Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Working the Shows Wednesday - Bits'n' Pieces

This week's comments are a collection of little bits of advice about doing shows. None are large enough to justify their own post, but are important enough to mention.

Show Log Book

As you do shows, you should maintain an ongoing record about each show. I keep mine in a loose leaf notebook. Include all the basic info, the full name of the show, date, contact info for the show director, space price and any other expenses (application fees, electrical fees, etc.) I note total sales, and total expenses (hotel, tolls, food, etc.) I now add a photo of my display at that show. (I just snap it with my pocket-size digtal camera and print out on my computer. ) Make notes as to any details about the space, i.e. lumpy ground, poor lighting, excellent location, near restroom, etc. Is there anything special you want to remember about this show? (great food, top-notch entertainment, un-Godly heat or humidity, unsupervised children running amok, etc.) Was there one product that was really moving well? (You'll want to remember this next year.) I also attach a copy of any Mapquest directions I used and any notes about a different route or any detail about getting there. I always note the total mileage to the the show and how much gas I used. (When gas was at $4/gallon two summers ago, I eliminated a few shows based on that one item.) Sometimes I attach any paperwork sent by the show committee about layout, etc. If you decide to do this show again next year, this information will be very helpful.

Price Tags

Be sure to have prices attached to or posted for every item you are selling. Customers tend not to ask. if they can't see how much it is, they simply move on. It is bad form to haggle or negotiate with customers at a show. It is acceptable to make a deal if a customer is buying multiple pricey items. It is also frowned upon, and often prohibited, to post "clearance" signs or "end of season sale" signs. "Show Special" on a specific item or group of items is acceptable if posted in a dignified manner. (For example, a single earring display stand with a 3"x5" card reading "Show Special" would be appropriate.)

Know ahead of time what payment choices you will accept. Be prepared for those payment methods. Have adequate change available. Do not expect customers to have exact change. If you will be charging sales tax, have a sales tax chart readily available to allow quick and accurate calculations. Have pennies available for that purpose and do not attempt to "round off." It is unprofessional and illegal.

If you are sharing a booth with another seller, discuss before hand how money will be handled and how combination purchases (things from both of you) will be packed, etc. If it appears to be one display, customers will not expect to deal with each of you separately.

Regardless of what happens at the show or why, maintain a cheerful and friendly attitude for your customers. They won't buy from a frowning, grumpy vendor. (They just may run for the hills.) If sales are slow, do not whine. Your customer and neighbors do not want to hear it. Stay upbeat. You can always cry all the way home or beat up your pillow before turning in for the night. SMILE, it really does help sales.

Be ready on time...
If the show starts at 9 a.m. be ready to sell at that time. Allow plenty of time for set-up. If possible, be ready earlier than the opening moment. By the same token, never close down before the appointed break-down time, regardless of how bad sales may be. (The exception here is devastating weather. We've all been forced to accept defeat from time-to-time.) Breaking down early hurts both your fellow crafters, your reputation and, most of all, your potential customers. Many a person has returned to me late in a show to purchase that bigger item they needed to think about. Many like to see everything at the show before making their buys. I've also made many sales because I was the last one standing when latecomers came by.

Display Pics
Take pictures of every display you do. Review them later and decide what works and doesn't work. Don't count on your memory to recall how you did it last time. Many show applications also require pictures of your display as part of the jury process so you will be prepared.

Most Important:
Have plenty of stock of product. Take more than you could possibly imagine selling. Have it all tagged with information identifying you so they can get in touch with you for more. Drop business cards into every bag.

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