs will be different for indoor and outdoor shows. Personally, I have chosen not to do outdoor shows since I don’t want to deal with possible weather issues, but that’s just me.
Type of Venue. Is the event primarily a craft show, or is it a family fun day like a community or school fair (pony rides, games, face painting) with crafts added as an additional revenue stream for the sponsors? If people are paying for other activities, they won’t be buying the crafts. The craft section of the event will be viewed as another form of entertainment and won’t draw serious shoppers.
Spend some time just looking around and try and get an overall feel for the show. You also want to see if sales are being made.
Parking. After parking and while still in your car, take a moment to jot down a few observations. Were there signs along the route announcing the show? Is there adequate parking? Is there a fee to park?
Show Venue & Layout. Is there a fee to get in? Are the isles wide enough for people to stop and look at the booths without blocking traffic? If the shoppers are constantly being bumped into, they won’t linger over your merchandise. How is the general lighting? Are there dark spots in the room? Is music being played over the speakers? Is it pleasant or too loud?
Vendors. Do you notice a diversity in the crafts being offered by the vendors? If more than one vendor is selling a particular type of craft (beaded jewelry or pottery, for example) and are they dispersed fairly evenly around the area? Are the booths attractive with covered tables and display pieces, or are the vendors using card tables with their wares scattered about? What is the general quality and pricing of the merchandise? If you are trying to sell high-end framed quill art in a church bazaar setting, you probably won’t make many sales. Smaller pieces such as quilled magnets, bookmarks, and coasters might work better. Jotting down the price range of the other vendors’ merchandise allows you to adjust your product line and pricing should you decide to do the show the following year.
You’ve walked around and written down your initial observations — now what? I’ll answer that question in Choosing the Right Show (Part 2)
Craft Show Tip: Selling at craft shows requires a certain investment. To keep costs down, at least until you know if you even want to do shows, choose local shows so you won’t incur additional traveling and lodging expenses.