SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFTSHOWS…
16 CRUCIAL LESSONS I LEARNED
BY DOING CRAFT SHOWS
LESSON 7: Set Up For Success
From my online video tutorial:
SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFTSHOWS…
16 CRUCIAL LESSONS I LEARNED
BY DOING CRAFT SHOWS
Instructor: Warren Feld
LESSON 7: SET UP FOR SUCCESS
Imogene McAllsiter Rosenstein. Remember she had no plan or strategy for choosing shows. And, guess what, she had no plan or strategy for setting up at shows, either.
Imogene, bless her heart, loved plaids. She would set up a table, and cover it with a dark, plaid cloth, and lay her jewelry onto the cloth. She liked to push her table up to the front of the booth, and sit in a chair behind it. Her boxes of supplies and inventory were stacked up against the back of her booth, no effort to disguise or hide them.
YOUR BOOTH IS YOUR SHOP
Your booth should be cohesive, visually interesting and functional.
You do not want your booth to be disorganized, dis-inviting, intimidating.
Setting up for success means having a good understanding of…
1. Booth Design
2. Lay-Out and Table Set Up
3. Merchandise display
5. Loading and Un-Loading
1. BOOTH DESIGN
A typical booth space is 10’ x 10’. Plan to use this space wisely.
A 10x10 booth holds 3 6-foot tables in a U-configuration.
Verify with the show promoters what your “foot-print” is. This might include additional space around or in front of your 10x10 foot space. If so, take advantage of that fact.
First, will this space be enclosed in some way — walls, partitions, inside a tent?
Do you want to have walls? Do the walls need to be fabric, wood, wire grids or chicken wire? What are you going to do with the walls? Can things be hung? How do these walls affect the visibility of your booth space and your inventory?
As best as I can, I like to use materials and furnishings which will not diminish the visibility of my booth, and which can do double-time. I often use window shutters or wire grids for walls and racks, so that I can hang things from them. The containers I use to tote my inventory and supplies get used for displays, or as support columns for displays.
If you need a tent, some shows provide them or rent them. Some shows have detailed requirements for what tents should look like. Sometimes they want all tents to be white. You can find online sources for buying tents. EZ-UP Brand is one of them.
You want a tent where you can roll the walls up and down. Be sure you have tent weights, to deal with windy weather. Sometimes, if the air is hot and humid, and the tent walls are down, the air in your booth becomes stale and heavy. Don’t let this happen.
Second, if you are to be provided with tables, how many and of what size will they be?
I find 6’ by 2’ tables to be especially easy to maneuver and manage.
For each table, I have cut up PVC pipe to stick the legs of my tables in. This allows me to raise the height of the tables about 6–9”, so customers do not have to bend down so far to view the inventory. You will probably want to have a few sets of PVC pipe at different lengths, because the design/positioning of legs on various table models will differ.
I do not like tables flush with the aisle. In some settings, this is your only choice. But this makes it uncomfortable for people to stand there and look at your stuff. They are too concerned they may block someone in the aisle. If possible, move the tables inward 6–12” so you get them to feel like they have stepped into your booth.
Third, what kinds of additional furnishings will you need to bring?
Do things need to go on shelves? Is there room for some kind of rack? Do you want to put a rung on the floor, or in front of your booth? Do you want to bring box fans (or space heaters)? What will you use to store things you need access to during the show?
Bring a mirror for your customers.
Fourth, what is your lighting plan, and towards this end, will you have access to electricity?
Having lighting makes a big difference in your sales results. Bright LED lights, at 4100K to 5500K, are best. This Kelvin measure will give you a bluish white light.
Bring power strips and long extension cords. There may be electricity, but the source of this power may be located far from your booth. If there is no electricity, you can purchase battery operated LED lights.
FLOOR PLANS: L-SHAPE, U-SHAPE, FRONT-LOAD
Fifth, given the space, what is the optimum floor plan for your booth?
If possible, I prefer to allow my customers to walk into part of my booth. Towards this end, again if possible, I like to set the tables up either in an “L-SHAPE” or a “U-SHAPE”.
SETTING THINGS UP
Last, practice setting everything up. Practice packing your things, transporting your things, and un-packing your things. If you will be suing a tent, practice setting this up.
Can you do all this by yourself? Given the distance between where you will have to park, and where you booth is, can you manage transporting all your stuff this distance?
2. LAY-OUT AND TABLE SET UP
Let’s talk more specifically about lay-out and table set up.
Anticipate the traffic flow, both in front of your booth, as well as inside your booth, if you can set up to allow people to come inside.
Remember: Your space and customer flow go beyond the boundaries of your table.
Remember: Visualize how traffic will flow to and from each of your neighbors.
As shoppers walk by your booth, how much of it can they see? Are there things, and enough things, to catch their eye, and entice them to stop and look?
Be sure the décor of your booth coordinates well with the jewelry you are selling. It must coordinate with the show, as well. You don’t want beach décor at a Christmas holiday show.
— ENTER AND EXIT EASILY
— SHOP EASILY
— PAY EASILY
— NOT FEEL TRAPPED, WHEN A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE IN YOUR BOOTH
Prevent the “Scratched Tush” Syndrome.
Customers avoid standing where they fear someone will brush against their back-sides.
Set up a payment station where customers can make their purchases out of the way of other shoppers, but where you can still keep an eye on things.
At your payment station, you will need to accept payment and make change, and you will need to be able to write some kind of customer receipt. You may need to wrap up or package an item.
SOME ADDITIONAL QUICK POINTERS:
- Cover you tables with fabric
- Don’t use dark colors. These bring the mood down, and often don’t enhance your jewelry in these very open settings
- Choose colors which add to your product, but do not compete with them
- Customers like to use all their sense when they shop: See lesson on SEE, TOUCH, THINK
- Subtly use props and mirrors to help the customer visualize how the product might be used or worn
- I like to make my booth feel homey.
- I like to have rugs inside as well as in front of my booth
- I like to have chairs or a bench near the front of my booth, to attract people to sit and linger, and so it always looks like people are looking at my booth
- In hot weather, I like to have a fan circulating air where the customers are standing, not just me.
- In cold weather, I have a heater going.
- No garbage should be visible
- Everything should be stored and neat
- Have enough signage to get people’s attention, and educate them about your products
-Display your prices clearly
ANTICIPATE THE WEATHER
- HOT AND HUMID
- RAINY OR STORMY
Have drop cloths to protect your merchandise and displays.
I keep large pieces of cardboard that I can lay on wet ground, when my booth is outside. Sometimes I take a bale or two of straw that I purchased at the local hardware store or garden center, to cover wet ground.
I have plenty of cleaning aids, to keep the merchandise looking fresh and saleable all during the show.
I wear layers of clothing. I bring sunglasses, gloves, hats, a battery-powered hand-held fan, whatever it takes to keep me perky, happy and comfortable.
3. MERCHANDISE DISPLAY
As we have discovered already, Imogene McAllister Rosenstein had lots of things to learn about doing craft shows. Her displays of jewelry were very cluttered. Very flat looking. Never caught the attention of anyone’s eye. The colors were boring. There were no signs. Not everything was priced. It was as if Imogene McAllister Rosenstein just didn’t care.
Not even a lick.
FLAT VS LEVELS
Displaying your merchandise, Some pointers:
Cover your tables with attractive fabric, in a solid color which complements your pieces. In craft show settings, you will find that lighter colors work better than darker ones.
I think it is better to cover the full front of the table with a cloth, not just the top of the table.
Have pretty containers to hold your wares.
Think of display in terms of levels. You do not want everything lying flat on a table.
In your booth, you might have a mix of low tables, higher tables, tall heights, stands, pedestals, hanging items.
Coordinate your use of color with the colors prominent in your business cards, brochures and signage.
A warm, airy feeling is much better than a dark, cave feeling.
Open book cases work better than ones with closed backs.
Be careful, if using displays which are glass enclosed, that the glass reflection does not diminish the ability to view jewelry inside these displays.
Keep things creative, but not complex or cluttered.
Don’t let things get barren, either, what I call a “TOOTHLESS LOOK”.
Your displays should be attractive, but should not compete for attention with your jewelry. With this in mind, you do not necessarily have to put all your inventory out at once.
CREATE NATURAL PLACES FOR THE CUSTOMER’S EYE TO SETTLE.
Build displays around these natural focal points.
I loved how this octopus bracelet worked as that key focal point for Kabana Jewelry. Kabana Jewelry had most of their pieces in glass display cases. But they kept this octopus bracelet in a central point on top of their counter.
Boy, did this bracelet ever attract people to their booth. Everyone wanted to touch it and try it on.
Keep your glass clean.
Keep your jewelry shiny.
Keep your booth tidy.
You want that customer at 4pm Sunday to be as excited as that customer was at 1pm the day before.
First and foremost, follow the show promoter’s rules about signage!
Your sign or signs should be visible from all sides of your booth from which customers will be approaching. If the back of your booth will be visible, put a sign there. Put a sign on the inside of your booth. I like to hang a poster-sized image of someone wearing a piece of my jewelry. I imprint my business name on the poster.
Your signs should be simple, clean and with a clear font. The colors red and yellow are seen from the furthest distance away.
Your sign should say what you sell, not necessarily your business name. For example, “JEWELRY TO LOVE” is much better than “IMOGENE’S CREATIONS”.
Everything in your booth should be tagged, labeled, priced and identified for the customer.
Information is important. You might have framed little write-ups sitting with various displays and telling the customer something about yourself, your technique or your jewelry. Without good and prominently visible information, customers often walk away without asking for help.
Price tags are a must. If you have the timeand can afford it, use professionally-printed price tags. You can buy label makers now at stationery stores, and with which you can generate printed price tags. Price tags give credence to the price, and reduce the times customers may try to haggle.
HAVE BUSINESS CARDS, POSTCARDS, BROCHURES, AND NEWSLETTERS EASILY AVAILABLE.
Put out a sign-up book or sign-up sheets to expand your mailing and emailing lists.
5. LOADING AND UN-LOADING
Allow yourself plenty of time to unload and set up your booth. If allowed to drive into the venue to unload, be courteous and unload as quickly as possible. Then move your vehicle before continuing to setup.
I like to modular-ize everything. That is, I like to usesimilar sized and shaped containers to carry everything in. They are sturdy, easy for one person to carry. The containers are stackable. Each container is clearly labeled on the outside to what is on the inside. Some of my containers to double-time as pedestals or supports for displays. I use other containers for active storage during the show, but easily storable, out of sight of the customers, usually under the table.
If you need a van or truck, and don’t own one, these are easily and very inexpensively rentable at local U-Haul or similar business.
SAMPLE SET-UP IMAGES
Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:
GETTING THE BEST RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)
Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.
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