The sun no longer peeks through my white lace curtains at 5:00 am. There’s a crispness in the air and I need a long-sleeved shirt most mornings when I leave the house.
It can only mean one thing: summer is officially over.
Although I lament the end of beach season — not this super prego lady went much — autumn is by far my favorite season, especially living in New England. I’m ready to whip out my maternity leggings and my favorite pair of boots (which, cross my fingers, will continue to fit me through the end of pregnancy!), treat myself to hot spiced apple cider and pumpkin pie, and watch the leaves change color.
The start of fall means I have officially made it through my first real season of craft shows! It’s been an exhilarating season full of surprises and growth, and I’m itching to share with you a few pearls of wisdom.
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1. Be prepared to sweat
You might as well be hitting up the gym for a good cardio routine and some quality time in the sauna with the amount you are likely to sweat, especially at a summer show. Craft shows are physically demanding. Vendors arrive at a show hours before it starts up to haul everything out of their cars, wrestle with their tents, and meticulously set up their displays, only to take it down at the end of the day and start anew at the next show.
Don’t worry, you’ll look at good as this guy at the end of the day. Image by Nacim Bouchtia.
It’s a long day, friends. A six-hour show typically means about 10 hours on your feet, carrying equipment; setting up and taking down your tent, weights, and displays; talking to customers and answering questions. Be prepared to collapse on your couch at the end of the day.
Newbie tip: Bring several bottles of water, deodorant, and perhaps an extra change of clothes.
2. Introduce yourself to your craft show neighbors
I have met some amazing people this summer through participating in shows. They have offered invaluable advice, assisted me with moving heavy items, and kept an eye on my booth during multiple bathroom trips. We check on each other to see how the day is going and offer each other moral support.
Over time, you start to see the same people and may even become friends with them. We check on each other to see how the day is going and offer moral support. As a solopreneur, it’s really nice to come to a show and see a friendly face who understands this world.
Newbie tip: Be friendly and play nice. Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Offer to help them set up their tent if you see them struggling and to keep an eye on their booth while they grab a bite to eat.
3. Stay positive
I have had shows where the person next to me barely has time to sit she’s making so many sales. Meanwhile, it’s crickets in my booth and I’m praying I’ll at least make back the fee for the day. Then I will have days where I will sell a piece before the show has even officially begun.
Then I will have days where I will sell a piece before the show has even officially begun.
You never know what the day will bring.
Image by Phillipe Put
Yes, days can be incredibly slow and make you want to pull your hair out, but there are also (hopefully) more successful days to balance it out. Instead of throwing yourself a pity party, look at those shows as a lesson in how to do things differently. Switch up your booth display, change out some products. You have nothing to lose! Think about what you can do to improve your selling experience.
Newbie tip: Look at each show as an opportunity to learn and grow. Again, talk to your neighbors and see what words of wisdom they can offer, especially if the have been doing this longer than you.
4. Get people to sign up for your newsletter
Though I’m not very good at pushing it, I always make sure to have a newsletter sign-up sheet. I have steadily increased the number of newsletter subscribers I have this way and have been able to get some repeat customers this way as well as form a connection with some of them.
Newbie tip: Have an incentive to encourage potential customers to sign up for your newsletter. It can be a credit to your Etsy shop or an opportunity for people to win something you sell.
5. Take each show one day at a time
I have had days that I thought were going to be awesome that flat-out sucked. I have had other days not sure if it was even worth going in that have totally rocked. And I have had days where I make a crazy connection that totally puts a smile on my face.
Every show is completely unpredictable, which can be both exciting and terrifying (especially when you’re hoping to pay the bills!), but in its own way makes this whole experience that much more exhilarating.
Newbie tip: Go into each day with a positive attitude and a smile on your face. Even if you are having a slow sales day, just suck it up and plaster on a big, fake smile and know that the next one is a brand new day. (And if all else fails, give yourself bury your sorrows in a mountain of trip chocolate ice cream dripping with hot fudge.)
Have you participated in craft shows before? What was your biggest takeaway from the experience?
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