Wednesday, December 7, 2011

final 2011 show wrap up

I made my final show for 2011 over the weekend.  This was by far the biggest show of the three I did this year and was definitely required the most prep work.  It didn't help that I only had a month to prepare for it.  Next year I will be ready well in advance with my show only inventory (magnets, etc.).  That was not the case this year.  I was busy from my November show right up until the night before this show.

My set up was pretty similar to the one I used for my other 2011 shows.  I was in the basement of a museum for this, so the lighting wasn't great.  I had booths almost touching mine on both sides with no room to stand behind my tables.

The biggest thing that I changed is that I added a second cork board for earrings and didn't use my magnet board.  Since everything had to be tagged, I boxed tacks and magnets in sets of 8-10 pieces.  The tacks worked well in the jewelry boxes.  The magnets didn't so much.  They still got plenty of attention, though, and almost all of my sets for both sold.  For future shows without central check outs, I'll go back to putting the tacks around the earrings and putting the magnets on a separate board.  Then I'll have boxes with cork boards OR little metal magnetic sheets so people can box their purchases as they like.

You can get a better idea how much work this tagging process involved from this picture.  I know that this looks a little messy.  I tucked a lot of the tags under the items and organized pieces into better rows as the show got started.  My inventory has reached the point that I really don't need to put out everything that I brought to have a full table.

This was the first show I'd ever done with a central check out.  I'm not sure that the % they took out from the sales was worth the trade off of not having to worry about handling money all weekend.  However, I do think that people buy more with this method, and the money may even out with the reduced number of individual credit card transactions.  So it's a tough call.

The basement of the museum is split into two large rooms.  Here are a couple shots of my room.

I don't usually shop a lot at my own fairs because I like to hold onto the money that I just made for more than 10 minutes.  However, I did buy some chai tea mix from one of my neighbor vendors (who were some of the nicest people I've ever met at a show).  I got to sample it several times throughout the weekend and am excited to have it at home now.  Unfortunately they don't have a web site so a picture will have to suffice.

Pros of this show: 
  • Although I did not make nearly enough as I was hoping I would, I made plenty to make this show worthwhile.  Among other things, I nearly sold out of magnet and tack sets, and a lot of my Christmas items did well.
  • I was able to network with a lot of other Wisconsin vendors, including several who are interested in keeping in touch about future shows (to pass on information about them and whatnot).
  • The museum decided that they wanted to start carrying my inventory.  They bought a fair amount of items before the show was over.  Instead of going through a consignment contract, they paid what I normally charge and can mark up the items however they like, which is fine with me.  I made sure that they have my contact information so they can contact me about for future orders (hopefully!).
The downsides of this show
I don't feel that I need to divulge a lot about this online.  My family and BBA teammates have already heard the complete story.  Suffice it to say, I have never been at a show before where: 1) a vendor pulled out completely on the first day of the show (for pretty legit reasons) and 2) there were so many upset vendors.  I was hoping to make this a regular holiday show for my fall/winter show rotation and just don't feel that I can because of the many issues that arose throughout the weekend.

Some tips for long shows:
This was a very long show.  It was 10 hours the first day, 6 hours the second day, and 5 hours the third day.   If you are ever doing a two or three day show, keep the following in mind:
  • Take regular breaks.  We were allowed time to eat lunch and dinner the first day and lunch the second and third days.  We were also allowed to take other short breaks as we needed to use the restroom, make phone calls, or just get away from the crowds.  It's important to take advantage of this.  As our booths were so close together and many booths had multiple people, it was easy to find someone to watch your items for a while.
  • Stay hydrated.  I did not drink enough water on the first day and could fill myself losing my voice by the time I left.  I made a conscious effort to drink more water for the second and third days.
  • Sit down.  Technically we weren't allowed to sit at our booths, but I sat on or leaned against my booth tables during dead periods.  I also sat down during all of my food breaks.  Whether or not you're allowed to sit, make time to do this and stretch your legs regularly.
  • Get to know your neighbors.  You will be spending a lot of time with the people around you so it's good to get acquainted.  I was lucky to have some very nice neighbors, which kept this show fun.
I am very glad to be done with this final 2011 show.  Honestly I'm ready to move on to 2012 and focus on my new goals, but I have a few things to finish before then, including the final holiday promotion period on Etsy, listing new items that didn't sell at the show, writing Christmas cards, finishing gift making and buying, and wrapping presents.  Christmas will be here before we know it, and there's still a lot to do before then.

I used this post for Erika's It's a Wrap Link Party 12/12/2011.


  1. Congrats on the museum buys - that has to be quite an ego boost. But yeah that show doesn't sound like something you'd want to do again...doesn't sound like a fun time.

  2. I'm glad to finally hear the details in an organized way! It's hard sometimes to keep up with stuff on the BBA threads:)

    Glad it was overall successful (mostly the museum sales!!!) but sorry to hear it's not one you'll want to do again. Great experience though!

  3. Thanks for giving such a complete wrap-up. It was nice to hear all the pros and cons of the show, as well as your tips. I've never done a multi-day show or a show with central check-out.

  4. I'm sorry the last show wasn't so great!
    But I'm glad you made a connection with fellow vendors and the museum! That could be a great on-going relationship!

  5. “Then I'll have boxes with cork boards OR little metal magnetic sheets so people can box their purchases as they like.” I love this idea!

    It’s great that the museum took your items and paid for them, and what you were asking, too! (I hate consignment!) Don’t be afraid to get back in touch with them (I know you won’t!)—perhaps new Spring items, or Valentine’s….

    Sitting part of the time during a long show is important. I like to stand, but if I do this all day with no (even short) periods of sitting, my legs and back hurt later.

  6. It looks like a nice show. I haven't been in a show with a central checkout, so that's something new to me. One thing you said that I hadn't realized: you put together in boxes. I hate to say it, but when I sold jewelry, I hated using boxes. Now I have a bunch boxes and don't need them. Maybe in the future, I'll sell things again that need to be boxed (like bags much more!) {:-D

  7. Nice wrap up on the show. Even though it wasn't that great, the museum buys were good.

    Your table looked great and I love seeing all that color there.

  8. You took away some great positives and tips for the future from this show that also had some significant negatives. From the photos, I can see how crowded it room to sit down at all!

  9. congratulations! the museum purchasing your work is definitely a great plus to the show! :-)

  10. Rose--This is a very nice "exit interview" and history of the show. It will provide you with the needed info, nect time around, not to mention all the tips for all of your readers!!! I agree that I am also ready to move on to 2012 and new goals!

  11. Good advice! Your display looks very inviting and the overall look of the show is very nice.

  12. First of all, congrats on the museum! I am excited to hear how it continues to go for you!

    I have had you in my thoughts as to check back with you when you got this post up.. took a few days, but I made it here!

    I love how you take us through your experiences with your shows, Rose.. and I am so happy to hear that it was worth your while... Although, like in the other post when I was wondering what was in the amazon box.. now, I am wondering why a vendor pulled out on day one! but, this is just me being nosy, lol! I have never been to a show where they had central check out..interesting!


Your comments mean so much to me! Thank you for taking the time to leave your thoughts, questions, and feedback.