The Business Chat – Craft Show Displays

Ho ho ho, yes people, ‘tis the season. Christmas craft shows have begun and hopefully many of you have one or two on your calendar. Let’s talk about making each show a super success.

First of all, what would you consider to be a successful show? Will you be happy if you cover your costs and don’t throw up from stress? Do you have a target dollar figure in mind? Do you want to pay for a month on the beach from your profits? We all have different goals and standards and you need to know yours before you set up your booth. Write down your goal for the show and post it by your worktable. This is what you’re working towards.

The most important part of your successful craft show is your display. When you attend a craft show you are opening your own retail store for a day or three. How your store looks absolutely affects your sales. Your display will make your store’s first impression on your customer.

There is no formula for guaranteeing a good booth. In previous posts we’ve discussed branding and your business image. The main aim of branding is consistency. Your booth is a part of your brand, so the style of the display must reflect your jewellery and your graphic signature. You are aiming to create a total package. Think of the impression that you want to make on a customer when they enter your booth. What word should spring to their mind when in your booth?

Many beginner jewellers struggle to find their style. We all experiment at first. Unfortunately this can lead to a booth where the main feeling is one of chaos. At this point in your career you should be visiting as many craft shows as you can. Always carry your handy notebook. Make two passes through every show. The first pass is to look at displays only, and not just the jewellery booths. Every time something catches your eye, stop and think about what you like about the display. Is it the colour, the height, the uniqueness? When you see a booth crowded with customers, ask yourself why. Conversely if a booth is empty, look for the reasons. Having the best product doesn’t mean having the best sales. After you have walked the show floor looking at booth displays, walk it a second time looking at jewellery. Ask yourself why your jewellery is better and why a customer would buy yours first (because yours is better, isn’t it?).

There are many professional jewellery display companies. When you use these, you look like any other jeweller. Opt for non-traditional (and usually cheaper) display units. Create something unique that reflects you. Good places to look are kitchen suppliers, home décor stores or restaurant supply stores. One of the most popular sources of display items is Ikea, they have great mirrors!

For indoor shows, lighting is the key. Buy the brightest, best lights that you can afford and buy double the amount you think you need. Take extra extension cords. Most importantly, make your display portable and durable. You are the one schlepping the display from home at 6 a.m.

Make sure your booth has good storage, since no one wants to see clutter. You will need a cash and packaging area. It’s also good to have a workspace in your booth. You won’t be selling every minute of the day, so why not put that time to use? People are fascinated with the process of creation, and it’s a great sales tool.

With any luck you will have the space at home or in your studio to set up your booth in advance and work out all the details. One of the most important tools you can create is a checklist of all booth items. If you can’t set up in advance sit down and write out your booth checklist and set up list. Walk your self through the set up and write down every step. I don’t know about you but I’m not at my best at 6 a.m. and having a list that tells me, “1. hang the curtains 2. wire the lighting 3. erect the grid walls” really helps. It’s also handy if you have others helping you, rather than telling everyone what to do they can look at the list.

As you write down the steps to setting up your booth, write down the checklist of all items you need. All those little tiny items must be accounted for. Don’t forget the screwdriver (check the screws you’re using to make sure you don’t bring a slotted head instead of a Phillips!), cable ties, duct tape, Windex, rags, pens and visa slips. It is a whole lot easier at 6 a.m. to pack up a car with a handy checklist than trying to remember details like Windex. Oh, and a tip – always bring rubbing alcohol and cotton balls if you sell jewellery. No matter how many times you tell people not to try on earrings someone always will.

Give yourself plenty of time for setting up. If you think it will take you 2 hours to set up your booth, arrive 3 hours early just to be sure. Always make sure that you are ready when the doors open.

Always remember that you are part of the display. People want a piece of you – the artist. Dress appropriate to your jewellery. Of course, wear your own jewellery (you’d be surprised how many don’t!). No matter how nervous you are, smile. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the show. Just relax.

When the show is over, analyze the experience as soon as you get home. Consider what worked and what didn’t. What will you change for the next show?

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