Craft Show Tip: How Much Inventory to Take to Shows

Craft Show Tip - How Much Inventory to Take

How much inventory to take to a craft show is a question I have been getting a lot lately, so I’m going to tackle it here today.

There is nothing worse than going to a craft show and doing well and then running out of something that is the hot seller of the day.  While, believe me, you can’t always predict what your hot seller will be from show to show, you can at least try to plan from your previous shows.

If this is your first show you might have to guess a little more.  However, if you sold in any other venues think about what sells well in those venues.  If this is your first selling experience, then consider what people compliment you on or what your friends or coworkers have asked if you would make them when they see you wearing it.

Don’t necessarily count on that, though, because without exception – no matter how much of something you bring – there will be people who wanted it in the only color you don’t have.

Start Working on Your Inventory Early

No matter how much you end up deciding to take with you, start working on your inventory well ahead of time.  If you start doing more and more shows you’ll eventually just have to supplement and replenish what you sold at the previous show, but it can seem pretty overwhelming at your first show.

Make a plan of how much you want to bring (we’ll talk about this in a moment) and then make a plan on how you’re going to be able to complete that amount of items in the time you have.  Figure out how many pieces you need to make each week and even each day if that’s what you need to stay on track.

Don’t forget about actually tagging items, too.  That can be time consuming as well.

Even if you don’t reach your total goal, take as much as you can.  You can’t sell if you don’t have it with you.

How to Figure Out How Much Inventory to Take to a Craft Show:

Here’s a little caveat, how much you take will vary based on what you sell and your brand.  I sell jewelry, so I mostly have in mind jewelry when I’m writing this.  Jewelry is light and easy to carry.  So if you sell something light, it’s always a good idea to bring as much as you can, even if you don’t put it all out right away.

If you sell something large or heavy, you may have some restrictions because you can’t fit as much in your vehicle or even in your booth.  It’s still good to have more than you think you will sell.

1.  How much did the show cost?

I don’t always necessarily find this true, but there used to be this thing where you should plan to sell 10 times more than the show cost.

So if you paid a $100.00 fee, then you should plan to sell $1,000.00.

This is not always the case, so don’t feel crushed if that doesn’t happen for you.  I have had different shows where I have sold less and shows where I’ve sold more than that.

It’s a good starting point for deciding on inventory.

2.  Then multiple that by 2.

So in our example, that would bring us up to $2,000.00 worth of inventory.

If this number seems high to you, don’t panic.  This is just a goal.  I always say you should have more than you plan to sell.

Think about it this way, when you go shopping, if there were only a few things left to choose from you might choose nothing.  So we have to have more than we plan to sell.  If it’s a busy show you can keep replenishing your booth with new inventory as you sell it.  If it’s not a busy show, well then you’ll have to make less for the next show.

If you’re worried that you’re just starting and you’ll be putting a lot of money into untested products, then adjust accordingly.  This is just a guide.  Or perhaps do some smaller shows and take less inventory to get started to test out what sells well.

3.  Now, how many pieces do you have to sell to get to that number?

On average, what do your pieces cost?  I understand that you probably have a range of prices, but thing about the middle priced item perhaps.  Let’s say that’s $40.00.  So to get to $2,000.00 you’d need 50 $40.00 priced items.

If you know you sell a lot of items that are $20.00, then maybe use that as your guide.  Or maybe just work it out that you’ll take 40 $20.00 items and 20 $40.00 items and then a few more expensive pieces.

This is not an exact science.  It’s just a guide.  So don’t get too worked up about figuring it out to the exact dollar.

4. Make a plan

For every craft show I did I had a list of what inventory I wanted to take.  (I saved it in Word and just adjusted it for each show.)

So I had a list of:

Earrings

Bracelets

Necklaces

Pendants

Rings

And I would decide how much of each I wanted to take.  I would list what specific styles and colors I wanted of each (and specifically how many).

Then I would see what I already had ready to go.  I would cross off what I had already from that list.  And then I knew what I needed to make.  As I completed items, I crossed them off.

Yeah, that is pretty freaking organized and you may think it’s overkill.  It probably was overkill for some shows, but for others I was glad I was that prepared.

Frankly, you won’t need that list as you get comfortable with shows.  I always did it because it always helps me to focus to have a list where I can check off things.

Your Turn

You can use my suggestions as a guide and pick and choose what works for you.  If this is your very first craft show, just take as much as you can and don’t get upset if you don’t reach that number.

If you have more inventory than what I suggested:  great!  Take it!  You certainly can’t sell it if you don’t have it.

As you do more and more craft shows you’ll get better at predicting how much inventory you’ll need.

Good luck!

Getting ready for your first craft shows?  My suggestion is to be prepared.  And my Craft Show Tips eBook will help you prepare!

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Craft Show Tip: Display Design Part 2

Craft Show Tip - Display Design Part 2

Last week, we talked about display design in great detail, including a worksheet to get you thinking about your display.

Click here for Craft Show Tip:  Display Design Part 1

In Part 2, we’ll talk about where to get your displays.

Before we even start, I wanted to mention something I didn’t mention last week and that is that there are certain shows where you will be required to follow certain display parameters.

In most cases, however, you’ll be given a 10 X 10 spot and you can do whatever you like (within reason) in that space.  All my suggestions are for these types of shows.

Where to Get Displays

It’s easy to find a tent and tables, so I’m not going to get into that here.  What I’m really talking about is more the smaller display pieces that go on your tables or in your booth that really show your style.

So refer back to your worksheet from last week.  By the end of it you should have a pretty good idea of what you need to pull off your display.  Now it’s time to put it together.

The best example I have is my own craft show display.  My jewelry was whimsical and fun, definitely not serious at all.  I used light and girly colors in my booth, mostly pink and white but sometimes I used tablecloths that were flowery as well.

Tablecloths

I have never actually used actual “tablecloths” in my booth.  I have always used sheets.  When I first started doing craft shows I thought tablecloths were too expensive, the wrong size and I could never find what I wanted.  So I used flat sheets.  (Flat sheets were a lot less expensive back then, by the way.)

I purchased mine new and I found queen size to be about perfect for my tables.

When my husband and I got married we had an eco-friendly wedding.  My mom and I sewed all of our cloth napkins and tablecloths for the wedding.  My mom and I sourced flat sheets from thrift stores, washed them and then sewed them into tablecloths and napkins.

After my wedding I had all these tablecloths, so I picked out my favorites and started using them in my booth.  The photo above is one such tablecloth.  They were a bit shorter than I like for my booth because I prefer my tablecloths to go to the ground so I can store my bins under my tables during craft shows, so I used white and then layered the floral tablecloths on top.

You can find all kinds of unique sheets to use as tablecloths.  You don’t even necessarily need to sew them to a certain size, just drape them over your tables.  If you have a vintage or more whimsical feel it’s probably going to be a little easier.  However, I’ve found black, white and other solid colors as well.

You could also purchase them new and save yourself all the looking and scavenging around.

And, of course, you could make your own tablecloths from fabric or find new tablecloths to purchase.  Maybe you could find a tablecloth at a thrift store that’s perfect.

Displays

Once you figure out the look you’re going for, you’ll start to find things all over.  It helps if you go to yard sales, auctions or visit thrift stores, but a couple of my favorite displays have been from Target as well.  In fact, my necklace display that people constantly commented on how unique it was was simply a decorative piece from Target that I actually got on clearance.

Just think about things in a different way.  If you sell jewelry, don’t necessarily look for “necklace holders.”  Look at different decorative pieces and think about how they would work with your pieces and then how you could use them in your booth.

Of course, I’ve picked up a lot of my displays at thrift stores and antique stores.  But I have also purchased them at Target (like I mentioned), basket stores and traditional jewelry display shops.

Personally, I get bored when I see a display that’s full of those pre-made necklace holders.  It may look professional, but it has no personality.  Everyone has them.  But if you mix them up with some other pieces with more personality it makes it more interesting.

You could try garage or yard sales (or tag sales depending where you live.)  You can look around your own home or garage.  You probably have all kinds of possible display pieces for your craft show booth just sitting around.

Ask People to Help

People love to help, so if you have friends or family that can help you find pieces, ask them.  If you need someone to build something and your brother is great at that kind of stuff, ask him for some help.  If your mom goes to auctions, ask her to keep her eyes open for certain things.  If you’re not a thrifter, but your best friend is, ask her to help you.  She would love to help you!

Keep an open mind and you’ll find all kinds of things to use for displays!

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Craft Show Tip: 7 Reasons You Should Be Planning for Craft Shows Now

Planning for Craft Shows

We’re coming to the end of January.  Do you know what craft shows you’re doing this year?

You may be thinking, “Wait a minute.  It’s January.  Isn’t it a little early to start planning?”

We just got through the holidays and spring seems a long way off, but yes, it is time to start figuring out what craft shows you want to apply to.

7 Reasons Why You Should Be Planning for Craft Shows Now:

1.  It’s great to know what shows you’ll be doing for the year so you can have an idea of the amount of products you’re going to need to produce to get ready for the shows.

Each show you’ll do you’ll sell your products and you’ll need more.  You’ll need to have an idea of how many things you’ll need to make per week to get ready for each show.

2.  Some craft shows have early deadlines to get in.  If you check now you can probably still get in (except for some that may have yearlong waiting lists or very early application deadlines.)  Make sure you’re sending in your application on time to make sure you get into the shows you want to do.

3.  The new Art and Craft Show Directories just came out for the year.  You can go through and pick out what shows you want to go for, see prices, what they require and find out how to apply.  I usually find mine at a craft supply store.

4.  If it’s a really popular show, you might need to get on a waiting list.  Better to take care of that now.  I know for the big craft show in my hometown if you apply in January or later they’ll look at your application for the following year.  (The show is in August.)   But if you keep waiting you’ll never get on that list.

5.  You can plan your schedule and then print it up to give out or post it on your website.  The sooner you know what shows you’re doing, the sooner you can tell people.

6.  Now is a great time to work on your booth design and work out any kinks and design what components you’d like to add.  Then you can start gathering/building those components now to get ready for Craft Show season.

7.  You can buy my Craft Show Tips eBook and read and study it so you’re prepared when craft show season hits.

I hope you’ll start thinking about getting ready for craft show season now.

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Craft Show Tips: Newsletters

Craft Show Tips:  Newsletters

Having a newsletter or email updates is important for any business whether you’re doing craft shows or not.  You need a way to keep in touch with your customers so they remember you and all the cool stuff you make.

But today we’re focusing on how newsletters can help you get and keep customers at craft shows.

What’s a newsletter?

First let me clarify what I mean by a newsletter.  I don’t mean those flyers you used to get in the mail, although that is a newsletter.  What I mean is simply email updates.  Someone gives you their email address and says it’s okay for you to email them.  Then you send them updates.

The email updates you send do not have to be big newsletters full of different articles and information.  In fact, it’s probably better if they’re not that because then you can send them a focused email that’s just about one thing.

So for example, say you have a craft show coming up in a week.  You can send out an email specifically about that craft show.  You can show your subscribers some new things you’ll have at the craft show that they may be interested in purchasing.  You can give them some information about how to get to the show and where your booth will be.  But the entire email is just about that one show.

You can, of course, choose how often you’ll send out newsletters.  You want to send them enough that people don’t forget about you, but not so much that they’re annoyed by you.  Most importantly, you should send them exactly how often you say.  So if you’re doing a monthly newsletter, make sure you send it monthly.  If you’re doing a weekly newsletter, send it weekly.  Once every two weeks might be perfect.  Just make sure to be consistent.

To comply with laws, you need to use an email newsletter provider, such as Mailchimp (what I use) or others.  Do not send mass emails through your email account.  It’s not allowed and it’s considered spam.  The email newsletter provider takes care of making sure you do all that legal stuff that needs to be done like having a unsubscribe button.

6 Tips for Using Newsletters at Craft Shows

1.  If it is your first craft show you probably don’t have any customers besides your friends or family yet.  Interested folks will come into your booth.  They may buy that day or they may not for a number of reasons.  (I touched on this a little last week.)

If you have a newsletter, you can ask them to sign up on a form with their name and email address.  Then you can add them to your newsletter list and send them reminders of upcoming craft shows and what you sell so they remember you and come find you at your next show.

Some people will just sign up automatically when they see it.  You can nicely ask other people who seem interested to sign up.  If they’re looking a lot and don’t purchase you can ask them to sign up or you can mention it as you’re ringing up the order of people who do purchase.

2.  Let your customers know when and where your next craft show will be.  I mentioned this above, but you can tell them about the show, if there’s something unique about it, special entertainment, where it is, the hours, where your booth will be in the show (if you know), how to get there if it’s not easy and what else they can expect.

Is it a festival with special music or entertainment?  Will there be children’s activities?  Is it for a special cause?  Is it a beautiful location?

3.  Show your customers your new stuff.  If you have new products send them photos of them to entice them to come to your next craft show.  Even if you don’t have anything new, you can send photos that will remind them of what you sell and why it’s so great and how it works.

4.  You might want to give your schedule for the next month or so of craft shows so they can mark their calendars.

5.  If there’s something interesting or unique about a craft show you’re doing, give them a “survival guide” or a “must see guide.”  Maybe something like this blog post I did for a huge craft show in my hometown.  Maybe a list of things they “must see” in the town you’re doing the craft show in.  Be creative and brainstorm some ideas.

6.  You could offer a discount coupon for a percentage off your booth in your newsletter to entice them to come to the craft show.  I would only give that coupon to people who are actually on your newsletter.  You could make up a cute coupon they could print and bring or a secret phrase they could say to get the discount.

(I don’t typically recommend discounts.  However, since these are people who have already signed up for your newsletter you can reward them for their loyalty.)

I hope I have convinced you to create a newsletter!  To actually collect the names and emails I simply created a form with a table with a spot for their name and for their email address.

And speaking of newsletters, you can sign up for my Craft Show Tips newsletter here.  (You get a packing list for your craft show for signing up!)

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Craft Show Tips: Promoting Your Online Shop at Craft Shows

Craft Show Tip:  Promoting Your Online Shop

You can listen to the audio, or continue reading for a transcript of the audio.

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Craft shows are great for so many reasons.  The first thing they are good for, of course, selling your products.  They’re great for meeting your customers and other things.

But what if no one is buying?

Even if they are buying, you want them to find you again, right?

This tip is for you if you have an online shop.  It doesn’t matter if it’s an Etsy shop or a shop on your website or elsewhere, you want the people who love your stuff, who buy your stuff or even show an interest to find you and be able to purchase from you again.

I have done tons of craft shows throughout the years.  Sometimes they’re great and sometimes not so much.  When they’re not great sales-wise, I make sure that I’m at least handing out my business card to everyone who seems interested.

It is important that people can find your online shop later:

1.  Sometimes they’re not ready to purchase right now.  This is especially true if you sell higher priced items or items that are bulky to get home.  But it can also be true for other products as well.

2.  Sometimes people are looking for gifts and your thing might be something they want for themselves.  Or sometimes it’s the opposite and they think your thing would be perfect for their best friend but they’re not purchasing anything for her right now.  You want to make sure she remembers you later.

3.  Sometimes people come to craft shows as an event to walk and look around, but not necessarily to buy, so even though they might be interested they’re not ready to buy that day.

4.  And so many other reasons.

Of course, you want to try to overcome all of this and make the sale anyway, but if you can’t you want to make sure they have some way of finding you again.

There is a thin line between getting the sale today and letting them walk away because they have an out of “I can get it online.”  You can counteract this by letting them know that you don’t have the same things online that you have at the show.  This works if first of all it’s true.  And second of all if you make a lot of one-of-a-kind items.

But it’s also helpful to show that you’re a real business by showing them you have an online presence.  If there are problems with their purchase, they can get in touch with you.  They know they can trust you more and thus be more likely to buy from you.

Here are my suggestions for promoting your online shop at craft shows:

  • Make sure you have business cards with your website clearly printed on them.

This isn’t a sure thing because people often misplace business cards.  Can you think of something that they might keep that is not expensive for you to print/make, but will get their attention more?

I also highly recommend photos of your products on the card.  I have been complimented a lot on my business cards because they have photos on them.  It is also a reminder of what you sell and why they have the card.

  • Make brochures.

I used to make brochures myself and just print them in black and white on colored paper.  I gave more information about my business, about how they can make custom orders and upcoming craft shows I was doing on them.

You could offer a discount in your online shop and print the discount code on them.

They give you more room to say a little more about your business and what you offer so they can read more about your business and be able to purchase in the future.

  • Have signs.

People do not assume they can find you online unless you show them you are.  I cannot tell you the amount of times people would see my sign with my website and say, “Oh, you’re online?”  From there you can give them your card with the web address.

  • Capture newsletter signups.

I’m going to go more into detail about newsletters next week.  For now just know that it’s important to capture the emails of the people in your booth and your customers and have a way to contact them in the future.  You can then tell them about things in your online shop when you send out your newsletters.

Have a form for them to fill out and you can also ask them to sign up.

  • Talking to people about it.

As you are checking out customers who are making purchases or as you talk to interested folks in your booth, let them know you have an online store.  You can hand them your card then or they’ll probably ask for it.

Caution:  I would not make this the first thing I say to them.  You definitely should be spending most of your time talking to them about your products and their uses and how they work.  But you can let them know if they’re not making a purchase or as you are checking them out.  (Like I mentioned, there’s a thin line between making sure they know you have an online shop and giving them an option to walk away and getting the sale on the spot.)

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Getting ready for your first craft show?  Or have you done a few, but not had a ton of success?

Check out my eBook:  Craft Show Tips

Craft Show Tips 4.0

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