Monday, December 13, 2010

Work in Progress

Let me begin by explaining that these pictures are not great - I just took quick snaps when I had a second during set up....

So many people don't understand what goes into setting up a booth at a high(er) end craft fair that I thought I would talk a little bit about what goes into it.

So from the empty area I showed a few days ago - Doug with the hand truck piled high with booth apparatus, electrical box, cash box, product, etc., etc., - here is the booth after the apparatus has been set up. It took us about an hour to get to this point, at which time we called it a day (after a 10 hour drive) and went looking for dinner.

Doug built the wooden shelving/racks and behind the black draping is a grid wall in a /\/\/ type of formation. The black draping has been sewn to the top of the grid wall and we use 4" hooks to hang the scarves from. I also have a couple of metal stands called mondi's. In this instance we tied the mirror to the smaller one and set it up on the bottom shelf at the short end of the 'L' shaped booth (I had a corner space).

At this stage the overhead lighting is still on and the scarves look a bit helter skelter. Each /\ has a different design in it with a few more stacked on the shelf below for additional colour selection.

Now the short end of the 'L' has been done except for our coats still draped on the tall mondi. All of the product boxes store under the drapes in the booth. At this show part of your booth rental gives you a 10' by 2' area behind in which we stored the booth apparatus boxes, our boots, the complementary umbrella from the hotel (a necessity in Vancouver in December!) and other miscellaneous tidbits.

And here you see a quick shot of the booth right before opening. The overhead lights are now dimmed and we have adjusted our lights to spotlight the scarves. The large mondi has a red shawl on it. Every day (or as each shawl sold) I changed the display on the mondi and around the mirror.

One day I offered to show a customer some of my overstock and another lady grabbed the red scarf on the top of the pile and bought it! :D

There are many approaches to display and touring around a show like One of a Kind will give loads of ideas. Many people are as creative with their packaging and display as they are with designing their product.

But essentially I feel there need to be a few essentials when you put together a booth to sell your hand made items.

1. Your display should enhance your product. If you have a very refined product and a very rustic display, I think that the customer gets a mixed message about what you are trying to do.

For my display we try to make the booth itself as inconspicuous as possible in order to let the scarves take centre stage. Other approaches would likely work just as well, but this approach is comfortable to me. The booth also breaks down fairly quickly into several boxes for transportation in the back of the van.

Have a tall stool to perch on. If you are sitting 'down' in a chair, people will assume you are resting and will not want to bother you. Make eye contact and say hello to people. Do not ask "May I help you?" as the answer will almost always result in an automatic "No thanks, I'm just looking." Instead offer a piece of information - such as "These scarves have been hand-painted" or "I have more colours in overstock if you don't see the colour you like" or "Please touch or try on - I have a mirror so you can see how you'll look" or something neutral but inviting.

2. You *must* have your own lighting. There were several booths at this show that had either no supplemental lights, or only one or two lights. Those booths looked very dim and not terribly attractive. People are like moths. They will go where the lights are.

3. You should have some sort of provision for writing up your sales. This can be a clip board you carry, or a small section of the booth. For this show we took a 5 x 10' booth so we didn't set up our usual cash drawer. I also anticipated that the vast majority of sales would be by credit card, and this was so. We took a very few cash sales and no cheques at all.

4. Business cards with our booth number were left on the shelves for people to pick up and some of the 'be-backs' did indeed come back, card in hand. I even arrived home to a phone call from one customer who bought a scarf and wants a second. I'll phone her back tomorrow once we get the van unloaded. Neither of us can bear doing that tonight. :}

5. A sign with your name is essential. Several of the booths at the show either had no sign, or only an ambiguous name and a couple of them I really had to look hard to figure out what they were selling.

6. Clothing should be properly labelled. In Canada that means there must - by law - be a label with fibre content and care instructions. IMHO clothing should also have a size listed! There were several booths where I was interested in the garments but could not find a size anywhere. Granted I could tell the garment I had in my hand was too small, but I'm a big enough person that I don't like to ask if they have the item in size XL - especially if the person in the booth is obviously a size S. :(

7. Last but not least - I truly believe that items for sale ought to have the price on them. If there is no price I always assume that I can't afford it.

There are lots of other considerations, but that's about all I'm capable of tonight. We didn't sleep well at the hotel, the drive was long and the road home - for the last four hours at any rate - very dark. We still have to unload the van and figure out where to store everything. But this is the last show of the season and 3 weeks away from winter in January sounds more and more attractive! ;)

Currently reading Divas Don't Knit by Gil McNeil - if you like British humour I give this 5 stars for funny - had me laughing and sharing bits with Doug

1 comment:

Marie said...

Great post!! Thanks for sharing your insights to booth set-up. Very informative!