Friday, March 27, 2015

Craft Fairs: Planning for the Event

Now you've signed up for your first craft fair and your application has been approved. Now what? Your best course of action is to do some planning months ahead of the event.

At least four months before the event 
If this is an outdoor event, you will want to purchase a outdoor craft canopy tent. Start doing some research online and also talk with exhibitors about their experiences doing an outdoor event. When you have collected enough research, purchase your tent well in advance of the event.

When the tent arrives, learn how to put it up right away and take it down. However, you may want to keep it up a couple of days especially if there is some wind. It's better to have some experience with stabilizing the canopy tent ahead of time when dealing with the wind. No one wants a disaster with blown over tent and their exhibit scattered on the day of the event. Being prepared for Mother Nature is in your best interest.

At least 3 months before the event
Figure out your booth design. Again, do some research. Look at Internet images of craft booths to help you design your booth. Then decide what props you will need such as tables, lamps, shelving, grids, signage, etc. Do you need to make or buy any of these things? Purchase and make what you need.

At least 1 month before the event
After you have made and purchased the necessary props for your booth, find somewhere to set up your booth (preferably inside), and take some masking tape and mark out the booth space perimeter. Arrange your exhibit and if possible leave it up for a few days so you have time to view it and make adjustments. Get opinions from family and friends.

If you have a tent and it can be set up indoors, then do that. This would be a good opportunity to review how to set up and take the tent down. Arrange your exhibit within the booth. 

After you are satisfied with the results, take pictures of everything and where it is placed. This will be a big help you when you're setting up your booth not to mention faster set up result.

At least 2 weeks before the event
Buy items such as portable totes, price tags, shopping bags, boxes, etc

At least 1 week before the event 
Make a checklist of items you will need for setting up and taking down for the event, and during the event. Purchase any last minute items for the event.

Two days before the event
Pack vehicle and take more photos of where things should go. Set up is usually the evening before the event. 

The evening before the event
Unpack everything and begin setting up your booth. Take notes on what things you may have forgotten to bring or may need to complete the task. You may be able to buy those things before the event begins if you live too far away and aren't able to come home for the night. If not, take notes for the next event.

The day of the event
ENJOY AND HAVE FUN! Look busy so bring something with you to work on in your spare time. People are naturally curious and like to see what you're doing. This is an opportunity for a sale. Also in your spare time, take notes as the day goes on. These notes you can use to access your success. Also take pictures of your booth at the event so you can start a portfolio. The visual effects will help you when you want to change things around, buy or replace a prop. Taking photos of other booths or ideas from other exhibits that appeal to you is also ways to help you improve your booth.

After the event
Take down and repack the vehicle. Then in the next few days do an assessment from the beginning of the planning stages to the end. For example: What changes need to be made? What sold really well? What is my current inventory? What items need to be increased in my inventory? What can I do to make my booth more visible?

The assessment will help you with becoming more successful for your next event.Your first craft event can be a rewarding experience in more ways the just monetary.  As you become more familiar with the craft event experience as an exhibitor, the comfortable and easier the process of exhibiting becomes.

Denise Michele, Etsy team captain of Craft Fairs. . . it's a living, came up with a list of "must haves" for successful event.

 Craft fair info
1. Inventory
2. Change
3. Business Cards
4. Mailing List Sign Up Sheet
5. Weights for your canopy
6. Food/ Water/ Snacks
7. Business license and seller’s permit
8. Emergency kit (aspirin and band aids)
9. Credit Card Machine/ Swiper/ Card Reader/ Ipad/ Cellphone
10. Receipt book
11. Extra clothes (sweaters/ gloves/ comfy shoes)
12. Bags/ Boxes
13. Cash Apron/ Fanny Pack (NO CASH BOXES). Keep your cash ON YOU!
14. A helper if you can. It's nice to have someone to watch your table if you have to go to the bathroom!
15. Pens/ Notepads/ Tape/ Binder Clips/ String/ Calculator
16. Press Clippings/ Signs
17. Displays
18. Camera
19. Rolling Carts and boxes to unload and load your car
20. Extra craft supplies to make repairs if needed. 

This checklist is only a guide and it may have to be amended to your needs.  There are other items you may also want or require such as lighting and extension cords, tablecloths, duct tape, etc.

As I stated earlier, craft fairs are a fun and rewarding experience and with these basic tips, you can be assured that you are on your way to a successful experience. 

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