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Craft Fairs: What to Bring With You

Your items are all made. You’ve done your research as to how the best way to price these treasures you’ve been working on for so long. Now it’s time to get packed up and go! There are some essential and not-so-essential items that you should remember to take with you on the big day. I’ve compiled a checklist here to help you get ready!

 A Friend: First and foremost, bring help with you! Don’t think for a minute that this is something you can do entirely on your own. Running a booth is a constant juggling act, so having your “right-hand man” is key to having not only success, but everything is more enjoyable when you can share it with others! Having a 2nd person to take payments is a great asset so that you re fully available to answer questions and show your products. It’s also valuable for transporting items, being able to take a restroom break, or even grab a lunchtime meal.  This person also becomes your “cheerleader” to help support your efforts throughout the day! I promise, you will be so grateful if you can find that special friend or family member to help you on the big day.

 Your Products: How many you ask? That is a good question. Bring what you can, but make sure you have a sign-up list available for those who would like to special order.

 Bags for Customers: Shoppers need bags! There are a number of resources on line of how to obtain bags, but one of the best resources may be in your very own area!  Before doing a show several years back, I went to our local drugstore as I knew their bags did not carry the individual store’s name. Instead there was a rose and I figured if I could get them at a good price, it really didn’t matter what was on the bag! So I went in and asked the manager if I could purchase some bags from them and indeed they did let me! The cost was unbelievably cheap and I now was ready to take my bags with me to the booth!

 A Possible Credit Card Machine: If this is doable, you may want to seriously consider opening up this method of paying to customers. By doing so, you are offering a convenient service to them. If you don’t, you may lose some potential buyers. I say this not to scare you, but perhaps intrigue you by looking into this option more seriously. It not only makes your booth look even more professional, but it is also a much safer route to go rather than accepting personal checks. You must obtain a merchant account in order to offer this, so be sure to check with your bank on how to do this. Taking credit and debit cards can really boost your sales!

 Your Money Center : Some craft fair organizers provide these for you and some do not, so be sure to check into your options. The small table is a great place to set up your money center. Along with this, don’t forget your calculator, a receipt book, a sales tax chart, cash box or machine, and the credit card machine if you go that route. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to bring change! A copy of your sales tax certificate and your business license to hang up in your booth is also a nice touch.

 A Small Cooler: Bring some snacks and bottles of water to keep you at your peak performance all day. You may easily get worn down if you wait too long before taking a break. Sometimes a small snack is just the right energy boost you need!

 Office Supplies & Other Misc.: These include: pens, stapler, tape, a garbage bag, sales tax chart for your area, extra price tags, markers, business cards and brochures, tape, your cell phone, a camera so you can document this fun day, and possibly some candy in a bowl. Don’t believe for a second that the candy is just for the children! The grown-ups love it just as well!

 Any Hang Tags or Care Instructions: If you’re offering any item for sale that requires special instructions, be sure to include those attached to your products. Your customers will truly appreciate your efforts.

 Tissue or Newspaper: If you have any items that are fragile, you’ll want to be sure to have these on hand to help package the items in the customers’ bags.

 Shelves: If possible, see if you can find some shelves that you can put onto your tables. Keeping items at different levels is more pleasing to the eye. So lift! Keep the booth interesting by doing this. Crates and stacks of blocks also work well with linen cloths draped over.

 Company Name Sign: Make it big and make it something special. If you have a website, be sure to include that on your banner as well.

 A Sign Up Sheet: This will help make future contacts for your business. A name and an email is a perfect way to contact interested customers in the future and keep them updated of new products and upcoming shows.

What items do you take with you when selling at a craft fair? Did I leave anything off the list that you would suggest?

Want To Promote Your Biz? JV Swag It!

Looking for a way to promote your biz (on a budget)? JV Swag it! JV stands for “joint venture” while Swag stands for “Stuff We All Get” and is used to describe the promotional items that companies give away.

You can p;promote your business very inexpensively by partnering with other biz owners on Swag give-a-ways.

Here is a fictitious example of how this might work:

Sarah makes organic bath products; Sally sells jewelry; and Kate makes hand knitted items. They all partner together and send each other their Swag. When Sarah processes an order, she will include a piece of Sally and Kate’s Swag as a freebie (and Sally and Kate will send out Swag in their orders, too).

Everyone loves freebies and their customers will enjoy the Swag items they receive. And by partnering with complementary businesses, these biz owners will be introducing their business to people who may never have come across it otherwise.

It’s a win-win situation all around!

Need some ideas for Swag items? Read this post on my blog for some great ideas!

‘Tis The Season! Check Out These Upcoming Craft Fairs!

The Summer Craft Fair Season is officially kicking off this weekend! Lots of great craft fairs are coming up in the next couple of weeks – and they’ll be continuing all summer! Here are just a few:

Bust Spring Fling Craftacular – New York City – May 17

Indie Craft Experience – Atlanta – May 30 – 31

Maker Faire Bay Area – San Mateo County – May 30 – 31

Renegade Craft Fair – Brooklyn – June 6 – 7

If you are going to any of these shows, or if you are selling at them, let us know by leaving a comment! Also, leave a comment about any upcoming fairs in your neighborhood!

Crafty Business Lessons

The scrapbook I made yesterday

Yesterday, I traveled a couple hours south to Toledo, Ohio with my friend Deni to attend a scrapbook party. I picked up a few interesting lessons and thought I’d share them:

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone: It’s very common to get stuck in a pattern and sometimes, you gotta break it up a bit and try something new! If  you’ve heard me teach an online class or have seen me speaking at an in-person event, you may not believe that I can be kind of shy. But it’s true. Especially when I’m in a small group of people that I’m meeting for the first time.

Just like yesterday’s scrapbook party! That’s right. I didn’t know anyone who was attending. The people at the party were all co-workers of my friend. They all work for the same company, based in different areas in Michigan and Ohio. But I went and I had fun and I met a bunch of new people. And by the way – the friend that I went with is a relatively new friend, as well. I met her last summer when I went to a party thrown by another friend.

So get out of your routine. shake it up, and see what happens!

Don’t Second Guess Yourself: One of the people who attended the party had never scrapbooked before and was not feeling very confident about her pages. She was second guessing herself, but the truth is, she was making some very cute designs! Believe in yourself! If you don’t, know one else will.

Getting Started Is The Hardest Part: When we arrived at the party, the first thing we did was set up the food table (can you blame us?). And then we all sat there, looking at our supplies…  Starting a new project is always the hardest part. Whether you are starting a new business altogether or are just thinking about doing something new within your business (like creating a press page), getting started can be the hardest part!

As for the crop last night, once we started playing with the papers, stamps, and other tools, we were on a roll. Everyone was coming up with new ideas. And that’s exactly what it will be like with your business. So just get started with something and see where inspiration takes you.

Don’t Spend Too Much Time On Facebook: Near the end of the party, the hostess’ laptop got brought out and the person who rode with my friend and I got on Facebook…. Well, we didn’t end up leaving Toledo until 11:30 pm and that meant we didn’t get home till around 2 am.

It’s important to use social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter in your business, but definitely watch how much time you are spending on them. Don’t let it get in the way of the other parts of your business!

Now it’s your turn! What are some of your favorite crafty business lessons???

Cool Podcast Ideas!

I wrapped up The Indie Biz Chicks Conference earlier – and I must say, it’s been a great couple of days! I am pretty tired, so this post will be on the shorter side.. I’ll write some longer ones this weekend : )

Speaking of the conference, did you catch the session about podcasting on Wednesday? It was led by Sparkplugging’s General Editor, Kelly McCausey. She gave some great tips on how to use a podcast for your marketing.

As a craft business owner, you can use your craft ideas as the center of your podcast / video cast. For example, check out Handmade Detroit and their Craftervids.

If you ever wanted to have your own show on HGTV or the DIY Network, grab a video camera and tape yourself making a project. Anothr idea is to simply take pictures of your project at various stages of completion. Take the pictures and form them into a 30 second video that shows the creation of your project from start to finish!

in addion to posting the vidoes on your own site  and blog, you can submit these videos to iTunes, YouTube, and Vimeo. It’s a great way to introduce your business to new people!

Craft Fairs: Ways to Move Your Products

In wrapping up my thoughts on pricing at craft fairs, I wanted to share a few ideas on ways to “move your products” when selling at a craft fair. What works for one might not work for all, so be creative in how you package your prices. That is one of the luxuries of being the one in charge! You decide for yourself some new ways to sell!

Here are a few ideas:

1. Offer a wide range of price points. Make sure everything is clearly marked. Potential customers want to know immediately how much something costs. I like to call it the “Car Sales” approach. I don’t know about you, but one of the things I don’t like when I am looking for a car is not being able to find a price front and center in the window. If I see the price at first, then I immediately know what is within my budget and what is not. If I don’t see a price, it is a rarity that I will actually find the sales person to inquire about the price. I want something fast and easy. The easier it is to find a price, then the more likely I am to become more interested. Offering items at different prices that are clearly marked will bring more consumers into your booth. They are less likely to “just walk on by” because it is obvious if they’ll be able to find something in there that fits their price range.

2. Combine items. Pair items together that, if sold separately, would individually be priced a little higher. But be sure to advertise to customers that if the items are sold together, the price is lower. Customers will feel they have received great value for their purchase. And they should, too! You’ll make more money with a higher transaction value. It’s a win-win for both the buyer and the seller.

3. Get creative with your sales! Here are just a few ideas of what you can do to boost your sales!

  • Include a small, free gift with a minimum purchase amount.
  • “Buy one, get one at 50% off” sales.
  • “The more you buy, the more you save” kind of sale. For example, if they purchase $50 worth, then they could receive 10% off their entire order, or if they purchase $100 worth, then they may receive 20% off their order.
  • Offer free personalization whenever possible. Many are coming to these shows for that one-of-a-kind, unique gift to give. Personalizing something shows exactly that. They won’t be able to find that at a big chain store! So if possible, personalize! You might even think about taking pre-paid orders for items to be personalized at home later for pick-up.

Pricing can be tricky, but each time you sell, you will learn so much. Ask friends and family for objective and honest opinions. Keep an open mind and don’t be defensive. Talking with them can be very helpful. Discussing these things with fellow crafters both online and around your community can also be beneficial.

What are some ideas that have worked for you in helping to move your product line?