This summer Alex and I decided to start taking our show on the road. We’ve done three craft shows so far that have taught us a lot about our business and each other. I’m sure we still have a lot left to learn and already have a bunch more shows on the calendar. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
Booth fees are more or less made up and don’t really reflect how well you’re going to do at a location. The higher the booth fee, the more profit they expect you to make, but that’s not always the case. The smaller shows we’ve done have made us quite a lot of profit too. So I try to look for reasonable booth fees or information that guarantees we’ll get our investment back in sales.
You really have to commit to your booth rather than just bringing out a table and throwing your products on it. I have to thank Alex for this one. As soon as I suggested craft shows to him, he hunted around to get us a really great deal on a tent and other supplies. Plus he built us our new card stands from scratch that have seriously made a huge difference. We could have easily kept to our first setup (photo below), but he’s constantly trying to showcase our products in the best way.
Craft show days are long and usually last all day. Our shows have been on average eight hours long so far. That’s a lot of staying in one place being on the ball, but it’s a whole lot better when you have someone there with you. Breaks are definitely needed to get up and wander around. And food is a must.
Having a partner makes all the difference. Alex is a fantastic salesman who can really do the marathon days. He has our “about us” pitch down perfectly, engages with customers, and doesn’t seem to ever get tired. Without him we wouldn’t nearly be as successful at shows. Have a partner to rely on is huge.
You get a routine with setting up and tearing down. We can be out of a location in around ten minutes after a show ends because we just know who does what. Plus we practiced it a few times before going to our first show so we wouldn’t get overwhelmed once we got there. Nothing is more stressful than a bunch of cars facing every which way trying to pack up their booths. Our first show we ended up carting our entire setup down a block to our vehicle rather than waiting another hour to get our truck in front of our booth.
Flexibility is a must because you never know what booth number you’re going to get, what the weather is going to be like, or how busy you’ll be. We’ve changed up our booth setup from what we originally planned for every single show. It’s important to not take things too seriously and be willing to change things up at a moment’s notice.
But the best thing I’ve learned from my first few craft shows is that it’s really cool to see people interact with your work in person. Since we have only ever been online before, I’ve never been able to see people laugh at our puns or enjoy Alex’s design work. It’s such an amazing experience to watch people share and relate to our cards. I don’t think that will ever get old no matter how many craft shows we do.
This photo was taken back in 2014 at the very first booth I threw together just month’s after Oh, Hello got started. It’s crazy to see just how far we’ve come. It’s also crazy that I still own both that sweater and jacket.
Are you interested in doing craft shows? What tips or advice would you like to have me write about next?