Friday, April 18, 2014

My Craft Show and Festival Checklist and Mini Guide

So I'm no craft show pro by any stretch of the imagination. I have, however, done my fair share of them over the past 10 years. Some were hits, more were misses, but I have learned to always expect the absolutely unexpected and to always be prepared for everything but the apocalypse. I don't have the fanciest most polished booth of them all, nor do I buy new displays for each event. But I do go prepared.

On that note, I'd like to share with you my general (but not exhaustive) checklist of things I take along with me to craft shows. I'm sure most of these things will be on just about every show checklist you'll read, but they are quite important in ensuring your day will go off more smoothly and leave you with only a minor headache instead of a migraine at the end of the day. Now, on to the list!

1. Product. Duh! It seems so obvious, but I have spent so much time fretting over whether or not I was forgetting things that I have literally walked out the door without my jewelry. I always take my entire stock with me, because you never know what will catch someone's eye that day.

2. Displays, including table coverings/skirts, props/busts/etc./ I'm not a fan of laying my jewelry flat on my tables, at least not all of it. I like to create a bit of height variance, because it seems to attract the eye more than things just lying flat.

3. Tables, a comfy chair or stool. Some like the height a stool gives, so they can interact with customers more. I usually just take a folding camping chair, and do some standing when customers stop in. I try not to just sit the entire time, because it tends to be a bit off putting.

4. Tent, if your show is outdoors and not under some sort of mega-tent or permanent structure provided by the event. You don't want to be rained on in case the weather turns gross, but on that note, don't forget to take:

5. Tent weights. After many years of toting plastic paint buckets full of rocks around to shows (fun times!) I finally bought some legit tent leg weights that are made specifically for that purpose. Note, however, that these are not good for very blustery days, and that they will still force you to get up and hold your tent down in the event of wind gusts. But, it's better than rock buckets and better than nothing. There are great DIY guides on using pvc pipe and cement to make your own tent weights that are worth Googling. I just haven't gotten around to trying it myself yet.

6. Lock box/apron/money pouch/etc. to keep your change funds in. Don't forget to go to the bank before the day of the show and get change, too! I usually take between $100 and $150 in change, depending on the show.

7. Get a Square or Papal card reader so you can take credit/check cards. It will keep you from losing sales and the Square reader is free. You can request one, plus free signage with the Square and major card logos on it letting people know you accept cards at your booth. These are good to have and the "set" comes with a small standing tabletop sign and several stickers with the logs in different sizes. You simply request them through the Square website and they'll send them to you. Note that you must have a smartphone to use the Square reader, unless you opt to use offline transactions. I haven't personally done so and wouldn't really want to.

8. Don't forget your own signage. I had a custom banner made by a seller on Etsy, which was made to match the elements of my shop banner. It's got metal grommets on the corners so I can attach it to my tent with zip (or cable) ties. It's large enough to see easily but not so large it becomes obtrusive. You can also get good deals on banners online through Staples or VistaPrint. I haven't tried either, but have heard they are good for an economy banner.

9. Take plenty of business cards and buy a couple/few business card holders to strategically place on your tables. Some people take them themselves, other will ask. I always say "Feel free" and give them to both people that make purchases and those that express interest but don't buy.

Now that we have all that covered, I'll go ahead and throw all the misc/emergency items into one section. You never know what you'll end up needing, so if space allows, take everything! I always take:

A notebook to track my daily sales and state sales tax, my state sales tax certificate, paper clips and binder clips, pens, fine tipped Sharpie markers, extra pricing tags, lots of zip ties, bungee cords (for anchoring purposes), patches for you tent canopy (leaks happen!), tent side flaps and one or two tarps, in case you have to batten down the hatches in extreme weather situations outside, bottled water to keep you hydrated, small snacks that aren't messy (so you don't have to stuff you face with a chili dog at lunch time and get it all over yourself and your tables), a calculator and state sales tax cheat sheet to help with totaling orders and giving change, a camera to capture any magical moments that may occur, hand sanitizer or wet wipes for germ removal purposes, tissues, a sweater or jacket for cool mornings and days, aaaand that's about all I can think of right now. Should a light bulb go off or anyone come up with any other suggestions, I'll make an edit.

My final suggestion is to dress comfortably, especially when it comes to your shoes. Wearing cute but impractical shoes for these events isn't a good idea. Wet morning grass is cold and you will be uncomfortable all day. Been there! Some will say to dress "professionally" but it all depends on you and your target market. I don't do "professional" attire because I sell kooky cute things and prefer to be myself 100% of the time. If I run someone off because they are offended by my girly, bright tattoos, I likely didn't want them buying from me anyway.

So, there's my spill on that. Feel free to comment with any suggestions or additions and thanks if you took the time to read this! Happy festival-ing!

No comments: