Do you ever wonder what goes on in the life of an artist before and during a craft show? Trust me, I had no clue either until I became a vendor myself. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns. Oh no, my friends. Behind the scenes, there is a whole lot of preparation, planning, and a touch of mayhem. Setting up a craft show is not for the faint of heart, so buckle up.
Today I am pulling back the curtain and giving you a glimpse into the crazy world of craft show prep. Get ready to witness the magical chaos of meticulous organization, improvising on the fly, and bursts of creative inspiration that unfolds.
It’s a ballet of creativity, tech-savviness, muscle power, and loads of fun that come together to create a great event!
So join me as you I fill you in on the special recipe that works for me! (Stay with me…this is long!)
Apply to be in a show. This is no simple task. They want photos. Sometimes they want printed photos, sometimes they want online photos. Sometimes you even have to present your work in person. Then you wait. And wait. And wait to hear if you got accepted. Sometimes you don’t get accepted and you can be pretty disappointed. Other times you are placed on the waitlist, and a month before the show you get a surprise email saying you’re now in. It can be an emotional roller coaster. 🎢
Plan my booth layout. Doing a sketch is sometimes helpful. Luckily, I tend to do repeat shows so this isn’t that hard.
Spread the word! 📣 I post about the show on Facebook, Instagram, and email. I share all of the info - including location, date, and the booth number where the fun will happen.
Make products. It’s time to whip out my creative superpowers. I look at gaps I have in my inventory. For example, do I have enough earrings for all of my beautiful customers who might be looking for that new special pair? Do I need to make more bracelets in fabulous shades of purple?
Label, label, label. 🏷 Prices, prices, prices. Ensure all items are labeled with their price and item number for inventory tracking. For earrings, for example, this means putting my labels on the earring cards, putting the earring card hanger on the earring card, putting the earrings on the card with the stoppers, then adding the price label.
Label, label, label (again). 🛍🎁 It’s not just the product that needs to be priced. I also put labels in my gift boxes and on my gift bags. I also put business cards in the gift boxes and organza bags that I put the jewelry in. It’s always better to have too many than too few.
Website. 💻 Make sure I capture the beauty of all new items. I measure and photograph all new items for the website. I also write their descriptions. They need to be online before the show for my inventory system to work. That way they are also online for when the show is over.
Organize products. This is when I bring order to the creative chaos. I have different containers for my products, and they all go into their proper places…after the steps above. (And yes, these are organized, even if they don't look like to you!)
Cash baby! 💵 I need to be able to make change, so I make sure I have enough bills and coins. This may mean a trip to the bank.
Power up! 📱 Charge all electronic devices. I charge my phone, tablet, and credit card reader. I bring a charging cable and a portable charger just in case.
Know the show. 📜 I review any rules specific to the show, including set up time and where to unload the car and park the car after unloading. And know the weather forecast and plan accordingly. One year, it hailed during my outdoor show. Thank goodness I had a solid roof over my head even though we were outside.
Pack the goodies! 🥕🥪🍎🍪🥤 Snacks, water, and lunch are my fuel for the craft show adventure. Do you know I can put on 10,000 steps a day in my little 10x10 booth? I need some healthy food, yummy treats and refreshing drinks to sustain me through that.
- Gather the goods. 📜 I have a spreadsheet that includes the following and then some. It even has extra items for outdoor shows, like a fan.
- Tables, chairs, and other furniture I use for my set up
- Tablecloths, display stands, and signage
- Cash box, credit card reader, and iPad
- Gift bags, gift boxes, and packaging materials.
- An assortment of chains and cords that I add to my necklaces.
- Extension cords, power strips, and lighting
- Price tags, labels, and markers – a tag inevitably falls off and needs replaced
- Business cards
- Signage for the booth – from the big sign for the business, to the little ones with QR codes that can be used at check out (for Venmo, CashApp, and PayPal)
- Essential items such as scissors, tape, pins and spare parts
- Personal items such as tissues, ibuprofen, etc.
- Chainmail supplies for adjustments on the spot
- Hand sanitizer for both me and customers to use
- Paper towels to clean any messes. They double as napkins for my snacks.
Meanwhile, I unleash my inner design guru and arrange all of my product and organize my check out booth. This is all so much easier for shows that allow you to set up the day before the show. But two of my regular shows set up the morning of the first day. That means getting up at the crack of dawn to get there early enough to have adequate time to set up before opening. It takes me a jaw dropping 2 ½ to 3 hours to get my booth ready to prime time.
Phew! Are you tired yet? Are you excited? It’s exhausting and invigorating at the same time for me. I love meeting customers and hearing from them what they want. And of course I love seeing a queue of folks waiting to make a purchase. This is what makes all of the planning and set up worth it for me to keep doing in person shows!