Part one in what you need to know to participate in a vendor show. While these tips are from my experience with my jewelry, many will apply to any product you might want to sell.
I've been making jewelry for over six years now. When I first started I conducted home parties and the first year attended my first show. I don't do home parties anymore, even though they were very profitable. But I still select a few shows to attend each year.
This post is Part 1 of my thoughts on some of the things I've learned over the years.
Decide what types of shows you want to participate in. Once you start looking you'll realize there are MANY opportunities for venues. There are vendor shows, craft shows, community events, conferences etc.
I stay away from craft shows completely. This may sound odd since making jewelry is a 'craft' - but I've learned that the standard craft shows don't fit with the type of image I want to convey. Many craft shows are 'country' crafts - which is great, but if you're trying to build a reputation as a jewelry artist and have items that demand a premium price, then the country craft shows may not be the right venue. I've found that customers at these shows are usually looking for a bargain and may not be willing to look at my more expensive items.
I also stay away from outdoor shows. I've passed up a lot of opportunities that probably would have been profitable but I just won't risk signing up for an outdoor event. Mainly it's the weather. If it rains - no one comes, your booth turns into a mess and and your jewelry can get ruined - especially if it's windy. If it doesn't rain - it may be very hot and humid. Again - bad for sterling silver. In addition, you may have to provide your own booth setup - which means a big investment if you want a booth with something overhead. Remember - your entry fee is rarely refunded if the weather turns bad.
So - what do I do?
I look for events that are geared toward women. For the last six years I've attended a women's conference at our local community college. It's a 2-day event and only women are invited. It is relatively expensive - a table is $300 - but I know the audience is exactly the demographic that I sell to. Attendance is normally between 500-600 women over 2 days and I've always been very successful.
I've also had a table a local annual nurses conference. This one is free - all I have to provide is a door prize. Since the vast majority of the nurses are women this is just too good to pass up. It's just one day, very inexpensive and I've always had great sales.
I've also done a community event just before Christmas. I don't get as many sales, but again, the entry is free (for a door prize) - so there is really nothing but my time, and I've always made a profit.
I also do an annual vendor sale at our church. This is a one-day event for $30. The other vendors are all home-based businesses like Mary Kay, Tupperware, Creative memories etc. Not my best show as far as sales, but it's inexpensive and supports my church.
Another option I've done in the past is a home vendor show. I get 3 or 4 other women with their own businesses and we have an open house at my home. We all are required to invite at least 25 people. The event lasts only about 4 hours - usually on a Saturday morning. I have had great luck with this in the past and should do this more often.
So - That's part 1. Check back soon for Part 2 where I will discuss things to do to prepare for your show.
Please post you comments/suggestions/questions.