Norma Rudloff runs the shop Dough Roses and has almost 30 years of show experience under her belt. She was asked to share her insight on preparing for a craft show and how to deal with the unexpected stress it can bring and hope make the experience easier. This will be broken up into two blog posts where this week we learn about the standard preparation.
Filling out the show application is the first step in the process of doing a show. Receiving the acceptance letter is the second, and then you start asking the big question "Now What?" Whether it's a little one day church show with a 6' table supplied by the church or a four day event requiring a backdrop and sides, the process is the same -good planning and a list!
A list will save you grief as you start your planning for the show. From the sales support that you pull together - your business cards, sales books, brochures, and anything else that you might use to advertise yourself and your business to the little things that you might want to stash away in a plastic tub like scotch tape, a stapler, duct tape, scissors, and bags to put all of your wonderful sales into. Your list will save time and effort as the show grows closer!
You might find it beneficial to have a sign with the name of your business displayed along with business cards & free materials to be given out to your customers. Consider hang tags for every item you sell - giving the customer a little information about the item, what it's made from, who designed it etc. along with your name or the name of your business and how that customer can reach you in the future for repeat business.
For anyone new to the world of craft shows, I've always recommended walking a couple of shows before doing one just to see how others are displaying their work and to get ideas as to how to effectively display without resorting to just laying everything flat on a table. It's important to think about how to get the items at eye level of the customer walking up to your table or into your booth while planning on safety at the same time. If using a table as a base, don't use a wrinkled bed sheet or gaudy flowered table cloth to cover it. Three yards of polyester fabric will cover an 8' table and look nice as it doesn't wrinkle. Suspender clips or safety pins should be used to pin the ends so no one trips on it. There are many ways to create an interesting display but keep in mind that you have to transport it too! Put a lot of thought into what will work best for you and your creations!
How much to take? Years ago, the rule of thumb for a show to be considered a "good show" was 10 x the space fee. In today's economy, since I'm no longer doing large shows, I don't know if that can still be expected. If I signed up for a show and paid $100 for the space fee, I could easily expect to earn $1,000 or more at that show. To accomplish making $1,000, I felt that I had to take at least 3x that amount in inventory value. I've done shows that had space fees of $600 which meant that I had to plan on over $18,000 in inventory and a way to transport it and a display to show it all properly. (By that time, I had invested in ProPanels and a U-Haul trailer!)
Speaking of show fees, you might think that you are risking less by signing up for shows that have low fees. Not if no one comes! Most of the time, the one thing that you get for the higher fees is advertising! Without that, a show is destined to be a dud and a complete waste of your time!
Next week Norma will share safety, the benefits of having Insurance, show etiquette and sales tax