Setting Up Your Space – Sell At Craft Fairs
Your booth space is your storefront at the craft show. How you set up your space can have a huge impact on sales in all craft fairs. You want to convey an inviting, professional, and attractive look.
If you have the space, it’s a good idea to set up your display cases or tables in an “L” shape, where people can have a sense of “walking into” your temporary store, or an “interior box” where people can walk all the way around your displays.
With any set-up, be very aware of “traffic flow” – how will your customers maneuver around your space, so they are comfortable, and can comfortable examine your wares. The trick is to make your booth, functional for your customers to be able to view everything and reach everything without fear of breaking something, or causing something to fall.
Most spaces at craft shows vary from 8’x5′ to 10’x10′ for single spaces. What you now need to do is find an area where you can mark off 8’x5′. This will help you plan how to set up the space you’ve been given. You can use something as simple as cans for the corners of your space, but don’t trip on them or move them around. You can also use masking tape on your floor or carpet.
Decide whether or not you want everything on a table or if you want to give your display some height. We cannot stress enough that you should not make your display boring by just throwing some items on a table and sitting back to collect the money. Remember that your customer’s eyes will wander and you want to be able to keep them engaged while browsing your product.
There are many ways for you to get some height to your display.
You can buy plastic take-apart shelves that will look good and be easy to carry. This will give you some heights and if your items will work on a shelf that will be great.
If you need a back on the shelf you can get a piece of plywood cut to fit and then connect it to the shelf so that it will not fall. If the items that you might want to lean on the backing are light weight you can use a piece of fabric cut to fit and place under the bottom to make it tight.
Another way to acquire height is to have a small peg board made to fit on the ends of the table, screens in frames, mesh wire in frames or metal grids. What ever you use you will want to make it safe so that it will not fall over onto your customer.
There are so many ways to make heights and it really depends on your crafts as to what you want and how you want to display these items. You can even go to the boxes that you carry your items in and place them on the table to make a riser and then you will want to cover this with fabric.
There is one very important thing to remember here. Most craft shows will want you to look professional and cover your table to the floor all the way around. You can buy professional covers made for your table or you can get very reasonable fabric to cover your table with.
You will have to make sure that you do not have anything on the floor to trip your customer. If you choose a plain color of fabric you will not have problems with your items showing up. Some people even use plain white sheets with the ends folded is so that the sides also look professional.
Now that you have a table set up, see if this is how you want your items to show. You will play around with this at several shows before you are really happy with your set up and even then you will keep changing as your craft changes.
Always keep in mind that you can always change the way that you display your items. You may find ways that others use to show off their items that might work for you also and choose to do something similar.
If you try a set up at home first you will have an idea of how much space you will need and how to set it up when you arrive at the show location. Practice at home with your set up and then after you have your space set up the way that you think you want it, leave the room and rest awhile from it.
Now come back into the area with a fresh view and think of yourself as the customer. How does your space look to you now? Are you happy with your idea or is it lacking something? You usually do not have the time to do al of the playing around when you arrive to set up.
There are several large items that you need to set on the floor. Now what do you do? Move your table around (on the side or back of the area) and place the items where you want them on the floor.
This is the fun part, while you are at home and under no pressure to hurry and set up. With practice at home you will be more relaxed when you arrive at the location of the craft show.
There are so many different ways to set up your booth that working it out at home first is really a must. Remember, that you can always change things around and your set up is not set is stone.
Don’t over-fill your booth. Too many items are distracting to potential customers. Keep some product back to re-stock – especially if you are at a multiple day show.
If you find a crafter close that you become friends with you can also ask for suggestions. Most of the crafters will be more that happy to help each other, all you have to do is ask.
If you have a slow period during the craft show you can recheck your set up. You need to remember that everything will need to fit into your vehicle and that is another place that you may want to practice.
At most craft shows, a minimum of equipment is provided for your use – a table and 2 chairs. Sometimes, you will be given nothing at all.
Most standard tables are lower to the ground than optimum. You can get PCV pipe at a local hardware store, in a width that will slip over the legs of the table.
You can cut pieces in 1 foot or 1 ½” foot lengths, and raise your tables before you set up. In this way, your customers won’t get sore backs and have to stand in uncomfortable positions while viewing your merchandise.
Don’t forget to bring a couple of chairs, if these are not provided. Lawn chairs are perfectly acceptable and they fold up making them easy to transport and store.
When planning your original display or improving on an existing display always keep in mind your product as well as the image you wish to project to your potential customers.
Everything must be consistent with your business image or your customers will get confused. Are you country, Victorian, or High Tech? Be sure your image is cohesive; this includes the color and texture of your display, the lettering and material of your signs and even down to the type of promotional material, your business cards and flyer.
Remember the purpose of a great display is — TO SELL PRODUCT! If a prop does nothing to enhance the product and encourage sales then don’t spend the time, energy and money on it.
Use the KISS principle when creating your booth — KEEP IT SIMPLE SILLY! The amount of time and money you spend on your booth should be in direct proportion to the number of shows you plan to do in a year.
Part of your booth planning should include a credit card machine. Credit cards are the common currency of shows and fairs, and if you don’t accept them, you’re going to lose sales to vendors who do.
You also face the risks of dealing with bounced checks from strangers who may be hard to track down after the show. Especially if you’re selling work priced in the hundreds of dollars, credit cards are a must.
It is a huge advantage when you accept credit cards. If you are just getting started, you may not be able to do this at first, but getting a merchant credit card set-up for your business should be an item high on your list.
When accepting checks, be sure to get the person’s Driver’s License number and their phone number. Verify that the preprinted address on the check is the current address.
Don’t accept starter checks — those checks people get when they open a bank account, and which don’t have preprinted address/phone information on them.
Checks are numbered consecutively. For those with a number less than 300, you should be cautious in accepting these. You are a business, and you owe it to yourself to be cautious – even if a person gets upset with you.
Have a sign-up box for a free giveaway. Not only does this drive traffic to your booth, but it helps you build your mailing list. Shows are a great way to develop your customer database.
Try putting a fishbowl on your table and offering people a chance to win something in return for giving you their contact information or business cards. Giving away promotional items with your company’s name and logo works, too.
This way, you can send out postcards inviting prospects to your next show or providing them with a catalog or link to your website.
Don’t forget to collect e-mail addresses, too! It’s a lot cheaper to send out 100 e-mail messages than it is to pay for paper and postage.
Make your display cases, if you use these, portable. There are many easy-to-assemble systems you can purchase through a fixture/display store, catalog or on-line business.
If you will be outside and need a tent, you can get a great 10’ x 10’ or similar sized tent at a reasonable price at many discount stores, like Sam’s or Costco’s, or on-line. These tents are compact, and pack up into a very manageable bundle.
It’s useful to have panels on each side that can roll up or down, depending on the weather. Determine how well the tent will perform in wet weather and in high winds. Determine if you can hang things from the tent’s frame, or if you will need to set up separate display panels.
Be sure you practice assembling and dissembling the tent prior to the show. Determine if it will take one person or more than one person to do this.
By all means, include a sign with all of your pertinent information. This information should include your business name and location along with a phone number and website.
Signs should generate interest and help sell your products. Don’t use “superlatives” like best, most, cheapest, largest and the like. In as few words as possible, tell the customer how your product will solve his or her problem, or meet his or her needs. Be positive and diplomatic in your wording. Writing “unruly kids will be sold as slaves” makes the point much better than “No Kids”.
Explain that which is not obvious. What’s it made of? When using the product, what must be avoided – such as getting it wet? Are there any disclaimers or conditions? What are the advantages of your product over others?
Use colors, typefaces, and images on your sign which have the same feel as your merchandise. Don’t overdo your signage, so that the signs overwhelm your inventory.
Be sure you have a clear, prominent sign that includes the name of your business. If your booths are numbered, this number should appear on the sign. Now that you have your area set up, did you remember that you will want to sit down and have room for a money box or something to keep your money in? To start with you can buy small cash boxes.
You will not want to be fumbling around in a shoe box or cigar box like you may have done at a garage sale. Later you may want to buy a small cash register. If you use a money box, you will want to keep it away from hands so you may want to get a box fixed to hide your money box in.
Do not forget that you will need to have bags on hand for your items. Your customers can not carry everything around and if they do not have bags you will not be able to tell if they bought the items or not. If your item is too large for a bag you may want to place a bright sticker on the sold items so that you know that it was purchased.
There are many times that a person will get discouraged, but keep in mind that you need to do more than one or two shows to really know if craft show selling is for you or not.
Spring shows are a good place to start as they are slower than the fall shows, but this is where you can get discouraged since the sales are lower. Remember, at this point you are practicing.
Summer shows are mostly outdoors. And then you have one day shows to four day mall shows. Do only what you feel that you can do and do not extend yourself too far.
There are certain items of etiquette that need to be addressed for both you and your fellow crafters. When attending craft shows, there are some simple things to keep in mind that will make you a better neighbor. Remember that there are others at the event who are there, like you, to make money. To make the best of things you should try to acknowledge the needs and rights of your fellow crafters.
The number one rule is to stay within your allotted space. If your display needs that extra “couple of inches”, buy it from the promoters before the event. Often you will need to purchase a “double” booth or at least an additional half space.
Check with the show promoter to see what options you have regarding measurements. If you do not want to incur that added expense, you may need to redesign your display so that it will fit in the space you purchase.
Whatever you do, do not extend your display into your neighbor’s space! The quickest way to make an enemy at a show is to steal space from a fellow exhibitor. And it is stealing. When you put your display into another crafter’s booth, you are taking space that someone else has paid for, which is theft, not to mention, rude.
Design your booth in a way that makes it accessible without infringing on your neighbor. While this relates to the guideline above, it is actually a little different.
Sometimes, a display layout may need to be accessible on two sides. In most cases this would require a corner or end spot, and they cost more too. Check with the folks in charge of your event.
If you are side by side with two other exhibitors, your booth will only be accessible from the front. Don’t expect your neighbor to redesign their booth so customers can get to an extra side on yours.
By all means, talk to fellow exhibitors, but don’t be a pest. Talking to other crafters is a great way to network and make new friends. But don’t stand around talking if a customer walks in.
Remember, they are there for the same reason you are – to make money. Just like you, they have less of a chance to make a sale if someone is continually visiting or blocking customers from viewing their product.
Make time to set up before the show begins. Setting up your booth takes time – more for some than others. Whether it takes you a few minutes or several hours, make sure you allot enough time to finish before customers arrive.
Boxes blocking aisles keep customers from visiting other booths. Even if you are not in the aisles, setting up a display in your space while the show is open distracts customers – not only from you, but from the adjacent booths as well. This can hurt sales – for everyone!
Be acutely aware that there are others attending craft events beside yourself. Be courteous to fellow craftspeople and keep in mind that what may work best for you may infringe upon other exhibitors.
Too many negative happenings can make enemies of your fellow craftspeople, or even get you banned from a show. By getting along with others, you can sometimes make important contacts and better yet, friends for life!
So what do you do once you’re at the craft show? Believe it or not, so much more than just sit there and wait for buyers!
We hope you enjoy this full craft fair guid to sell your crafts at craft fairs, this is the Part Seven, find the full parts here: