As artisans selling our wares, we all want to know 100% of the time that every craft show that we choose to participate in will be wildly successful and well worth the time and money spent. Not only do you have to find the time to set up, work the show and break down...you also have to make sure you have enough inventory. This is all secondary, though, to the dreaded booth fee. The booth fee is like gambling a small fortune, not knowing what the end profits will be and if the show will be well attended.
Here are the secrets to a perfect show...
THERE ARE NONE.
It’s a crap shoot, folks. I’ve been on both sides as a show attendee and a show organizer...and one thing is for sure, it’s always a gamble. You can’t control the attendance, the venue (generally speaking), the vendors surrounding you, the weather, the state of the world...nada. The only thing you CAN control is your own attitude.
Who am I kidding, I do have a few bits of advice to share...
Check your attitude. The power of a positive attitude, a pleasant demeanor and general courtesy to everyone (vendors, attendees, venue staff, volunteers etc) can make or break your show. No one likes to be stuck next to a vendor who complains all day long...least of all your potential customers. A negative attitude can be sensed a mile away, and is certainly not the first impression you want to give people.
Sure, sales might be in the crapper...but you are stuck there all day (or for multiple days) so why not make the best of it? Smile, laugh, make friends with your neighbors. What else are you going to do? If you aren’t going to make a killing - at least make a good impression. Word to the wise though, don’t let the negativity of other vendors drag you down. There is no need to discuss “how bad the show is” or “how x show was better” or “how slow sales are” - it is nobody’s business but your own.
Everyone is a potential customer. This means everyone - other vendors, attendees, the venue staff, volunteers, etc. If you offer samples, make sure to offer them to everyone. If you are greeting folks as they pass by, greet everyone. I often don’t have time to look at other booths until after the show is done and I understand this is true for most vendors. I am always the last one to break my booth down at the end of a show...this allows for other vendors (or venue employees) to wander by and make purchases they didn’t have the time to make during the show. You would be surprised at the percentage of my sales are made AFTER the show is technically “done.”
Your space is your first impression. I’m not saying you need to go out and buy a fancy pants booth - the most important piece is to make it represent YOU and your product(s). I let my glass speak for itself - it’s bright, shiny, colorful and plentiful - so I make sure that it is the focal point. My booth consists of a basic table, some neutral table coverings, a few boxes to add height - and lots of glass laid out for folks to touch. I understand that my product is highly tactile...it feels good to touch, it sounds nice clinking together and looks wonderful color coded and in large quantities. Let your work draw people in and encourage them to become personally attached to it. Let them touch it and admire it. Does this mean things will break? Yes. But a little breakage is a small price to pay for allowing folks to feel trusted and appreciated.
Don’t bring a chair. Or a book. Or your computer. Or anything that will take you away from engaging your customer. Stand up, be friendly, engage those who walk by. If there is anything I hate more...it’s walking by a booth just to see someone in a chair like a bump on a log. I want to know that you love your craft. I want to see that you are happy to be there and I want to feel invited in and appreciated. Don’t let anyone who steps near your booth feel like they are a bother to you.
So, in the end...I guess I am saying - if you are genuinely in a good mood, having fun, engaging folks in conversation, staying in a positive mood...others will feel it. They will be attracted to it like a moth to a flame and hopefully, it will equal sales. I mean, come on...you get to make stuff you love AND SELL IT! What could be more rewarding than that? Let others in on that little secret - and you will be surprised.
Maggi Blue is a glass artisan, designer and writer. You can read more about her and her art on her website.
The views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, positions or strategies of Delphi Glass. Delphi Glass makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. Delphi Glass reserves the right to delete, edit, or alter in any manner it sees fit blog entries or comments that it, in its sole discretion, deems to be unacceptable.