Monday, 5 December 2011

Qualifying the event

When I first started thinking about going into craft shows, I vaguely recall reading something about checking out the shows before entering. That's great for someone who's careful and plans things out, but not me, I wanted to jump right in and do the fairs this season.

So, of course, the first one went very well, especially considering it was my first time and I knew nothing about what I was getting into. After that, I thought, easy peasy, the second one will be a piece of cake.

I'm not blaming the organizer of the second event, I'm surprised that a mother of 4 would even want to set up an event like this, but for all I know, she's a Type A personality to the extreme. What I should've tweaked on maybe though, was that it's out in the 'burbs. Not in the affluent 'burbs where people spend money, and not in farming 'burbs either where people would support local business. No, this is, and no offense to anyone, a middle America wannabe 'burb. If it ain't in a store that's come up from the States, it's not worth having.

The fair was also not a crafters only event, there was everything from local crafters to Mary Kay and Tupperware reps there and so it drew a very eclectic crowd there. The set up for the show was very bizarre as well. Where I'm used to going to shows where each vendor has a back curtain and side curtains separating them, those of us in the centre of the room were backing onto the people behind us, with no division and the tables were set so they were touching each other. Without the back I wasn't able to set up my signs and had to rely on people coming closer to see what in the world I was selling.

Fortunately the show was only 1.5 days as the crowds we were told would come on Saturday never materialized. It got to the point that some of the vendors even packed up early and left, which is demoralizing for everyone.

Needless to say, I'm not going to go back to this show next year, I've learned that I need to show my soaps in an environment that's more craft friendly and in a town that's more supportive of the arts, whatever they may be.


  1. If it helps at all, some things I learned about craft shows (you may already know these things):

    Never show at one that is in its first year, they tend to have a low turnout Check with the event organizer about which year the craft show is in. Third year seems to be the magic number and of course any higher number.

    Ask the event organizer about the # count of those who attend. I've not known of a craft show organizer that doesn't try to keep a head count so it is really helpful if they can provide those numbers to you.

    I have a friend that is addicted to showing at craft fairs and she swears by the high school craft shows and doing them close to Christmas. A lot of last minute shoppers desperate to fill stockings love to shop shop shop at the craft fairs.

    Another thing I've learned as the juried craft shows tend to have a better turn out that non-juried. I don't know why that is though.

    Are you able to get a listing of the craft shows in your area that show the juried, non juried, number of attendees, etc...? There are some sites online that offer that info and sometimes it helps when deciding which shows might be most worth your time.

    Just some thoughts.

    That is a bummer that they allowed Tupperware and Mary Kay. I even hate seeing that stuff when I go to craft shows.

    Those shows were definitely a learning process. I had no stomach for the grouchy customers.

  2. Oh I've been there!

    One craft show last year was a BIG flop! Seriously- only 11 people showed up to buy-look-browse anything- AND there were about 30 vendors. The problem was- NO advertising- shame on them- I wasn't too happy. I should have turned my car around when the "craft fair" was hard to find- NO signs advertising a show!

    Now I join in at "juried" shows- only. These shows tend to be more established, etc.

    AND in the long run- the vendor fee has to be reasonable because if it's 200-600 dollars I think--- OH MY GOSH I have to sell how many soaps before I even break even!

  3. You got some great, great advice from Michelle and Carrie! Aren't my friends great? :) I, of course, have no advice having never done shows.

  4. Yes, thank you so much Carrie and Michelle, for sharing your knowledge and experiences. This will definitely be helpful for next time I sign up for another show.

    Teresa, you do have wonderful friends!