Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Five Things I Learned At My First Craft Fair

Hi, everyone! I already talked about five things I learned while preparing for my first craft show. Now that the show's over, I'd like to share with you five more things that I learned and/or confirmed while doing the show.

I wound up adjusting some of the items in the big empty area so that it wasn't so big and empty.

First of all, preparation is key. I saved tons of time by making a list of things to pack, referring to list as I packed, and I packed up the car the night before. I had to be out of the house by 7AM - who wants to get up early enough to pack a car when you have to leave that early? Good luck remembering everything first thing in the morning, too. Have I mentioned that I am most assuredly not a morning person? I would have had no chance if I hadn't prepped ahead!

Another step I took ahead of time was to buy a book of receipts and to set up Paypal Here on my phone. Only one customer chose that payment method, but she made up about half of my sales, and she wanted receipts, too.

Lastly, something that I hadn't prepared enough but wish I had - I really should have done a full "dress rehearsal" with my table. I had set up my displays ahead of time, so I knew how I wanted my table laid out, but I didn't set up my jewelry on the displays. That was a mistake. Set-up took me so much longer than I was expecting, the morning of the show. I was there at 7:30AM, on the dot (the earliest we could come to set up), and I didn't finish until about an hour after the doors opened to the public. If I had set things up before, I'd have had a better idea of how time-consuming that all was, and I probably would have tried to set some of it up beforehand.

The second thing I learned is that it is possible to over-pack. I had two large displays, my tub of supplies, a huge tacklebox with my inventory in it, about five grocery bags of miscellaneous stuff (duct tape, charge cords, and so on), and a box of smaller displays. I almost didn't have room in the car, and I brought a lot of things that I wound up not needing. I've always been an over-packer, thinking that it's better to have something and not need it than to need something and not have it. I still think that way, but even so, it was kind of ridiculous how much I brought and didn't even look at once I had my table set up.

One of the most important lessons I took away from all of this? Customer service will set you apart. I had a chance to talk to some of the other vendors at the end, and nobody that I talked to indicated that they had had a good sales day. I, on the other hand, had a phenomenal day, and here's what I attribute to the difference: I stayed at my table and didn't wander around to check out the other tables until there was a "dead zone" (seriously, right around lunchtime, there was virtually no foot-traffic for maybe an hour). Same thing with my phone - I stayed attentive and kept an eye out for potential customers until that "dead zone" happened...then, yeah, I played a game for a little bit. :P I also stood up to greet people, nodded and smiled at the very least, and indicated that I was available to answer any questions that the potential customer had. It's half a week later and my feet are still sore, but I think it was worth it for the number of sales that I had.

Another thing that I think may have made a difference is that I had a well-organized table. Displays are important for drawing people in, and it's important that everything's organized and looks nice. I had one piece in particular that was a very fancy necklace, and I had it dead-center on a bright-white, faux leather bust.

The one that caught everyone's eye.

Literally everybody who stopped by (and who said more than just "hi") said that that necklace had caught their eye and they had to stop and look at it. That one display actually drew people to my table like a magnet. The rest of my displays and my tablecloth were all approximately the same color, an off-white/ivory/eggshell sort of color, and most of my jewelry popped right off the table, figuratively speaking. In hindsight, I should have had some slightly darker displays for the silver jewelry, because those pieces got a little lost, but the rest of the pieces that were on display? BAM. 

I specify "on display" because I had some other pieces just laid on the table, and I'm thinking maybe I should have rotated which pieces I had displayed. There just wasn't enough room for any more displays than I had, and there was one piece in particular that I thought for sure would have sold, but didn't. I think it's because it was just on the table and got lost, instead of being on its own display bust.

The one that didn't sell.

Speaking of "getting lost," I had some really nice signage, but the wall wound up being further away than I was expecting, and I think the text was too small to read from the customer's side of the table. I saw people glance at the signs, but that was it. I think next time, I'll go for a U-shape (three tables), L-shape (two tables), or a V-shape (also two tables), instead of just one long table. I think that'll draw people in and invite them to browse, as well as bring them closer to the back where they could actually read the signs. :)

One of my signs.
The last thought I'll leave you all with is this: Jewelry takes a long frigging time to set up. I know I mentioned this in the first tip, but it really bears repeating. This also applies to any small items you may have, especially when you're filling an eight-foot-long table! Given my packing arrangement in the car, I don't think I could have filled my bulk displays the night before - it would have been too difficult to transport without losing any pieces - but if you can, I suggest doing that.

On the whole, I'd say that I had a very successful time at the APaTT Holiday Bazaar in Amity, Oregon. It was my first craft show ever* (in which I had my own table and wasn't sharing space on my mom's table) and the first time that APaTT (their PTA) had held a craft fair, and I'm really hoping that they run it again next year so I can attend again.

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