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Getting Started with Craft Shows by Dedra

So, you have some great items you've made and you're ready to try out the craft show circuit... Check out these great tips before you start:
I would recommend that you try 1 craft show to see if it is for you. Don't get involved in too much before you see if it is for you.

Finding the Shows

To locate a craft show you might be interested in, look in the local newspaper or even on community bulletin boards. You can also contact the local Chamber of Commerce for information. If you live near a school, lots of schools have bazaars or craft shows, this would be a great place to start.

Most shows are juried, which means that you will have to submit a sample of the items you will be selling for their approval. You will need to plan several months prior to craft show for this. Each show has different guidelines that their panel of jurors has set. You will need to contact the person in charge of the show to get those details. You will usually hear back from the panel in plenty of time to prepare for the craft show, however there are always exceptions. Occasionally, when you are new to a show, you may be placed on a waiting list and may not know if you have a space or not until just before the show.

Any special requirements you may have should be addressed when you apply for the booth. If you need electricity, you will need to let them know, it is not something that is always available for each booth.

Before the Show

You will need to prepare well in advance by making the items you want to sell. You will need to have plenty of items on hand to sell. Even if you only make 1 item you will need plenty of them to sell. The more you have on hand the more people have to choose from and the more you sell.

Your Display Booth

Once you have been accepted to a craft show, you will need to prepare something to display your products. Display is a great help with drawing attention to your booth. The more professionally you display your products the more likely you will be to sell them. You always want the appearance that you know exactly what you are doing, even if you don't have a clue.

Always cover your tables if you have tables, never leave them bare, it looks cold, uninviting and unprofessional. Sheets work great as long as they are plain and not print. A print will distract from your products.

Make sure to make your booth as neat as possible. Don't let it look un-kept or cluttered, people do not like to dig through stuff and do not like to move things to see others. Try not to crowd the items too much. Group like items together, this will help keep your display looking organized. Occasionally you will have to straighten your booth, try to do this during a time when there are few around. When it is crowded you will need to be available in case someone has a question. They will not ask if you look like you are too busy.

Setting Up

Most craft shows will allow you to set up your booth the night before the craft show starts. This information is usually sent in a letter stating the times the area will be open for set up. Before you start carrying in your display equipment and products you will need to contact someone in charge to find out where your booth is located. Do this first so that you will only have to carry in stuff to one place and it will not have to be moved. It would be great if you have someone to help you carry in display items and products.

Either before you pack your products or while you are unpacking them for the show you should make sure that each item has a price on it. Items that are not priced are not likely to sell. People do not like to ask how much things are, they like to see a price displayed, then they will decide if they are interested.

When pricing your products, make easy for yourself, use prices that are even, for example 1.00 or 10.00 or even 1.50 or 10.50 but don't use prices like 1.79 or 24.98. These kind of prices just make it harder for you to figure up your customers bill. You will be less likely to make a mathematical error if you use simple pricing.

Some craft shows require that you collect sales tax and some do not. If you are in a show that does, you will need to see if you have to apply for your own tax i.d. number of if they have one you can use just for this craft show. Some organizations are able to take the taxes you have collected and turn them in for you. To acquire a tax i.d. number of your own will vary from state to state, you will need to contact a local tax office to find out the requirements for your particular state or city.

After everything has a price on it and your display is complete, it is nice to have a light weight covering to place over your display before leaving it for the night. Flat sheets work just fine for this too.

Be Ready to Make the Sales

Before you arrive for the craft show to begin, make sure that you have plenty of change on hand. You will need quarters, dimes, nickels, and ones, five's and tens and possibly a few twenties. You want to be able to make change for your customers if needed. I don't usually take pennies unless I have to collect tax. A money box of some sort would make things easier for you to keep track of your money.

It is always a good idea to keep paper and pens around to write down what items you sell. This will help you to keep a good record of what items sell best and will come in handy when tax time rolls around. Some craft shows require that you give your customers receipts and some do not, this is a question that needs to be addressed before you begin selling.

You will usually be allowed to enter the craft show at least 1 hour prior to opening. This is a good time to remove the coverings from your display and make sure everything is in order. After you are happy with your display, a lot of the crafts people will stroll around to look at the displays of others and occasionally do some "before hours" shopping. Most craft people are very friendly and eager to make a new friend.

As soon as you see that there are customers, you will need to get back to your booth. I think that it is nice to have a boom box to play soft seasonal music. If you use music make sure that it is soothing and not loud. You want your customers to be drawn to your booth and to feel comfortable being there - make them want to stay and look for a while. If there is someone that can come to relieve you or if you have a partner, it is always nice, you will need to go to the restroom before the day is over, nature always calls.

Most craft shows have some sort of food sales but not all. If you are interested in selling food items be sure to get prior approval by the officials of the craft show. Some craft shows do not allow the sale of foods by anyone that does not have prior approval.

Be sure to keep your money in a safe place where it is not readily visible to the general public. Under the table is a nice place, but don't allow it to get far from your site. Unfortunately there are lots of people who will watch to see if you are paying attention.

After the show...

After the show is over you need to pack everything neatly so it will be ready for the next show. Craft show officials usually require that you clean up your own area. You want to leave a nice impression so you will be invited to come back again. Once you have gotten accepted by a craft show you will usually be invited back the following year. Most shows that require a sample of your work only require submissions for the first year, however this will vary from show to show.

Evaluate the Show

Try to evaluate the show, overall. What was selling? What was not? Did you make enough sales to make it worth your while? What was the crowd like? Was it a good market for your crafts? Some craft shows are better than others, you cannot tell what will be selling from one to the next. If your show does not go well do not be discouraged, we all have good and bad shows.

That's about it, thank you for your time and Good Luck.

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