Articles of a Domestic Goddess Craft Show Debut!
My church does a lot of community outreach. It’s what attracted me to the church in the first place. Not the fact that I could get free stuff… even though that’s true; but that they do things for the community. Once you begin to go there they expect you to participate and volunteer and have a calling within the church, which I think is extra special and what a church should be. But that’s my own personal opinion. There is just a really great group of people there, member or not. The Crosby Church Extreme Machine is a yearly festival in which car owners are beckoned to enter their fancy cars, motorcycles (or other similar items) into one of the best car shows in Texas from what I hear! It’s a BIG deal! There is lots of good food, free games for the kiddos, a mud bog, a fighting octagon, a big sermon and mostly, just lots of fun. My son left there all sweaty and sticky from all the fun he had there and in 6-year-old terms, that’s a day well had!
I spent most of my time in the craft booth area. (Which is in close proximity to the bouidain balls, sausage on a stick and kettle corn, btw) I learned a lot, met a lot of new friends with similar hobbies and interests … and I spent most of my profits in their shops. 🙂 There is a big difference between being on Facebook, and my friends know that I crochet, so maybe some of their friends have heard of me, etc. But this got my name out into the community and to my friends in real life, who knew that I crocheted, but didn’t really understand the handmade revolution. (LONG LIVE THE HANDMADE REVOLUTION!) All in all, it’s an experience that I was glad that I (and my sweaty 6-year-old) had the opportunity to take part in. I learned how to pop up a tent (which is easier than I thought it would be.) Most of the items I bought from the ladies around me were for my display, so I’ll need to participate in more craft shows in the future to make my money back! I can already feel the vicious cycle beginning! I’m mainly going to focus my small business at craft shows first to see if I can make some sales and money. If it’s successful, one of my customers did suggest that I could reach a much bigger audience by creating an online store to sell these products. She said that Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms these days, so it might be worth trying to create a store on there. She mentioned that a lot of smaller companies might struggle on there without marketing, so she suggested that I look into Victorious because they offer SEO services that can help Shopify stores to reach more people. That’s useful advice that I’ll keep in mind, but for now, I’m going to stick to craft shows for a while to sell my products.
Depending on the size of craft show you are attending, you might want to consider investing in some promotional signs directing people to your booth. This ensures that the people who are interested in what you happen to be selling will see them and know where to find you. It’s also a sure fire way to draw people in who didn’t know they were interested in what you were selling.
2. Table Setup and Display
Set up your tables in such a way that customers are invited to browse. If they have to walk in, they probably won’t.
Plus, you and your friends, visitors or junk will probably take up a large amount of the covered space and it will require a shuffle to allow someone to walk in to browse.
Make things accessible and visible. If I could redo it, I would have set my booth up to have two sides, with a table running down each side. Each table should be equally as inviting.
Do a practice rehearsal and set them up to see what works.
Keep a full feeling. I made the mistake of moving all my items from my back table, to my front table and in doing so I left my back table bare. There is a whole psychology behind the way that stores sell to the consumer. I had a friend whose husband was a grocery store regional manager and she said the trick is to keep a full look, no matter what. There is something to that. I’ll be using that and trying to pin down what attracts consumers. See this article about grocery store psychology. Or this one. Or this one.
HAVE BUSINESS CARDS OUT ON BOTH TABLES!
I can’t tell you how many business cards I handed out at the show. Not to mention the number of booth owners I had to beg for their card and they had to hunt one down or grab one out of their pocket. It was ridiculous! Business cards are so useful to give out to anyone interested in what you do and so I was glad I had the foresight to get so many printed. You can look here to find more information about a good printing company.
3. Have a VARIETY of items.
Big or small? Which is the answer? BOTH. They all play off each other for the good of the booth as a whole.
It’s basic marketing. The smaller items attract the pocketbook and the larger items attract the eye.
There was a whole booth of ONLY tutus. There was a whole booth of ONLY sashay scarves.
Neither of them caught the attention that I caught, but the tutus and sashay scarves were some of the biggest things that brought my customers in.
It’s not that I sold ANY of the two, but their presence brought people to at least take a look.
All you have to do is get them in. DIVERSIFY, DIVERSIFY, DIVERSIFY!
4. Tags. Pricing.
This was the hardest part.
I had tags on everything but planned to price it all once I got there. Don’t do this. Price it beforehand. Take the time.
People walking by grabbed tags and walked off a lot. If there was nothing on it, rather than ask they were turned off by it.
Also, price it where you want it to be. If as soon as they get to your booth, they pick up a beanie priced at $20 and you holler that you’ll go down to $15…they start to wonder if it was REALLY worth the $20 – or even the $15 for that matter. Price it where you want it and be proud of your price. If they want it, they’ll pay for it.
5. If they want it they’ll pay for it.
Which brings the next question: But what do they want? They want eye catching. I had a lot of basic beanies and scarves out. The few eye catching items I did have caught a lot of attention.
If I had it to do over, I would do more elaborate items than I did at this show.
Have things out that people PINE over and wish they can afford and they might buy a bookmark and then you might hit the jackpot with the one person who LOVES giant pirate dolls for $50.
Make them want it.
6. Don’t depend on custom orders.
I created this really nice portfolio, with photos of items I’ve made in it. I was happy I had it because it, in itself, was an eye catcher and people came mostly to take a look at the book.
But in lieu of creating some of the more eye catching (and time and material consuming) things in the book, I created beanies and scarves and small toys.
Which I’m happy I did as well, because like I said, the smaller items matter too. And I did get some custom order interest. But leave the custom orders for the internet.
Tell people who aren’t interested now that you take custom orders and if they reconsider it close to Christmas that you’ll be happy to give them some personalized time and give them your card.
But at a craft show, people want to buy what they see now. So give them that. Give them what they will want to go home with. They don’t want to call you Monday to set up a custom order.
It takes money to make money. Take the time and make the larger items to have on display. Sell them on Etsy later if you’re worried about the cost. After all, if you take a look at this article it will tell you that online retail is one of the top businesses that are flourishing nowadays, making it a very profitable decision.
7. Bring something to do.
There are points when the people FLOOD in! …And then there were times that I didn’t see a smiling face for a good hour.
Bring something to do. (And bring more than one tapestry needle, in case you’re like me and lose it early on… way to deem myself worthless…
The sashay scarf lady did not make any sales all day I think, BUT she got a lot of attention because she was knitting her scarves the whole time.
What’s that meme say that I’ve seen floating around the internet? Saying: “Being a crocheter is sort of like being a magician. You mumble to yourself while waving a stick around and other people have no idea how you did it.”?
Same thing here. It’s a good conversation starter. People are in awe of talent. And that’s what it is ladies! It’s talent! Embrace it.
(Go a step farther and WEAR something that you made. Preferably something you’re selling in your shop. It shows that you are proud of your work and it’s a conversation piece as well!)
Kids are bait. I have some, so I hate to say it, but it’s true.
Get the kids to look and the parents will come.
We’re having a ring toss next year at my booth. 🙂
I had candy and crochet toys out etc, but the real kicker: the candy!
9. Talk to the customer!
Acknowledge the customer! Even the ones who don’t buy from you!
Say “Good Morning” when they walk up and be inviting. So many booth runners sat around and let people browse but never said a word to them. Be inviting! Be approachable!
I’m a talker at heart (can’t you tell by my essay here!?) and in the act of talking about our kids or horses, I got some truly interested people to take my card who weren’t interested in the beginning but were after my conversation with them.
Don’t be too pushy, though. In the beginning, in my endless chatter and excitement to be among real humans that don’t excrement in their diapers still, I was a little pushy in my mannerisms.
And it was worse the more nervous I was. Don’t start selling as soon as they come to the booth. Get out of their face! A little humor goes a long way.
If you MUST talk (Like me) then talk, but make sure it’s someone who wants to talk, otherwise you stand the chance of damaging the sale.
I made the mistake of turning off my first few by jumping right to “Oh you like that? Let me wrap it up and get you out of here!” -instead of realizing that people browse much more than they buy.
You can just tell when someone takes your card and is going to throw it in the first trash can they see and the ones who will tuck it away for a rainy day.
Be that shop owner who makes a lasting impression. I remember each customer’s name or at least something specific about them.
I go to the dry cleaner who knows my name and I never have to show a ticket to in order to pick up my dry cleaning rather than the one who is smug and has the mentality of “buy it or don’t, I’m just here for the sausage on a stick”…
When a browser looks and leaves without buying anything, say “Thank you!” and MEAN it! They took the time out of their day to acknowledge your talent. Thank them.
They’ll come back around anyway, and when they do, and you say “Good Afternoon”, you’ll be one step farther than the rest of them 🙂
10. Taking Money
If I could do it again I would use one or more of these options.
Bring plenty of change. $40 in 1’s, $40 in 10’s, $30 in 5’s.
You may want to bring $100 in 20’s if you have larger items.
If you have a lot of smaller items then a roll or 2 of quarters might be in order.