Craft show Ideas

Thanks everyone for all you sweet words in my last post. I'm doing what I need to do to get balanced again. I know it seems early but I am starting to plan for next Fall's show season which gives me something to not only work towards but look forward to. As I've said before I did 3 shows last year and I did a post with my thoughts right after the season was over. I would like to raise that to 5 shows this year. It is not easy deciding which shows are worth your time but let me tell you the thought process I go through when considering a show.

For me it is all about Fall. Spring and summer shows are not worth the time and energy for me. Knitting is inherently a Fall/Winter craft. On this note I really prefer indoor shows. I have one outdoor festival that is the exception but I choose to do it in the covered pavilion. I don't want to have to deal with setting up a tent and keeping my scarves dry and clean outdoors. There is a big advantage to setting up in a tent if you can find a cheap one like my sister in law, Gray Eyed Scorpio, did as you can spread out and can control the display more. She found a very reasonable tent on Craigslist that is supposed to be easy to open although she still needed her husband the first time. Here was her booth at last years Strange Folk Festival in all of its glory.

Weather can be much more of a factor with outdoor shows and if you are set up next to a food vendor you may come away with inventory stinking of BBQ, yes it happened to me once. I did a street show with a few friends just to get a feel for it 2 years ago and I decided that wasn't my scene pretty quickly. These outdoor street events often have entertainment that you are competing with not to mention the resellers peddling their Avon and non-handmade items. Many of the festival goers are there with their kids to enjoy the day and aren't thinking about shopping for handmade.

Another thing to consider when choosing a show is whether it is juried or not. Personally I prefer juried shows since it keeps the resellers out but there is the stress factor of waiting to see if you got in. I am not in the league to consider the high end art shows but if you are than you need to plan pretty far in advance and be willing to put out some bucks in fees. The most I've ever paid for a booth fee is $90 but I have heard of shows that cost in the hundreds of dollars that attract a high end clientele. Shows that have been around along time and have a built in clientele are worth the investment in most cases. You should consider how long they have been doing the event and if possible find out how many attended the year before. I've never done an event that charged attendees to enter but I've been told they bring out people really ready to shop.

The show that I did for $90 was the Lindbergh show which is the largest one in the St. Louis area. It is a more traditional show held in a sprawling High School and draws up to 10,000 a year. I did not make quite as much last year as I had hoped there but I am doing it again this year as it was a good way to connect with a different audience. I got at least one large sale after the fact from it on-line by passing out my cards. It was for 2 days which I really prefer since I feel that if I'm going to devote a weekend to a show I'd rather have it be the whole weekend. You may feel the opposite and there are any number of one day events at schools and churchs with booth fees under $50 that you can use to get your feet wet. I plan on doing one of these in my local area this year so that people at work and friends can come without having to travel too far.

I'm lucky that in my area there are several groups that promote very good indie shows. These events bring out a younger crowd with more dispensable income, always a plus. My scarves/scarflettes have been received well by this market and I consider them my target at this point. It can be harder to find these events if you haven't done them before but you can look into your local craft mafia as they are often behind many of these shows. Indie Craft Shows is a directory of national indie events. It doesn't have any of the ones listed here in MO that I know of, but it is a place to start.

Missouri has a site called MissouriArtsAndCrafts with a list of events and I'm sure your state probably has something similar. It is not complete and many event planners may not have started submitting their Fall shows for this year yet. I will sometimes go back to the year before and see what was offered and then do a google search to see if I can find any info on something if it sounds interesting.

I just discovered a new site called Craft Lister with over 50,000 events listed across the country. You can sign up for free but to access all the details and reviews of the shows it costs a fee. It is $20 for 2 months which should be all the time you would need. You can also get some time for free by giving reviews or referring people. If you are interested please let me know and I will send you an e-mail and if you sign up for the free account I get 14 days of full service for free!

Another comprehensive site is Festival Network Online. You can search events for free here but to get full details and other services it costs $49 a year. This is more than I can justify paying but I do use it to search and then I google events that sound interesting to see if I can find more details.

The Artsy Crafter is a favorite blog of mine that focuses on art and craft shows by an artist that has many years in the circuit to share. If you are just getting started it is good to attend some shows first to get a feel for it and talk to some vendors to get their ideas. Some people will be open to helping while others might be more reserved, especially if you are in the same category. I know there is at least one other knitter in the St. Louis area that I see around and consider my "competition" for shows. Would I share all of my secrets with her, probably not, but I'd be happy to answer any questions you guys might have about shows.


Christie Cottage said...

I completely understand about your scarves getting wet or obsorbing smells. I no longer take them out of their zip locks bags unless someone want s to look at them. I keep the bags on the table, lined up. This prevents them from getting dirty and obsorbing smells.

I love to do Fall/Winter shows, for one thing, people are buying for Christmas. I do summer shows too, just not knit items.

RhiannonSTR said...

You have a very nice blog. The fall is my favorite time of year - especially to do shows.

Kristin at My Art and the Mom in Me said...

Wow.. Paige. You just blow me away with all of your knowledge.. I am very grateful for it! :)

I will be doing my best this year to attend a lot of craft shows in this area..as I *think* I will be ready to do my first craft show in 2010.. Since I am actually making something with my beads instead of just making my beads.. I think this is the route I need to take.. Great Post!

Lynne said...

Very well put together ideas, something for anyone who's ever considered doing a show to think about. Thank you for the tips. :-D

Anonymous said...

Here's a question: How do you muster up the courage to sign up for one? Haha...I've been meaning to do one for a while now. I built up my spring line of bags to try one this spring/ summer, but haven't signed up for any yet. I'm on the Baltimore Etsy team and they provide plenty of opportunities with a history of info about them...i'm just too shy:) Plus the display seems a bit daunting to me. Any words of encouragement?

Over The Top Aprons said...

Hi Page, thanks for stopping by the blog: overthetopaprons I appreciate your comments. It is nice being involved in the June challenge.

Rose Works Jewelry said...

Have fun with your shows :)

KAT said...

Best of luck with all of your shows this year!! I love your table display! It looks awesome.

And also, I have given you an award over on http://soycandleblog.blogspot.com/
but I see you just got one!! LOL Oh well, know that you and your blog are deserving!!! :)

Take care,

Megryansmom said...

Ughh depression sucks. Hugs to you and good luck with your crafting.

Hot Rocks said...

Lots of great tips on doing shows. Your fees seem way better for getting a booth than what I have paid up here. The cheapest one I have done was $50.00, but alot are into the hundreds of dollars, so it really limits me on what shows I go in to. One note on the tents, I know that on some of the outdoor shows here, you need to have your tent made of flame retardant material, something to consider if you are thinking of purchasing one.

Leah said...

Craft shows are a lot of work, and for me, they became draining, so I've stopped doing them, at least temporarily. I agree with you though - if I start doing them again, I'll stick with 2-day, indoor shows.

Hot Rocks said...

I hope you don't mind but I posted on my blog about this post, and included a link to your blog.

Anonymous said...

I was secretly hoping you would do a post dedicated to the anxiety that surrounds doing your first craft show:) Thanks, I'm sure many others would really love to hear what you have to say on that subtopic too:)

TiLT said...

Awesome info!

I can't imagine leaving with my stuff smelling like BBQ - yuck!

Have you checked out Zapp? it's an online craft show application thing. I went to apply for a show nearby & they used it. Seems great. They take all the basic info & pass it on...plus they have a big 'ol list of shows & you can be updated by e-mail for new ones or those with deadlines approaching...and no - I have no affiliation :)


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