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Chris Campbell

Craft Shows... Tips For Success

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Brian Reed    23

I just started tracking each show I attend with what I have sold.  last year I did not keep an inventory and did not really track what sold, it was always what I could remember.  For the most part my recollection was close enough, but now I have it all on paper.  Square has helped me do this by using their cash register function where I add each price for each items, and punch it like they do at a restaurant.  Now I know what I sold each day in great detail and I have a report that I can pull up for next year.

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GEP    863

I use a system for tracking and market analysis too. I'm analyzing my items and also analyzing shows. Before a show, I make a list of my inventory before I pack it. Then at the end of a show, I make a list of what's left before I pack it to go home. The "leftover" list is the start of the new list for the next show. This is all done in a spiral notebook. It's the same notebook where I total up my sales after a show. It becomes a journal that I can refer to for many things.

 

Now when I go back to a show I've done before, I know exactly how much total inventory to bring, and how many of each item. "I sold out of mugs last time, better bring more." "This was a good show (or a bad show) for my higher end line of work. Better bring more (or fewer)." Or even sometimes "I sold nothing but low-priced items, not worth going back." Just taking the time to record this information makes for confident decisions later.

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art81usa    0

Would you show with another artist in a tent? I did this recent weekend and I feel like I sold her artwork instead of mine.  She was out of the tent more than she was in it.  Let me know what you think.  I hardly sold anything and she sold lots.  I do more hand building and she does throwing.  Could this be the reason why?  It rained the entire weekend too, but I tried to stay positive. Any suggestions would help.

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clay lover    133

No. I would not. no matter which end of this issue you are on, it ends up being a relationship problem.   Better to take a non participating buddy who can help with sales and wrapping and give you a break. And really, If you have enough stop for a show, there is no room for someone else's work in your booth.

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GEP    863

In my early years I did some shows in pairs or small groups. I quickly learned it's a bad idea. Lots of people falsely believe that booth sharing will save money, not realizing you are forfeiting sales, by giving yourself less space and putting forth a less-than-professional appearance. People also think partnering up means less work, but the truth is it takes so much more effort to coordinate and share. And like claylover says, it often results in relationship problems.

 

But really I believe that "saving money" and "less work" are just a cover up anyways. The real reason people want to share a booth is because they don't have enough courage to be out there by themselves. My advice is that you need to have enough inventory and enough confidence to fill a whole display, before doing shows will give you a worthwhile result.

 

I hardly sold anything and she sold lots. I do more hand building and she does throwing. Could this be the reason why?

No, sales are not based on this factor.

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Chantay    101

 

has anyone done the  Fairfax City Fall Festival in Fairfax, Va?  the website was for 2013 and when i called i found that they are still accepting applications for the show on Oct. 11.  it is a few blocks from where i used to live but i moved away when it was in its second year.  this is a low cost looking show with a sizable crowd and i know they have money to buy, i just wonder if they do buy.

 

I was looking at this show also, for next year.  bciskepottery or Mea may do it as it is in there areas.  If you go let me know how it turns out.

 

Many years ago I use to work up by Harper's Ferry.  I remember it as being very beautiful and country like.  Has it been ruined by over population?

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art81usa    0

I didn't share the booth, because I didn't have inventory or courage.  I needed someone else there to help man the booth and thought that others shared booths when showing.  I am new to this and didn't realize that this would not be beneficial.  I also realize what you are saying about it not being good for the relationship.  I like to do things by the rules of the show and she likes to do things her way.  If anyone can give other advice though I would appreciate it.  I am newer to the area, so having help that is affordable may be an issue for me at the shows.

 

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GEP    863

art81usa,

 

I should not have assumed what your motivations were. I was talking about my own experiences and observations. If these do not apply to you, then I stand corrected.

 

Helpers are not really necessary. I do shows by myself without a helper. You manned this recent show by yourself most if the time, right? There is always a friendly artist next door who will keep an eye in your booth when you need a bathroom break. Eat small snacks throughout the day so you don't need a lunch break.

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GEP    863

 

 

has anyone done the  Fairfax City Fall Festival in Fairfax, Va?  the website was for 2013 and when i called i found that they are still accepting applications for the show on Oct. 11.  it is a few blocks from where i used to live but i moved away when it was in its second year.  this is a low cost looking show with a sizable crowd and i know they have money to buy, i just wonder if they do buy.

 

 

I was looking at this show also, for next year.  bciskepottery or Mea may do it as it is in there areas.  If you go let me know how it turns out.

No I've never done this show, and don't know much about it. My impression from afar is that it is not an "art festival" but rather a "town festival" with some art. But I've also heard there is a huge crowd. If I were to do it, I would bring affordable things that are broadly accessible to a general audience, rather than things that require an educated art crowd.

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bciskepottery    925

 

has anyone done the  Fairfax City Fall Festival in Fairfax, Va?  the website was for 2013 and when i called i found that they are still accepting applications for the show on Oct. 11.  it is a few blocks from where i used to live but i moved away when it was in its second year.  this is a low cost looking show with a sizable crowd and i know they have money to buy, i just wonder if they do buy.

 

I was looking at this show also, for next year.  bciskepottery or Mea may do it as it is in there areas.  If you go let me know how it turns out.

 

Many years ago I use to work up by Harper's Ferry.  I remember it as being very beautiful and country like.  Has it been ruined by over population?

 

I do not do this fair. I do the Clifton Day fair which is held the Sunday before Columbus Day (and the day after the Fairfax Fair). Some of the Clifton Day vendors do Fairfax the day before. I will be doing the Fairfax Holiday Show in November; more costly but multi-day and its indoors! Hard to figure out why the City is doing fairs in both October and November.

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CarlCravens    58

Helpers are not really necessary. I do shows by myself without a helper. You manned this recent show by yourself most if the time, right? There is always a friendly artist next door who will keep an eye in your booth when you need a bathroom break.

My favorite local show (as a attender so far) has staff to watch your booth during breaks. I don't know how common that is.

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Carl, I didn't even know that was a thing until I found mention of it in the threads here.

 

 

 

Helpers are not really necessary. I do shows by myself without a helper. You manned this recent show by yourself most if the time, right? There is always a friendly artist next door who will keep an eye in your booth when you need a bathroom break.

My favorite local show (as a attender so far) has staff to watch your booth during breaks. I don't know how common that is.

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BeckyH    42

I got my start by helping friends who needed another warm body at events. Some events are so big that having two people to make sales, wrap, chat up passersby, etc. is a necessity.

Having someone you trust to watch the cash box while you go pee is very nice. And if it happens to be slow you have someone to chat with.

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Min    783

Okay, I'll preface what I'm saying by stating that I've never done this and likely never would but....

 

I was doing an outdoors market a few years ago and the women beside us had been told by the organizer she would need help during the market since it was so busy. She was a lady from out of town with nobody local to help her and didn't want to pay for a hotel etc to bring a friend with her. So each day she had hired someone, from Craigslist, to come and help her then at the end of the day she paid them with her hand dyed yarn. She does the same thing at the bigger winter markets and has been doing this for years. Maybe if you feel you really need help during a market then a spin off idea of asking a local guild or art center if they could recommend an eager local potter, who doesn't sell their work, is interested in helping out in trade for pots might be a better option than sharing a booth. 

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Pugaboo    438

I have done festivals a couple of different ways. At first I did them with my husband, an easy choice there right? So always had someone to help man the booth during bathroom breaks and a bonus was I made him handle the money while I chatted and bagged this worked well for us. Then the times they did change and I changed my medium and have started over with pottery by myself.

 

The first pottery festival for me was a group booth with a few potters from the group studio last year. My teacher invites a couple potters each time to join him. It worked well for me as I did not have enough stock to fill a booth by myself, let me stick my toe in the water to see if what I do would sell, and a big one here... it meant I did not have to buy a tent to test this theory out. It went okay I sold some, learned some about displaying my work, talked to people, etc.

 

After this festival I shared a booth with another women she had jewelry and paintings at another festival. She did not spend much time in the booth, and I sold her stuff as well as mine. This was okay except for she did not have prices on some items and I had to go ask her how much something was to sell it. I sold well at this show and was content that I had learned some additional things.

 

The third festival I planned to do by myself. I had sold enough at the previous 2 to be able to afford a white easy up tent set up. I wasn't nervous about the display as I knew what I wanted to do, I was nervous about doing the sales all by myself, money, cc, wrapping, bagging, and chatting. I'm not exactly known for being graceful and it does take some technique to do all that smoothly. A friends husband volunteered to help out. He spent most of the show and was helpful. In exchange I displayed and sold a few of her items. I did pretty good sales wise, she did not. I felt bad her husband gave up several days for basically nothing.

 

After that I decided it was time to put on my big girl pants and sign up for and do some festivals by myself. I have and it's been successful for me. I have come to realize I am a bit of a control freak and actually look forward to the shows with no one to interfere with how I want things done. I learned this lesson by once again doing the studio group booth. It was a success sales wise for myself and a couple others, one person only sold 1 piece and I felt bad. The money handling just didn't work out the table was at the opposite end of a double booth from my stuff and I had so many customers lined up that after a couple hours I just stopped walking down to the opposite end and started collecting and running my own sales. I kept track of what sold and let them know but for me running back and forth just didn't work. Would I do a group studio booth again? Probably, but the sales table needs to be more centrally located or something and the money collection really needs to be more organized. It was really stressful for me and have found even though doing a festival by myself is a lot of work it's actually less stressful. No group decisions, no worry about stepping on someone's toes, no feeling guilty if I sell and they don't, etc etc etc.

 

I have learned that during set up I meet and greet my neighbors and offer to help them set up their tent if they help set up mine. Makes that part easier on both of us. It also opens the door to have someone watch my booth for a few minutes if I need to use the bathroom and I do the same for them. I try not to leave my booth at all and bring my own food, small light snack type items that I can easily put aside if someone comes in the booth. I wear my money bag on me so don't have to worry about someone to watch the money and my cell phone is my credit card machine so I am very mobile and can walk into the booth and help people easily. I have a small table set up towards the back of the booth prepped with bags, paper, stapler, bag tags, etc. When someone comes up with a sale I write up the receipt, wrap, bag and chat then tell them their total and run the sale. Money is handled and I hand them their bag with any change due. So far this is working but I should state in all honesty I only do small local fairs and this whole system could collapse under a large show like Ann Arbor or Art, Beats and Eats. But then I like my small local shows and really can't be away from home overnight anyway so it's probably not ever going to be an issue.

 

I guess I would say in summation that starting out it was helpful to share a booth once or twice to get to feeling comfortable and earn the money to buy my own set up. Then I think having a booth to myself is better i can control every aspect of my "shop" and I think that is very important. I have a look I want to convey and having half the tent doing something else doesn't do it for me. I have gotten used to running sales cash and credit cards all by myself, I simplified this by including sales tax in my prices and rounding my prices to the nearest dollar. I also set up an item catalog on my phone so just tap each item they buy and it all automatically adds itself up YAY. The biggest challenge for me has been the confidence to know I can do it alone.

 

Terry

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oldlady    1,323

HOORAY FOR YOU!  

 

big girl pants??

 

taking on the last one was much more.

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Mark C.    1,807

Heres a tip I learned long ago

Back in the LATE 70's Iwas at a huge festaival as a early greenhorn selling my wares with another potter. The show was in a large underground convention center is Downtown San Francisco. The show was back the called The San Francisco Harvest festival.

It was a two weekend event with 4 down days between weekends -show was Fri-Sat-Sun-then again next Fri-Sat Sun.

I was a green kid who was learning the ropes-in all aspects.

There was a double booth across and down from us a few booths they had incredible decorated pots mostly mugs with exotic birds and such on them-truly tons of work on each piece. 

Then came break down and pack up-back then we used wood vegetable crates to pack pots into. Here we where wraping eack pot in newspaper . It was a slow process then I glanced down to see this double booth with two potters almost done and out of there-I went over to see them pack that last few boxes wonding if they just smashed all the work so they could leave early. The guys said we saw you wraping each piece and we gave that up years ago now all we doo is pack 1 tight layer of mugs with one sheet of paper over them and the next layer is added on top tight then the box is done. No breakage I said-they said rarely.

Yes they had great detail work . 

I learned this that night and have been packing mugs and such ( just about all pots) with only one piece of paper for the whole two layer box since then. I'm out of shows faster and know the pots limit of abuse-I also rarely loose a pice this way as long as the box is tightly full.

On  box of say large pitchers one piece of loose paper keeping between then is all I do. You learn soon what pots can and cannot take.

Other potters see me do this and think I'm crazy but after 40 years I know what works and what does not. wrapping each piece is not for me.

Mark

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BeckyH    42

We use plastic tubs with homemade cardboard dividers. As long as the pieces don't clink together when you move the tub you're good. The tubs have other virtues as well: they're waterproof, they both fit under the tables and stack well, when full they make ok seating, you can pack like things together, so its easy to see what you still have or what you need more of. One bin gets the cash drawer, bags, wrapping paper, table banner and so on.

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Chris Campbell    1,088

I was at a large, multi day / multi products fair today ... Last day of a very busy three day schedule. Large variety of vendors at various stages of sales ... from small mom & pop businesses to small reps of larger companies. I'm estimating 100 booths ... Some slick, pro set ups to small obvious first timers.

It was mostly buy/sell, gift mart kind of stuff ... but there were some 'real' folks in there who seemed to be holding their own. This is very hard to do when you are the small fry in the big pond, so good for them! No pottery at all on sale except for one booth with hundreds of those small garlic grater plates.

I was pleasantly surprised to see most of the vendors were still smiling and cheerfully explaining their products with three hours left to go. Anyone who has done a longer show knows how hard that is when your mind is already dreading tear down!

A minority of booths with totally disinterested people reading or hiding gloomily behind something ... no customers even though their products were not that different from others.

Bottom line was that once again the same things were working ... Smile, move around your booth area, engage the customer, greet the customer, explain if needed, demonstrate if needed, leave alone if needed, smile, smile, smile.

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