Sunday, June 24, 2012

It's June and You're Just Now Looking for Fall Craft Shows?


"Need a cheap craft show to be in on November 19th"  (June 15, 2012)

"Craft show-- need cheap booth opportunity for fall in _________, KY"

"I'm finally getting my butt in gear and looking for Christmas craft shows." (June 23, 2012)

"Need good holiday craft shows near _____________, CA"  (June 21, 2012)

"I have never done a craft show but I signed up to two thinking that I wouldn't get in to either of them...well I got in both.  Now, I am freaking out.  I have no idea if I can do enough inventory for both."

"I have done a total of 4 fairs this year and am starting to get a little irritated...the majority of the fair was full of home party vendors and people with import items."

I belong to a few craft & artisan groups that post questions and have conversations in online forums.  Lately I have been seeing lots of posts like the ones above.  It's June, Folks.  We're halfway through the year.  And you're just now thinking about looking for holiday shows?

Well, you'll probably easily find a $25 or $30 spot at a local church bazaar or high school show.  Their applications don't usually come out until a month or 2 before the show.  But do you know if that's even a good market for you?  Would you take a chance and spend even $25 to sit for 6 hours not knowing if you'll even sell one item?  I'd prefer to spend $100 to do an established show that I know attracts my kind of customers and maybe take home $500 or $600. 


Like any other business, handmade ventures require planning.  June is not the time to start thinking about doing fall or holiday shows.  But it could be a good time to start visiting shows, to scope them out, to do a little research.  Find shows you think you might like to do.  There are lots of ways you can find them online.  Then visit them. Is the show getting good customer traffic?  Check out the vendors who will be your competition and see if they are selling anything.  Watch people and see what kinds of booths attract them.  Some vendors might even be willing to talk to you and tell you if they're having a good day.  And if it looks like it might be a good show for you, find one of the organizers and ask how you can apply for next year. 

But if you see a lot of cheap resellers, move on to the next show

FYI--all this travel to do research can be a business deduction when you do your taxes.  Keep a record of mileage, meals, and admission fees.

In my first year I did a church bazaar and a PTO craft show.  I sold nothing at either.  My customers weren't there . So for the rest of the year I attended several shows I learned about online and from other vendors.  I made a spreadsheet listing each show I thought might be a good fit, application due dates, costs, etc.  And in December I planned what shows I would apply to the next year.  Yes, December.  Two of the shows I wanted to get into (a late summer and a fall show) had due dates of Jan. 15 and Feb. 1. 

I applied to mostly moderately priced shows and a couple of higher end shows ($200+).  In a few cases I had backup shows with later application deadlines that I could apply to if I didn't get into my first choice.  Does this require having a lot of money up front?  Yes, it might if you get over-zealous and apply to LOTS of shows.  Many of the checks aren't cashed until you're accepted and some not until a couple of weeks before the show, if that helps.

Also, be selective about the shows you apply to and space them out so you can plan how you'll replenish your inventory in time.

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