In December, Fairview Place made it's debut at the Contemporary Art Center's Holiday Craft Show. I have to admit, I was SO nervous! I was worried I wouldn't sell enough to make up the entry fee. The main attraction were my felt children's books. I was also concerned I wouldn't have enough books (when I was accepted to participate I had one, yes just ONE book completed, and the show was only a month away). It takes anywhere from eight to ten hours per book, I stunned myself that I was able to create 16 books in about five weeks! Overall, the show went amazing. I did make my $70 back, then some. And had a fantastic time doing it! Here are the top nine things I came away with from my first show:
1) You really don't need to be the first one there. There is absolutely no reason to be there right when registration starts the morning of. This is because it only takes about 25 minutes to set up my booth. Although you do have plenty of time to get hot beverages and bagels from the local coffee shop.
2) Do not be afraid of extra space. I registered for a six-foot table and was completely freaked out I wouldn't be able to fill the space. You can imagine the nausea I felt when they had given me an eight-foot table! However, with my mom's help and the ridiculous amount of luggage tags I made, we filled the table with no problem. Which brings me to number 3...
3) Have your mom there (or some kind of assistant - moms are highly desirable for this position). When I got accepted into the craft show, within a week my mom had booked a ticket to Norfolk just so she could sit with me at my table (she's awesome). She helped me keep my cool, talked about how awesome my stuff was to complete strangers and the two times I went to the bathroom she sold a book!
4) You will sell something. I mean, let's be realistic, you're there for nine hours. You will sell something. And when you make back your $70 entrance fee before the show even starts, it's smooth sailing the rest of the day.
5) Some displays just don't work. My button jewelry didn't sell very well and we're chalking it up to bad display work. The card the earrings were on was distracting and the boards the cards were pinned to, weren't conducive for touching the product. A girl with a booth just a few down from mine had similar jewelry and she was selling loads, but she displayed her jewelry on very simple, but cute packaging and just place them sporadically in a muffin tin. Chalk one up for the other button girl.
6) Some things won't sell. You never know what will or won't work. I never imagined I'd sell so many books and figured all of my luggage tags would be gone, without a doubt. I sold two of the 80 luggage tags, and nine (plus a custom order) of the 16 books. So next year, more books!
7) Charge what you need to charge, but be realistic. For the life of me, I couldn't decide how much to charge for my books. They take anywhere from eight to ten hours per book, so I'd like to charge $70 per book, but that's just not an option. I ended up charging $30 per book. Does it make me a fortune? No. Do I absolutely love making them? Yes. And (most) people didn't shutter a bit when I told them the price. Next year (when my books have become famous), I may have to hike the price a little - better get yours now!
8) Engage with people. This is something I'm learning and need to get better at. Ask how they are. Tell them a little about you and your products. Ask how the weather is outside. Ask if their enjoying the craft show. Tell them where your materials come from. Make them pick up and touch your products. Anything to get them interested in you and what you're selling.
9) Promote yourself. Each person's purchase came in a bag with my store name and website printed on a sticky label. They got a business or promo card and a thank you card in the bag as well. Don't want to buy today? Send a business card (or three) along with them for future reference. Seems simple, but it works and it shows you put the extra effort to show your appreciation for their support.