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Saturday, April 27, 2024

Looking back--that awful first booth

 My first time out at a maker's fair was a complete disaster.  I made just about every mistake it was possible to make.  Some of them were monumental. I had a borrowed  tent.  I had no idea how to put the canopy on it.  After my husband and I wrangled with it an hour we decided I could live without shade.  And of course there was no chance of rain predicted.

It rained buckets for 45 minutes.  We stood there trying to hold the unattached canopy over most of my stuff.  Then the sun came out and we were standing there in soaking wet clothes.  

I had priced my items haphazardly and had to prop them against each other and my makeshift tables because I had no walls or hanging spaces.  The prices were written with magic marker on masking tape.  In the midst of 45 other professional looking booths I looked like I was at the tail end of a garage sale. 

But I sold one small painting. That meant I made a profit of $15 for the day.  My husband closed his eyes and shook his head silently.  He could tell --I was planning to do it again.

That was back in 2016.  I have since done a lot of investigating online and at other shows to get ideas for what to do. I experienced a LOT of what NOT to do (especially at that first time).

So now, I have a straight-leg, easy setup white tent with

sidewalls, tent weights, two folding tables, fitted table covers that cover the mess under the tables, and most useful of all, an assortment of gridwall panels that I can configure to maximize my space in just about any circumstance.  Believe me, not all 10'x10' spaces are alike.  And some organizers don't measure very well.  Some shows will only have space for a table.  You have to just be ready to adapt, no matter what.

And you have to take your neighbors into consideration.  Most of them will be good people.  But every now and then you will run across one who creates a need for a barrier.  They may spill over into your space. Or have a very distracting booth space themself.  Or ambush your customers and move with them into their own space. (this one is especially irritating, and it is NOT acceptable to whack them over the head with a heavy object, no matter how appealing that sounds--sticking a piece of gridwall full of paintings in the way works just as well and has fewer consequences)

Having a booth is always more fun when sales are good.  But that isn't the only thing you are doing there.  You are presenting yourself and your art, and may make contacts with

future customers who see your work and come find you.  I always have a supply of my business cards, which contain my social media handles as well as my name and contact information.  Don't be afraid to hand them out, that's why you have them!  I also keep an email sign up (with the pen tied to the clipboard or else it leaves) so I can send out my little newsletters,  I don't send them if I don't have something to say, so most people don't mind getting them.  

There are a ton of free craft fair checklists available online to start out with, but you can keep track of what works for you and what doesn't and add or subtract items from the list as you gain experience. 

You do well to use one as a starting point to cover the "must take" items and check them off each go-round.  Learn from each new experience, be it good or bad.  And enjoy getting out there!  Your space is YOUR show, and you WILL connect with the right market if you just keep trying new things and evolving.

Share some of YOUR booth photos--good or bad--along with comments on this post!

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Looking back--that awful first booth

 My first time out at a maker's fair was a complete disaster.   I made just about every mistake it was possible to make.  Some of them w...