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April 22, 2015

10 TIPS TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CRAFT SHOW (Vendors share their opinion)

We’ve shared our Vendor Do’s and Don’ts through a few articles (Organizers Share their Vendor Do's & Don'ts, 5 Mistakes to Avoid at a Craft Show, and Craft Show Ettiquette) as well as some suggestions on etiquette for shoppers at a market or craft show. One of our amazing members suggested we put together a few do’s and don’ts for organizers so we asked our fans on Facebook for their advice. Just what do vendors expect out of market organizers and how can they help contribute to a great show for them? Big thank you to everyone who gave their suggestions….we had a hard time fitting them all in! Here are 10 tips for first time organizers or for those just looking for some vendor insight.

1) Advertise, advertise, advertise!

Vendors were definitely all on the same page with this one. They want to be sure their time and money is being spent wisely by attending shows that are going to bring in a good crowd. Be sure to spread your marketing efforts out and don’t rely on one resource to do it for you. Make use of different forms of advertising, vendors, social media and regular media to get the message out.

I'd suggest to do some market research about the show's target market, when planning the advertising. Also HUSTLE to get word out... don't sit back and expect flocks of customers just because you were on the radio for 10 seconds. ~Cheryl of Cloud & Lolly Advertise the event on a regular basis through different media and encourage your vendors to do the same. There's no better feeling signing up for an event that you feel is going to be a hit just based off of the advertising. The more excitement from the organizer, the more successful the event. ~ Ashley of Comfy Cozy Knits I would think about what kind of traffic you want to bring to the show and advertise in that manner. It's better to pay a higher vendor fee for a show that is well attended & advertised than a show with a cheap table that gets zero traffic. Not worth setting up for a weekend. ~Crystal of Crystal Driedger Fine Art Do advertise at places other than FB (should be a given, but I find that so often people don't.) ~ Stephanie of My Little Sweet Pea's Bowtique 

Advertise, and then let us know where you are advertising. I like knowing where my booth fee is being spent. ~ BonNette of Bonseye Design

2) Allow ample time for set up

We know it’s a lot of work to organize events; you’re probably sleep deprived and have some long hours ahead of you on market day/weekend. But try to get to the venue as early as possible to give vendors enough time to set up, without feeling rushed. If it’s a big event or the vendors have a large area to set up, consider renting the space the day before so displays are complete by that night and everyone can come back feeling fresh the next day. Having sweaty vendors rushing to finish as customers are walking in isn’t a good look ;)

Allow enough time for set up, I like to have 3 hours to not feel rushed. I do shows alone so, finding my spot, unloading, parking all take time. ~ BonNette of Bonseye Design

Allow sufficient time for set up. ~ Crystal of Crystal Driedger Fine Art

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3) Leave room between vendor tables

This isn't always possible, depending on the venue, but even having a break every 2nd or 3rd table for vendors to sneak through is helpful. Not only do they need to step out from behind their table once and a while to rearrange their set up and have bathroom breaks, they also want to be able to come out and chat with their customers without having to crawl under the table or be in the way. Consider the aisles and people attending the craft show as well. There are crowds that can’t be avoided (and really, who doesn’t want shoppers banging down the door?) but people want to be able to browse and chat with vendors without feeling like they’re in the way.

DO leave room in between set up...with my products I sometimes can't just stand behind table...I need easy access to come out to front of table. ~ Marlene of LunaBeam Pets

Don't overcrowd. Make sure your layout includes enough room for people to move about in both directions. ~ Stephanie of My Little Sweet Pea's Bowtique

Don't overbook vendors and crowd the space. Makes for unhappy vendors and frustrated customers when it takes forever to move through. ~ Alanna of While She Was Dreaming

4) Lead by example

Chances are you’re not going to get through an event without some type of hiccup. Whether that’s leading up to the event or the day of, try to keep your cool. You’re not only representing your brand as an organizer, you’re setting the vibe for the whole show. If vendors or shoppers are watching you frantically run around and loose your cool, they’re going to feel uneasy too. Think of it like your wedding day; Things are going to go wrong and you'll feel like it’s the end of the world. But as long as you keep a smile on your face and remain calm, no one will even realize the table cloths were supposed to be white……not CREAM!!! ;)

Stay calm! Any freak out no matter the circumstances should be done in private. Fritzy organizers with little to no patience really turn me off. ~ Richelle of Handmade by Rishshells

5) Have a good variety of vendors

There are categories that will fill up fast but try not to over populate them just to fill the show. This leaves vendors competing for attention from shoppers and shoppers lacking variety from vendors. If you are having several vendors selling under the same category (i.e. jewelry) try to choose designers whose style will appeal to different customers. Be sure to spread out vendors selling similar products. This gives variety to customers as they walk around the show and doesn’t leave vendors sitting right next to their competitor.

Don't put like vendors side by side. I once did a show with 8 jewelry vendors all side by side. ~ Jenn of Ollie Boo JewelryDo plan a thoughtful layout of product types. ~ Shannon of She Does Create

Don't place vendors with similar products side by side. If shoppers don't know where one booth ends and the other one starts, this becomes a problem. One way for a successful show organizer to prevent this from happening is to have a limit on the number of vendors for each craft (along with proper spacing). ~ Ashley of Comfy Cozy Knits

Don't put similar vendors next to each other. 
~ Julie of Majesty Industries

6) Take advantage of social media

You simply cannot ignore social media these days. Even if you’re not familiar with it, your vendors are and they rely on a Facebook Event or Page to direct their customers and fans to for more info on the show. Facebook is a well-known platform but don’t forget about Instagram and Twitter (and any new ones that may be popping up). Take the time to learn how each should be used and spread your social media marketing efforts out. It can be time consuming but it’s free!

If advertising on Facebook, make it a page not an event as business pages can't interact with event pages. ~ Shannon of She Does Create

Do promote your vendors on social media. ~ Julie of Majesty Industries

Remind your vendors to plug your event on their own social media sites: tweet, Instagram and Facebook, etc. ~ Crystal of Crystal Driedger Fine Art

7) Provide well-designed material for vendors

Although it’s not the vendor’s job to take care of marketing, they’ll likely help spread the word. Offer them marketing material they can share online and in print. Be sure that you’ve designed a logo and material that fits the feel of your show, looks professional and is something they’ll be proud to hand out.

Provide vendors with electronic flyers that can be posted on their social media sites. Ensure location, date and time are indicated. ~ Jenn of Ollie Boo Jewelry Get a graphic designer to make your handbills, posters, logo. Or better yet, offer free booth space for your designer and you may attract a student to design something perfect for your show. No one wants to attend a show that looks terrible. 

~ Crystal of Crystal Driedger Fine Art

Do send out flyers early so we can advertise. ~ Julie of Majesty Industries

8) Inform applicants about the types of vendors who will be attending

Vendors may switch up their product selection a bit based on the other vendors that are attending so it's a good idea to keep them in the loop. Although they are home-based businesses as well, reps selling through companies like Arbonne, Scentsy and Tupperware are quite different than handmade home-based businesses. It sets a different tone for the show and can leave handmade vendors competing with the prices of mass produced items. Although there’s nothing wrong with an event that showcases both, it is an important aspect to convey to vendors who are applying.

Let potential vendors know if the show is handmade only or if Marykay/Tupperware types are entering the show. ~ Crystal of Crystal Driedger Fine Art Please don’t call it a craft show if the majority of vendors are direct sales. When I see craft show I think handmade. If I walk inside as a customer, thinking I'm going to find a lot of handmade vendors and I see mostly DS, I'm mostly likely to walk back out. Do be upfront with potential vendors as to whether you are accepting a mixture of both. It does matter. ~ Stephanie of My Little Sweet Pea's Bowtique

Let vendors know exactly how many vendors will be selling the same thing as them. ~ Marlene of LunaBeam Pets

9) Be available & answer questions

You’ve got a hectic job, but do your best to be involved and available every step of the way. It's a good idea to put together a vendor package beforehand that includes an application form and all the information a vendor needs to know; table space, access to electricity, set up/take down times, parking, directions, etc. This will keep vendors informed and you won't have to answer the same questions multiple times. Answer any questions that do come in, in a timely manner and be around for questions the day of. Vendors are likely a little stressed, tired and nervous when they arrive to the venue; the last thing they want to do is run around looking for an organizer. Have someone present to greet the vendors as they arrive and let them know where to set up. If you need to hire an extra hand the day of, the help is certainly valuable to the vendors.

My favorite organizers are the ones who are involved in all aspects of the event. I don't expect them to do everything but I would like them to have knowledge of what's happening before and during the event. Communication and organization are key. I truly appreciate being told where, what and when to show up, set up and shut up! ~ Judy of The Mombot Window Art It's also helpful to have volunteers walk around to allow vendors bathroom breaks. ~ Crystal of Crystal Driedger Fine Art Do come and ask us how things are going and if we have any concerns or need anything. Don't bend the rules for your friends or have your own table you're more concerned about. ~ Louise of The Vintage Magpie

Interact with your vendors. Someone 'with' the show should stop by each booth and introduce themselves. ~ BonNette of Bonseye Design Respect a Vendor's time and give information well in advance. ~ Shannon of She Does Create

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10) Add a little perk

Any bonus to get customers in the door is great for vendors. Whether it’s swag bags or a gift basket shoppers can enter to win, try to offer an incentive for people to visit your event or want to be the first through the door.

Do have swag bags as that seems to bring in tons of people. ~ Alanna of While She Was Dreaming

Thank you to everyone who gave their valuable input! Feel free to comment below if you have any other tips :)

You may also be interested in these reads:
12 Ways Vendors can Help Promote a Show
4 Craft Show Organizers Share their Do's & Don'ts

2015-04-22 05:29
Some great ideas here for show organizers. Thanks.
Callie Beller Diesel
2015-04-26 02:35
let vendors know what kind of photos you'd like to see for your social media campaigns. It's such a fun way to participate if an organizer calls for process shots, lifestyle shots of your product, post-market loot shots, etc.
2015-04-27 08:02
Request vendors to move their vehicles after unloading to allow room for customer parking.
Melanie Hutchinson
2015-05-06 06:17
Communication, communication, communication! The organizers need to make sure that the vendors get word immediately if they are selected for an event. Vendors spend timeless hours creating the products they take to sale. I had signed up for an event close to Christmas for a well known event. Problem was the folks who were in chRge of notifying the vendors didn't do their job. It was a high school booster club, who's parents were in charge of taking care of the details with vendors. I signed up in April, worked all summer and fall to make product. When it came close to the event, even though I had been in communication with the organizers, I never received any information as to whether I was going to have a space for my items. I wrote, called, called, called and wrote. No reply. Finally I called the administration office and asked to be in contact with someone who would let me know what was going on. When finally contacted, they told me they were sorry, but they worked a full time job! Ugh! This was for their kids benefit and they were too busy for the task. Then delegate duty to someone who could do the job. And just because someone sends an email, a follow up call should be made to insure that the participant gets the information, and not 3 days before the event. I had talked to other vendors, who also had the same trouble as me with this organizer. It left a sour taste, and now I won't go to craft shows. PLEASE have consideration for those who you rent spaces to. It is a lot of work and if it isn't successful, it's not worth doing!

Communicate more than once. Communicate a lot. Ask if there is any needs that they have for electricity, walls, tables, Ect. Have helpers there to unload and load boxes and tables. Be a good supporter of the people who support your show. It's not just about selling booth spaces! If you want people to return, then help them be successful. Advertise on radio, tv, in the neighborhood, in school newsletters, everywhere you have the opportunity. It makes for a more successful event for all involved. Don't just sell spaces! Organizers, follow up on committees and make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing, and if not, delegate to another person who can do it. Working a full time job isn't a good excuse. It's a cop out. We work more than full time to create products for others, keep up to your commitment. It's only fair!
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