Thursday, October 18, 2012

Setting Up for a Craft Show -- or, Duct Tape Can't Fix EVERYTHING



I consider myself a fairly seasoned craft show exhibitor.  I sell my jewelry at juried craft shows which last two to three days and make the majority of my money during these shows.  I used to do about twenty shows a year, covering territory from Virginia to Connecticut, both indoors and outdoors, and boy do I have some stories to tell!  


Like the time we broke down the booth and packed it into the van during a massive thunder and lightning storm (with a 3-year old Zack placidly watching a movie on the van's DVD player... best. money. spent. EVER.)  Or the time a woman loudly proclaimed my very very very simple pale pink gemstone necklace was "TACKY, y'all!".  The irony?  She was wearing Daisy Duke cut-off shorts, a belly-baring tank top, and a straw hat with a vivid assortment of dangly roach clips.  Oh, and she was at least 60 years old.  I have to admit to laughing out loud when she said that.  




But now I only manage two to four shows a year, and this year I had to cancel my two spring appearances, so it's been a full YEAR since I've unpacked all the gear and set out to occupy a 10x10 square foot piece of real estate.  When you a) haven't done things for a while, and b) fail to go over the checklist you normally peruse every time you prepare for a show, golly-gee-whiz mistakes and a whole big box of WTH tends to show up.


Take today.  Rick unpacks the heavy-duty dolley to cart things in and ....


... the wheel falls off and goes rolling merrily down the parking lot.


This is when it's awesome to have a GPS to show where the nearest hardware store is!  Before we go to a show, we always make sure we know where there's a Lowes, a Walmart or Target, (and, of course, a Starbucks).  Know where to go when things you thought you packed decided to take their own road trip.   I've had to race out at 9pm to buy everything from wood shims to socks.  You just never know what you're going to forget.




But then there are things that happen just from sheer stupidity.  


I have a check list, specific to each show I do, and I always check it.  Always.  But not this time.  Why not?  I have no clue.  But neither Rick nor I checked it so there are some things missing in my booth.  Business cards, for instance.  I have about, oh, 30.  Yeah, stupid.  Unlike my normal two-tins-of-two-types of business cards shown above, I have... thirty.  So I'm glad my box stickers have my web site on them!  Do you have stickers on your boxes?  Make sure you put your web site on them!!!  Ditto for your invoices. I forgot those, too, but luckily found some stashed in my chair's side pocket.  Holy cow, what a nightmare if I forgot those.  So add knowing where the nearest Staples is to your list!


Finally, allow for your own comfort.  I have a tackle box I carry with an inhaler, antibacterial stuff, lip balm, mints, all that sort of thing, and I'm good about replacing stuff as soon as I run out.  But when I last did a show, I had short hair.  Now, it's long.



What does a girl with long hair need when she gets hot?  A hair tie or rubber band.  I had -- duct tape.  And that was NOT going to work, although I did look at it long and hard.  


Duct tape can't quite fix EVERYTHING.  


What works?  A zip tie!  I kid you not.  So lesson learned -- pack for contingencies.  Hair ties, band aids, water bottle, safety pins.  Things like that should go in a kit that never leaves your tackle box.  (Just remember to take the tackle box WITH you).




I'm still missing some things.  We have no idea where my butterflies (to clip on the curtains) or the flowers (to put in blank spots on the table) or the sign for my book went.  But all in all, the booth looks great and will look even better if it fills with people this weekend!


So if you don't have a checklist for show preparation, my strong suggestion is MAKE one, and oh yeah, be sure to, you know, CHECK it.  When things go wrong, just take a deep breath before you run screaming down the street waving your hands in the air.  Chances are there's a solution nearby, whether it's the closest Home Depot or the next-door neighbor at the show.  As long as you remembered to bring your jewelry, you're fine.


(Wait.  Did I remember to pack the jewelry?  Aw man.....)




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Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack.  Visit her shops by clicking here.  She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party®   and author of the book Bead Soup.

42 comments:

  1. Awesome post as usual! I too have a check list, and I usually am good about restocking, etc...but "stupid" usually finds me scratching my head at least once during each show! LOL! Hope you have a superb weekend!!

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  2. My friend just had a sales display at a local business event and since she sells my jewelry, she let me have a table. We set up a great display of furniture, vintage items and handmade art. I thought it looked great and really represented her store. An older lady walked by and said, "what is this? A garage sale?" We just bust out laughing.

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  3. Actually.. you CAN use duct tape to make a hair tie... lol Just rip off a long enough strip and fold it several times, sticky side in to make a long 'ribbon'.. then use it to tie your hair back. It's stiff, but it'll do in a pinch. Especially if you tear a little bit ,ore tape and use it to hold your new hair tie together ;)

    I haven't done any shows, but I always end up forgetting something when I go somewhere, even with a check list. My birthday getaway last year... I get my bubble bath all ready then retrieve the bottle of Bailey's I'd stashed in my bag to pour a glass to savor while enjoying my bubble bath... to discover I'd packed an empty bottle >.< lol

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  4. Very good tips! I have a different list for each show also, but don't always check it...just seem to make one up every time I'm ready to go. Some things you just can't plan for, so it's a good idea to know where the handy dandy hardware store is:-)

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  5. I'm notorious for setting last minute things right next to my purse. And leaving them there.

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  6. I'm sure we could make a duct tape hair thing if we really thought about it. Your hair looks great!

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  7. Hope you have a great show!

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  8. I have relaxed since doing more shows the last two years, and having things "designated" for the show. first one of the year always has me in a tizzy, double checking everything. I even double check after we pack, going through set up in my mind, and checking things off the mental list. I have a checkout station in a scrapbook or craft tote, and I have my bags, cards, calculator, reciepts, price tags, signs, clear earring bags, extra chains, wrapping paper and boxes, chapstick, sanitizer, nail clip, pins, wire, spare batteries for my ipod dock, tape ect. ect.....my survival kit. I also highly reccomend one. (I too have had to run out for things, um, like chairs)

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  9. Fun reading. Two new things I learned -
    1. Put stickers with Bus Adress or card in the boxes
    2. On the invoices.

    I do craft shows and boy, I know how draining can it be...yet, I do it and at the end ...kind of like it too.

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  10. I know what you mean about the hair getting hot--great idea with the twist tie. Yeah, I probably would have vetoed the duct tape for that purpose as well. Love the longer hair, baby!

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  11. These are all definitely some fabulous ideas for those of us who do shows or plan on doing shows in the future.

    I'm in the process of trying to build up enough inventory to attempt a show in the Spring or Summer, so these tips and tricks will be remembered! ^.^

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  12. Good luck - you are an awesome woman and will pull it out! Wish I was there to help.

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  13. we have been going to my inlaw's cabin every weekend, it is 2 hrs away and an hr from a walmart. One weekend I forgot shirts. Yup, shirts. Ugh.
    The next weekend I forgot hair ties for my daughter's waist length hair. With no rubber bands in sight I grabbed the twist tie off the bread and had a nifty hair tie :-)
    Hope you are doing well.
    Shannon

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  14. Sounds like me every first show after a break... there's always something I'll makea mental note to replenish supplies and forget or condense things and misplace things in the process, because it's not organized the way I'm used to. I think we all have routines -some we should improve, others do away with... lol! Glad to know I'm not the only one. I'll try to keep my mania at next time I face these trials... thanks for the permission to laugh at ourselves... Have a great show!

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  15. Lori, I wish you the very best for your show.

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  16. Oh my gosh, I don't mean to laugh at your plight... I think I am laughing with you, am I right?
    I have my very first show next weekend, so your post could not have come at a better time.
    I am doing the training-wheels church holiday bazaar. I figure it's a good place to start :)
    I'd better end this post. I need to make a list and then remember to check it, twice.
    Thanks for your post, your blog, and all your gorgeous jewelry!

    Melinda

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  17. Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck, Luck... ALL GOOD!!! Sunny skies, happy smiles, open wallets and positive energy... may they all be yours this weekend ;) ~~T

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  18. You sure gave me a chuckle this evening! I"ve set up for shows and always forget something. Once, my grandson and I set up together, he with his soap and me with my jewelry and he forgot to bring change! I had to split mine with him. We were scrambling for dollar bills before the day was out!

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  19. Holly cow! I have a big smile on my mouth!

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  20. LMBO! Such fun to read. I'm going to do a show in December (first for since a long time) and I already started a check list. Note to myself: Check the check list!

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  21. Lori, I'm doing my first big craft fair this Saturday. My blog entry for today talks about the small one I did last year, lessons learned, my hopes for this one, and a link to your blog entry on duct tape!

    This was just so delightful, I couldn't resist! I know it's tacky to include a link, but if you want to take a look, it's at: http://sharylsjewelry.blogspot.com/2012/10/craft-fair-saturday-and-santa-better_19.html

    Thanks for sharing! --Sharyl

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  22. You will rock this weekend!

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  23. I've done garden shows before and...never again. The joys of trying to seal a water feature and dealing with plants that curl up and die on judging day. And don't get me started on the jaw dropping rudeness of people. It's enough to make steam come out your ears.

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  24. I had to chuckle at your hair tie dilema and the roach-packing tacky woman.

    With every show I think I'm prepared because I keep everything in one place all the time. But it never fails that I forget to buy another receipt book, or order more business cards, or boxes, or sacks.

    Have a great weekend!!!

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  25. Oh, dear Lori - I shouldn't laugh, but I am wiping tears off my eyes... I can see you wishfully looking at that duct tape and I can totally understand your feelings. Luckily for me when that happened to us - I had a baseball hat (it was for display / giveaway, but it became 'mine' :) )

    Wishing you a great weekend! Have fun :)

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  26. I do only one show a year (but I am ready to branch out to more!) and I change it up each time so it is completely new. But a checklist would be brilliant instead of inventing that wheel each time. Thanks for sharing your foibles (no business cards!) and triumphs (zip ties!). Enjoy the day. Erin

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  27. Great Good Luck Lori!!!! Love Hugs and Prayers. Hope it a wonderful weekend for you!!! The thing I forget the most when I do shows? Change!!!! It is a standing joke now...did u get the change? Change...what change? Oh you mean for the customers that are buying...THAT change...ummm...didn't you get the CHANGE!!! LOL Have FUN!

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  28. Good thing you remembered your jewelry - that could have been really bad :)
    Check lists are good things!














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  29. I put stickers on each box but never thought of adding the web address to it-brilliant idea Lori! I prepare my boxes ahead of time and put a business card in each one. That way, each customer is guaranteed a card even if I run out mid show, which I have! I also have a check list and keep all of my craft show supplies together; tent, chairs, tables etc. Once, I forgot my iPad and had to go back home for it. Fortunately I was only half way there!

    I hope you have a successful weekend! Thank you for this entertaining and educational post!

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  30. I'm packing today for a weekend show myself, so this post is quite timely to me. I hadn't thought about where the nearest hardware store location would be. Thanks for the tip! That's a good one.

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  31. You make me smile! Thank you for all of the great tips. Im currently working towards a show at the first of the year, so any advice is welcome! I know you will rock this weekend! Can't wait to read about it!

    P.S. I have used duct tape as a hair tie! TIP...always fold the sticky side in!

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  32. I NEVER would have thought to pre-locate stores like Home Depot or Target, but that is so brilliant!! Thanks so much for sharing your tips, Miss Lori!

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  33. Thanx for sharing. My next show is November 3 & it is fast approaching. I wouldn't have thought of location hardware stores first. Great Idea. Here's wishing you the best of luck at your show.

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  34. Or you could also locate nearest friend to "gopher" things for you while she's on the way to show. And whose daughter happens to work at very close Office Depot ;-)
    Everything looked wonderful, you're grace under pressure and so talented, you're unforgettable! Saturday & Sunday will rock :-)

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  35. Or you could also locate nearest friend to "gopher" things for you while she's on the way to show. And whose daughter happens to work at very close Office Depot ;-)
    Everything looked wonderful, you're grace under pressure and so talented, you're unforgettable! Saturday & Sunday will rock :-)

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  36. Your going to have the best time. Your bracelets are beautiful. I do not sell anything, but each year I make things for our church Bazaar. I make tags every year. This year I just finished making bracelets. Yours are so pretty. Arney is building me a stand to hang them on. They aren't has prety as yours, but it is my first time. Big Hugs, Mary

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  37. The business cards and marketing materials are classically the thing I always forget!

    Love reading your blog Lori, hope you had a great show x

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  38. At least you remembered your jewelry! This past spring I worked very diligently creating new pieces and then, left a whole box at home! Recently, I did my usual outside Fall show. We had cold, rain, wind, sun, and heat all in one day...everything but snow and hail (we were thankful). Oh and no cell service due to weather systems hanging overhead..so could not run credit cards. After my first craft fair, I told my friend (my fellow craft fair adventurer), that we had officially joined the circus! Anyone who has not experienced it does not realize the hard work, creativity, organization, time and physical stress on body. And zip ties they may be better than duct tape! They saved us this last show too!

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  39. Always a mysterious good time!! LOL!! :)

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  40. Funny and informative !

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