Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Working the Shows Wednesday - So, was it a "GOOD" show?

This is another REPRINT of blogpost I first presented last August. It takes more than dollars earned to determine if a show is "GOOD."


I was chatting with a crafter friend the other day and she began to sing praises about her latest show. I commented, “Big bucks, huh?” She laughed and said, “Not really. Sales were even a little disappointing.”

Okay, she just spent two days in the scorching hot and humid weather we call summer around here and had made less than she anticipated. Yet, she was so happy with the show she had already penciled it in on her calendar for next year.


She went on to explain the show was truly a pleasure to do and her neighbors had been great to share space with. She does feel the event has promise and will gear her merchandise to the crowd better next time around. (Many crafters there sold extremely well!) There were certain products she’d sold out of and believed she could have sold many more along those lines if she’d had additional stock of those particular items. She did have many local folks sign her mailing list which she uses to let customers know where she’ll be showing and also mails a brochure in the Fall featuring her newest holiday items. (This has worked well for her in the past.) Many people stopped to discuss her products, asking questions about customized orders and took cards. Her cards have her website listed as well as a phone number.

On one side, she had an ”older couple” who were selling oil paintings on wood cut to 9” x 12”. The wife painted the pictures which were scenes of rivers, the bay, marinas and other coastal oriented subjects. This is a popular genre in this area and her pictures were very reasonably priced. She painted throughout the show. My friend’s daughter was absolutely fascinated at the ease this woman painted with and enjoyed watching the process. The lady even explained a lot of her technique to the girl.

The husband cuts, sands and preps the wood. He also dabbles a bit with the wood, making Jacob’s Ladder toys and something that can best be described as a “clogger marionette.” The latter is a marionette type doll measuring about 14” high and there is a dowel mounted to the center of the back. Holding the stick, one can make the doll move on a table top or such as if clogging. The couple sold very well and had many returning customers who remembered them from prior appearances at the show. The husband also enjoyed talking with my friend’s children and even enlisted her son’s assistance in demonstrating the clogger doll and Jacob’s Ladders.

My friend’s children are 10 and 12 years old and have grown up on the craft show circuit. Their Dad tends to work weekends so they have spent many days sitting on the ground behind her display quietly entertaining themselves so they were thrilled to have such interesting neighbors. Turns out the old gent is a retired elementary school principal and enjoyed the children almost as much. He also served as a runner for both his wife and my friend, offering to make refreshment runs on a regular basis! I understand he also had booth sitting skills!! They’ve already asked the show organizer to place them next to each other again next year.

The ladies on her other side were a trio of jewelry designers, each working in their own medium. At any given time, one was demonstrating within the booth. Between them, they had years of show experience. They shared a lot of show information about upcoming events and discussed other marketing options, sharing a lot of good leads and information worth checking on. They also shared yummy home baked muffins. One was a gifted storyteller and entertained both my friend and her older neighbors with funny tales of shows gone by.

The committee came by regularly to check on exhibitors’ needs and were available if anyone needed booth sitters. There were coffee, juice and donuts both mornings for the exhibitors and these were brought around to their booths by wagon. Late on the second day, the organizer came around to chat with each crafter for a few minutes, getting feedback on problems or suggestions for next year. At this visit, she also presented each exhibitor a photo of their booth setup in a frame made of card stock that displayed the name and date of the show and thanked them for participating. (I’m not sure I ever received a thank you gift for being in a show.)

This was the 10th year for this show and there is a waiting list to get into this one. I may add my name to that list. It definitely sounded like a great show experience.


POSTNOTE : Even if you've made quite a profit at a show, if it was not a pleasant experience, you might not want to call it a "good" show. I have eliminated shows that were profitable for reasons such as very difficult to load/unload, unsupervised children constantly running around the displays to the point where one is concerned for both the customers' and your own safety, disagreeable management, and more. Just as a high salary doesn't make a 905 job "great", there's more than profit needed to define a "good" show.


Claire said...

Nice blog! I hope you do many shows and have much success.

Clarita from Heartspace on Etsy

Stephanie said...

Interesting post. I never sell at shows but I do shop at them a lot. Its good to hear it from a sellers perspective