Friday, September 3, 2010

A few more thoughts on craft fairs

OK, This picture has nothing to do with craft fairs other than this was the view on the way home from one earlier in the year. With scenery like this, who cares what the fair was like?

Picking up from the last post:

7. Decide how practical it is for you to do outdoor shows. I've been drenched by an unexpected thunderstorm. I've chased items that the wind picked up and blew across the field or the parking lots or through the crowd. I've sweltered in 100+ degree in the shade heat.  And sometimes I've been lucky and it's been a beautiful day.

I guess it's not a shock that I've since decided that I'm not meant to do outdoor shows -- and that's OK with me.  Outdoor shows present lots of challenges besides the weather.  Electricity is often not available. Often you are required to have a tent. Sometimes the ground is uneven or muddy or dusty.  There is often food available which means lots of sticky fingers on your products.  Indoor displays don't always work outdoors so you might have to devise two displays. Outdoor multi-day fairs mean you have to pack up each night and set up again in the morning.  And, oh those outdoor restrooms...enough said.

But if the weather is nice, the crowds will come and you might just have a wonderful day.  You decide.

8. Think about lighting. If your show is in a hotel ballroom or other room without windows, the artificial lighting might not show off your product very well.  And some parts of the room may get more light than others. Decide if you need to supply extra lights of your own and then find out if the extra cost for the lights and additional fees to have electricity at your both make sense. Usually the light is good enough for me to attract customers but I often encourage them to take the scarf outside and see what it looks like in daylight if they are looking for a particular color. I've never had anyone take them out and fail to return with them and for me it's worth the risk.  If my product was more expensive I might not be as willing to take that chance.

9. Don't be surprised if you have to sign up months in advance for the successful shows, especially in the fall holiday shopping season. So decide ahead of time which shows you want to do, find out who to call for an application and get your $$ in immediately.  I've done a show for several years in a row and I really like my spot last year. This show is in November. The application came out around Memorial Day. I waited four days before I sent it in and by that time my spot was already taken and I had to settle for a booth at a less desirable location.  Who would have thought?

10. Don't be surprised at the costs to do a show.  Around here, most of the successful shows charge an average of $100 a day. Some charge more, depending on the location. Some will be less but often the less expensive shows don't do as much advertising which translates to less traffic. And there's nothing worse than a slow show where you have to sit for hours willing even one person to come through the door. We've all been through that but most of us will not do that same show again.

11. Make friends with your neighbors. It will make the time go by faster and you never know when you'll need someone to keep an eye on your booth when you need a bathroom or food break.  And never leave your cash at your unattended booth, even if your neighbor is keeping an eye on it. When they get distracted by a customer in their own booth, yours will look really good to a thief who sees your booth unattended and a cash box in sight (or even hidden away).

12. And if you do decide to join the rest of us crazy folks you love doing these fairs, order Bruce Baker's CDs:  (1) Booth Design & Merchandising for Craft and Trade Shows and (2) Dynamic Sales and Customer Service Techniques.  I listen to these several times a year and always find something new to increase my sales.  To me they are well worth the $15.95 he charges for each of these.

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