I have received some questions recently outside of the blog about craft shows, so I thought I would post another blog about it. There are tons of ways to set up your booth at a craft show, so don’t think this is the end-all, be-all. However, there are some tips that seem to fare well for almost everyone, no matter what is being sold. The following are some tricks I’ve learned over the years and hopefully it will help. 🙂
#1 Bring a Canopy
Unless your booth is going to be indoors, you should bring a canopy. No matter where you’re selling, no matter what the weather is going to be, it is always better to have shade and shelter than not. Ask me how I know. Not only does the canopy provide shelter from the cold and possible rain, but it also acts as a sun barrier and gives your booth a sense of being its own little shop, as well.
#2 Invite People In
This is a tip that I know some craftspeople heartily disagree with. However, I believe it’s valid and here’s why. Most people line up their craft table so that as people walk by they can stop at the table and look, shop, then move on. Others set up like I do now – an upside-down U shape of 3 tables so people can walk into your canopy, travel around the tables, then check out and leave. The reason I think it’s best to invite people in is because craft shows get very crowded and people very often feel hustled along by those walking behind them. If you only have one little table that is parallel to the walkway, people will likely get pushed along in the river of people walking by before they have a real chance to shop. There’s a reason that stores make you come inside instead of just lining up their merchandise on the curb.
#3 Keep the Display Simple
This is something that is often mistaken for “make your booth boring”. I’m a little eccentric with my jewelry, and it’s very nature-themed and enchanted-esque, so I like to create a world for my booth and invite people into it. The actual surroundings can be intricate, but the table display is bare bones. One color table cloth, perhaps a contrasting color to cover the boxes I use for levels, and white displays. Period. No matter how beautiful that floral table cloth is, if your jewelry or items disappear on top of it, it won’t sell. Simple display, engaging environment.
#4 Don’t Stock Every Slot
This is a bit of psychology mixed with marketing, but if every single one of your slots is full, it looks like people haven’t purchased anything. If things are missing, it makes your products more desirable because a sense that they are in demand is established. I sell jewelry mainly, so when I take my jewelry to a show I leave a few earring slots open, etc. It’s odd, but it works.
#5 Have Extra Stock
Yes, have extra stock. You’d be amazed how quickly you can sell out of anything, and you also don’t want to crowd the table with everything at once. A lot of my pieces are one of a kind, so it’s difficult to know what to put out. However, I usually put up a sign that says “additional stock available, please inquire” or something. That way, people can ask me to see what else I have. I do try to put everything out, though, but still have pieces ready to fill in if there are too many missing slots.
#6 Offer Gift Wrapping
I was really shocked the first time someone came by my booth and said “I’ll take these. Wrap that up for me would you?” The proverbial deer in the headlights, I fumbled to tell the woman I didn’t have any gift wrap and that I was “all out”. She seemed disappointed. From that point on, I always bring gift wrap and include it from the start. It’s nothing big. A small box in a little bag. But the difference it makes in customer satisfaction and looking professional is big.
#7 Have a Simple Price Structure
I learned this the hard way, too. One time, I went to a craft show with nice little tags on every single one of my items. Every one. Over 200 items. Trying to find the tag on every single thing you might want to buy is annoying. But more than that, I’ve found that many people are very reluctant to be seen looking for a price tag. Don’t ask me why, it boggles my mind, but I promise it’s true. Now, I’ve started making price points for all of my items. On one table, I have my bargain items with a sign that says something like “All items on this table are 2/$5” or whatever it is. Then I have the middle-of-the-road jewelry with a sign that says “Necklaces $15, Bracelets $10, Earrings $5” or whatever it happens to be. Then on the “high end” table I put my art jewelry with a similar sign but a much higher price point. You might think there’s no way you can price every bracelet in a category the same, but you really can. I’ll write a blog on pricing later. 🙂
#8 Free, Take One
I promise you there is no better way to get someone into your booth than a freebie, positioned close to the entrance, visible from the stream of people walking by, and large. I don’t care if they’re pens, magnets, key chains, brochures, or candy, you should have something that is a freebie or a give-away. Consider it a marketing expense, because it is. This will get people into your booth faster than anything, and most of the time they’ll stay because most people understand it’s a little faux pas to take a pen and run. Go to VistaPrint and see what kind of promotional items they have. Most are really inexpensive and work well.
#9 Deals, Sales, and Two-Fers
I’ve read in many places where people suggest that sales and deals aren’t a good idea and you should simply have good prices all the time. Really? Ask JC Penny about that. They tried it, and it failed miserably. People love a sale. It’s just in our nature. You see “2 for” or “Buy 1 Get 1” or anything of the sort, and you go running. So do the people at your craft show. In fact, people almost expect deals at a craft show. So give it to them. Usually, I have a simple deal that if someone buys 2 or more items they get 20% off. It works. I also have an elastic bracelet bin, usually seasonal, that are, say, $4 a piece or 2 for $5, or something like that. Everyone buys two. I have never had someone buy one. Deals sell, use them.
#10 Bring a Friend
I try to bring someone with me to man the craft booth for every show. Usually they get paid in jewelry, and some of them come of their own free will because they’re amazing. There are several reasons this is a good idea, but one is that you can get up and walk around from time to time while your friend checks people out and answers questions, and the other is that while you do your thing and sell your amazing goods, your friend can look out for sticky fingers. It’s rare, but it happens. Running a booth by yourself is really difficult, neigh impossible, and it’s just always good to have someone there.
While I could have easily written a “50 Ways to Succeed at a Craft Show”, I’m long-winded enough, and that’s also the name of an E-book I’ll be releasing soon! Do you think an e-book on craft show success would be beneficial? Please let me know, I really appreciate any feedback! Thanks all my fabulous readers, and I’ll be back soon!