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Ever wondered if you knew all the "unwritten rules" of being a craft exhibitor?
The idea for this article came from show promoter Eva Hansen of The Happening, held at Thomas Haney Secondary in maple ridge, BC. Eva runs this successful craft show as part of the school program. Students are involved with organizing, promoting and running the show - right down to being parking lot attendants for the busy event! The craft show becomes a school event and its popularity translates into great sales for its craft exhibitors.
After contacting several show promoters, the feedback started to roll in on the fax machine and over the e-mail - I must admit that I was a little surprised when I read the top tips for craft show etiquette. Most of the tips I thought were, well kind of obvious, however when all the tips where in I noticed that not only were the tips simple and rather obvious - they were repeated by several show promoters! This got me to thinking that the simple manners that so many of us take for granted are not so obvious to many! So I hope that you will read over the tips of do's and don'ts and perhaps it just might be an eye-opener for you as well!
The Happening Crafters "Do" List - Eva Hansen
Colleen MacKinnon, of Rag-a-Muffin Collectibles Inc., has been selling her dolls, Santas and ornaments at local craft shows and gift shops since 1990. In addition Colleen promotes 'Twas the Month Before Christmas.' This year will mark the fourth anniversary of what she calls "our show" or 'Twas' for short. It is a blended display of antiques, crafts and food items. The show runs at Tynhead Community Hall, Surrey BC. Colleen hopes to have a website up and running later this year.
Tips for a Blended Craft Show - Colleen MacKinnon
Barb St. Laurent is the organizer of another blended show in Cloverdale BC. Here are Barb's suggestions for maximizing your time and effort at a home show.
How to Maximize your Time & Effort - Barb St. Laurent
Dress up. Let your customers know they are buying quality crafts from classy people.
If you have a problem go directly to the source - don't undermine the show by grumbling to each other.
Teamwork - build each other up.
Hand out flyers - they are costly so don't waste them by not distributing them, only to have to throw them out after the show.
Come to the show happy. A smile is very contagious.
Treat every single customer with courtesy and respect. Without them there would be no show!
Please understand that the promoter of the show is under a great deal of stress during the craft show. She is working on your behalf so help where you can.
The following tips come from the promoter of one of Western Canada's most successful craft shows. The Coquitlam Craft sale just celebrated its 22nd year for the Christmas Sale and its 11th year for the Fall Sale. Show organizer Becky McDonald is now doing the show with her daughter! Since Becky always has more crafters than booths, she can afford to be selective when choosing exhibitors. What does becky recommend when it comes to craft show etiquette?
Craft Show Etiquette - Becky McDonald
Respect - Respect other crafters around you - don't plan your display so large that it infringes on the people on either side. Don't cover the entire floor area with boxes during set up.
Respect the organizers. If there is a problem, discuss it with the show organizer (who can do something about it), not the people on either side of your display.
Product Line - Check with the organizers before adding any new crafts to your display. The crafters have been well placed and anything new may be the same as someone next to you.
Promotion - Do what's asked of you regarding the advertising and let the organizers know what you've done.
Presentation - Dress well. No jeans. The more effort you make to look good, the better your sales will be. if you don't make the effort to look good the customers will think your craft was thrown together as well.
Display - Use the space you paid for. Rarely will a sale allow electrical cords running across the floor, so if you need to use electricity make sure you pay for and request a wall space.
Don't change your display at the last minute and expect the organizers to remove a table from your spot on the day of the sale. It interferes with the other crafts people setting up their displays.
Only use the space you paid for. The table have been carefully laid out to pre-show requirements. If you see extra footage not being used, it may be that the person who has paid for it has not yet arrived.
Paperwork - Check to make sure your cheque has been cashed so you know you're registered. One year, we had three people show up for their tables who we did not have registered. It was embarrassing at the time thinking we were to blame and then the next week they sent cheques in with an apology.
Harassment - Don't phone the organizers repeatedly with questions. Save them all up and make one call. Better yet - read your show material - chances are the answers are there! The organizers are dealing with a lot of other crafters and if they all called three or four times, it amounts to a lot of time on the phone! Wouldn't you rather have your show organizer spending her time promoting the show to improve your sales????
Complaints - Don't complain out loud how the sale would be better if only the weather were better, or in some cases, worse. Customers overhear these remarks and get a negative spin on the sale.
Bridges - Don't burn your bridges with the organizers. Even if you haven't done well at that particular sale, always seek out the organizers and say thank you. Believe me, it's remembered and may make a difference the following year when the tables are being allocated.
Preparation - Make a checklist of things you'll need to take to the sale. Sometimes the obvious things like a float, extension cord, power bar or table covering get overlooked and the organizers may not have an emergency supply to cover your forgotten items.
Keeping It Positive - Trudy Ferguson an Judy Meixner
Be customer friendly, focus on selling, talk to people, and stand up.
Be positive and encouraging - even when you aren't doing as well as you would like.
Smile be enthusiastic, and approachable. Consider the needs of the other people around you.
Bring any problems to the promoters first, don't spread problems, it creates a negative atmosphere that no one needs.
Our tips from eastern Canada come from show promoter Leslie Bailey of Celebration Exposition of the Arts, her show runs in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Leslie Bailey works in wood and fabric to design whimsical/folkart country collectables.
Tips for Eastern Canada - Leslie Bailey
Display-Display-Display - I can't stress enough the importance of display. It gives a show a professional look when all artisans have creative displays. It keeps the customers coming back year after year, and most important it improves your sales. Nothing looks more like a flea market as when crafters lay everything on a table in front of them. I would almost go as far as banning tables all together except some people do use a table creatively.
Be courteous of your booth neighbours. Stay within your space.
Dress - Dress professionally! You are representing your work - if you were selling at a department store you would have a dress code. Here you are selling your work, show some pride and dress accordingly (never old jeans or sweats).
If possible man our own booth at all times. People like to talk with the artist. No one knows your work like you do. If you are unable, be sure the person you have is knowledgeable about your work.
Set Up and Tear Down - Be sure to be set up on time. Nothing is more unprofessional than opening the doors to the public and you are still unpacking stock or rearranging displays. when the doors open you should be ready at your booth with a smile to greet your customer.
Never start to dismantle your display before closing. If the show is over at 5pm, then at 5:01 is when you should start tearing down. Although it is often slow during the last hour of a show, there are still customers who might hurry out without buying if they think you just want to get out of there. Even if you don't have a sale your neighbour might - so be respectful of that.
Paperwork - Submit all forms, contracts and payments to show management on time. Organizing a quality show is a lot of work and when we have to waste hours calling exhibitors for paperwork of payments - we could be lining up more promotions etc. it is very frustrating.
The following tips come from show promoter, Paul Yard of the prestigious Circle craft show held at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre in Vancouver BC.
A Promoter's Pointers - Paul Yard
Stay our of other people's booths if you don't have an invitation... particularly booths with similar products to your own.
Wear your identification even if most of the staff know you. Keep your booth open and looking sharp al the hours that the show is open. Don't start packing up an hour before closing!
Follow up promptly with orders and commitments that you make at a show. failure to do so not only reflects on you but on the show as well.
Be neatly dressed and clean! wear deodorant - comb your hair!
Try and have relief for lunch and coffee breaks if at all possible. don't eat in your booth....and certainly do not drink (alcohol).
I am sure that you found these tips to be extremely enlightening. You will now be off to the shows on your best behavior! Have a great show season.
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