Thursday, July 19, 2012

summer open house wrap up

As many of you know, among other things, I had spent part of this past month organizing an Etsy Milwaukee summer open house.  We had the open house this past week.  Of course I took pictures of my display the day before and didn't take any pictures of the other displays or anything else that happened during the open house.  You'll have to trust me that all of the other vendors had awesome displays and that we had a great food and drink spread, too.

This is almost the exact same display that I used for my May show except that it's more of an L shape than an open square.  I put my laptop on that blank spot on the left table.  This is the most successful attempt that I've had at getting my banner to hang at the right height.  Ideally, my tables would be 2 inches higher, but that isn't going to happen any time soon.

I couldn't get a great shot of my entire display in this room, but I think that you get the idea.

I love this layout that I have for my jewelry.

I created a bunch of small magnet sets as party favors for our little party last weekend and put them out for this show.  I'll continue to use these as freebies and party favors.  At some point I will put together larger cards that I can package in bags with toppers, too.

I also have to share this photo that one of my friends took of me with my display.  Nope, that adorable baby is not mine, just a neat little guy that I got to meet.

We had eight vendors total, most of whom did a fair amount of advertising on social media, to other friends and family, and at shows.  I'd love to say that we had a great turnout and a lot of sales, but we didn't.  A handful of friends and some customers stopped by throughout the day and did make a few purchases.

Does that mean that this event was a complete failure?  Absolutely not.  Here are a few reasons why:
  • It was a lot of fun.  We had a great group of people, many of whom really enjoyed getting to hang out during the day.
  • There were a lot of opportunities for networking.  Many of you know that one of the best aspects of any craft show is networking with other artists.  A lot of vendors were really excited about the networking opportunities that they had during the open house.
  • The organizational process was a great experience and will ensure that future events run this smoothly.  I got a lot of compliments about all of the work that I put into this event, which was a big ego boost.  Even though we didn't get a lot of customers, we attribute the major lack of customers primarily to the time of year.  It is really hard to get a lot of people to turn out for any event in the middle of summer.  People are busy with friends and family social events and other activities.  A lot of vendors are game to do this again in the fall when we will hopefully attract more of a holiday shopping crowd.  We'll also have more lead time for promotion.
A number of people have told me not-half jokingly that I should leave my display up like this all year round in my house.  While it would be amazing to have a more permanent set up, I'm not going to leave it up right now because:
  • In this location, it's the first thing that people see when they walk in our front door.  While this was great as the host of the open house, I think that it sends a weird message to guests.  If I did set it up more permanently, I would put it in the purple bedroom where I house my light box, sewing machine, and supplies.
  • In this location, everything gets a lot of sunlight.  While it's amazing to have a lot of sunlight in our front room, I don't want my display items, particularly the fabrics and cards (i.e. earring cards), to fade.  Again, the purple bedroom, which has a couple north facing windows, would be better.
  • We use my show card tables for other purposes sometimes when I'm not doing shows.
We may try this again with a different advertising tactic in the fall.  I would also like to do another holiday/winter Chicago open house in 2012/early 2013.  As many of you know, the open house that I did there last year was much more successful.  I'll keep sharing details about those events as they progress.

Have you done an open house or multiple open houses?  Share your experiences!


  1. I'm glad to hear the show was fun. Your set up looks fantastic. It's so colorful!

  2. How cool! That is a lot of work and I'm glad that you have such a great attitude about it- that the experience weighs more than the amount of traffic you had. Sometimes it's good to have a low key event first and then to attempt a bigger one after you have the experience. Lovely set up! You kind of look a bit like me in that photo too & you look so great with a little one in your arms!

  3. Your display looks amazing! That's a cute little seller's apron
    you're wearing! And sweet baby :)

  4. What a great idea. Putting together events like that are always worth it even if you don't get lots of sales. It is nice to see family and friends, get feedback about your product, and you always get a few sales. The more often you do them the more successful they will be, I am sure your next one will be huge success.
    Everyday Inspired

  5. your display looks great. Even though you didn't have a lot of customers at least you had fun

  6. This is great that the show was a success in many areas. I think you're right, just the wrong time of year for shoppers. But it's great that everyone wants to do a fall show!
    Your set up looks great!

  7. Your set up looks great! I know the Fall show will be a lot better!

  8. Your display looks great, Rose. And you look so natural with the baby, too.

    I'd love to participate in one of these home shows with other artists. Putting on my thinking cap.

  9. Dear Rose, You certainly put your heart into your work. You are a good example of dedication.
    You look so nice. Thank you for sharing that lovely photo. Blessings dearest. Catherine xo

  10. I like the set up, Rose, and those little button flowers in the container.

    Even though you did not have the sales you wanted, you make me want to do/participate in an open house.

  11. congrats! Great looking set-up. And the flowers - such a nice touch! Another reason for success: people are going to think of you, when they want to highlight one Milwaukee etsy artist! {:-D

  12. I think your display looked great! And I agree that just because it wasn't a huge day for sales doesn't mean it was a total bust. Also, that's one cute little baby! Makes me miss when my nephew was that small.

  13. lovely set up!
    a few thoughts:
    Middle Fall leading up to Christmas seems to be the best time of year. Winter-- late January/February/early March seems to be good too, as people are bored with Winter and are looking for a change.
    When I did this (several times), we held it on Friday evening, then the next Saturday from morning till early afternoon. Offering alcohol seems to help with sales!
    I have heard that Chicago is a great place to sell things as people are more used to spending money than in other parts of the Midwest.

    Networking has a huge potential for success. Good luck with your future endeavors!

  14. This looks like a lot of fun! You have a great set-up, and as Duni already pointed out, what a cute little selling apron! Cute little "visitor" in your arms, too. :-)

  15. Love the idea of an open house - more "upscale" than a craft show I think & more intimate. Splendid Litte Stars idea is great for Friday into Saturday, too - people can bring their friends back the next day if they saw something they liked.

    I've never had one of these, but been to a couple & I remember seeing some nice, unique jewelry, but I also remember a lot of people squished into one place and it wasn't very cozy.

    Sounds like you had fun, good luck doing it again in the Fall!

  16. I love your music notes table cloth! VERY appropriate! :)

    Thanks so much for joining the I <3 my Blog {Hop}!

    For Love of Cupcakes


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