Wild & Wanderful

My First Craft Booth | Showcase

Katy McKinley2 Comments

Labor Day Weekend 2012 marks my very first attempt at selling in a face-to-face environment with a craft booth.  It was a lot of work, I was exhausted afterwards but I feel like I walked away with a lot of knowledge on what to do and what to expect for future events.

While I was trying to figure out my plan of attack in the months leading up to the Wheeling Vintage Raceboat Regatta (where I had my booth), I scoured the internet trying to find every piece of information I could that would help me with my planning.  Bits and pieces of things were found on random sites – but I thought that maybe I could share my experience and someone might find this helpful down the road.

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Set your booth up ahead of time.
This might be an obvious one.  Put your tent up, put your tables up and get it all set as if you’re going to be at the event in your own backyard.  You can’t even believe how important this was for me because the plan in my head was so much different than what was actually executed.

Make sure you have a tent with sides.
There are a few reasons I say this.  First – it RAINED on me one of the days.  And it was windy along with that rain.  Had I not had sides that went all the way down to the ground, everything would have been soaked.  I stayed nice and dry and so did my goodies.  Secondly – I liked my walls being down because it made my booth more like a store.  Nobody was looking through my booth to the things around me.  And I felt more protected.  When my walls were up, people were coming at me from all sides.  When they were down…I had more control.

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Decide ahead of time what you’re going to do about “deal making”.
You might not agree with this at all, but I don’t like bargaining with people.  It’s not that I’m not a person who likes to save money when I shop – I just don’t like to barter prices on the things that I make.  I value my time and effort and when I set a price, that’s because I believe that is what it is worth.  People are going to try and make a deal {ie: If I buy three hats, can I get them for X price?}.  Decide before you head there if it’s something you are willing to do to make a sale or not.

Expect the unexpected.
Having a plan B, C, D and E is probably best.  The first day of my event, the wind was blowing so hard that I was literally hanging from the rafters of my tent to keep it on the ground.  I was basically set up inside of a large parachute and ready for takeoff.  It was AWFUL.  The second day, the weather was wonderful and warm but too hot to have my walls down.  And the third??  Well – it rained.  And then was super humid.  None of these I could have planned for any better than I had and I almost had an epic meltdown.  Thank goodness for calm husbands that talk you down, haha.

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Have a million business card with you.
I wasn’t actually at a craft show.  I was at an event in my city that allowed vendors.  So people weren’t out shopping for crafts and handmade goods.  They were happening upon my booth while checking out some totally awesome boats.  It was also in early September – which is a weird time of year because it’s not quite Christmas buying season yet.  People liked me and my things but weren’t quite ready to purchase anything.  I made sure to hand them my card, tell them about what they can find in my shop and explain a few things about my business.  I went through business cards like hot cakes.

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People don’t know what Etsy is.
This literally baffled me.  I spent so much time educating my community about Etsy over that three day period.  Yes…I know that I live in West Virginia and we aren’t always the most “up” on things but I didn’t think that Etsy was such a mystery still.  Two years ago?  Maybe.  But there is no wonder why I struggle so much to get into my local market.  Nobody is aware of the awesomeness that is trendy handmade goodies.  I kept saying “it’s like the EBay of the crafting world”.  It was the best way I could come up with an example that people could relate to.

Rock your unique style.
As with everything else in life, you need to stand out and be noticed.  I had mannequins wearing my gear, a custom made sign with my prices, a bookshelf I borrowed from my neighbor filled with my gear and hats hanging from rope and clothespins.  My chairs were there as decoration and something functional (for me to sit my tush down on).  And my husband rigged something made out of PVC piping for my shirts to hang from.  LEVELS, LEVELS, LEVELS!  Don’t put everything on a table.  You need something high and low and eye-catching.

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You’re going to need to pee.
Yes.  Learn from my mistakes.  I have a 2-year old son that wasn’t willing to be in my booth for more than a few minutes.  So my husband spent most of the weekend going back and forth between home and visiting me for three days.  {He’s amazing.}  One of the mornings, I had to pee SO BADLY that I actually texted my husband at home and asked him to text his friend that I knew was there so he could find me and stand in my booth long enough for me to use the portajohn.  It was a ridiculous situation, but desperate times call for desperate measures.  Haha.  Don’t be like me!  Make sure you have someone that can allow you to slip away a few times to take bathroom breaks or get some food.  You will need it. :)

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Brag about yourself.
I am my mother’s daughter.  I don’t take compliments well and sometimes talk down upon my talents because I get weird and don’t want to be too braggy and full of myself.  I made a point to NOT do that…at least as much as possible.  Make sure you tell everyone that the entire tent is full of things that YOU made and that YOU spent time and creative talents on this work.  People would rather buy something directly from the person they are talking to, knowing that they created that very thing than to buy it from the next booth that has purses for sale from China.  “Everything under this tent was handmade by me, in my home here in Wheeling.”  I repeated that line almost as much as the ‘Etsy is like EBay’ line.  You’ve got to let people know what they’re looking at.  Be proud of your work!

Create a workstation.
I set aside a small bit of space for myself where I could keep my tissue paper, bags, receipts, stapler, pens, order forms and cigar box (which I used for cash).  I’m glad I did because I would otherwise be awkwardly shuffling all of that stuff around as I was trying to talk with people.  I would also HIGHLY recommend getting an account with Square and having the ability to take credit cards with your smart phone.  As a person who never has cash on her, I appreciate vendors who are able to accept my credit card as a form of payment.   Plus – people tend to spend more when they’re not having to pay with cash (just an FYI).

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I tried everything in my power to create a place that I would want to shop for my presents in.  In my personal opinion, I think my booth was pretty rockin’.  What do you think?  Would you have stopped in my spot and checked everything out?