Wednesday, February 8, 2012

open house/trunk show and my weekend in Chicago wrap up

Thank you for all of the well wishes about my open house/trunk show!  The two custom orders that I got before the show were a great sign of things to come and were enough to cover all of my travel expenses.  However, I'd still put a lot of work into the prep for this show and was hoping for lots of sales there as well.  It didn't disappoint.

The Pros:
-It was a very relaxed atmosphere.  People were happy to just hang out and eat.  I highly recommend providing food and wine and playing music.
-It was a small enough group (20 or so people total over 3 hours) that I was able to talk to everyone.  It was nice to socialize and not have all of the talk revolve around the business aspect of the event.
-While I knew most of the people there, my mom and our friend who hosted had invited some friends I didn't know so I was able to network with new people.
-All but about 2 or 3 people bought at least one item.  Almost everyone spent over $10.
-Lots of people picked up business cards and/or free shipping cards without any prompting.  I am always surprised at shows how many people make purchases and don't pick up at least one business card.
-As for the new items, the glass magnets and metal charms were a big hit.  I got a lot of positive feedback about my cards and sold a few.
-As for the freebie items, they were very well received.  I had a mix of button post earrings, glass magnets, button magnets, button rings, and button hair pins.  People took just about everything except the hair pins, which just weren't a big hit at this show.  That's okay.  If I do another small event like this, I will offer freebies again.
-Linda was able to come!  It was awesome to meet her and see some of her work in person.

Personal Notes About My Display, the Logistics, Etc.:
-I like to allow at least 2 hours to set up for any show.  I only had about an hour and 15 minutes to set up for this.  While I did have some set up help, this was not nearly enough time, especially considering all of the new displays and items that I had.  I can rethink some of my new item set up to minimize the time it requires in the future, but I still need at least 2 hours.
-I knew that going super cheap on my card display easels was going to bite me in the butt, and it did.  I think I'm going to base them on card stock and then secure the card stock to my tables in the future.
-My new banner did not have enough support in the middle.  You can see that in the photos.  I will need to create some loops like the sides have to secure the top to the table next time.  Tape just doesn't cut it with the fabric table covers.  Otherwise it worked well.
-I've been thinking about adding at least one skinny table to my display for 2012 shows so I can create an L shape of sorts.  Adding all of my new displays out for event made it very apparent how necessary that is.  I don't want to crowd my jewelry or compromise the new item space.  Eventually I'd like to add two skinny tables and make an open square but for now, one should suffice.
-A 3 hour show is not a long time to sell when you consider the 3-4 hour set up/tear down time around it and the travel time.  I have a lot of family and friends in the Chicago area so I don't mind making a trip there for the social aspect of the weekend as a whole, but a local open house does make more sense logistically.

Would I do this again?
Definitely.  I would adjust a few of the logistical things I mentioned above.  I would also give potential guests/customers more notice.  We put this together in a few weeks, which worked out okay, but a few more weeks would be preferable I think.  Additionally, I'd be interested in doing a local show at some point, too.  We'll see if that idea can pan out next year.

What else did I do in Chicago?
While I was in Chicago, I had the opportunity to do a few other fun things as well.

Have you done an open house before?  How did it go?  Share your stories, tips, etc.

I included this post in Erika's It's a Wrap Link Party - 2/13/2012.


  1. Perhaps velcro to fasten your banner?

  2. I'm not sure if my "bag party" counts as an open house ;-)
    I much prefer smaller venues and I like the relaxed style of your open house. No takers for your hairpins? I think they are fabulous!

  3. Wow...sounds like overall it was a great time! I'm sure show or no show it was great to be home and get to see so many that you hadn't seen for a while. Glad you made plenty of sales. It's also nice to do these things so you have a low- pressure way of trying out new display items. The banner looks great in action! I think an additional table would be lovely. Crowding product can be so overwhelming to shoppers.

  4. I'm so glad your show was a hit! I like the social aspect of an open house vs. a craft show. I like talking to people one on one about my products and telling them more about my pieces.
    Your banner looks great! You chose great photos for it!
    I think an L shape would be great. I do this often for my displays as well.
    Now that I offer more than just scrapbooks, I'd like to try a few open houses :)

  5. Overall, it sounds like your show was a SUCCESS! I have not done an open house yet, but have thought about it. Your idea about using narrow tables has a lot of merit...I used theme exclusively at craft shows because it gives me the flexibility to adjust my space no matter how small or large it may be, whether it's a corner space or not.

  6. Congrats on your sales! It sounds like a very relaxed, no pressure way to interact with new customers. :)

  7. I did an open house, years ago at Christmas time! I wasn't a hit that I was hoping, but it was really fun!

  8. I always find it interesting what sells in one place but not another. And what a great and honest take on the card displays. I would like to do an open house this year--we'll see if I can get myself organized enough!


  9. I'm glad your open house went so well! I've never been to one so really had no idea what they were but it looks like fun and I like the relaxing atmosphere too. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  10. so glad you had a good time and got a chance to visit. Getting together with your local Etsy team would be a great idea. Think of all the new potential buyers! You did a great job analyzing the situation. Good for you!

  11. It sounds like a great success as well as a good learning experience. Sounds like you took some great advantage of your time in the area as well.

  12. Sounds like a really great event as well as a super chance to test drive some new display things and to learn a lot!! Thanks for sharing all the things you learned about set up, etc. too--that freebie idea is something I will be thinking about for my next show.....

  13. Dear Rose, I am glad you had a good show and time. blessings my dear, Catherine xo

  14. Sounds like it was a great day! Even though you didn't really get enough time to sell compared to set up time, you did get the exposure, the experience with this venue and you got to do some cool things outside of the trunk show!

  15. Thanks for sharing your experience and photos from your open house!
    glad you got to see some etsy team members and do other fun things while there!

  16. Glad it worked well for you! No matter how many times I did things like this, I always learned something new. I agree, the smaller venue allows you much more time to chat.


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