Photo of Shana taken by Emiko Oye
Crafters and makers, it’s that time of year! By now you are knee deep in to do lists for holiday craft fairs and events. When I designed jewelry this was both my favorite and most dreaded time of year. I didn’t participate in any shows last season but spent a lot of time shopping at these local events. Checking out the fairs from the perspective of a customer can be incredibly enlightening and productive and the knowledge can help increase sales at your own events
First as a shopper, I always look for eye catching and easy to manage displays.
We all know how overwhelming these events can be and it’s easy to be overlooked if you don’t stand out. Create a display that we can’t forget. Inspire an emotion that makes us feel like stopping to shop. Keep it classy and simple but unforgettable. This sounds easy and it can be but it takes effort and thoughtfulness. And it is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Don’t panic. Even if you have a show next weekend you have plenty of time to do one or two things to make your booth pop. If you like to keep your display straight forward and let your jewelry really stand out by all means do but find another way to stand out. My good friend and long time crafter/jewelry designer Shana Astrachan is brilliant at this! Her jewelry is fun and whimsical and an overdone display would be too much so instead she personally dresses the part. She has a super mod, vintage style and she always lets that shine at the shows. She wears colors that go with her line. She takes time to wake up early and looks amazing. And she talks to everyone that comes to her table. Watching her work is a lovely and inspiring experience.
Secondly, I will walk away from an overcrowded booth and try to return later.
For some people the energy of a table overrun with customers might be exciting and entice them to push their way in. Not me. Not a lot of other serious shoppers either. It is important to me to see that the vendor is trying to help moderate the crowd by creating a table that flows. I am a big fan of the “L” or “U” shaped booths with someone taking payment at one of the ends. I also really appreciate a vendor who works efficiently and quickly. Don’t talk too long to one person and help motivate movement. That helps me feel that you think each of your potential customers are important and that you want us all to have an easy time shopping. And if you know through experience that you are going to be super busy by all means pay someone (or barter) to help you. That little extra effort really shows you care.
Most importantly, be friendly.
I am the kind of shopper that rarely buys at my first stop at a booth. Sometimes I will walk away with all intention to go back but unless something stands out, like one crazy sweet smile from the artist, there is a good chance I might forget. Sometimes this is my loss but I rarely leave with regrets. I will buy from you online when I get home if I can’t quit thinking about that perfect print but… that won’t happen if you didn’t make me feel good when I was there. Years ago I approached a table with one of the loveliest necklaces I have ever seen. Not once did the artist smile when I was there. I asked her about her online shop and if the particular item was available there. She mumbled yes but not at the discounted rate. I had all intention of paying more for the item later and said that would not be a problem. When I asked her for her card she said she could only give them out to people who purchased at the event. There was so much wrong with this experience but what bothered me most was the lack of any smile or kindness. I still see that necklace online but never will I shop from her. It broke my heart that she had this beautiful talent but couldn’t be bothered to be nice.
This may seem like a lot but I really wanted to share my experience as a shopper. Making a potential customer feel good and help them feel relaxed during these often super hectic events is priceless and often not forgotten.
From my experience selling at these events, I created one super helpful craft fair preparation check off list and I would love to share it with you! All you have to do is connect with me on one of my three favorite social media sites – follow me on Pinterest or Twitter or become a fan on Facebook and I’ll email one your way! Just make sure you message me through one of the sites or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I have your info.
Happy holiday shopping season!
Shelly Kerry — Creating Space, Mindful Living
Shelly Kerry is the founder of the program Creating Space, Mindful Living – motivating and inspiring people to run their businesses more efficiently. She helps others look at their personal and professional lives and explore what is and isn’t working. As a jewelry designer she has spent many years testing and honing the skills and discipline needed to run your own creative business while still having time for friends, family and fun. She puts her wealth of experience to use in the Creating Space service – healthy living advice to help keep you motivated and make the most out of your already busy schedule. She will help you find both the physical and emotional space so you can pursue your dreams and she’ll always insist there’s time for yourself.
Shelly writes guest posts on living your best life on well-known blogs such as Kanelstrand, Handmade Success and Awfully Grand and is pursuing a Core Strengths coaching certificate through San Francisco State University.
You can now find Creating Space on Facebook.