This has been the first year I've continuously done craft shows with Anykind, and it's been really exciting. I started my craft show year in Charleston, took a detour for a big show in Athens, sold throughout the summer in Saratoga Springs, and will finish the year after four awesome shows around Norfolk. So I guess this year has also been exciting because I've lived four different places. But I've also learned a lot about selling in craft shows. I know one year isn't really long to be doing something, but I learn something new or pick up a new trick at every show I do. And I wanted to share a few tricks and ideas that have helped me so far.
While planning, think about using some things you already have around for display items. Not only will it save you money but chances are, if you already own something, you like how it looks - and it might go with the style of what you create and compliment your products. I bough these locker baskets at an antique mall when I was 14 or so, and they happen to make really nice display baskets, too.
Also, be on the lookout for good display pieces and props whenever you're out. Have a general idea of what you might need and you never know where you might find something just right. I found these wire trays in the dish rack section of Target. My bows fit in them perfectly, and I was actually just shopping for a dish rack...
Have all your products clearly priced. It makes customers more comfortable while looking through your booth. Some people might ask about the price of an unmarked item, but it sure is easier if they don't have to and can make decisions without having to ask. Individual price tags (like these) work great for larger items, and a sign marked with the price of a group of items works, too.
Have lots of business cards and put them in an easy-to-reach spot for people to grab. At some shows, no matter how slow the foot traffic seems to be, I am always surprised at the amount of business cards taken. And no matter how obvious their placement is, some people will ask for one anyway. So be ready for that, too.
Think about displaying your products in a way that easiest for customers to see variety. I wish I had room at every show to hang up my bows like this. It's so awesome because people can see all of the different colors and patterns without moving anything. And I'm always in favor of things in rainbow order. Also make it easy for customers to pick up and touch what you have, especially if it's something they might want to inspect or try on.
Once your show is a sure thing, start planning. Decided what you want to have done for the show, how much of it you want, what you need to do for your display, and what else needs to be taken care of. I always like to think I can get everything I want to done before a show...but that definitely doesn't always happen. I've learned that it helps me stay calm if I prioritize everything early on. What do I absolutely have to have done and what is not completely necessary?
Caleisha asked for advice about making enough stock to get ready for a show, so I wanted to share some things that have helped me with that, too. First of all, a huge thing that gets me through cutting fabric and sewing the same thing over and over is having something good to watch. As long as I have my big headphones on and a show or movie on my computer, I'm pretty productive. I keep a list of things I want to watch eventually in my notebook, so I won't run out of things.
But as far actually having the willpower to sit down and work to make enough product for a show, the most helpful thing for me is to make a list of everything I want to make and then split the work up by days. I usually split my work up like this: I'll spend one day cutting out a large number of bags, interfacing them, sewing the labels on, and organizing all the pieces in a nice pile. Then I can just start my next day with sewing all the bags. Splitting up the work this way makes everything more manageable for me, and as I complete my to-do list each day I feel more and more energized about the next day. It also helps me to do one step at a time for all the bags I'm sewing in one day, like sew all the zippers on, then pin all the bags together, then sew all the bags up. Somehow everything just gets done quicker (and usually better) this way.
Another thing that helps me be more productive, is that if I really don't feel like sewing or cutting, to the point where I'll do a bad job if I do, I find something else to do for awhile. If you have a show coming up, then chances are you have other things you could work on besides making product. So don't worry if you need to take some a little time and work on display stuff or price things instead of making product.