Hello Mark Milanich in Chicago, In your area there must be several
shows scheduled every weekend! Initially, look for a few non-juried
shows that last one day and have a fee within your budget. You want
a show that has been around for several years and advertises. In my
area those shows are usually sponsored by charitable organizations or
art associations. There is no better way to find out how your
designs are received by the public than to be in contact with them,
one on one. Shows will do that. Plus YOU reap the financial
benefits of eliminating the middle man.
Before leaping into the show frey, do some research. Spend some time
at several shows and take notes on attractive displays, pricing of
jewelry similar to yours, size of booth, number of booths in the
show, and determine which shows have good crowds. Try to figure out
what attracts the crowds; those factors become criteria in your
selection of what shows you want to do. Show dates near common
paydays (ie. first and 15th of the month) are good. Finally talk to
the sponsor or promoter and ask for a copy of the application for
If you don’t already have one, get a sales tax license, permit, or
whatever it’s called in IL. You don’t want to get in trouble with
the tax people. Any more, shows require you have one to apply. Also
get BUSINESS CARDS! Really essential and you should put one in the
bag with the receipt for each sale.
Tables and chairs? Some shows include them; if not, a couple card
tables covered with an attractive cloth and folding chairs work for
starting out. Spend as little as possible; be creative and use what
you have. If you like shows and continue to do them, you can always
invest in better equipment. Presentation is important, so don’t
forget the table cover- it hides a multitude of sins.
Try to do indoor shows to start; you don’t need the extra expense of
outdoor covers. Plus if the weather turns nasty, the crowd leaves!
If you’re outdoors, you will want protection from the sun and
possible rain. A market umbrella on a stand isn’t too expensive and
if you’ve already got an umbrella for your patio furniture use that.
Again, you can always buy the nice canopy later. Keep a couple
inexpensive tarps with gromets on hand and a bunch of those bungee
hooks so that you can quickly cover and secure your table display.
Whatever equipment you take, you’ll be doing the hauling, set-up, &
take-down, so keep it lightweight and simple. A hand truck or dolly
is useful. In your research, go at the end of a show and observe
Shoplifting can be a problem, so you really do need some form of
display case or secured display. I think there have been some
previous discussions about various displays that “leash” rings, etc.
Your observations from researching the shows may give you some ideas.
So far as inventory, just take as much as you can display well. A
well-stocked display doesn’t mean crammed full, but you can always
have extras to restock. If your inventory is small, take all of it.
At this stage you don’t want to miss a sale. Don’t expect much from
your first couple shows - they are really learning experiences and
you have much to find out.
I’ll close with a list of other things you will need. Hopefully,
others will have suggestions and all together, you’ll be well
Lockable cash box with change -note how much cash you start out with
Sales tax license and tax tables
Sales slip pads that make a receipt duplicate (NCR type is nice)
Pens, paper pad, extra tags or display cards
Sacks or bags for merchandise sales
Ring sizer and sized ring set
Pliers for small adjustments or repairs
Small cooler with drinks and snax - handi wipes
Small hand mirror for customer's use
Straight pins, "SticTac", adhesive tape, stapler, scissors
Your ready smile and friendly attitude!!!
Best of luck, Judy
Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
221 Call Hall Kansas State Univerisity
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-1213 FAX (785) 532-5681