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How-To Prepare for a Craft Show (like a pro) Part 2.1

Now that we've covered product, layout, displays, and signage, it's time to get down to business. Literally. After you have made items to sell and put price tags on them you need to start preparing yourself to sell your handmade goods. It is really important to be well prepared for transacting business-if you are not well organized, customers might get frustrated, you may end up with a few people waiting to pay, and you will undoubtedly become frazzled, which is no fun.

From the guest post we wrote on the Etsy Dallas blog:
Prep for Doing Business
One or two weeks before the show, gather everything you need to do business and ring up transactions. Pens, calculators, invoice/receipt books, and shopping bags are must haves. Make a bank run to get change - think about your price points and plan your change based on that. If you take credit card payments via square or any other device or app, make sure they are in working order and that you remember passwords for apps. Another thing we do is create a cheat sheet of all of out items pricing with tax. At the bottom we have every price point from $1-$100 with tax added for a quick reference guide.



In addition to the bare minimum of receipt books, etc. you want to make sure that anything you plan to use to package or wrap items you have on hand as well (tissue paper, twine, gift boxes). Thinking back to your booth layout, make sure that all of these items along with shopping bags are laid out in a way that will make it fast and efficient to wrap or package items. Make knitted scarves and plan to drop them in shopping bags? Easy peasy. Make ceramic dishes and need to wrap them individually and them box them up? Plan to make some space for that and keep all materials handy. Plastic Rubbermaid drawers under a table can make for a quick wrapping station. If you make jewelry, you will want to be sure to have small boxes or pouches to protect purchases. It is also a really good idea to have boxes handy during the holiday season if people ask for them. I know it is an extra expense, but it is also part of the handmade shopping experience to have items nicely packaged. Uline is a great resource for packaging supplies.

Most craft show vendors have adopted the Square and other credit card payment methods, but it is always good to be prepared to take payments the old fashioned way (card imprint and paper receipt). Just because you have a square and the phone app doesn't mean you are guaranteed good cell signals or wifi. We have totally been to places that were the dead zone for cell phones, and with 50+ vendors trying to tap into the free wifi, forget it...nothing was working. This is when that receipt book will be extra handy, make an imprint either rubbing the card with a pen under the carbon copies (anyone who has ever worked in retail knows the drill) or write it down. Be SURE to destroy the card numbers asap after you are able to run the payment, and black out the # on the guests receipt for safety too. This is also where cash will come in handy, if your are not sure you have enough, bring more-you can always redeposit it into the bank after the show. Even if all of your items are under $10, be prepared to make change for someone who pays with a $100 bill. You know that person (can you tell we used to work retail!?) the one who comes first thing in the morning straight from the bank with a crisp hundred and you have to make $92 in change and they wipe out all your $20's...? Be prepared for that person :)

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How-To Prepare for a Craft Show Part 1.1: Make Enough Product


Last week I shared the link of part one on how to prep for a craft show that I wrote for Etsy Dallas. As promised, I wanted to delve in a little deeper into some of these topics for you to really create a comprehensive resource for newcomers. We were once new too, and have pictures of the hot mess we were at our first show to prove it! Thanks to other seasoned crafters we found our way and now can happily pay that advice forward.

From part one of the Etsy Dallas blog post:

Make Enough Product
First and foremost you need product – and plenty of it. You should aim to still have a relatively full display toward the end of the show. If your booth looks empty, you might get passed by. Depending on your price points, you should expect to sell 1/4 to 1/3 of the inventory you bring. The best way to be prepared is to make a production schedule and try to stick to it. Then bring everything to the show, even if you aren't sure you will sell it.

There are many formulas for how to arrive at how much to make and bring to a craft show and I will cover more of them here. Some things to keep in mind for this is what kind of product you sell, your price points, and how much it takes to fill your display table. Since a lot of these formulas are in terms of dollars you will need to convert that to units based on what you make. We make soap, and at an average retail of $4-$5 to make $100 I would need to sell at least 20 bars. But if you sell $50 necklaces, you only need to sell two to make that same $100 and most likely will not need to make nearly as much inventory in units to cover your sales.

The next thing to consider is how much it takes to fill your display table or booth. You want your display to still look full at the end of the show (between 75-80% full at least). If your booth looks too empty shoppers may pass you up thinking that you have sold out of everything and you can miss a lot of sales this way. For example, for our soap, it takes approx 200 bars of soap to fill our table, so if based on the formulas below I expect to sell 250 bars, I need to make about 450 in total. Never. Look. Empty.



Here are a few formulas that you can use to give you an idea of how much you should make. I will use the same soap (at $5, 200 for display) and necklace (at $50, 50 for display) for these examples.

Option 1: 7x-10x your booth fee
With 10x the booth fee being your high side target, and 7x what you will more realistically sell.
Booth Fee $100
10x$100=$1000 
for $5 soap that is 200 bars to sell + 200 bars for display=400 total
for $50 jewelry that is 20 to sell + 50 to display=70 total

7x$100=$700 
for $5 soap that is 140 bars to sell + 200 bars for display=340 total
for $50 jewelry that is 14 to sell + 50 to display=64 total


Option 2: % of attendance
If the show you are doing gives you an annual attendance rate (assuming they are an established show) you can use this number as a guideline to multiply by your average transaction. The lower the price point the higher the rate. For under $10 a 3% rate of purchases per attendees is good-that is 1 of every 100 people. For higher price points this rate may be 1% or less if your price point is really high.
Show attendance=2000
3%*2000=60 shoppers
1%*2000=20 shoppers
60 shoppers*avg soap purchase (3 bars or $12)=180 bars ($720) + 200 display=380 bars
20 shoppers*avg jewelry purchase $50=20 necklaces ($1000) + 50 display=70 necklaces


Option 3: 1/4-1/3 total inventory sales
As we stated before expect to sell between 14 (25%) and 1/3 (33%) of what you bring. This approach is kind of a backwards approach to what you will sell. We have found you sell between 25-33% of the merch you bring. Want to sell $1000? Then you need to bring at least $3000 in inventory ($1000/0.33) which is 600 bars of soap at 33% (200 for display + 400 to sell).


Keep in mind that the cheaper the booth fee the lower the attendance usually is. It costs time, money, and effort to bring people into a show, so if the fee is low and there isn't an estimated attendance expect a low number and base inventory off of that.

Also consider the type of audience that is being targeted for the event. Does the target audience for the show match up to your target customer in terms of the type of product you are selling and your price points? Are you selling fine art for $400 at a show targeted to college age audience? It may not go over well.

Always remember at the bare minimum you should sell enough to cover your booth fee + the time you would pay your self for the hours you worked at the show x 2.

A lot of this comes from experience so it is important to keep track of how much you brought and how much you sell, in dollars and units (and by item type) if possible. The more detailed information you have the better you can use that information to help you prepare next time! 



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