Sep 26 2009

Sell Your Quilling at Craft Shows — Choosing the Right Show (Part 2)

Published by at 10:04 pm under Sell Your Quilling

The best advice I can give you about finding out whether a craft show is right for you and your quill art is to ask questions.

Talk to the Customers

As you wander around, talk to the customers.  Have they been to the show before?  How did they hear about it?  Are they looking for anything in particular?  If a regular attendee, do they have a favorite vendor?  Did they have any problem finding a parking place?  Do they attend other craft shows?  If so, which one(s)?  You don’t need to ask each customer you talk to all of the questions or they may feel like they are being interrogated, but I have found people to be quite friendly and willing to chat at a craft show. 

Talk to the Vendors 

You will want to wait until the vendor doesn’t have any customers and then let them know that you are thinking about participating in the show next year.  Explain that you create quill art and be prepared to briefly describe what it is if they are unfamiliar with it.  Once the vendor knows you won’t be a direct competitor they will be more likely to answer your questions.  Find out their opinion of the show.  Have they participated in the show in the past?  Have they had any problems with the show management?  Do they do other shows?  If so, which ones and how do they compare with this one?  You might be tempted to ask them about sales, but it is so subjective that the same dollar amount might be seen as great for one vendor and dismal for another.  A better way to determine show sales is to stand back and see if people are buying.  Are customers walking around with bags of goodies, or are they leaving the show empty-handed?

Talk to Those in Charge

Find out who is in charge and ask them how to obtain a vendor application for next year.  Ask if attendee and sales information is available.  You’ll want to know:
  • Fees:  What is the booth fee?  Besides the booth fee, are vendors required to donate a craft item for a silent auction benefiting the sponsoring organization (this is especially common for non-profit and church sponsored events).  This donation needs to be added to the entry fee when comparing costs.  In addition to the booth fee, some show promoters charge a percentage of sales.  Many times, this percentage is different for those exhibitors who are members of the sponsoring organization versus non-members.  There may also be an additional fee charged for electricity (if required), or for the use of tables provided by the show venue.
  • Booth & Setup:  What is the size of the booth?  Booth sizes generally depend on the exhibiting venue and are are not standard.  Some sizes I have seen through the years are 8’x8′, 10’x10′, and 5′ x 15′.  Each show I have been in required that tables be covered to the floor so that boxes and extra merchandise is neatly hidden.  Usually, the nature of this covering is left up to the individual crafter, but I did run across one who required that all tables be covered in black.  If you have brown table covering and need to purchase black, it will add to the cost of entering that show.  Not all shows require a booth, however.  I have been accepted into a Christmas House sponsored by an arts organization I belong to.  I bring my specially tagged merchandise to the house several days before the show and the show volunteers display my wares.  There is nothing for me to set up — but I have no control over the display. 
  • Length of Show:  While weekend shows are most common, shows may be anywhere from one day to two weeks.  You need to be aware of how much display time in front of potential customers you are buying with your show fees.   
  • General Info:  Find out the set-up schedule.  If you are required to set up by 7:00pm Friday night for a Saturday show and you don’t get off work until 5:00pm, you might have a problem and will need to pass on the show or get someone to help with the set-up.  Are only handmade items accepted, or is buy/sell merchandise allowed (mass produced items imported for resale).  Is it a juried show?  Will you need to submit a photo of your booth set-up along with photos of your art to be considered?  Most craft shows have an application process with deadlines much sooner than you would expect.  I enjoy shopping at a local craft show that takes place mid-November.  It is so popular that returning vendors must reserve their spot by May 1st and the show sponsors stop taking applications from new vendors on June 1st.  

Take the Next Step

If you kept good notes, you should be able to compare the various craft shows you attended and pick one or two you would like to participate in.  There are no guarantees, but at least you will be making an informed decision to give yourself the best possible chance for a successful show.  Be sure to mark your calendar with the application deadlines for your chosen show(s) so time doesn’t slip away and you find yourself next fall wishing you were in a Christmas craft show instead of just attending one.
If you missed it, click here for Sell Your Quilling at Craft Shows (Part 1).
Craft Show Tip:  Talk to your crafting pals to see if anyone is interested in sharing a booth space.  It is a great way to dip your toe into the craft show waters without jumping all the way in.
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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Sell Your Quilling at Craft Shows — Choosing the Right Show (Part 2)”

  1. Franon 28 Sep 2009 at 9:02 pm

    This is excellent advice and I have done exactly all that you have suggested over the years. These tips are a great source for someone just starting out.

  2. Charlotteon 29 Sep 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. I tried to think of the things I wish I had known when I first started.

  3. LittleMissJojoon 24 Oct 2009 at 6:21 am

    Hi Charlotte,

    Thank you so much for sharing your advice, tips and information. You have given me back a bit of hope with my quilling. Been on hiatus for months! I gotta get back into quilling. ASAP! =)

  4. jidnya shahon 29 Dec 2011 at 11:21 am

    even i do paper quilling
    i am intrested in sharing my ideas of paper quilling to every one those who r intrested

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