How do you choose?

Discussion in 'Craft Fairs & Shows' started by MarnieSoapien, Dec 16, 2019.

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  1. Dec 16, 2019 #1

    MarnieSoapien

    MarnieSoapien

    MarnieSoapien

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    This year I decided sell at 2 holiday markets. The first was a small market with one other soap vendor and about 10-15 vendors in total. This was my friend's first holiday market and she tried her best. I don't have any complaints about how she ran it or promoted it. The other soap vendor was at the other side of the venue. We chatted and even swapped soaps at the end of the event.

    The event probably pulled in 300-500 people and I sold 7 bars of soap. I know my friend was even out in the rain handing out flyers trying to get people in the door. The event was about what I expected and I really wanted to support my friend in her first holiday market.

    The second event was a pop up market. If you are not familiar with pop up markets, it's storefront that's rented out by the day, weekend or week and you set up your shop for the duration. There were 7 other vendors and initially we were told that we didn't have to be at the event all of the time, we could drop off our items and leave. Over time that premise changed and the organizer encouraged us to be there because we know our products better than anyone.

    During the 2 day event, I would estimate about 100 people came in and I sold 5 bars of soap. I know most of the publicity was done on social media and we were encouraged to "shamelessly spam our friends and family" to promote the event. At the end of the event, it was pretty obvious to me that the organizer was disappointed with the outcome of the event and said that if she does it again she's going to be stricter about vendors being on premise and their expected amount of promotion.

    OK. So, after all of that, I'm first going to say that I'm not upset. Both of the events were organized by first timers. Both events had their appeal to me, otherwise I wouldn't have paid to have space. And I know that sales are never guaranteed and the weather was not on our side for either event. Live and learn, right?

    What I want to know, is do you have certain criteria for which events you will sell at? What should I look for next year? I'm sure there are questions I should have asked, but didn't. Next year, I want to be better prepared.
     
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  2. Dec 17, 2019 #2

    amd

    amd

    amd

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    This is a tough question, even after 4 years of doing shows I'm still learning which shows (or organizers) are worth my time and the money to sign up. Here's a few things I look for...

    The organizer is a huge thing to me - how much communication do they do? I've done shows where I have gotten zero communication from the organizer (I've even had to follow up to make sure my app was received). I've also had shows that had great communication - and those are typically the shows that I do well at - where they send me information (flyer, art graphic whatever) to share with my customers, they keep me up to date with are they full, are they opening up to MLM's, where my booth is going to be, where I can park, unloading information, is there going to be someone to help me unload if I'm by myself, if there's food onsite, how to find the place, etc. Typically if an organizer is communicating well to me, I find that they are really doing a great job promoting the event to the public.

    Where is the event at? Is it in a high traffic area that is easily accessible on the day(s) of the show? I've tried a show at a venue in my town twice - and it had very little traffic. I started asking around and besides the fact that no one knew (poor advertising), many people still wouldn't have gone because the venue was out of the way and had a lot of steps to get into building (difficult for elderly). This fall I tried a show at a different venue in the downtown district that was next to a grocery store. The venue had no steps, and huge windows that looked over the grocery parking lot as well as facing the street. The organizer used those windows to her advantage and made huge signs for the windows. We were busy all day thanks to those big signs and the fact that we were so accessible people could get in to see us and zip back out easily if there wasn't anything there for them. There have been a few pop-ups that I've been offered the opportunity to participate in but haven't because they were in our local mall. Our mall is dying a very slow death, there's more empty stores in the building than there are stores open, we lost all of our major department stores (Herberger's, JC Penney, etc), and there's no food places there. No one goes there. Why would I do a pop-up in a location that doesn't get traffic normally? Most of the time people won't go out of their way to go to these events. They're too busy.

    The other thing I look at is if the event has a long history and traffic. I read a book that said at any event you can expect 1% of the expected traffic to buy from you, and looking at many of my shows, I don't think that book was wrong. I've had shows where maybe 100 people have walked through the door, and yep, I only had 1 or 2 sales those days. I did a historical festival in June with a foot traffic of about 15k, and I had around 120 sales.

    Finally after 4 years, I have a few small shows that I will do every year because I have built up a customer base that will support doing that smaller show, but for picking up new shows I look for well organized, high traffic areas that have high traffic numbers. (Long story short, ha, sorry I got a bit windy)
     
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  3. Dec 18, 2019 #3

    Carolyne Thrasher

    Carolyne Thrasher

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    I think there is potential in the first event if your friend wants to try again next year or even in a few months. It takes time for people to become aware of new events. We did a monthly market in an alley with live bands etc in our city's downtown corridor. Sales were slow the first month but went up steadily as people became aware that we were there. By the end we had a sizable following and now that it is winter and the market isn't running some of those customers will order from me online and pick up at my home studio or they will turn up at random popup events I'm at around town. Basically I try to use every opportunity to connect with people in my community about what I'm doing and what their needs are. I want an ever expanding longterm customer base. I can't stand the thought of doing a massive 5 day event. I've done a 2 day event but it wasn't massive but man it was tiring.
     
  4. Dec 18, 2019 #4

    TheGecko

    TheGecko

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    I just did my first craft this year...an annual event held every year. Good location, plenty of parking, two entrances, two days, good hours, lots of promotion, good selection of vendors. Booth, table and electric rates were very reasonable, chairs were provided. You could set up the night before. The stated rules...you could not tear down before close on Saturday and you had to donate an item for the door prize (my sister and I donated a few as it was good advertising as the door prize table was at the front door).

    Based on that experience, that is what I will be looking for.
     
  5. Dec 18, 2019 #5

    shunt2011

    shunt2011

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    I personally only do 4-5 shows a year (3 this year). The 3 I do every year are in tourist towns. 2 are held right on Lake Huron (Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends). So, they get a lot of foot traffic and I do fairly well at those. The other is a Victorian Art Fair and is in a beautiful park and I do awesome there. The others, I change as I've found that if a show has more vendors than crafters I won't do them. I also try to visit the venue to see what it's like before considering doing it. Like AMD I've been contacted to do pop-ups at the mall and our mall too is dying slowly. I almost considered renting a Kiosk there last year but time was a problem for me.

    You never know how you will do until you do it. I won't return to a show if it's not worth my time.
     
  6. Dec 18, 2019 #6

    amd

    amd

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    Ah, yes, @shunt2011 thank you for mentioning the MLM's. I meant to as well. This year I stopped doing shows that were open to all vendors, and really focused on handmade/makers events and did so much better. I do have one event that I have done twice now where the organizer openly said "any booths not filled with handmade will be filled with MLM." But she was one of the exceptionally good communicators, and she kept us up to date with how many MLM booths were being filled - in the end only two MLM were at the event because her makers list was full so she actually ended up refunding most of the MLM's and only keeping the first two that signed up. I really appreciated that she honored the "this is a makers event" concept, and I think all of us did better for that. I have done shows where I was only one of a handful of makers and the other 25 booths were all MLM... those were low traffic shows. You can go online any time and order from MLM's. Most makers don't have a website or product listing because their products may vary too much to do the work/time for each new listing, so it's worth going to see what they have in person. And in the case of soap it is always worth it to smell for yourself :)
     
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  7. Dec 19, 2019 #7

    lucycat

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    I do 5 shows (small (200 bars to large 700 bars). My criteria:
    1) handmade if possible
    2) non profit promoter
    3) only will consider the show if I can be a vendor at the same show for 3-5 years and longer
    4) long running show (one of mine has been in existence 50 years).
    5) I have attended the show in the past as a customer.

    A new customer at a fair will probably purchase 1-3 bars of soap. A repeat customer who likes my product will purchase 6-12 bars per year for lots of years and refers friends and relatives. My sales the first year at the fairs I do had sales between 1/3 - 1/2 of what I have today. That is because of repeat customers. That takes multiple years to develop.

    I was once told that only 3% of customers at a show will purchase from a booth and that the average amount a customer brings to a fair is $75 to spend. That $ amount may be higher today but you still need a large number of people visiting a fair to be able to spread those purchases to all vendors and have them do well. I personally think 4,000 people is about as small a number of customers at a fair that I would think possible to sell a decent amount (if all new customers).

    Advertising is expensive and one of the problems with new shows is they don't have the money for advertising. With really long running shows their reputation from past years is their advertising. So, new shows like you did find it almost impossible to have a large enough turnout for the show to be a financial success.

    After all that I will be a vendor in a few shows (master gardener, a relatives alpaca show) like you did because I like the people, am part of the organization or think the day will be fun. Good reasons as a hobbyist but don't expect many sales.
     
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  8. Dec 19, 2019 #8

    TheGecko

    TheGecko

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    Had to look it up MLM...multi-level marketing. We had a least two at our Craft Fair...I didn't mind the Party Lite lady to the right...she bought soap from me and cards from my sister, but the gal on the other side who was selling 'jewelry'...the kind that turns your skin green...she was a major pain in my butt. One of her displays completely blocked our table and after moving it back a foot for the third time, I told her that if she touched that display again, I was taking her out back and having a 'come to Jesus' talk...specifically John 15:12 because I was done with Matthew 5:38-40.
     
  9. Dec 19, 2019 #9

    cmzaha

    cmzaha

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    :thumbs::thumbs::lol: my good laught for the day. Good for you Gecko
     
  10. Jan 15, 2020 #10

    KiwiMoose

    KiwiMoose

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    I guess we're lucky in New Zealand as most of our craft/farmers markets are organised by committees that will ONLY allow hand crafted products and do not allow commercial sellers in. I attend a regular monthly local market and do reasonably well from Sept - April ( our spring-autumn months). I also attend another one with a friend which is every second month. On top of that we've found two annual markets that are very much worth our while, but you have to apply to be in about 8 months in advance, and send photos of your products, photos of you making your products etc to be sure you are genuine.
    We have stopped venturing any further than these markets because we have been bitten too many times by small time/one off operators that are running a school gala or similar to raise funds, and the markets are poorly managed , poorly advertised, and poorly attended. To go through all that hassle for maybe 20 - 30 bucks is just not worth it.
     
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