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Six Ways to Make Your First Maker Show Great (and the surefire way to ruin the day)

January 28, 2018


You've been accepted! Congrats! It's exciting and maybe a bit overwhelming. Do these six things to look like a pro, even if it's your first show. 


Don't wait till the last minute to create

Once you know you're going to be in a show (or if you know that you will be starting to do shows in the near future), start building up your stock.  Staying up all night putting finishing touches on things and figuring out logistics makes for an early morning with little sleep. Shows are tiring and provide enough stress of their own.  Coming into the day tired and stressed out will make your experience less than enjoyable.  Create a boundary around your show and plan on being ready to go at least a couple days before you head out.  As you get used to the grind of a show and are able to do most things on autopilot and you can cut that time a little. 



Figure out how you're taking payment

If you haven't figured out how to take credit cards, do it! It's not as complicated as you may think.  I wouldn't even consider it an option. It's a must. Cash is still a must as well.  As annoying as it may be to deal with change, you don't want to create a barrier in making a sale.  States have different policies on if you can include sales tax in your listing price, so check that out first if you are wanting to bypass the pennies.



Figure out your layout ahead of time

Different shows will have different layouts.  Unless you only do the same types of shows, you must be flexible and creative. A half hour before doors open is not the time to create the wheel.  I've done shows in my back yard when I've had as much room as I wanted, 10x10 tent shows, 8x6, and even one in a greenhouse where we had to use the permanent tables (no sides, no back, no storage, just a taped off six foot slate we had to stand in front of).  Once you've had a lot of shows behind you, this gets easier and you can go with the flow a little more. When you are just starting out, get all of that figured out at home.  And then take some pictures so you remember. I do warn you though, be flexible! Once you get to your booth space, you are bound to eventually run into something you didn't plan for. No matter how A-type your personality is, use those creative juices to figure out a plan B and then don't let it ruin your day. 


Pack your initial set up together

If you have a lot of the same product for back stock,  pack your initial set up items together.  That way you aren't digging through every box during set up. This tip is a major time saver!



A good show organizer will be focused on advertising.  Don't assume that advertising is only their job.  You need shoppers through the door in order to sell anything.  Be committed to getting the word out about your shows.  If every maker does their part in spreading the word that's tens, hundreds, thousands more shoppers! 


Broaden your idea of success

Few makers leave the gate running.  For most, there is a lot of trial and error to figure out how to have success and where to have success.  As you go into your first shows, think bigger than the day.  Yes, cash in your pocket is the ultimate goal.  But just because the cash doesn't come rolling in at that show, doesn't mean you're not preparing yourself for tomorrow's cash.  It's a time to tweak your set up, see reactions and get insight on your products, network with the vendors around you, and get your name out to customers/shops/wholesalers. When you leave with a head full of ideas for the future of your business, you are leaving a wealthier person.


The surefire way to ruin a show:


Be a giant *%&$! crab

The fastest way to get yourself black listed from a show is to be a Cruella de Vil or Eeyore to everyone around you.  Learn to be flexible and enjoy the experience.  Expect that things will go wrong.  Plan for contingencies.  Do not be a "dweller", move on from the negative. You have the choice to make a less than ideal situation into hell for you and those around (plus customers will catch your energy and run) or you can go Balki Bartokomous on the world and with jazz hands sing "Nothings going to stop me now."  (Unless you have been seriously wronged – every experience is a learning one.)




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