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Inventory for my first show

Hi all, I will be doing my first show, (a really big one) the Norwalk
Oyster Festival, in September. It will be three really long days,
Fri. 5pm-11pm, sat. 10am to 11pm and sun. 10am - 7pm. I was thrilled
and very surprised that I made it in the first time out. It is
supposed to be a really great show, 90,000 paid admission and people
come to buy. Of course I will be there with 225 other crafters. I
have started working on my inventory and am getting nervous about
running out of my work in those three days – perhaps I am getting a
little too cocky! I am also putting a lot of pressure on myself to
get a lot of work done as I have sold most of my inventory. I work
in mostly silver and fused glass and my work is priced at around $45
for my bread and butter items and $90 – $200 for my one of a kind
large pieces. I have sold very well on my own through friends and
family but I have yet to be face to face with the general public. I
happen to be doing a smaller show the week after and would have liked
that to be my first time out but it did not turn out that way. How
much inventory do you bring to your shows and what is the ratio of
low to high end? One thing I am happy about with this show is that I
will not need to buy the Sam’s Club ez-up (thank you all for the
great input on the different kinds of tents) because all the artists
are under three huge tents. I am thinking for the one show that I
would need it at, the week after, I am just going to go naked or
bring my big umbrella for shade (so it might look kind of tacky but
who cares! And if it rains it is held indoors.) I just can’t see
spending money for a tent that I would need for one show and would
rather save the money and invest in a much better one for the future.
Have any of you done the NOF? Elle

Hello Elle, Glad you’ve gotten in.

Good Grief. That’s a killer schedule for 3 days in a row. I hope
you have someone to watch things while you take a potty break! So
far as inventory, take all you can make. After doing a few shows,
you’ll have a better idea about where you need to concentrate your
efforts, but until then, take it all! Best of luck,

Judy in KS Judy M. Willingham, R.S. Extension Associate 221 Call Hall
Kansas State Univerisity Manhattan KS 66506 (785) 532-1213 FAX
(785) 532-5681

elle - don’t forget lots of sun screen - some things that help: = a
rug - it keeps dropped items out of the grass; on pavement it helps
the feet; gives a nice touch that the customers notice; rolls up to
its narrowest dimension in transit - PLUS it sets off your space from
your neighbors’ when you’re smooshed in together. = whatever stock
you take PLEASE take it in a gym bag or something that looks like
anything but a jewelry case - = baby wipes in a ziploc - = ‘old
lady’s’ little 2-wheel cart for taking everything you don’t want to
leave in your space while you go park & getting them from your car
the other days; stack the flat stuff like cooler on the bottom with
all handles over the cart handle so they don’t fall off & can’t be
grabbed by a kid on roller blades - = a box or bag with a staple gun
& refills;big safety pins; pushpins; broad tip markers & tearouts
from magazines with blank backs or blank cardboard for last minute
signs, etc.; dust brush; scissors; tapes: magic, double face,
masking, etc.; 1 or 2 small dark handtowels; a ziploc with a slightly
dripping washcloth & a squirt of liq detergent for after the setting
up & during the day (wash out at night) - = double the amount of
liquids in your cooler - freeze most of it; grapes, etc. = extra
catches & wire for replacing & repairing; 1 rosary pliers, 1 cutter,
1 regular pliers, 1 bent pliers - more than those & you could lose
some or look too busy. = hand mirror & stand up or framed mirror. =
teva or merrell sandals, MUCH more comfortable than tennis shoes,
cooler, washable & don’t show dirt; loose-fitting gauzy type outfit
in a medium or bright color that won’t show smudges - something with
a plain collarless neckline to show your jewelry - = fanny/waist pack
that you never take off - more secure than a cash box - big bills &
credit slips go in the back, start out by separating fives, tens &
twenties with big paper clips so you don’t have to fumble around for
change - keep in mind that first thing in the morning someone will
dare you to have change for a $100 bill for that $25 pr of earrings.
good luck - ive

Hello Elle - A few suggestions come to mind. First, keep one set of
what you make as samples - in case you do sell out - you can still
take orders. You could sell the sample to a customer and mail it to
them at the closing of the show. Have available to give
out - where you will be next. Make small cards to designate if a
piece is a sample.

Second, I really recommend hydrating yourself the day prior to the
show - especially, if it is going to be very hot. I’m not a runner -
but apparently this is what runners do. Don’t forget to take liquid
during the event as well. I found that when I don’t remember to do
this - I sometimes will wake up feeling awful - and have to do a major
number of hydrating and recovering in the a.m. to make it through day
#2. Also, I take a nutritional drink along to sip. If i am too busy
to eat, it gives more sustenance than water or a sugar/juice drink.
Frozen grapes is a great idea - and I bring cheese and crackers. Fill
several empty water bottles - freeze half+ and then fill the rest of
the way with water in the a.m. before leaving - and freeze the boxed
or canned juices. If you like yummy coffee - bring a thermos of your
favorite. (The luxuries of life!) It is best to have a helper and take
a “real” break. The 10am - 11pm day is a LONG one - wow! And still
you will need to pack up and then there is one more day.

Also, have plenty of business cards - so, if people like your things
they could contact you later. And if you are selling primarily in
your area - begin a mailing list - and track which people have made
purchases and at what level. Initially, in my enthusiasm, I started a
mailing list for anyone interested - and later, began to document
level of sales. So, now when I do higher end events - I know who is
interested at that level - and if I do the bread and butter events -
send to the whole list. Sometimes when it is very busy - it is hard to
write the detailed invoices - so, I have a clipboard for the customer
or interested party to write their address (and make a notation to
know if they made a purchase). At the top of the page - I put the
event and date. Later, the data goes in the computer and updated as
necessary. At larger events - I think a helper is essential - and
while I’m busy talking and doing special orders the helper writes up
and handles the sales. To me, jewelry sales involve more dialogue than
some other mediums and for service and for safety - I prefer to have a
helper. Although, I’m phasing out of live events - these things worked
well for me the past 5+ years.

Best of luck to you - you will do great! Cynthia

You can buy packages of electrolytes at the Health Food Stores
usually says energy or something on it but it really makes a
difference sipping on it instead of just water at hot shows

All the response about the inventory inquiries for shows have been
very comforting since I am about to do my first serious show. I
could really use specific advice on the number of pieces I should
have for a three-day city show .

Elle,Good luick on your show. I see myself in your shoes 20 years
ago. Here is some stuff I have learned the hard way. A hot item under
$10 can sell 50-100 times in one show but be dead as a doornail the
next year. Many times it is site specific ex. humminbirds in Colorado
Mts. Longhorns in Texas on and on. $20 to 40$ you may sell 2 or 3 of a
popular style. One of a kind high end is a crap shoot you never know.
In the weeks before the show you should work on your display more
than your inventory. Unless you really know your customers things made
at the last minute rarely sell. Most folks at shows are there for the
action and are easily distracted from small items like jewelry. The
trick is focusing their attention on your very interesting work. There
are many passerbys who are waiting for that special something to grab
them…“they’ll know it when they see it”…I’ve heard them
say this a million times. Display is a huge topic but simply put eye
level, lighting, background, personality, security are issues you
should think about. Also on the tent thing… I used a canopy from
Swappers Supply in CA. I liked the gray shade tarps really much cooler
temp. than the white one which I used on cloudy days. Good luck, Julia

There is no correct answer to this question. but I would take as many
pieces as possible, much depends on your price points. Lower end
stuff will move much more rapidly so concentrate on multiples of that.
People seem to want lots of choices and gravitate to displays with
many items. I am also a newbie at craft shows and for my first one I
was unprepared, took too few items because they were all I had,
arranged them as artistically as I could and noticed that the shoppers
liked to linger at the cases of others where there were many pieces
and the cases were crowded. Lots of luck and please report back after
the show.

Betty Belmonte (getting ready for my first wholesale where thankfully
I will only need one of each of my favorite things)