Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Biggest Things I Learned From My First Craft Fair Booth

As a follow-up to my previous post on my first ever craft booth last year, I wanted to just bullet some of the biggest things I learned from this experience and want to share with you all. Part of what helps you improve on any task at any job or even in life, is looking back on something you've done, and determining what your biggest lessons learned are, and how you can do it better next time. In my time working at retail and in the corporate world, there are a lot of things that are perhaps out of your control such as other people opinions, perceptions, overall culture of the company, etc.... but anything that IS within your control, you will greatly benefit from self-reflection and assessing what you did well or didn't do so well, and how you can try to improve on that for next time. Without this, you may do the same thing over and over, expecting the results to change. There's a word that owns this definition........ lol 

Whether you're a fellow crafter and thinking about having your first booth (or perhaps second, third, etc, and not sure where you could improve from your previous attempts), know someone who's asked you to help them out at their booth and have NO idea what they're really asking of you, or just a shopper and are curious what all goes on in the background to those booths you pass by at a fair and think "gosh, how are they *enter phrase/observations/perhaps insult (some aren't as well prepared as they'd like to be, take my attempt for example)*...?", just remember that it takes a lot to get good at doing your job well sometimes, and for crafters, making things may be easy but it's sometimes like a full-time job with the added tasks of organizing, planning, marketing, etc that make it difficult. 

So, on to the lessons learned!!

  • Come Prepared!!
    • Have everything priced beforehand!!
    • Be ready for ALL types of weather!! Check the weather report and/or have displays/setups readily available for extreme heat, wind, rain, cold, etc
    • If you can wing it, perhaps bring TOO much for certain!
    • Start planning MONTHS ahead of time so that you're not rushing or stressing at the last minute, and no matter how much you want to spend 1 hour doing something that will help you this time but won't help you ever again and needs to be tossed after this show, maybe you *should* spend the 2 hours instead to do the thing that will help you in ALL shows in the near, or even far, future...
  • Be catchy! 
    • Sure, I had my "banner", but since it was blowing in the wind so much, it was barely visible at times. That and no one really had any idea what I made....
  • Specialize; don't have too much going on.
    • I am thinking that there's a slight chance I had too much going on for people to get properly interested in my wares (and the lack of better, vertical, displays probably didn't help either)
  • Research!!
    • Research what's 'hot" or "in" at the time of year you're in, research the local shopper and perhaps even price range that might be an option of buying your items to make and price accordingly, research the time of year (right before Xmas can be either quick gifts or even preparing for upcoming holidays), and research the weather!
  • Have a variety of items and prices!!
    • But stick as close as you can to one, maybe 2 or 3 genres, as long as they perhaps relate or can be grouped together. For example, if you enjoy sewing, but you also enjoy knitting, you can have various displays and setups for your sewn items (let's say baby items like diaper covers, bibs, burping cloths, etc), you can partner up your crafts with perhaps knitting some of the baby items (knit baby hats, knit baby booties, etc) and/or you can have items for "big brother/sister" that are either for them only, or can be a pair with their baby sibling, or things like knit scarves and dress-up type items for big sister, or even items for mom to use either with baby or..... The possibilities really are endless. Did any of you ever play the game when you were younger where someone says a word or phrase, and you try to say something that's close or relates, and you see how far off you can tangent? (Lion, Lion King, Mufasa, Africa, continents, Europe, England, Queen, Knights, King Arthur, etc)
  • Have various ways to pay, if possible!!
    • If you can, have cash on hand for breaking $20s, giving change (or even for taking payment for your $1 bin/clearance items, yay for getting rid of old stock!!), but also have a way to take a Debit/Credit Card!! For my purposes, I used a Square reader and it helped GREATLY as it not only allowed me to accept cards, but it also provided a way to keep track of my inventory digitally! The site also provides sales tracking through prolonged use, allows you to upload images (albeit little thumbnails, but you know your stock well enough to discern items by a tiny little image, right?) and set the prices so if you lose price tags or some silly thing, you find the item and it's ALREADY PRICED in the app for you! The only other thing I might suggest is just making sure you have a fully charged phone, way to plug in/charge your phone or pc, or some sort of backup battery so that you don't kill your phone while posting updates of your day AND taking monies for what you're selling! ;) 
  • Look busy but open to discuss!!
    • Have something you can be working on that's like what you're selling so the shoppers can actually SEE that you in fact made all these items yourself and you didn't contract out and/or you're not re-selling what you purchased on some site. On the same strain as this, be ready to discuss what you're doing and how you are doing it/how did any of the other items but if possible, also...
  • Have someone with you to co-chair.
    • Whether it's a parent, a friend, sibling, whatever... have someone there with you that's familiar with what you make/do to help talk to customers, someone friendly that helps strike up conversations with people as they walk by to garner interest, and last but not least.... you *do* have to go to the bathroom at some point, right? This person can also help you cover the booth when you need to use the restroom, if you want to grab a bite (whether behind the booth display or at a food vendor down the row) or even if you just want to stretch your legs and/or see who else is selling at this fair.
So again, these are a lot of tips, and I'm sure there are many more to discuss, but I feel they are some of the most important to think of when wanting to prepare for a craft booth/show. These are also just my thoughts, reflections, observations from my first time. With all the research I did, there are some things I tried to do that didn't work out too well FOR ME, but there are also things that I ignored either on reasons that "this won't work for me, gosh!" or even "ya know, I really want to do this, but I just don't have enough time!"

Every show will be different, every shopper is different, with different goals, budget, needs... Your task is to determine how YOU want to cater or adapt to those changes and what your end goal is. Do you just want this to be a hobby, or do you want to make this a full-time gig. Either way, the choice is yours, and the amount of effort you put in to this, just like in everything in life, is what you're going to get out of it.

Let me know in the comments if this has helped you think about/prepare for a show, if you have any questions, or if you even just have any general comments! I'd love to hear from you!!

Until next time, craft ya laters!! 

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