Posted 27 October 2014 - 10:28 PM
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.
The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau