I just got back from a weekend trip to be a vendor at the Junk Hippy Roadshow in Amarillo, Tx. Like with most junk or craft shows, it was a busy, hectic weekend, but Junk Hippy is almost always worth the time it takes. So, I thought I’d talk about what makes really good junk, trunk, or craft shows.What Makes a Good Show
1. Good vendors! When considering craft shows, I always ask about the vendors. Because I am a junker/DIYer/crafter, I am looking for shows that focus on vintage and handmade items. I don’t want to go to a show that has a high percentage of “party vendors” like Scentsy, 31, Tupperware, etc. While there is nothing wrong with independent distributors, the customers they bring to a show is not a customer who is generally looking for what I have. You have to know your customer base, and book craft shows that draw them in.
2. An advertising budget. I always, always ask what the host plans to spend on advertising, what media they are using, and how many weeks pre-show they will be advertising. I run, not walk, away from shows that just “advertise on Facebook and by word of mouth.” I estimate how much a show’s vendor rents will be, and at least 1/3 of that needs to be spent on advertising. It takes a lot to get ready for a show, and I need to know whoever is hosting the event is also doing a reasonable job of promoting it. Which brings us to #3…
3. An experienced show host/event planner. It’s doesn’t take a math genius to realized that hosting craft shows can be pretty darn lucrative. Not only do hosts collect the vendor rents, they generally charge admission to the show. At even $5.00 a head, with a show that draws 4-5000 people, it’s a nice paycheck for a day’s work. So there are lots of folks jumping on the bandwagon, and setting up craft shows. If they are rank newbies, the show winds up being a hot mess, with frustrated vendors and poor traffic. Recently, we had a show come into the area with a cute logo and a good sell. Lots of vendors signed up for her shows, and discovered after the fact that she was poorly organized, did not advertise, and was even unavailable at one of her own shows! So I “interview” any new show hosts I am considering, and make sure whomever is hosting has their stuff together, and is committed to the success of the show.
4. A Juried Show. A juried, or curated, show simply means that vendors must submit photos and descriptions of what they sell, and the host of the event chooses vendors that match the intent of the show, have good products and displays, and that provide a range of different types of booths. Be leery of shows that accept everyone who applies;these shows often won’t do as well as a juried event.Succeeding at Craft Shows
Just as the host needs to be committed to the show, so do the vendors. There are certain things that I need to do in order to have a successful, and fun, show.
1. Up the inventory. Through trial and error, I have come up with a formula for shows. My inventory at the show needs to be about three times what I hope to make. So, if my goal for a show is $2000, I need to have at least $6000 in inventory there. More is better; folks won’t shop a booth that looks picked over. What I take to a show depends on the location, the expected traffic, and how big a space I was able to rent. For example, I won’t bring furniture unless I know the venue has easy access for loading. A convention center in the middle of a downtown area would be a difficult place to get furniture in and out of, so folks would be less likely to buy furniture.
2. Be prepared. Setting up for a show takes a bit of time and work. I generally get to the venue around noonish the day before, because it takes me around 6 hours to set up a booth. I bring my own backdrops, but almost all shows offer pipe and drape if you don’t have any. I also bring table covers, as most events require that tables be covered, and no storage bins, etc are visible. I am going for a certain look in my booth, and I bring adequate props to set up and have the booth look fabulous! The worst thing a vendor can do at a show is show up late, and not be ready to greet customers when the doors open. This can also get you un-invited from future events for that host. Finally, be courteous and patient during load in day; everyone has a ton of stuff to get in the doors. If your items are small, leave the loading docks for vendors with large items to get in, and pull yours in on a dolly or cart.
3. Be professional. Dress up! Customers should be able to identify the booth owner in the crowds. We wear aprons with The Flying C logo on them so customers can find us. Don’t sit down; chairs are a distraction, and it makes you look like you don’t have the energy to deal with customers. As with all sales jobs, you need to be “on the floor” and ready to greet customers and answer questions. Secondly, shows are busy and it’s hard to get away for lunch or a snack, but don’t bring food into the booth; it looks bad, and folks will be reluctant to engage you when you are stuffing your face. Finally, get a cash register, or at least a money box. Digging around in your pockets for change is not the most efficient way to do business, and it appears amateurish.
4. Plan ahead. Once you find the shows that are established and draw good crowds in your area, get your applications in early, and book for the host’s next show when you do the event. There is nothing more frustrating than being wait-listed for a show you really wanted to do. I keep a log of all the shows I have applied for, those I’ve been accepted to, and what my expected income for the show is going to be, and I keep them. Then I can go back and look for the shows that performed well, and those that didn’t, and make sure my applications go out in a timely fashion.
Craft shows can be a lot of fun! With some planning and research, they can also be a viable venue for crafters to earn a bit!
"Just Wing It!"
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