Sunday, June 24, 2012

Craft show lessons learned

A few weeks ago I posted about my upcoming craft show, my first, and was looking for recommendations on how to prepare. Well, I apologize for taking so long to update you on the results....it seems I wasn't quite prepared for the follow up and catching up that would happen after.


Let's just say the show was not a stellar success.  Not from my part or for lack of trying, but there were no customers. Well, extremely slim pickings.  So, Lesson #1:


Research the show.


I thought I asked all the right questions: if it's a first year show, how are you promoting this and what's your following? who are the confirmed vendors? And I thought I had enough information and I was ready. But, Lesson #2 is:


Be prepared.

That's me behind the table in the back,
and my son trying to tape the
tablecloth to the table.

Ok, everyone tried to tell me this.  But how is one to be prepared for 60 degree weather and 30+ mph gusts of wind in June?  My son came to the rescue and ran to the hardware store for cinder blocks. I think experience will teach me more on this, and in the meantime, Lesson #3 is:


Don't sell yourself short.


I probably could have counted the number of shoppers on the fingers of two hands and not worried about using my toes. But I noticed that I had more sales than then vendors around me...quite possibly, more than the combined sales from the vendors around me.  Those who browsed my booth, browsed.  But those who shopped my booth, purchased. If someone browsed and moved on, fine. Not everyone is a "candle person," so why should I try to develop a sale? But if someone starting shopping my booth, it was easy to develop conversation about my product and covert the shopper into a buyer.
An old cabinet added visual
interest and display options.

For someone who spends most of her time in operations (yawn), it was enjoyable to relate to people. Asking about their likes, talking about the features and benefits of my products...not really "selling", but putting smiles on peoples' faces. Candles are a luxury item that make us enjoy our surroundings. And I truly enjoyed helping people find a piece of happiness.  But alas, Lesson #4 is:


Pace yourself.


I thought I was pacing myself. Granted, I still had the pre-event late night push to label and to pack everything, but what I didn't count on was how much time the show would consume me after the event.  Rearranging my inventory. The time it took away from my monthly activities such as fragrance of the month publicity and shop distribution, first week of the month Etsy work, newsletter, and so on. Being extremely tired. For a longer period of time than I anticipated. But the best lesson of all, Lesson #5:


Know yourself.

Not the final set up, my goal
was to create an "atmosphere"
with the wine bottle and glasses. 
While my first show was not a stellar success, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed meeting people and introducing them to my product. I have a good product, and it was validated by the purchases made by the few people who attended the event. And I also learned my limitations. I'm not ready for a large show. No multi-day events. But I am ready to participate in two to three good, one day shows this fall. And I have the support of a wonderful fiance and an incredible son, both of whom gave up their weekends to help me. 


I welcome your comments and wisdom. Thank you so much for your comments and thoughts!
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