Selecting the right show for your craft or art can be a tricky thing. We have all had great shows as well as ones where you have bombed. Picking the right venue for you and your craft is a key to your success at a show. I am by no means the end all expert at this but over the years, I have learned a few things that I am happy to share.
How to find shows in your area: I keep my eyes open for shows all year. Finding good shows to participate in will require some work and research but it will be worth it if you find the right ones for you. Here are some the resources I use.
- Newspapers – One of my best resources is our community newspaper. When I see a show advertised, I make note of the information and add it to my list.
- Google Search – Use Google, or your favorite search engine, to search for shows by typing in “Craft Shows in (enter your city)”. This should return a list with a variety of resources to explore.
- Facebook or Google+ – Search for groups and organizations that focus on craft shows in your area. There are several in my area that post upcoming show information.
- Online Services – There are services out there that have “lists” of craft shows. My favorites are Festival Net (www.festivalnet.com) and Zapp (www.zapplication.org ) . Zapp is geared toward Art Shows and higher end shows where Festival Net has a large variety of events. While you can search on Festival Net for free, they do require a yearly subscription to get the most out of the site.
- Mail or Email Solicitations – Once you have exhibited at a few shows you may start receiving other invitations from people who picked up your business card and thought your products would be good for their show.
- Other Crafters – Talk to your booth neighbors as well as other vendors to find out about other shows they are doing. Many people have a small hand out available that details the shows they have coming up. Be sure to pick up cards from vendors that are doing well and look at their web site and Facebook pages. Often there will be a list of upcoming shows or posts from ones they have done in the past.
Travel: You will need to decide how far you want to travel to a show. You may find that bigger shows are in neighboring communities. I have met many vendors that travel every weekend for shows and often drive several hours to get to a large show.
Spring/Summer Shows vs. Fall/Holiday Shows: Holton Handicraft items tend to sell year round as we offer items that are inexpensive and useful to you, your household and your pets. My husband is The Lathe Junkie and makes hand turned wood bowls. Since his items are a bit pricier, we have found that they sell better in the fall when people are seeking Christmas gifts. This year we will be trying to exhibit his work at more art fairs then craft shows. This is something were you will just need to test the waters and determine what works best for you.
I try to visit a show before I commit to it: I like to visit a show as a customer first to get a feel for the show. This also allows me to talk to other vendors and see how the show has been for them. I try to visit during a shows peak hours of 11am-1pm but a visit towards the end of the show is also a great way to see if it has the draw power to pull people in. Look to see if people are buying and what they are buying. You can also get a lot of great merchandising ideas for your own products. You won’t have this kind of time to scope out a show you are exhibiting at so take full advantage of these visits.
Handcrafted or one with other Vendors: I personally try not to exhibit at shows where commercial goods are being sold. My idea of a craft show is handcrafted items not the party plans and other commercial items you can get any time. I know these exhibitors are just trying to make money too but if the show needs these types of vendors to fill their venue, is this really the type of show you want to be a part of?
Juried vs. Non-Juried: A juried show requires you to submit pictures of your items in advance of being accepted into the show. A jury reviews your pictures to make sure your items fit into their show. Be prepared for these types of shows with pictures of your best items as well as your items on display at a show. I have a one page sheet with several pictures on it that can be sent by email to a jury or be printed off and mailed if needed. Since juried shows are more selective of their vendors, I find that these are better shows for us to exhibit in.
Show Fees: Booth fees can vary as much as shows do. The expression “you get what you pay for” is true with shows. My experience has been that at a show with a $50 or more fee, we did better than a show with a $25 fee. Juried shows and art shows can be much more expensive with fees in the $100 and up range. Here again you need to decide what best fits your craft. If you have items that sell for $5.00 and under, you probably don’t want to participant in a show with a fee of $100. You would have to sell at least 20 of those $5.00 items just to break even on the fee. No matter what the fee, we try to have enough low cost impulse items available to cover the fee.
Advertising & Marketing: One of the most important things to consider when selecting a show is how they advertise and market the show, or how do they get people excited about coming to it. One of the best shows we do every year uses Facebook to help promote the show. They have set up a Facebook page for the show and start putting out teasers three months in advance. As they get closer to the show they start featuring each vendor with pictures of their items along with their booth location. They also provide vendors with graphics to use to promote the show on their own Facebook or web pages, have signs all over the community, and advertise in the local paper. It is run by a school PTO so there are also flyers about the show sent home with students and information added to the school newsletter.
Hope these tips have helped you with finding and selecting a craft show that is right for you. Watch for more tips on other show topics coming soon.