Lessons I learned from my first craft show

Meet your neighbors
Look to your right and left. Your fellow crafters are likely to be fun, supportive and probably know much more about participating in craft shows than you. They can give you advice on how to set up your space, how to get a customer’s attention, and so on. Observe the way they deal with their customers and ask questions; most of them will enjoy sharing their experience.

Move, move, move
Give the impression something is happening in your booth. Don’t just stay there, waiting for the customers to stop by; the customers will feel intimidated. Rearrange your display, move things around, and keep yourself busy, but not so busy you can’t stop at the moment a potential customer shows interest in your stuff.

Check the craft show history ahead of time
Ideally, you should have access to some history: how many customers, demographics, as well as who the other crafters are and what they sell, estimated revenue per booth, etc. With this information , you can plan much better which products to take and how to set up your booth.

Enlist a friend or share your booth
Like most things in life, it is much more fun sharing with somebody else. This person will help when you have that surge in number of customers, or when you need time for a “bio” break. And let me take this opportunity to tell you about eating: I don’t know about you, but I won’t stop by at a booth where the seller is eating. I just feel I am intruding. I mentioned this to some friends and they all feel the same way. So, you might want to let your friend take over and go eat somewhere else.
Above all, this friend will be another set of eyes and ears to gather information and learn what craft shows are all about.

Don’t get discouraged
It might take some time for things to pick up. My first 4 or 5 hours were really slow. I sold nothing, very few people gave me the time of the day, and my neighbor kept asking if I had lost my craft show virginity yet. But before the end of the day I made a few sales, one of them very substantial, and the second day was even better. If things are slow, refer to “Move, move, move”, above. !

Invite everybody you know
Really, I did and it worked wonderfully. A lot of people you relate to in your daily life don’t know you are an artist or never really cared to know more about your creations. This is a nice opportunity to show them what you’ve got. I invited lots of relations; some of them showed up and a couple even bought my stuff. One of them was my second best customer -- 18% of my craft show income.

Have your “elevator’s pitch” ready
In corporate lingo, an “elevator’s pitch” is those few seconds you are in the elevator with somebody and you can say something to get his attention, so he will want to know more about your stuff.You have a small window of opportunity to get a potential customer interested in your work. Tell him things he might find interesting and would help him to value your product. There are tons of examples: something is handmade, and/or an original design, the piece is one of a kind, the materials are eco-friendly, the african beads are bought through fair trade… You know the drill!

Know your prices
My prices were all over the place so I put a little tag on each product with the price. Big mistake! The customers always asked me how much the products costed and I had to look for the tiny little price tag. Boring!!! specially for the customer!
I am already preparing for the next craft show: I will have 4 or 5 price points and will use colored price tags, so I will know instantly how much each product costs.

Keep your packaging simple
Nice packaging makes your product more attractive; that’s a no brainer. However, you have to be able to pack the product really fast; the customer wants to move on and you want to move on to another customer. So, plan your packaging accordingly.

Get contact info
Priceless! You know how you work yourself out trying to get people to sign up for your newsletter? Just ask them right there at the craft show. Most of them will say yes, and these are people who already admire your product, and might even have bought something from you.
The corolary here is to do some promotion: 10% off any item on your etsy store, free shipping, or whatever you can come up with.

Enjoy yourself
If this is your first or one of your first craft shows, consider it as an investment. You will learn a lot even if you don’t sell a lot. Keep your eyes and your mind open, and have fun!