Preparing for your first craft show!
23 March 2016
So here are some helpful hints on how to prepare for a craft show, you have all your products ready to go, you now need to get them out there, and seen by the public.
There are masses of shows available for you to get your products out in front of potential customers, some of the organisers are:
Craft In Focus
Country Living Shows
Craft and Design
So basically, look up these organisers on the internet, and see what shows they are putting on, or which shows they have a marquee at. Rural Crafts, and Eden Crafts exhibit at all the major agricultural shows all over England. You really need to be booking into shows in January/February for the year ahead, I would say that the show season starts in May, and finishes at the end of November, beginning of December. What I do is work out which shows I want to do, and make sure that I leave enough time in between each show to re stock, otherwise it all becomes very stressful, and you don’t want to be rocking up at a show un prepared!!! Plus, they are exhausting….
The first thing you will need to do, is decide on how big a stand you require to exhibit your products, obviously the smaller the stand, the less it costs! For the majority of shows, you need a stand frame, as basically you get a floor space in a marquee. Most people have metal frames, that slot together, and you then hang curtains, or fabric from them. It needs to be versatile too, as at various shows, you will have different pitch sizes. You can buy the frames from Rural Crafts, alternatively I had mine made by a local welder. Or if you just want to try a show or two before you invest in a frame, you can hire them from the organisers.
Really think about how best to display your products, and the look that you are going for, well presented stands I feel, look so much more professional and will therefore catch the customers eye more. Spend time at home mapping out your stand, working out how best to make use of a very small space. Also bear in mind that the customers need to be able to touch your products, and get a close look at them. If you have a look online at ‘Craft show stands’ under images, loads come up and will give you some ideas, or visit some shows local to you, the majority of us are pretty open, and easy to talk to.
Getting to and from a show is another consideration, if you can squeeze it all in your car, then that’s great, otherwise you are going to need to hire a van!! I did a few shows, and quickly worked out that hiring a van each time, and then forking out for B and B’s, was going to get very costly, and really eat into my profit! I got a small loan, and brought a converted campervan off ebay, I then cut the cost of accommodation too, most of the shows have onsite camping facilities, at no extra cost. I reckon that within the first year or two I had basically covered the cost of my van by what I would have spent on hiring a van and accommodation. Plus it’s great for family camping trips too!! It really depends on how many shows you are planning to do in a year.
Some other things you are going to need to think about are:
Payments – How are you going to take money? Not many people carry lots of cash with them at shows any more, they all want to pay by card. You have various options open to you now, you can get a PayPal card reader, or iZettle which are, a one off payment, and work on wifi. Or you can hire a pdq machine just for the time you are at a show, or take out a contract, these work on mobile networks. Both of these options can be temperamental, sometimes the mobile networks become overloaded and the machines don’t work, or otherwise the wifi doesn’t work, or you need to get a booster pack. They are your only option, but it can be very frustrating at times!!
Packaging/Branding – You will need to think about bags, or wrap etc, and whether you want it to have your logo on it and so on. To start with I would say go plain on the packaging, as it all eats into your profits, however I do feel that having a strong branding is a good thing. It can be simple, but it needs to be universal over all your products, business cards, website and so on.
Here’s a useful list of things you may need for a show:
A Sack barrow, or trolley for loading/unloading.
Tool box with hammer, screwdrivers, assorted nails, a saw, tape measure, drill, spirit level, Stanley knife, gaffer tape, scissors, pliers, an adjustable spanner, a saw, a tape measure.
Lights system if you use your own(at some shows you can hire them) and spare bulbs.
Extension lead, and multiple socket lead.
Velcro tape and cable ties.
Table cloths, cloth to pin across your stand at night, and clips to secure it.
Cashbox, and float.
A receipt book, biros.
Mobile PDQ machine with spare till rolls.
A fan for marquee work in the summer.
Business cards, price tags, order forms, email address form for collecting emails, what sold sheet(to record sales, and keep an eye on stock levels.)
I would say that you want to be taking three times the cost of your stand to have made a profit, that’s quite a generalization, but seems to work for most of us. Also bear in mind that every show you go to is a gamble….. You never know what’s going to happen.
But GIVE IT A GO!!! You won’t know if you can do it, unless you try…
It is seriously hard work, but I love being my own boss, I work around my children, in total chaos most of the time, but wouldn’t change it for the world!!