Today I am going to share my experience during my very first craft show. I know this week’s post is a little bit different than my past ones but I though it was important for me to share this with you. This past weekend I attended my very first craft show called The Traveling Happy Market. It was a one day event from 10AM to 4PM, hosted 35 vendors and had an estimated attendance of 900+ people. In this post I will talk about my experience during the event, the preparation that went into it and the aftermath of the craft show. I will also share with you an event check list so you are ready to do for your next event.
Before the Event
For those of you who may not know, I just started this business at the beginning of the year. I knew I wanted to sell items online eventually but I wanted to test the waters on an in-person type of event first. As every first time business owner, I was a little bit scared of jumping in. So when my business coach challenged me to apply to two different craft shows, I took it as a sign and I applied.
Most of these type of events, or at least the really good ones, are judged meaning that you need to submit your website and a prove of your products offerings. The event coordinators will judge the work of all applicants and if they think you are a good fit for the craft show, they will send you an invoice for the booth fee. I applied to two events and I got accepted for both! So, shameless plug here, if you are in the Puyallup, WA area on April 28th, 2017 we will love to see you at the Great Junk Hunt! 😛
At this point I knew I got accepted for the craft show around 2 months before the event. And in my typical fashion I didn’t do anything until 2 weeks before! So naturally those were two very hard and stressful weeks and I have no one to blame but my self. Don’t get me wrong, it’s doable, but I do not recommend it. I had to come up with ideas for products, display layout and shelving, and then I had to make all of it.
The event provided each vendor with a 10′ x 10′ area and I knew I wanted to make some kind of shelving system that was collapsible so it would fit in my car. You can see a tutorial for the collapsible Ladder Shelf that I made here. I also bought two folding 6′ tables to create a “U” shape display. You an see how it ended up looking in the picture below.
A couple more details about my display. A long time ago I bought a bulk roll of burlap on Amazon and never found a good use for it, until now. The burlap fabric is 60″ wide so it was perfect to use as table covers. I cut out enough for both tables and I still have a bunch left. I ordered my business sign at Vista print and let me tell you their customer service is amazing, I totally recommend them. My sign got damaged in transit and they sent out a new one with rush shipping no questions asked. Since the sign is made out of foam, I wanted to give it a little bit of stability. I glued it to a piece of 5 mm plywood with liquid nails and made quick frame with 1″ x 2″ to give it a finished look.
Since the beginning I knew I wanted wood signs to be the main focus of my booth and with that I started my build process. I made 30 small framed signs (10″ x 12″) and 5 medium ones (14″ x 24″). At first I wanted to made just a couple designs with multiple copies so I could really gauge the interest level for particular designs. But, I got carried away with ideas so I mostly made one sign per design. Because I did start a bit late, I did not get the chance to make a big variety of products apart from the wood signs. I did managed to make a couple of engraved bottle openers, 14 throw pillows and several entry way key holders. You can see pictures of some of the products bellow.
A couple of other details that you need to consider before your first event. You need to make or order product labels. You would want your products to look professional, give an opportunity to your buyers to take your contact information with them and it’s a you need something to put the price on. I designed mine using the Silhouette Studio software and ordered them through Sticker Mule. Absolutely love them! You can see them below.
It is also important to think about logistics of charging to your customers. Even if you don’t like it, people expect you to accept both credit cards and cash. After a lot of research, I created an account with Square and ordered their free reader. It required minimum setup after downloading the app and it worked flawlessly. I also order a cash box in Amazon and a receipt notebook to keep track of the cash sales. If you use my link here, you’ll get free processing on up to $1,000 in sales during your first 180 days.
Not all the people that stop by at your booth will buy something from you at the moment. But a lot would like to check back with later, so it is always good to have business cards readily available. I also ordered mine from Vista Print and I absolutely love them.
Finally remember to bring chairs, snack, water bottles and cellphone charges.
The Day of the Craft Show
The day of the event we loaded both of our cars and headed south to the venue. They gave us 1.5 hours for setup and thankfully that was plenty for us. We loaded up as much as possible in plastic containers for easy transportation and to protect the products from the rain. We didn’t had any help so it was just my husband and I in the booth. He pretty much unloaded everything from the cars while I stayed at the booth and setup everything. I made sure to do a practice transaction with the square to make sure everything was working and we were ready to go.
A really encouraging thing happened before the event event started. We had a line already formed outside of the venue by the time doors opened to the public at 10 AM . I saw a lot of interested in our booth right away. So much so, that I made 78% of my sales in the first two hours. This was really encouraging, but also made the rest of the day feel really long. But overall it was a really fun experience.
I do have to admit that although was nerve racking, I really enjoyed the experience. It was my first time selling and I sold 40% of everything that I made. For me it was success. I got the opportunity to know what people like and what not so much. I also discover that I needed a better variety of products to provide customer. You want to give them the opportunity to buy more than one product. What I learn from this was that I needed more engraved art and less pillows. 😛
Also I did not had any bags for the customer to take the products in. So now I know I need to order some craft bags for my next craft show. Finally none of my customer wanted a receipt. For me it was a waste of time trying to write product descriptions on a pinch. After the show I discover that I can track all of my cash sales on the Square app for free. So I will be using that next time. I also plan to load up the inventory into the app so I can have an accurate track of all my sales.
So there it is guys. My experience on my very first craft show. Follow the link below to receive a free check list to help you prep for you next event. And if you think I left out something, please share in the comments. I’ll updated to list to include your input.