Updated: 5 days ago
I have been attending fungus and craft fairs as a vendor for 8 years now--indoors and outdoors, in the summertime and during the winter months, for single day events and multi-day celebrations, and from Santa Cruz all the way to Fort Bragg, California! I can confirm that all shows have their strong points and their straining moments, but ultimately, I have always found myself so satisfied at the end of an event with a job well done. There's nothing quite like being able to share your art with others!
I feel like we've really dialed in our set-up this year, and as we've grown, I've been mentally putting together this list--my "tips for success"--with the hopes of helping other little businesses find their way to prosperity.
BEFORE THE EVENT
Be aware of what is required of you for this event. Are there any applications or fees due? Where will you park your car? When should you check in? Where are you expected to set up your booth?
Design an eye-catching and theme-appropriate booth set up. What does your brand represent? What are you selling? Create a booth that reflects the aesthetic/theme of your products. Check Pinterest for ideas. Make sure to have a tablecloth!
Create a business card. Whether you have your business cards professionally printed, or you print them yourself using an Avery template, it's important to have your contact information/social media details available to customers.
Check the weather forecast and pack accordingly. (If you live somewhere where the weather forecast can be "iffy" like I do... well... use your best judgement!) Bring paper weights (I painted some river rocks white for this purpose) or painters tape to help fight against wind, sunscreen and sunglasses for extra sunny days can be a godsend, and a walled pop-up canopy if precipitation is expected will be a life saver!
Consider if you wish to be standing or sitting during this event. In my early marketplace years I would overhear that it's good idea for vendors to stand during events--but this isn't always a reasonable request on the body (certainly not mine)! Bring along a camping chair if needed.
Determine how to keep yourself fed. Will you bring an easy-to-munch snack, or will there be food vendors present?
Create a price sheet and label your products. I always keep a full price list in the center of my table. I have also found that labeling my products for what they are (i.e. "magnets", "bookmarks", "note card bundles", "8 x 10 prints", etc.) can be very helpful for the customer.
Design a way to record your inventory. We created a printable form using Numbers (Microsoft Excel or any data entry program should work well for this purpose) that allows us to record a variety of information, such as products sold, number of hourly transactions, potential customer count, and much more. Include a "Notes" section and an area for "Event Name" and "Date". Be sure to bring a clipboard and pen on event day so you can fill our your form.
Make sure to have items at various price points. Accessibility is key and customers will appreciate having options! Stickers priced for kids are always a good idea.
Fill your cash box with different sized bills from the bank. Take a look at the cost of your products and determine what mix of bills you should keep on hand.
Consider if you will accept debit/credit cards. Square is an excellent and very user-friendly option if you choose to go this route.
Be sure you will have enough inventory on hand. You'll want to have a little of everything (but don't over exert yourself--pre-show burn out can be very real!).
Consider if you may need a handcart to transport items to and from your booth location. We purchased a great option on Amazon (see link to my Amazon Storefront, below).
Bring a friend. Having a focused and responsible friend who believes in your work just as much as you do along for the ride can be a lot of fun!
Be prepared. Have a lot of things to remember? Make lists so you don't forget to do something or leave anything behind! I have an "event day check-list" for this purpose. You may also want add the event coordinator's contact information to your cell phone in case of emergency.
Tell others about the event! Be sure to share where details regarding the event with others. Follow the "who, what, when, where, why" approach. Social media is a great place to start!
Create an "Event Day Check List". On it, write everything you'll need to remember to bring along with you to the event. Include things like a roll of paper towels and binder clips in case of emergency (binder clips can fix more unexpected malfunctions than you might realize!).
Using your check list, pack as much as you can the day before. Give yourself a peaceful morning on event day. You'll apprciate it!
DURING THE EVENT
Be on time and park responsibly.
Wear something eye-catching. My mushroom hat is a great example; I can't tell you how many people are drawn to our booth because they see my hat first!
Be prepared to talk about your work--and do so with pride! Questions are a good thing. If people are interested in what you have to share, don't be shy! Talk up your work. What are you proud of? What details are your favorites?
Support your fellow vendors. See a market member in need? Struggling to erect a canopy or losing product to a gust of wind? If the situation allows, don't be shy!
Keep your cashbox within an arm's reach at all times. Tucking the box under your table, or keeping it behind fixtures can work well.
Be friendly. Don't be afraid to say hello to fair goers! Inquire about their day or their experience at the fair. Get them talking--and remember: you are a representation of your brand!
Make sure to subtly record your sales.
Don't take anything personally! Not everyone is going to love your art--but the right people will!
AFTER THE EVENT
Review inventory and record all sales. Make sure to take full account for what you sold and take down any notes for next time. What was successful? What would you do differently?
Indulge in a hot bath or shower, snuggle up with a comfort food and favorite movie, and celebrate the day! You did it!!
You can find all my favorite vendor gear on my Amazon Storefront: www.amazon.com/shop/influencer-09a3858c