Jump to content

QothW: I wonder what kind of craft show survival tips everyone has, and which bits of craft show advice sounded good, but really didn't work for you.

Recommended Posts

Callie Diesel asked in the question pool: I wonder what kind of craft show survival tips everyone has, and which bits of craft show advice sounded good, but really didn't work for you.  I'd love to see this be less of a beginner's guide (I think we all know to put out an email signup sheet and lay out your booth before the event), and more of an intermediate class. 

Great question for those of us that have done shows more than one season. I figure you are not longer a newbie after one season. At the same time everyone can learn something from some of the old timers that have done shows for years. . . I'm thinking of one in Northern CA, but won't name names. I don't have a whole lot of input, but I will say. . . take time to design your booth to be foldable, sturdy, and aesthetic with out using a bunch of table cloths to be presentable. Too many times, I have seen the wind blow these up to mess up the booth or worse yet slip off. When doing shows indoors not as much a problem, and a few set off cloths will establish focal points.

Another item is the use of lighting, especially in indoor shows it helps to have some spots on things to highlight. Today's LED spots are fantastic and can be set up with rail systems attached to parts of you booth for excellent lighting. 


More later. . . .


My best,


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think speaking up when people go by is pretty important. People tend to get snippy when you say good morning again but louder and prominent. Just say it nicely the first time, confidently explain this is pottery and try not to stare them down while they're making a decision. 

Also. If you think your tent will stay down with just 2 weights, share with a neighbor the other two. Just this weekend I had a tent from the booth beside me become airborne, flipped, and crashed into mine. Rocked my whole booth.   Luckily it didn't break anything but it could save your own booth in the long run!

Edited by BlackDogPottery

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

This sounds simple, but apparently a lot of people can't do it.

Keep a positive attitude throughout an entire show no matter what. You must be unflappable. Poor sales, bad weather, rude people, unruly kids. A fake facade doesn't work. You must find a well of gratitude within you and pump that well all day. As soon as you let bad feelings creep into your head, you are toast. The buying experience is a major factor in why people want to buy handmade work directly from the artist. It has to be fun for the customer. It's no fun when the artist is anxious or grumpy. I see way too many artists at shows who look mad.

Sometimes nice people offer to let me stay at their house during a show, but I always decline. I need my own private space in a hotel after a day of selling. I don't want to be social anymore after being social all day. I need to recharge for the next day.

Edit to add: This summer I had an artist neighbor who had been in a bad car accident the weekend before.  His van was totaled and his display was destroyed. He had a broken rib. He makes clothing so the clothing was not damaged. He showed up with a borrowed display and kept a positive attitude throughout the entire show. That is a real pro.

Edited by GEP

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Pres said:

which bits of craft show advice sounded good, but really didn't work for you

This doesn't quite fit the question, because these are bits of advice that I knew was bad advice, therefore I never tried it. But this type of advice always floats out there.

You don't need a hard-sided booth. In the high-end art shows, there are lots of hard-sided booths. If you want to have one, that's your choice. But it's not required. It does not correlate to sales. You need a giant vehicle, power tools, a helper, and many hours to set up your booth. Plus someplace to store the booth when it's not in use. It is possible to have a booth that is efficient to work with, and still looks good in a high-end show. There are plenty of curtain wall booths in high-end shows too. So don't listen to any snob who says "people will take you more seriously." It's a fallacy. I think some artists fall for it because they tell themselves "I spent so much money on this booth, and so much effort to set it up, therefore I should be rewarded with sales." It doesn't work. I have heard several stories of artists who closed their businesses, or stopped doing art fairs, shortly after investing in a hard-walled booth. I don't think it's a coincidence. If your booth setup is easy, that means you can do MORE shows, and that does correlate to sales.

Then there's the old "you should raise your prices." If my booth is empty at the end of a show, that doesn't mean I priced it wrong. These artists must think that pricing my work "correctly" means it shouldn't be selling well. I think this is one of those backwards aspects of artist culture that artists should try to outgrow. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Kind of a backwards answer to the question, for people who say don't eat at a show, I really can't do that.

It takes a lot of energy out of me doing shows so I pack healthy easy to eat and drink food to take with me. Easy to eat stuff like almonds, grapes, protein bars, small cartons of milk, bottled water, pouches of squeezable food etc. I don’t rely on buying lunch from the show. If I don’t eat during the day I tend to just stuff my face with junk food after the show and then regret that later.

edit: just remembered what my neighbour during my summer markets does, text, text, text. Looks like she doesn't really want to be there.

Edited by Min

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

My list of things that do not work-hers a short one.

Since I just did a show that included tons of newbies this will be easy now to recall all that I have seen last week

Bad attitude -never works-always hurts your sales

reading in your booth 

over talking or sales pitch-pots sell themselves

huge weights on canopies- or no weights -usually encroachs on neighbors space, or no weights are a safety issue for wind in outdoor venues

make your own 2x2 solid steel  bar stock weights-that are heavy about 3 feet long-forget the sand and concrete-you can pm me for details

Not aware of others-wether its customers or fellow vendors

Do not eat fair food-I never eat fair food as sooner or later you will get sick (the mayonaise  went bad-meat undercooked or whatever) and I mean sick-my neighbor last weekend ate fair food and was toast for 1.5 days while her husband manned the booth. I always take my lunches and snacks and have them at booth so not to interrupt sales. I cannot afford to be sick at show.

car broke -rent another-Get to show no matter what

Be professional-nothing worse than unprepared neighbor asking for a saw or hammer or weights-think all the small stuff out weeks before the show 

You should never need a saw or hammer at show.

Build your booth at home 1st not at a show 1st-know what you are doing-if you do not bring someone who does know for you

Do not ask other artistes for change-bring plenty (this is a before show thought along with many others)

I carry a money bag with change in rear compartment-1$ 5$ and 10$s

keep your booth simple and quick to setup and take down

Think about wind (outside shows or lights inside shows)-weights and stakes

Work with folks as to load in and out with your vehicle .We are all in it together . Try not to be a as----- and think of others

Do not stay with friends while doing a show-Mea already said why well enough

Keep a good attitude even though all your neighbors appear to be buy and sell crap-this is a hard one

Try and not ask which part of China this stuff is from? ok its a joke but I just had this experience with some import booth next to me.I refrained asking this for two whole days.

Edited by Mark C.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good ones! Probably ought to add my own, since it was my question, eh?

I can't go all day without eating either, but I bring soup in a thermos a lot.  It prevents me from saying to myself "but I want a Hot lunch!"  I try not to eat fair food because it's expensive, but I hadn't really factored the food poisoning aspect. Yikes!

I worked for many years as a cashier, so I know that bringing a small mat to stand on and having well-cushioned shoes makes a huge impact on how sore I am at the end of the day. If you get the closed cell foam ones, they also will insulate you against the cold ground if you're outdoors in bad weather. 

Don't look at how much money you're making (or not making) during the show. It'll affect your mood, and that affects your sales.  

If you must spend money on other vendors, do so with a budget. I have a photographer friend that allows herself to shop the last day of a show (gotta take care of Christmas somehow!) and allots herself the amount of money that was in her float as a maximum budget. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.