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Tips for Craft Fairs?


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Thought we should start another one of these, since the holiday fairs are starting to heat up. We've got a thread on the old board for a checklist http://www.candletech.com/cgi-local/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=business;action=display;num=1094452300 but it's kind of old - lets see what we've thought of after a year of experience!

So, what are your best tips for surviving the holiday craft fairs successfully?

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This is advice about craft shows in general. I just wanted to say to all those new people out there... just do it! Don't be afraid to try it. Start small if you're not sure. Another piece of advice (w

Thought we should start another one of these, since the holiday fairs are starting to heat up. We've got a thread on the old board for a checklist http://www.candletech.com/cgi-local/yabb/YaBB.cgi?boa

I know this was old and dug back up but I love reading everyone's tips over the years. Here are the three things I always try to remember at shows: 1. Greet everycustomer like a friend you haven't se

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My tips for craft fairs are..

Bring lots of Business cards, brochures, and order forms & pens.

Wear comfortable shoes, you never know how long you will be standing for.

Bring some one to help you if you can. This way there is always someone at your table.

Bring a snack and something to drink. If outside make sure to have cover and sun screen. There is nothing worse than getting sun burnt!

Make sure to have change. You will always have someone that will give you a $100 bill for a $5 item.

Make sure to take lots of product. You can't sell it if you don't have it! And know your product. I hate going to shows and asking some one a question that they can't answer.

Take a camera so that you can post pictures on the board for everyone else to see. I forgot last year so now I am trying to remember this year.

And relax while you are there. Don't sweat the small stuff. I have learned that I actually have alot better sales if I am relax. I think that customers pick up on that.

I will have to think of some more.......

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Lorrie had some good ones.... I will add a few that she did not already post..

1) Make sure that you take plenty of bags. If it is a large show I like to provide the ones with handles. It makes it easier for people to carry if they are walking around for a long period of time.

2) Make sure that you go to bed and get a good nights sleep the night before the show. It shows in your attitude if you get 3 hours sleep the night before.

3) If you cannot pack your car the night before have everything packed and ready in the house to load in the morning (this is when the hubby comes in handy :) ).

4) Take a small garbage can.

5) Take 3x as many business cards as you think you'll need.

6) Take breath mints... sometimes I do not have time to eat and I do not like greeting people with coffee breath in the morning.

7) Smile and greet those that come to your table.

8) Like Lorrie mentioned, make sure that you know your product. Know what the benefits are of your ingredients and what they do.

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Here are some more.

When setting up your tables...

Make sure that it is appealing to the eye. Take the time to set it up. Don't just throw everything on the table. I always try and do mine in layers so everything isn't flat on the tabel. People tend to look right over things if it is a large crowd. Make sure all table covering is clean as well as signs and banners. Replace anything that is torn or stained. It doesn't look professional.

One thing that I like to do is make up a flyer telling people which shows I will be at next. This way I can get some of those repeat sales.

If you have children.. Get a baby sitter or you will be chasing after them all day. The reason that I state this is because I have seen people take their children. By half way throught the day they were about to pull their hair out in frustration. And it's won't be fun for you or your children..

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Just a couple more....

if your one of the 1st tables when people come in... offer to keep their purchase at your booth until they leave... I used to to get the "I don't want to carry it all day"... not anymore....

As for flyers with your next events.. I put a 10% off coupon on the bottom if they come & buy at the next show... believe it or not I've gotten them back.

HAVE FUN !!!!

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For outdoor shows take some kind of hand sanitizer, I do a show in the summer and fall at the same place and the potties don't have sanitizer, sinks or soap YUK.

Take a Calculator, plenty of pen and order form if you plan on taking any orders

Take a nail file, I always break at least one nail and end up with a jagged edge that drives me nuts

Take coffee beans ro reset smeller (noses)

Take tape, scissors, glue stick, extra card stock (for signs etc), I also take popsicle sticks to give out samples.

Paper towels and windex or outdoor shows (can you tell I do a lot of outdoor stuff?)

Thats all for now!!!!!

Michelle

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One thing I did is got one of those Rubbermaid (or something similar) 3-drawer organizers. Not the huge ones, but the ones that are about 1.5 feet tall. It has clear drawers, perfect size for a standard piece of paper. I kept labels, order sheets, writing utensils, tape, glue, scissors... everything in those. And then when I go to a show I just grab it and go and have all those supplies with me.

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Try raising your table height to make it more accessible. You can use bed risers (sometimes found at Walmart).

Don't sit reading a book :) - bring some labeling to do, or cut out business cards or something.

Instead of using a low chair that makes it hard for you to pop up to talk to customers, get a tall directors chair. That way you can sit but won't look like you're pouncing on a customer when you get up.

Bring easy finger foods - cheese slices, grapes, something that won't stick in your teeth ;) Water, always have water, even in the winter.

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This is advice about craft shows in general. I just wanted to say to all those new people out there... just do it! Don't be afraid to try it. Start small if you're not sure. Another piece of advice (which I am still struggling with:rolleyes2) is that if you try a show and don't do well, then sign up again the next year hoping it will be better and it's not... then for crying out loud don't do it again. It's just a waste of time, energy and money. I get stuck in that rut and make "excuses" or try to think of ways to do better. But sometimes, some shows just aren't good (for your type of stuff) PERIOD.:)

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have paper and pen and take notes....scents people ask for that you don't have, other craft fairs they tell you about, ideas you got from looking at other booths

and if you're a soaper, forget the hand sanitizer. put a bar of soap in the restrooms and tape your business card with your booth number to the wall.

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I always bring little freebie sacks (nothing too expensive) for the vendors that I want to buy something from & the big spenders.

I have gotten some pretty nice stuff from other vendors for some bathbombs & soap that was the wrong color :cheesy2: Also! The big spenders always seem to remember you when they order online after the show when you give them extra special gifts.

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The one thing that stands out in my mind from my very first show a few weeks ago is to do what Robin said...get a directors chair. This would have helped me so much I think. A few times people couldn't see me sitting back there and had to ask if it was my booth. Another lady did have a tall chair and she never really had to stand up unless she was bagging an order. Next time, I will definitely get one of the directors chairs!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Boy you guys sure have the details covered ... pens, tablets and the like.

I totally agree with having a dedicated storage container (drawers sounds right nice!) for calculator, labels, scissors, I always find a use for an extra straight pin and or clothes pin ... also some packing tape or duct tape.

Make all these 'extras' as you have the funds for it so that they aren't borrowed between shows and never returned.

The one thing that hasn't been mentioned here (I don't think) which can seperate you from the crowd (and sometimes it's a requirement) is having a really nice table drape that goes down to the floor.

I splurged years ago on a piece of black cotton velvet ... 60" wide x 3.5 yards or so. Wouldn't trade it for the world. Then I use table runners like you can find at target to change the 'color' of my table top if I want to ... usually go with Ivory though.

Walmart starts carrying lots of colors of crushed velvet this time of year ... the cool thing about that it that it can just be wadded up and throw into any old bag .... wrinkles are the point <grin>.

Lights and extention cords are another thing to consider for indoor holiday shows.

Andrea

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I make tarts in all the scents I am taking. I keep them in the little tart cups (the ones similar to the cupcake ones) and I label the names on the bottom. I keep them on the front of my stall and the customers just walk up, pick them up, sniff and flip over if they like the scent. Keeps them from opening the candles and other products I have there and makes it easier for them to pick a scent.

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I know I am coming into this late, but I am new and just now seeing the thread. :smiley2: There are some great ideas!

Some things that I did not see mentioned (forgive me if I overlooked them):

Dolly. It is a MUST for me. Even if I can park near my booth, I usually take close to 80 cases of candles, two tents, five tables, etc., so I have to have it!

Duster. I keep a feather duster in my show box for those outside shows that are dusty. I have a lot of black stuff in my booth and dust shows up like crazy.

Painter's drop cloth plastic. The stuff that is very thin plastic, almost like grocery bag consistency. I always keep some in my booth for rain emergencies because there is always that one little spot on the tent that will drip. It is lightweight and can cover the tables quickly if need be. Also, when I do a two day outdoor show and close my tent up over night, I cover all my products with it. I have two Ezups which I set up next to each other and if it is exceptionally dewy, sometimes it will collect between the tents and fall on my tables.

Register counter. I used to use a table for check outs and just put my cash box on top, but then my husband made me a check out counter. It is tall, three sided and was easy for him to make. He is actually making me another one b/c this one got a bit beat up this past year. He just made it out of plywood and then used molding (baseboard type and crown molding) to finish it off. He painted the whole thing white and I put my logo on the front of it. It was easy, cheap, and really spruced up the booth. On the inside of the whole thing are shelves. Before, I had my purse under the table, my drink on the table, my signs on the table, my sunglasses on the table. It was crowded and unfinished looking. It drove me crazy. Now all of that extra stuff is out of view behind the counter.

Email list. I place a sheet on my counter for people to sign up with their email. That way when I am back in the area, I send them an email with a 10% off coupon. It has brought me so much return business.

Did someone say baby wipes? Good for sticky fingers that seem to be attracted to candles. Also, I use them to clean my hands every once in a while between potty breaks.

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I anticipate doing some outdoor festivals this summer. What are you all doing to protect your candles from extreme heat? I plan to get a tent of some type to keep off the direct sunlight, but what about 90deg+ temps? I'll be selling container candles, votive and tarts. Maybe this won't be an issue, but I thought I'd ask and plan ahead if necessary.

Thanks,

Tony

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Hi Tony,

I've tried rotating my candles between the cooler (w/ice packs) and the display every hour. The rotation got tiring & made a long day seem twice as long. If someone comes along with a better idea I'm all for it.

I just wanted to add 2 Craft Show Tips

Before you unload, check your spot & the closest door. Walk over, see if similar crafters are nearby. If within spitting distance (like that? DH coined that term LOL) ask if another spot is available. Always introduce yourself to the other crafters regardless of what they're selling, you just never know who they know. I've made some good contacts that way!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you're checking out a new show or a vendor gives you a flyer about one ~ ask questions before committing.

How many shows have been held there?

Buyer Traffic last show

Outdoors, Indoors, Electric, ($ difference)

Whats included in the price? Table, electric, chair, lunch

Parking, Load & Unload, Steps

Rain Dates

Does your permit or tax id need to be displayed?

Where is the show advertised or promoted?

What usually sells well there, ask what they sell & how well they did.

I found crafters to be a very honest bunch :D

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What to bring:

  1. Bags. Bags. And more Bags. Paper bags to keep containers from clunking together and plastic for people to carry. Always bring 3X more than you think you will need.
  2. Water, Gatorade, Decaf Ice Tea and FOOD. Bring a cooler and fill it to the brim to stay hydrated (which will decrease tiredness at the end of the day). If you are doing an outdoor show in the summer freeze a bottle of water the night before, by the time you are ready to drink it the ice will have melted and you will have clear cool water. Bring healthy food, lets face it most craft shows have only greasy fried foods to eat....now is a good time to catch up on those servings of veggies.
  3. Something to work on! Bring anything crafty or learn a new craft such as crochet, knitting...etc. Don't bring anything that you can't put down in a hurry and pick back up again. Craft shows make wonderful "catching up on that project" time when its slow.
  4. Good Attitude. Even if you are not feeling at the top of your game, smile and be courteous.

What NOT to bring:

  1. Already mentioned; but your kids. Lets face it, most craft shows involve a lot of down time especially if there is an event going on at the same time.
  2. Books. Believe it or not, I've seen more people lose customers because they've got their noses in books even when its slow.
  3. Pets. Like kids they get bored, and not everyone is going to want to be greeted by "fluffy".
  4. Bad Attitude. Even if the show is slow, you are stuck next to or close to another crafter with the same stuff or you are just not having a good day...leave the attitude at home. Your customer's really don't care and don't want to hear it.

What to do at a show:

  1. Be alert and attentive to your customers.
  2. Answer questions with a smile, even though you've answered the same question a zillion times in the last 15 minutes.
  3. Total, Collect, Give Change and Bag Quickly! Once customer's have made their selection, they want to get the heck out of dodge. Oblige them as fast as you can.
  4. Do not let 1 customer monopolize on your time. ALL of us have experienced "Lonely Mona" who wants to tell you all about her (insert pets, kids, grandkids...etc.). Smile, thank her kindly for coming in and then ask her directly if she is particularly interested in one item. If she says NO, direct her to all your scents and ask that she look around.
  5. Greet each customer and say Thank You to each customer...even if they didn't buy anything. Thanks for looking is always a good answer as they are leaving.
  6. If you smoke; don't in your booth. Most people will chain smoke during a craft show and are normally under their tent. Customer's want to smell your scents, not an ashtray...so scope out a designated smoking spot just for you and go there to have a cigarette. If you think about it like you are at work (with regular breaks) its easier not to be coughing up a storm by the time you go home.
  7. Be courteous to the crafters around you. That means don't hog all the space (if you are lucky enough to have a bit of extra space), don't spread into their space and if you bring music keep it LOW.
  8. Walk around the show. This gives you a chance to get out of your booth for some much needed movement and also to greet other vendors. If you are alone, leave a sign saying that you will be back at such and such time. If you are lucky and have help take turns walking the show.
  9. Just like "Lonely Mona" don't let another crafter take up all your time. If you run into another chandler or B&B or Soap person its great to exchange ideas but don't monopolize their time and don't let them do the same to you. Nothing is more boring to people outside your craft than to hear 2 people carrying on incessantly.
  10. Finally: DO NOT SABOTAGE ANY SIMILAR CRAFTER!!!!!! The minute you start talking bad about the other vendor to a customer YOUR credibility is completely lost. NOBODY wants to hear how bad the other guy is...that negative energy will kill a sale. Instead highlight the positive aspects of your product without negativity towards the other vendors.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I always take plenty of business cards, but have found alot of people collect them like baseball cards. Weird.... I take a notebook and have people sign up with their name, address, & phone number. email address too! Then I can send them a flyer/newsletter.. I always need scissors, tape, string, matches, baskets, candy for the rugrats (it keeps their little hands off the candles).

Hard candy or cough drops are handy, it seems after talking throughout the day my throat gets very dry, and these keep my mouth moist. Chewing gum isn't a good idea, I hate it when people are talking and chewing gum and I have to see it flying around inside their mouths..YUCK!! I use dark colored table cloths and having a lint brush to keep the dusties off helps. I also take my date book, because people always ask where I am going to be next. :D

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My only tip that won't sound like a broken record is accept credit cards! I found a great place that I can phone in a credit card number (and keep a knuckle buster copy for myself) and I still make a great profit! My sales at shows have drastically increased after I started taking credit cards at shows. If you want the info, PM me and I can get you the link to their site. I think it's $40 for set-up, $8/month for statement fees, and only 3.85% per transaction for fees. This is the best I've found in the three years that I've been looking credit card processing - it's even better than the Pal's rates when you bust out and do the math (I had my hub do it for me - I suck at math!). Best of all if you have a cell phone signal (or just on of those knuckle buster machines - you can take a chance and call it in later if you want) - you can take a credit card and none of those stupid terminals to buy!

Just my 2 cents...

Life & Light!

Tish

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