The Art of Displaying Products and Selling at Craft Shows
What Sort of Display Design Should You Have?
Depending upon what kind of goods you have, try to match the design theme to it or make sure that the booth and the atmosphere complement what you have.
For example, if your specialty is natural products; handmade and hand-sewn type of goods, try to make the booth design and the displays fit the natural and handmade theme.
If you'll notice in the photo, this booth was full of handmade items and is set up by the window at a local botanical garden. The lush greenery outside was the perfect backdrop for this sort of booth.
Be Organized and Label Everything
My oldest daughter helped me pack up for the show and she labeled every box as to what was in each box. This made the setting up and the tearing down after the show so much easier.
It is also a good idea to have signs up that tell customers what you have and give some details about how it was made and how to use it too because an informed customer is more likely to become a loyal customer.
Don't forget to add prices to each items in case a sign gets moved or something, having each pieces marked will make your life much easier.
Above all, be pleasant to everyone, but really mean it - don't be fake.
Please the eye and get their attention
You can do this by arranging your items in a logical display.
Put the taller items in the back and do not make your display so crowded that a customer might be afraid to try to pick something up for fear of knocking everything around it over.
Also, if you notice, I have our signs up in the window behind us with my website for my online store on them.
This worked great to attract the attention of several local people who then asked us for our business cards so they could shop online later when they had more time.
Stick to One Main Overall Design or Theme
A little variety is nice, but don't overdo it and it can look chaotic.
In the photo above, you see that baskets and wooden boxes were used to hold the smaller handmade products. They are very natural so they fit the overall theme. I had a few identical boxes and used those for displaying similar types of items.
There was some variety in types of baskets and wooden boxes that were used, but they were still all baskets and wooden boxes so they fit in rather nicely.
You want the focus to be on the all natural products and other handmade items, so a pleasing display is one that gets their attention and yet allows the products to be the star at the table.
A Closer View of This Type of Product Displays
Be Available, be Pleasant and be Sure to Greet Each Person Warmly, but do Not Smother the Guests
After you have greeted those who stop by your booth with a smile, then let your careful attention to detail during your design and display set up speak for itself unless asked a question.
Have plenty of business cards out with a note encouraging them to take one.
Have good informative signs up with your business information and noting your policies. Also put up signs listing all ingredients for your products and have items priced so customers can help themselves if they like.
Be available to answer any questions - this means to not get into long discussions with your helper or other vendors... so your customer feels welcome to ask away.
If you set up your display nicely, you know your products and you have good people skills, you will be fine and will enjoy yourself too.
Be Careful and Watch the Claims You Make for Your Products
If you make & sell soaps, lotions, balms, or herbs... you really should read this before you make any claims about them http://www.soapalooza.com/blog/2013/10/are-you-a-drug-dealer/ Kelly has written up a good guideline to follow.
I printed signs (I display them at my shop and at shows... ) which are in rather big letters that state:
I am not a doctor, so, by law, I cannot give out medical advice.
You, the consumer, have to make up your own mind based on your own research and/or the advice of a medical professional.
I cannot make any therapeutic claims about my products when asked "What should I use for ..." My products are not intended to cure ailments.
A doctor, pharmacist, or chiropractor... may give natural recommendations.
Also, research the use of herbs, butters, oils, goat milk, resins... .
* Don't forget to consider any possible allergies or medicine interactions.
Then I went on to say that my products use no petro chemicals, no dyes, nothing fake and that have the business info on them.
Don't Cheat Yourself by Pricing Your Handmade Goods too Low
I'm sure that you love what you do as do most folks who sell what they make but, if you aren't paying yourself by charging enough for your items, then you are cheating yourself and hurting the whole group of folks who are trying to earn a living by selling their wares.
We all have extra yarn or fabric or scraps of wood... that we use up and so it didn't cost us very much to make and sell something out of it.
But, what if that idea turns into a business or becomes a more active hobby ?
If you need to make more of them (whatever they are) you will have to go out and buy some supplies eventually.
A good way to make sure that you can sustain your hobby or business is to use this formula:
Materials cost (the replacement cost - NOT a clearance sale cost or leftover goods cost...)
+ Labor cost (at least use the minimum wage per hour for your area and multipy or divide it by how many hours it took to make the item x how many workers/helpers it took if any)
+ Expenses (these will differ depending upon what you use - gas/mileage for the car, ads, utilities, website costs, craft... show fees, )
+ Profit margin desired /needed to continue
This will give you a wholesale cost if you wish to sell in bulk which is usually a minimum of a dozen higher-end items and usually fifty or more for moderately priced items like handmade soaps.
*For normal craft show; gift shop; or other retail sales, you should double this. So, it would be the result of the above formula x 2.
And, if you are doing Boutique; Exclusive; One-Of-A-Kind sort of retail sales, then it should be x 3 of the original formula above.
Also, don't forget that when calculating the cost for the materials used, you need to use a replacement value, not the clearance sale price or "someone gave it to me" value.
Because if you use the discounted cost of your materials and the finished items from those materials get popular - you can't keep selling them at the lower price or you will lose money.
And, after selling them way too cheaply, if you raise your costs too soon (because now you found out your mistake) your customers will not be happy.
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see at craft shows and online - selling things way too cheaply.
How Can You Deal With Competition?
How do you handle business rivals and should you do what they are doing?
My biggest problems with many of them (business rivals) are:
1.) Many of them call their items all natural or organic when they are not really so they can sell their stuff cheaper and it can make folks wonder why my all natural products cost more.
2.) Many of them might have all natural items (or not), BUT then they make claims about their products such as this soap or cream will cure your dandruff.
Making claims like this is not allowed by law (see my note about that in the "Be Careful" section above) and so because I am trying to be legal yet honest - I do lose some sales to these sellers who exploit the fact that the FDA is busy and might not get to them to tell them to cut it out.
3.) Most buyers (and many sellers) have no idea what is what as far as all natural and how much work it really is to create something that way...
I believe most sellers are basically good people who think they are doing the right thing and think they are helping folks, but calling something natural when it has hot pink dye in it, or a fragrance oil, or hexane is not helping anyone - especially the natural product industry.
They are slitting their own throats and making it harder for the rest of us.
So, what can we do?
Do we sit here and get upset about it? - Sometimes yes, but mostly I remember that I have a good business and many loyal customers AND that I am doing it the right way even if it is much more difficult.
I also, work hard to get the word out about what I do and why i do things the way I do via my writings and my websites, blogs and forums.
I AM my brand - the two are the same.
I think in the end that will win out.
So, in answer to the question - be yourself because you are attracting the right kind of clients/customers that way and then they and you will be a natural fit.
If you were to try to be fake to get more clients/customers - it might work, but perhaps they would not be a good fit and therefore the relationships with them would not be good or feel right to either party.
* All of us have to put on a little front at times if we are tired or having a bad day, but overall being ourselves is the best way.
Looking for Extra Exposure for Your Business ?
Make sure that you take advantage of having a facebook fan page so your customers can keep up with your news and specials... and new customers will be able to find you as well.
Don't forget about using Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, MySpace, Craigslist for any kind of store and also Manta and Google Local if you have a Brick & Mortar store.