Monday, November 9, 2015

Who is to blame?: Craft Show Fail

I have been doing craft fairs for ten years. I have had good shows, bad shows, and spectacular shows.

I have done high end shows in my area as well as humble church shows. I have done art fairs and street fairs. And throughout this time I have sold nothing but jewelry. 

In the beginning, I would get so upset when I would see vendors that seemed like they were making a killing in sales at the shows while I did few sales. I would obsess in how to get people to buy my work. I think this feeling is normal when you are just starting out.

As I got more shows under my belt, and more sales, I became more confident in the worth of my product. More comfortable standing in my booth talking to customers. 

During that time, I did two shows that I could say a show failed due to something that was outside my control (lack of advertising in both cases). But in every other show where I did not make sales like I had hoped, my only choice was to look in the mirror. "What could I have done better?"

I would re-examine my displays, my colors, my setup, my layout, ect.
I would think about my booth design, my merchandising, my products. I researched consumer behavior, watched which setups seemed to make customers feel more at ease (it was never the one everyone told me to use by the way), and adjusted my booth/product accordingly. 

I feel like if I am not making sales at a show, then I am the one responsible for it. If I want to make those sales, I owe it to my customers and myself to create a booth that is welcoming and eye catching. That is part of my job as a vendor.

That means being friendly (even when they ask the same question my first 30 customers asked today), having a smile on my face, not reading or playing on my phone. And finally it means being present and professional all day.

Ok so why the long list of "I am responsible?" Well as I was packing up from my last show, I overheard the promoter asking vendors if the "large displays" effected their sales. Appearently some "vendors complained that their booths were not visible from the door due to large displays blocking the view." This is what the attributed to their poor sales.

Hell my booth was blocked by two sets of gridwalls. But it was not my neighbor's fault that my sales were down. That was a total error on my part (which dawned on me later). 

Getting upset because someone has figured out a better way to show off their work (yes going up can allow for better displays) is like being mad that the straight A student, who studies every night, aced the pop quiz. The same one you failed because you had been too busy doodling rather than paying attention in class. The straight A student passed the quiz because they prepared. 

People who are successful at these shows are the ones who go in prepared. And even they have off shows. But rather than blame others when the shows don't work, they work on being better prepared. 

So who is to blame when a show was a bust? 99% percent of the time, look in the mirror. Then ask "How can I do it better?"

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