Let me guess, you have been making handmade goods for years; you share your creations with family and friends, and they always tell you the same thing. "You really could make some money selling your crafts, they are great!" So you decide to try out a craft show, and that is were all the fun begins...
First things first is finding a craft show...and a good one! Check with your local Chamber of Commerce, or perhaps there is a favorite craft show in your city or region that you have been to before, ask local officials for contact info. Another good tool is festivalnet, they list all the arts and crafts festivals in your state along with contact information. Once you find a craft show that you are interested in, the next step is to apply. All shows have an application fee that is usually non-refundable and some just charge a booth fee, which can range from $20.00 up to $600 and more, depending on the size of the show. Some shows are juried, meaning that you have to be voted in by a panel of judges, this keeps shows from carrying too much of one type of craft, ie.. jewelry. If your item is unique you should have no problem, and if not, you will need to try to get your application in as early as possible. I recommend starting out with a smaller show and then working your way up to the bigger shows. Make sure that when you mail in your application you follow all the directions and fill it our completely, also make sure to attach well-lit and sharp photographs of your work, some will even request photographs of you making your items.
Once you are accepted into the show now comes the fun part! :) Getting ready for the show!!
Things you need for the show...I always try to make a check list before I get started and check it off as I go. Depending on what you make, you may need to start planning weeks and even months in advance to ensure you have enough items to sell. Also make an inventory list; this will help especially if you have lots of small items.
1. A good tent - I recommend the EZ-up tent, you can find it at Sam's or online, make sure it is white and has the removable sides. It will cost you about $200.00, and it is worth it, because it will last you for a long time, if you take care of it. Another VERY important thing to have for your tent is weights. You will need 4 weights for each leg of the tent, each weight should be 20 lbs or more. You can get creative with this as well, I have seen people with buckets filled with concrete, and they decorate the buckets to match the tent. Whatever weights you use, just don't forget them, I have seen people tents crushed by wind, sometimes completely picked up and carried away by the wind, not only can the wind mangle your tent but your inventory too. The weights will help protect your tent and crafts. So DON"T FORGET THE WEIGHTS! Ok, moving on...
2. Tables - to display your crafts on, unless you have very large items that will hang or will sit on the ground. You will also need table cloths and table skirts (I always use the plastic table skirts, they are good and inexpensive, and you can throw them away after a few shows) this saves a little money, because the cloth table skirts can be pricy.
3. Display materials - along with your tables and table skirts, you will need something to decorate and display your items with. Be as creative as you can be with this. I always like to set my booth up to look like a shop, also try to control the flow of the customers, since you only have a 10 x 10 space. Make sure it is very appealing to your customers, so that you can draw people into your booth.
4. Signs - you will need a banner with your company name on it, I always try to make sure it matches my booth as well.
5. Lots of inventory!!
6. Other supplies to have with you:
- Chair to sit in
- clips and clamps
- snacks and beverages in a cooler - you will be there all day
- apron or cash box - make sure you have enough change I normally bring $100 -$200 depending on the size of the show.
- rubbermade bins for carrying your supplies and crafts in
- receipt book
- notebook for special orders
- mailing list sheet for customers to sign
- pens and markers
- mirror - if you have items that people will want to try on
- price tags
- packing materials and bags
- garbage bags
- dolly to help carry your items to your booth
- And last but not least, plenty of promotional items, ie. business cards, pens, buttons or free samples.
Be prepared ahead of time and have everything packed and ready to go a day or two before, and you will be just fine.
In part 2, we will discuss all about the show, setting up, selling and completing your first show.
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