If you haven't read parts 1 and 2, please check those posts out first!
Where are all the people???
So Mom and I show up again on Sunday morning. I'm anxious and wondering if I will sell more today....and I'm guessing all the other vendors are wondering the same thing. Since I managed to make enough on Saturday to pay for my booth I'm not as obsessed today with calculations, mostly just optimistic and excited. The day starts off pretty slow, and I actually let myself walk around a bit and check out the other booths. I'm sad to see a few are actually former brick and mortar stores who are trying to sell off what's left of their stock. It seems as though there are so many online and b&m children's stores closing down these days. I guess the economy is really bad and there's so much competition out there it's hard to survive. As I browse through the stores I think, "what am I thinking trying to start all of this myself???"
The day creeps by and I've sold a pair or two of Annie-Clips by noon. A lady walks up and is looking very interested in my paintings. I ask if I can help her and she says, "well, I'm wondering if you know of anyone looking to be either a part-time or full-time art teacher." I say, ever so eloquently, "ummm.... I am.!?" We then get to chatting and she says she's opening an art studio within the next couple of months and will be looking to hire art teachers. Unfortunately the studio will be about an hour away from where we live, but I'm interested in possibly teaching on the weekends. I ask her if there will be a store attached to the studio, and she says yes, and she'd be interested in selling my pieces. BINGO. I'm trying not to jump up and down like a kid on Christmas morning. We exchange cards and promise to stay in touch. I whip around to face my mom, "DID YOU HEAR THAT???" She's beaming.
Hubby comes up with baby at about 1 and I spill the beans immediately. I can tell he's really excited for me too. The 4 of us then cram into my very full (unfortunately) booth, and I ask him to please bring the stroller back out to the car. LOL. The show ends at 4PM, and so we take turns walking around and holding the baby, and I sell a painting, a few prints, and more sets of Annie-Clips. There are quite a few people who seem very interested in the paintings or the baby carriers, and take my card saying they'll check out my etsy store and order online. I wonder now if any of them would have bought more if I took credit cards. I take checks, and get 4 or 5 of those over the weekend. After about an hour and a half hubby says, "I don't know how you guys can do this, I'm so bored!" Sigh.....I tell him to go take another walk. I'm thankful my mom seems fine and dandy sitting there all weekend with me but I'm sure she's bored too, though I know they're both proud of me. Heck, even I'm a little amazed at what I managed to pull off in just a couple of weeks. Mom takes baby home at about 2:30 and hubby stays with me. At about 3:30 people start packing up, and I can tell hubby wants to do the same, but I refuse. My thought is, you never know who will stroll up, look at your store, and buy something. I'd be annoyed if I saw something I liked but the vendor was more interested in packing up than doing business. I mean, I can't stand clingy salespeople, but COME ON! Hubby knows how stubborn I am, and doesn't bother trying to protest :). I probably didn't sell anything in that 30 minutes (although remember the Mei Pouch sale right at closing time the day before?). We start packing up about a minute or two before 4 (sigh, I caved... LOL). It was fun to watch the vendors around me at that point. Some of them had A LOT to pack up. Props and light fixtures and backdrops....hundreds of items in just under a hundred different sized boxes all rolled out on....you know....those big flat cart things they have at Sam's and Costco for the people who buy 400 gallons of ketchup at a time -it was like moving day. Others were very systematic. Labeled tubs, collapsable everything -stack and go. We managed to pack up silently but efficiently, and are out before most of the crowd. Exhaustion hits me during the drive, and by the time we get home I feel like a jet-lagged zombie.
- Would I do it all again? I have, and I'll tell you all about it next time. My second show was outdoors, so the logistics were a little different.
- What did I learn? A lot. People will look really interested and say they will be back to buy this and that, or will email you for a custom, or are taking your card to order from your website later, but you will most likely never hear from them again. I personally did not get any online sales from exposure at the craft shows, but others do. If you buy from another booth during the show, let them know you're a fellow vendor...most give discounts. Likewise, give others discounts if they buy from your booth. If the craft show is doing an auction or giveaway of one of your items (my show asked us to donate something to help raise money for the school we were at), put a stack of business cards next to the item and write your booth number on them so they can come check out all your other stuff. Appearance is everything....unless you're only selling one item apparently (there was a booth that, no joke, set up 1 table with a plastic table cloth, 2 metal chairs, and a couple hundred tins of peanut brittle.....and sold out. WAH???) Also, people will hesitate to walk into your store if there is too small an opening for them to get through. I got bored on the Sunday and started moving things around, playing with my layout.
- What are my suggestions? Be prepared. Think of things in detail when you're packing. Bring everything you might need, not just the stuff you know you'll need. You can always leave things in the car. Make sure to have an area set up for checkout and wrapping. Have lots of small change. Bring lots of snacks and water. Wear comfortable shoes (duh). Hand out business cards to everyone who looks interested....you never know. Make sure to invite people into your booth. Don't judge people (i.e. if you sell children's products don't just say hi to people with kids....HELLO....think of all those grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, parents shopping without their kids???), treat them all like potential customers. Don't hold items for people because if they really wanted it, they would have bought it then and there. Survey the booths around you and make sure your prices are reasonable, then stick to them. Try to create an inviting feeling by making "walls" for your booth. I was lucky enough to be able to borrow those gray panels from my school, but other vendors hang boards, metal grates, or fabric to create the same effect and separate their booth from others'. It's amazing how creative people get rigging up their booths. What am I saying, they wouldn't be at a CRAFT SHOW if they weren't creative, right? Keep a smile on your face, and most importantly, be proud of what you've created and enjoy yourself!