Without a doubt, most of us can agree that your presentation of your booth and yourself is a very essential part of making your show a successful one. With all the other 50 or so vendors around you, you need to give your potential customers something attractive to come to and you'll need to stand out from your competitors. If you have access to a list of participating sellers, you can do your research beforehand. If you already know you will stand apart from the crowd, then you're good to go! If not, look for something that you can change around so you're not another cookie from the cookie cutter. Changing the colors for your booth is a great start. Many vendors I noticed opted for darker, muted colors. I personally went for a shimmery golden-beige fabric that I bought at Joann's Fabrics. It matches the light yellow in my logo, complements my jewelry and is a different color than many vendors.
|My Tiny Hands booth.|
Another thing worth mentioning is that you have to be very prepared for worst case scenarios in regards to your booth presentation. If you're based outdoors (which I was), you need to be a little more careful. It was a really windy day on the second day and my jewelry frames (old photo frames on plastic Michael's frame stands) were being blown away, it was quite the crisis for a while. Thankfully, we had brought a glue gun and had asked for access to electricity prior to the event. We glued down the plastic frames and that fixed our problem!
Bring as many things as you can. Helpful tools to keep on hand are like a staple gun, cardboard, sticky tape, a glue gun, measuring tape, baby wipes (my absolute favorite!) and paper towels.
Customer Service, How to Sell and Create Buzz
It might seem like an obvious one, but customer service is also the key in having yourself a great show. We all know we wouldn't be happy when you talk to a grumpy salesperson at the mall, so try your best not to be that Ms. Grumpers. Even if you've had a bad week, it's important to know that your mood and lack of enthusiasm will influence people that walk past your booth AND the people around you.
Don't be afraid to speak up to your customers. I had many people walk past my booth, glance at my sign and look like they're interested but they keep walking. I know that these people are curious but hesitant, so I call out to them to come have a sniff at my jewelry. 95% of the time this worked, and they came over! A note to make though, is that telling people to do something, opposed to asking, can make this work so much better. The second day of the event I started out by asking people, "would you like to smell my jewelry?" Strange question, I know, but it being a question gave people a chance to answer "no, thanks". Instead, if you suggest to them to take a sniff at the jewelry, they are more likely to come over. I said, "Feel free to pick something up and smell it!"
It may seem like a more aggressive approach, but if you don't step up and make an attempt to sell your product, you won't sell anything (unless you have a well-known product that people already know about). And once you have a few people at your booth, more will come based on the herd instinct. This can really create a fantastic buzz for your booth, especially if you have a unique story to tell about your product! So don't hold yourself back.
I don't have a story to tell, per se, but my scented jewelry can be a new idea to many people. I used this as a tool to draw people in to my booth. If you effectively sell your idea to them, even if they don't buy from you on the spot, they will definitely tell their friends and family about it, since most of the time craft fairs are a social event for people.
Before the event, I took some time out to study on craft fairs. One tip that many writers and sellers give is to always stand while you're manning your booth. For a long time I never understood how this would be so critical. But after I tested it out, it was like I found some great treasure! When you choose to sit down, you get less face to face attention with the people that walk by. Especially since pretty much everyone recommends that you create differing levels for your booth, you can easily become hidden behind your booth. You can give people a smile and try to say something, but most of the effect is lost through the mess of your booth displays. When you stand up however, you eliminate this barrier and you also gain more control of the traffic on your booth. You can point at things to your customers while you make suggestions for them to try it on, for example.
Another trick I soon learnt I had up my sleeve, was making the experience for the shoppers more exciting, by getting them to participate. Scented jewelry's not scented jewelry if you don't smell it, right? A lot of the time, people are afraid to touch your wares because they are worried that they might ruin something (and anyway it's supposed to be more polite... ?). When I notice this from a potential customer, I immediately jump in and ask them if they like chocolates. Most say yes. So I proceed to tell them that my personal favorite piece of jewelry is the cherry-filled chocolate truffle ring, because it looks good and smells exactly (seriously) like the real thing, decadent, sinful and sweet. I actually take the ring and hold it up to the person's nose so they can take a whiff. That's when the magic happens and I know that I've made my point.
|Tiny Hands' Scented Cherry-Filled Chocolate Truffle Ring|
The Technical Stuff
Be prepared to accept credit cards, even though there is a nearby ATM machine. I used Intuit's GoPayment program for the Android because they were offering a free 2 month trial and had no setup or cancellation fees. However, they did give me trouble with cancelling my subscription, so I wouldn't recommend them. You might want to try something like https://squareup.com/ or go the old fashioned way and use a knuckle buster (credit card imprinter) which you can get online for about $20 inclusive of shipping, and sign up for a Propay credit card processing service for a small annual fee.
|On the left corner I have a frame with some good information on it.|
Also, if you have some kind of elaborate gift wrapping service, be sure to have all materials as ready as you can so your customers don't need to wait ten years to get what they bought.
Giving out receipts is a good idea and shows people that you can be trusted and that you're professional. Why wouldn't you want to do this? I gave my customers an option and most said they would like a receipt. There are others who don't really mind.
When it comes to handling cash payments, I tried to make it as simple as possible. Every vendor was responsible of collecting sales tax, which I did. I included tax in all prices and rounded it up or down, whichever was closest. This means I wouldn't need to bring loose change in coins. I brought about $200 worth in small change, with more quantities for lower amounts like $1's and $5's. Eventually you'll have enough people paying you in cash that you'll have collected some small change from them that you can use again. $200 was overkill for me, but you never know what to expect!
I was also asked for my wholesale line sheet during the show. I had plans to print some out but had so little time before the show that eventually I either forgot and didn't bother. I figured that no one would ask anyway! I was so wrong, I wanted to face palm myself! Thankfully the lady was very sweet and patient and showed real interest in my work, which has led to many email conversations and a personal face to face meeting (and a new wholesale account)! So if you do sell wholesale, please be ready to speak to or provide retailers with some good information. I ended up writing down her contact information and made sure I sent her a .pdf copy of my line sheet as soon as I got home from the show.
All this might seem like obvious tips for some of us, but I was genuinely surprised at how many vendors who didn't follow the "rules" and etiquette of craft show selling. Make sure you do your reading and apply what you've read. Learn from other people's mistakes so you don't waste your own time!