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Monday, November 30, 2009

What goes into doing a craft show

With the arrival of our second child earlier this year we decided that we would have to cut back on doing craft shows.

With all the planning that goes into doing these shows and having to find someone to watch the kids for the whole weekend, is getting harder and harder to do.

We really love meeting all our collectors who come out year after year to see us and see our new designs. Hearing the feedback is priceless. We thought only a couple of shows this season could work.

This past weekend was the first of two shows we are doing (our next show is on Dec 12th & 13th the SOWA Holiday Market).

We thought it would be fun to share with everyone what goes into doing a holiday craft show.

First choosing which show to participate in is probably the most challenging part for us. The booking for a show starts early in the year so you really have to have your game plan ready right after you finish the current season of shows. This always is difficult for us! We need to decide which shows to do again and then look into trying to submit to new ones. But with so many shows around we like to try to visit a show first to see if it's a good fit for our designs, sometimes that's not always possible.

Displays and space planningOnce you get that acceptance letter the planning begins!
There is a lot we take into consideration when doing a show. We want our booth to be an “experience” for the shoppers. Things you may not notice, but we do...like table heights. How high is best for viewing. Also, how they are the tables positioned to invite the customer “into” our space.

We like to use a variety of trees to showcase our ornaments. We have to think about how many to bring. As designers we take pride in clear and readable signage. We also like to have a backdrop so the shopper doesn't get distracted by the surrounding booths. Lighting is something else we need to think about. It usually is an extra expense but if we feel that the location is going to be dark we have to splurge. We also have to think think about flooring, packing materials, postcards, extra ornament tags, credit card machine and so much more. You also have to calculate how much product to take to a show. And lastly make sure everything will fit in your car and that it is easy to assemble in a timely manner.

For this particular show it was a one day show. The hours were 9-4. Set-up began at 6:30 am. We were up late the night before till 3 am trying to get everything together and we were still rushing up to the last moment tagging and pricing the ornaments. It seems we always bring more than we need. You never can tell which designs people are going to prefer. We do find it interesting that ornaments from other seasons, like Halloween and Easter, do well at the shows.

We created this framed process display a few years back after repeating and repeating to everyone who entered our booth how we go about creating our work. Now this visual shows what goes into making a swirly design without hearing our annoying voices repeat it over and over for 8 hours.

The best part of standing on your feet for 8 hours straight... is meeting all the customers and collectors who come back each year looking for our new designs. We had one customer drive 2 hours just to see us! It so important for us to meet our audience and get that feedback.

The show was a success for us we think doing these smaller shows will work. They are not as crazy as a three day show and we think it still important for us to shows to keep Swirly Designs name out there especially around the holidays.

Which craft shows do you like to attend and why?

1 comment :

  1. As a custom quiltmaker, with an emphasis on seasonal and holiday items similar to Swirly Designs, I appreciate your commentary on "what goes into doing a craft show". Like you, I would prefer to attend a show as a customer before making the decision to be a vendor but sometimes, that's not possible so you have to participate based on the recommendation of other vendors whose opinions you respect. But I do have a rule of thumb for all shows - I will not repeat a show if I don't net at least 200% of my expenses. In other words, considering the booth fee, vacation day from my "regular job" if it's during the week, plus time and materials, 200% profit must be achieved to participate a second year. In this economy, some shows are just not financially feasible, but others have been very profitable. But looking at your booth, I do have a suggestion - use more "red" props in your display - the color "red" is an attention-getter every time, and for the type of product you sell (with the exception of Easter), would compliment your decor! But don't overdo it either . . . high saturation of red can darken a booth and make it less inviting . . . I love your work, and with you good luck. Also, I think you should approach Jo Packham with "Where Women Create" to see if she would be interested in doing a profile of you and your work in an upcoming issue of her magazine - just a thought!


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