We had a busy summer—bringing up our new website, expanding our handmade beaded jewelry collections, and preparing for the Fall Show Season.Our first show was last week, and we have three more scheduled through early December.
I’m sure many of you regularly attend local, regional or national art and craft shows. Here in Pennsylvania, the show circuit is moving from outdoor, warm-weather venues to indoor shows with a fall and holiday shopping focus.
As you shop your favorite shows, do you ever wonder what goes on “behind the scenes” as the makers of your favorite handmade items prepare to display their products?I recently shared our show schedule with a friend, who commented that I was very busy in my retirement, and that shows were a lot of work. She was 100% correct but I like to be busy, and yes, participating in a show requires a lot of planning and work.
So—what’s involved to participate in a show? For us, the steps involve:
What are our goals for the show season?
What criteria have we established for a show?
What shows are available that meet our goals and criteria? How many vendors will participate? What is the expected attendance? What booth sizes are available and at what cost? Is electric or Internet available and at what cost? Will buyers pay for admission or parking? Is food service available? How will those running the show promote the event?
What are the show dates and set-up requirements? Is a set-up time provided the day/night before the show? How much time is allowed to break down the booth after the show closes? Will the various show dates provide enough time to restock for the next show, travel requirements, etc.
What are the application requirements for each show? These might include a paper or digital application, including a specific number of product and booth photos, deadline for submitting the application, etc.
For each show, we keep records not only of our sales, but details on all of the above questions and considerations.We have a before-show checklist as well as an after-show summary.
Each of the four shows we’re doing this season varies in terms of set-up times and booth sizes. The show we did last week had a “standard” 10 feet by 10 feet booth space in a high school gymnasium. Future shows will be in the hallways of a high school, and large meeting spaces within two separate churches.
Before each show, we set up the designated booth space in our garage, and determine the best layout and number of products we will display. This gives us the opportunity to make changes and good decisions, and I make notes on product placement that are helpful during the set-up.
Here are a few photos of our booth at last week’s show.
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Barbara Buchanan blogs on Life and Adventures as Entrepreneurs