Monday, May 25, 2009

What to take, what to take . . .

I see so many forum threads where people ask the same question when they first decide to enter the “craft fair” ring, “What should I take?” Here’s the thing – you can take everything including the kitchen sink (thinking that you might actually need the kitchen sink), or you can mentally go through your set up and imagine what you would need for each step of the way. In the end you will decide for yourself exactly what you need and, believe me, you will refine your personal list every time you pack up your things and leave the show. But here goes.

Tent or canopy of some sort – the quick set up kind. I can’t emphasize enough how quickly you will recoup your investment here.

Tables to suit your needs. The fold up kind are great, relatively inexpensive and worth it. Be sure to take simple table covers. Uncovered tables look just awful without them and Bed Bath and Beyond has piles of them on sale always. Take your 20% Off coupon.

Any display pieces you need to make your work look well displayed, interesting, professional and/or cute, and that includes and signage for your work. Maybe you are having a sale on last year’s things – you’ll need a little sign. Print it on your computer and put it in a frame. For display ideas, search through Flickr’s craft show groups where you’ll find some incredibly creative ways to display your similar work.

Business name sign - if you have a business name, make a sign. One printed on your computer and in a frame will do nicely until you make bigger bucks and can invest in a big printed one. My advice is to be sure it looks tasteful, readable and professional if you want people to take your business seriously. If you are accepting credit cards (don’t get ahead of me here), print a sign with the cards listed that you accept. Cash only? Say so.

A little folding stool or an artist’s chair from Pier One or World Market. You’ll look professional and still have a little place to rest your tired feet.

“Never Leave Home Without It Kit” - For my kit I use a canvas garden tote. They are inexpensive, big and roomy, come in a great array of colors, and are readily available at places like True Value Hardware and Home Depot. Garden centers get pretty pricey so I’d look at the hardware store first. This bag has pockets on the outside, pockets on the inside, huge sturdy handles and a big flat bottom. (No comment.). Here’s what I carry in mine and this stuff never leave my tote so it’s always ready for the next event:

- My zippered bank bag with $100 in change
- A calculator set to the local tax rate
- A duplicate sheet sales order pad (the kind with built-in carbon paper)
- Two or three good pens
- A mini stapler and scotch tape
- Scissors
- A trash bag
- Tissue paper and bags
- Four short bungee cords (you’d be surprised how often these are handy)
- My KnuckleBuster and credit card slips (I use Propay)
- Diet Coke (I don’t leave home without it) and a snack or two
- A few tools for simple repairs – needle nose pliers, flat pliers, screwdriver
- Extra reading glasses
- Business cards
- Sales tax certificate
- Polishing cloths
- Mirrors if your product is worn
- Garden gloves so you don't wreck your hands carrying your tables and tent

Last but not least – YOUR PRODUCT! This isn’t funny – I’ve actually left home and had to go back for it.

Ideally, as you think through the show from set up to an actual sale, there isn’t much else you need. You definitely want to appear as the professional you are so do not skimp on what you need to make your work look good! Again, as you get a show or two under your belt, you will see what other craftspeople use, some items you needed and didn’t have and what you can do without next time. It’s a refining process every time and making it simpler makes it more efficient for you and more fun in the long run.


Anonymous said...

Great information and I love the garden tote.

Beading Help Web Editorial Team said...

Love the garden tote idea! And a great list - I've got a printable one on my site that includes everything but the kitchen sink

LOL on forgetting your product. I've never forgotten all of it, but have gotten to shows and forgotten all my earrings! Fortunately, I was setting up the night before and could bring them the next morning!

Lynn K