Saturday, March 9, 2013

Scott Craft Show Results

This post goes out to those fairly new crafters who are just beginning to dip their toes in the waters of craft shows.

Today was the Scott AFB craft show. I didn't really know what to expect, either from the number of customers or the number of fellow crafters. That being said, I should not have disappointed by both numbers, yet I was. Including myself, there were probably 15 fellow crafters trying to peddle their wares. I think estimating that many customers would be erring on the overly optimistic side.

It may have been the fact that when we opened it was raining a little outside. I may have also been the fact that halfway through the allotted craft show time frame it had stopped raining and had become a beautiful spring day with temperatures around the high 50s. It may also have been the fact that there wasn't even a sign out in front of the building telling people that there was a craft show happening inside.

I realized going into this that there probably wouldn't be too many customers because the only people who would be able to get to the craft show would be those individuals who had access to the base itself. I did, however, expect there to be more than a dozen show up in the 6 hours that the show was being held.

With that being said, here are the newbie lessons (in no particular order) that I picked up today that may help those of you who are preparing for your first craft show.

1. Bring something to do. Whether it is something crafty, like knitting or crocheting, or just a couple of magazines and a half finished sudoku book like I had, bring something to the party.

2. Be prepared for bad lighting. We were told beforehand that we might need a lamp and extension cord because the lighting wasn't that great in the hall where the show was being held. Thankfully we didn't need it, but I can see how some areas of the hall would benefit from some fresh light bulbs.

3. Be early. The early bird theory applies here, especially if you want a spot along the wall where you can access power outlets for your electronics or perhaps your extra lighting. We were maybe half an hour late for the initial setup time and all the wall positions had already been taken.

4. Location, location, location. Logically speaking, the spots that are probably the best are right near the door. Of course, if it is cold out and the door is going to be propped open, like it was this morning, you probably don't want to be right where you're going to freeze.

5. Customers move like rats in a maze. Millions of dollars are spent every year by major retail companies in research to determine how customers move throughout their stores. The layout today was an oval racetrack of sorts and everyone that I saw walk into the area moved in a counter clockwise fashion. Most of the customers began their shopping with the exterior tables at their immediate right. Some pinballed back and forth down the racetrack, moving from exterior to interior. Others made a loop and looked at the exterior tables, then made another loop and checked out the interior tables. If you consider how you shop in a grocery store, you probably move around the exterior first and then move into the interior. If you are setup in a craft show that has an interior made up of multiple rows, you may want to try to get a spot on the exterior, close to the entrance. I know that's how I tend to shop when I go to craft shows. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and don't even make it down each interior row because I get tired or perhaps something about the show disagrees with me and I lose interest.

6. Good incidentals to bring with you: duct tape, scotch tape, mirror (especially if you are selling items like jewelry that customers may want to actually see what they look like on them), clothes pins, larger clamps (perhaps to hold down your table covering), measuring tape (in case of an impromptu customer order), scissors, notepad, pens, paper, business cards, calculator, chair seat cushion (for those uncomfortable meeting room chairs that are usually provided), extension cord, and lighting (spare floor lamp).

7. Finally, don't expect to win the lottery. I didn't make a single sale today. I did, however, swap one of my purses for a beautifully needle felted pillow of a cherry blossom branch. That same lovely young lady that made the pillow gave me some great information about a local craft guild and her excitement over getting a new handmade purse was actually better than getting paid because I know that she truly understands the kind of work that went into making that purse. Hopefully I helped her with her Etsy seller questions, but even if I didn't, I know I gave her some good tips about local craft places she could visit.

I came close to an actual sale, which actually ended in swapping some more good crafting information with a customer. She really made me feel good about the quality of my work, which I'm sure many of us sometimes have issues with. I know there are many times that I feel like one or two slightly skewed stitches have somehow degraded the overall quality of my work, but she really made me feel reassured about what little skills I may actually have. 

Overall, the show could have been advertised better and more customers could have shown up for it, but I feel like it was well worth my entrance fee and waking up early on a Saturday morning for the quality social interactions I was able to have. The beautiful weather and the motorcycle ride after the show didn't hurt my mood either. All in all, a pretty great Saturday.

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