Craft Show Review

Hello faithful blog readers, 

I have almost wrapped up another craft show season for me and I promised to come back with photos and thoughts. For the past 8 years I have been pretty exclusive to just one craft show. They do such a wonderful job organizing and making sure vendors have low stress. Plus, I love doing shows that support a greater good. For this particular show, the money supports an adoption ministry. I love adoption! They also ask for a 5% commission at the end of the show. Not every show asks for a commission but, they do make up for that in their booth fees. So, while some might grumble about having to pay an additional commission, when you think about it, 5% isn't that much and it goes to something awesome and amazing. Plus, it all evens out anyway. Alright, so let me begin by dissecting my two craft shows and show you some photos!

The first show was at Hillcrest Chapel on the first Saturday of November. This is the one I was describing above. It was my first ever show and and the one I will always be at, every year. Like I said, they do an amazing job, it has grown and I love the clientele that come to shop. I have repeat customers now who look for me and I just love that! 

Here is a photo of my booth:

I had a 10x10 booth all to myself. At first, it felt too big and then, I started putting things out and appreciated the space. Those table cloths are white vinyl ones from Target with a pretty green one over the top. I love the quality of the vinyl Target cloths. Super strong and can definitely reuse. Plus, way cheaper than a regular cloth one AND, nobody notices or cares because I have the green ones on top. Although, looking at this photo, I cannot believe I didn't notice how uneven the green one was... the one on the right. Grrr... oh well. Like I said, most don't even notice. 

Let's talk about my display for a sec....

This past year, I collected wood crates from Michaels and JoAnns. Once I had a good quantity, I painted them a really pretty graphite color. You'll notice they are two toned. The reason is because I found an awesome color of spray paint at Target and....they....ran....out. Rude! So, I resorted to using some liquid paint. Then, I had a the good brains to head to Lowes and found the same brand with an identical color, in a different name. Yay! I'll paint over them next year. I love the look of the crates. It's totally my style and gives it the cute, classy yet relaxed, boutique feel I wanted to go for. I love the graphite color too as it makes my product stand out. I collected a few other little crates and things to help display my marble magnets and push pins. 

I used the easel type photo holders to stand my canvas projects up. They are best as they don't fold in like the other kind that have the hinge in the middle (plate holders I guess is what they are called most). 

Here is the other side...

Displaying my handmade cards has gotten tricky. When I moved to Chicago back in 2012, I got rid of my other acrylic card holders. I loved those and miss them terribly! They are SO expensive! When I came back, and started doing craft shows again, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I hated how I had them displayed my first year and last year was a little better. This year, I love the little crates. I have them organized my sentiment type and encourage browsers to touch. Behind them, I keep a bin of different colors of envelopes (I offer kraft, graphite, cream and white). Composition books are generally laid out across the tables so shoppers can see them and feel comfortable touching and moving. I have little black baskets to put card packs, gift tags and other little extra paper crafts I have made to sell. 

This craft show was FUN. I love having a repeat customer base.

Now, onto the next craft show. This was at a high school and the booth fee was a little bit higher. I still loved going because I was supporting the arts department. How can a fellow artist NOT get on board with that??? I did share my booth with my talented jewelry designing friend. You can see her beauties at Mea Design Jewelry

Because I shared a booth, I did not have the third table to spread out on but, it worked out great. I sold lots at the first show and loved how full my table looked. 

This layout took a little bit more finesse as I tried to figure out placement, etc. In the end, I love that there really isn't any empty space. There is product everywhere and it looks really good together!
I also managed to remember to get a few closeups of the displays. 

I found these hanging vertical card displays on Amazon and LOVED how well they worked with the slats of the crates. They were a great price and came as a two-pack. I decided to display my Christmas cards since they weren't quite as deep as I thought they were going to be. In the end, I love them and they are the perfect addition to my display. I like being able to highlight my holiday cards during these shows. 

These long and narrow crates I got at Michaels. I LOVE the way they display my cards. Next year, I plan to actually have little dividers that describe the sentiment. I found that some customers would pull out a pile, go through them and put them back in the wrong place. No wrong on their part but, I would like to make shopping easier, as well as, eliminating that from happening. 

Marble magnets and push pins! I wasn't sure how I would like the wood and the graphite. Still not a complete fan but, ran out of time to get it painted. Next year! That little bulletin board easel I found at Target in the office supply space. The magnet board was in a tub of scrapbook supplies a friend of mine gave me. I was so excited to see it because it was PERFECT to display my magnets! My other display was outdated and worn out. I painted the wood base with leftover paint. I did have to prop it against the crates as the magnets were heavy and made it tip back. 

Finally my display for the altered canvases and you see a little peak of the black basket holding some tags. Canvases are always hit and miss at shows. Last year I sold several. I decided to not sell them but found a few blank ones in my stash so, I changed my mind. This time I went with what I knew to do and covered them with patterned paper, mod podge and some type of decor. Truth be told, I'm surprised that Autumn Blessings one didn't sell!!! I love that truck! But everyone is so into the brush lettering look so... whatever. 

Isn't that little black basket cute??? I bought several of them when I was living in Chicago. Charming Charlie had a fixture sale and I snagged them for only $2 each!!! I had no idea, at the time, what I would use them for. Now, they look really good on my table displays for tags and my small card packs. Yay!

Alright... now time for a little info on this particular craft show. There were over 120 vendors. Wow! Several that I love and follow around. I had a gal that hosts a cute event that wants me to come to her show next year. I'm so excited! The draw back to a show of this size is how the customers feel. We weren't the very last row but, close. So, I imagine many were feeling a little overwhelmed. Also, the clientele was very different from the group that shopped at the other show I do. I found they were very interested in knick knacks, flea market and home decor type stuff. NOT the kind of things I and my booth mate were selling. Kind of a bummer. I'm glad I shared the space because I wouldn't have come close to breaking even with the booth fee. Because we shared, I made a tiny profit. 

I won't be doing this show again. I did do it years ago when it was being revived and I distinctly recall, now, that it was a similar experience. Also, there weren't as many vendors so, I have a small recollection of not paying as much for the booth AND doing a bit better overall. Oh well. You just never know! That is part of this kind of industry, you try it out and you have to be prepared to lose some money. 

Some other behind the scenes tid bits - I stock up on gift bags during the after Christmas sales. I love using holiday gift bags as my shopping bags. It's just another bonus for my customers. Not only are they, hopefully, enjoying what I make but, they just got a bonus gift bag to use for the holidays! Yay! I also have tissue paper cut up to wrap my composition books and cards. I love to wrap them and give that extra touch - it shows I care about my customers and I want their purchases to be protected. 
For the push pins, I have strips of bubble wrap pre-cut and I wrap them up to prevent poking. Then, I tape it up. 

I also have my business cards scattered around the table and, this year, stuck some in bags. Especially those shoppers I stood talking to for a bit or asked me questions about card making, etc. 

So, how about a little side by side comparison of what sold and such...

What sold: cards, marble magnets, push pins, composition books and 1 canvas.
I mentioned earlier I have repeat customers now. This year lots of new faces and lots of buying! I sold about a third of my composition book inventory which equates to 6 books. I sold half my small ones and lots of cards. I always sell lots of marble magnets and wish I had kept track how many but, I didn't. I did make a TON this year so was able to easily replenish for the high school show. This show was SO MUCH FUN this year. I love the shoppers, I love how busy it was and I made a huge profit. I also loved supporting adoption. I will continue to do this one every single year forever and ever and ever. 

High School: 
What sold: tons of marble magnets, a few cards and two small comp books
That's it. Not much at all. Lots of people looked at the large composition books and liked them but, then would just leave. The interesting thing with this craft show was there was a TON of foot traffic. It was super busy! I noticed many booths that had bath & body, crochet and knick knacks and all the home decor (brush letter boards and metal art) were super busy and seemed to do really well. Then, there was us. My booth buddy sold 5 pieces of jewelry and I made about a $5 profit when I think about what my booth fee was. Not terrible but NOTHING close to successful. It was still a fun time and, at the end of the day, I did love knowing where my money was going. Like I mentioned, as an artist myself, it makes sense to support the arts department. Especially when we see so many school districts cutting them out. 
Would I do this one again? Nope. The clientele that came was not looking to buy from me and THAT IS OKAY. I'm not hurt by it at all. It's just not the venue that is suitable for what I sell. 

My next craft show is a Facebook Live event that I'm hosting on my Facebook page. This is the first time I'll be doing something like this. Last year, I participated in an online event and did really well. So, I'm hoping for something similar. I'll be doing some heavy  marketing and taking advantage of Small Business Saturday, which is on November 25th. I hope by doing all that, I can appeal to the crowd that appreciates handmade and also appreciates shopping from home! I may even be giving out some prizes. You just never know. I won't do a blog post to review that event so, if you want to know how it goes, you can always email me. 

Alright, so, for the future - NO more high school shows for me. I love our schools and want to support them but, I'll be doing it in other ways. I am sticking with the show I love and will be adding a couple of boutique type shows for next year. I'm checking out the event I got invited to next week and see if it will be a good fit. It already sounds promising! And, there is one other event I'm excited to get into. 

If you are thinking about doing a craft show, I strongly encourage you to try it out! They are so fun! It's a lot of hard work but, if it's something you really want to try, do it! My recommendations are to seek out organizations and schools you would love to support. I also recommend walking through them before committing to see if it would be a good match. Ask vendors who sell similar items to you how it is going. That will give you a good indication if it will be a good match for you. Also, be prepared to lose money. As with any business, if that is what you want to pursue, the beginning is always an investment. You have to put in the money and hard work before you start to see the blessings and profit. 

Thanks for swinging by today! I'm excited to continue sharing all the fun things that are happening with my business! So, stay tuned! 

As always, if you have any questions that I didn't address, leave me a comment.