I did my first outdoor show last weekend. A one-day event, I figured it would be perfect because it’s difficult for me to commit to two full days at this point. My booth has definitely evolved. At my first craft show I was tucked into a 6′ x 6′ corner; a card table and a chair with a scarf hanging contraption made with a paper parasol (which in theory was brilliant but lacked in execution). I got myself a 6′ table which opened up new display possibilities. Scarf hanger 2.0 was two lattice panels hinged together and stood at an angle with the scarves pulled through the openings. It worked okay, but really didn’t show the scarves to best advantage, as you can imagine, with them all scrunched into those little holes.
Version 3.0 was a gadget assembled by George which consisted of a pole with a wire hoop fixed to one end, the other end slipped into a hole in a weighted cardboard box covered with white paper. Yes, I know. Classy. As you can imagine I spent more time picking the thing up after it would tip over whenever someone did more than brush the scarves with their fingertips. At this point I was basically fitting everything I had on one table. I used this same basic setup for the last show I did except I had a couple of dress forms out front. (I know, I know… I should have pictures of all of these but I don’t.)
Fast forward to last weekend. We’ve come a long way. The scarves are hanging from shower curtain rings clipped to chains running from front to back. I went that route basically because a wind gust could pick up the scarves and send them flying off like so many kites if they were just draped over a line and I didn’t want a bunch of clothespins or clips sticking up. The only problem with this was, again, not being able to really see the pattern and size of each scarf. The tops looked really good and the brown kimono was an eye-catching piece out front. I went with black on the table and back curtain because it made the colors pop. There was a presentation board on the back wall with photos illustrating the marbling process so I didn’t have to explain that I didn’t just buy silk fabric and sew it into scarves, etc. I feel good about what we did here but we have lots of ideas for going forward.
I sold a few items, handed out a number of business cards, and overall got great feedback and reactions from people. I’ve come to the conclusion that these craft shows are never going to be money makers for me, but that’s actually okay because if I approach them more as a marketing tool than for on the spot sales I can get a lot of mileage out of a day or two of putting my stuff out in front of people. We’ve been kicking around ideas about just displaying samples and providing a catalog with all my items; custom orders; putting out only small items – hair accessories, bandanas, flower clips, little purses, neckties – to sell and only displaying the high end pieces like the kimonos with signage for the Etsy shop where those items are available.
I’m always jazzed and energized after one of these shows; I feel like I’m really headed in the right direction.