I have sold my work at craft shows for the last 25 years or so. My very first show was in the cafeteria at the newspaper where I worked. There were so many creative people working there who had side businesses in the artistic world that someone decided we should ban together and have a show one day during the lunch hour. It was such a blast! I had such success and positive feedback I launched myself into a serious craft show schedule for the next decade or so.
As successful as it was, I sold my work for next to nothing, my inventory was bought out and had my first lesson in valuing my own work and pricing it correctly. No matter how many shows I went on to do, I learned something every time, even after being a 20+-year craft show veteran. I haven’t had a booth at a craft show for a few years because my art sells so well locally and online that I have no extra time for shows. While I don’t miss the packing, unpacking, setting up, long days on my feet, packing agin and unpacking again, I do miss everything else about a good craft show. I loved the customers, their feedback, their curiosity about my work and process, the thrill of the sale, talking with my neighbor artisans, the ideas for new work...
When I was starting out, the hardest thing for me was pairing up with the right show. I did eventually figure it out, and part of the process depends on asking the right questions to the promoter before you even sign up for the show. The following are my top ten questions to ask before you pay your application fee:
1) How do you advertise? Radio, TV, billboard, direct mail?
2) How are assignments made for more desirable spaces?
3) Do you fill spaces by category?
4) How many spaces are being rented for the entire show?
5) How many applications were received for last year’s show? How many vendors were admitted?
6) What kinds of crafts have been exhibited in the past?
7) What is the recommended price range for work in this show?
8) Is there an entrance fee for customers to get in?
9) What’s the anticipated attendance this year? What was the attendance last year?
10) Are there artists I can contact from the previous year to ask about the show?
I had my questions written up into a full article by a lovely blogger, Brittany. For the expanded article — which includes explanations and insight into all the questions you should ask — go to http://brittanysbest.com/2013/04/vendor-virgin-must-ask-questions/