Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Craft Show Conundrum

I have to say, I am constantly torn about craft shows. You may do this every year, stress over which shows to do, whether to do them at all, and at the end of the show, whether to ever do them again.

I really enjoy the show itself. However, as any of you who've done them know, the countless hours spent in preparation usually means you've been working for free. You have not only the time in creating, but the travel, set up, hours at the show, plus however long it took to secure your equipment and create displays. I must admit I've tried my hardest to display on the cheap, feeling clever at my use of pegboard sprayed silver to hang my shoes. This lets them all be seen, keeps them from blowing off the shelves I made from reclaimed wood, and helps weigh down my insufficient canopy.

Is it a great set up? Heck no, it pales in comparison to those who've spend 10 years building their booth up. I have, though, come up with some cute decor to offset the spartan displays I have. Again, cheaply. It'll do, for now. But if I intend to continue craft shows as local promotion (it's not JUST to sell shoes I've realized, since several came who remember me from last year), I am going to have to invest countless more hours creating a booth that looks like a store.

I left this weekend's show feeling somewhat like I really needed to decide if the craft show circuit is the best way to spend my time, to sell the most product. It's probably the biggest decision a crafter who wants get their "branded" product out there faces. I see clearly that it can be done, why else would these long timers continue, with their professional setups, high end products and name recognition, keep doing it?

There's no guarantee that any show, no matter how successful in the past, won't get rained out, or suffer some other sort of situation where the crowds just don't show up. I was told if I want to make the big sales, I need to do the big shows. Therein lies the problem. That next step. Stay a hobby crafter on Etsy or move up to push into the wholesale market? Do the affordable shows with moderate attendance or move up to the big time, $200-500 fee shows with 30,000+ attendance?

Have you thought about it? What's your next move?

An aside: The winner of the Birthday Giveaway, who correctly guessed first which child was me (bottom row, left), was morganstreet.


  1. Your booth looked GREAT! A lot better than most of the booths in my area, that's for sure! Plus the flowers- My kids would have run to your booth first!! Good Luck with your decision!

  2. Your in a tough spot. I totally know how ya feel. I have felt like I was on the threshhold of something bigger with my business at several times. If I would just make that push and hire a helper I could go bigger...but do I want that? I like calling the shots regarding my clothing and soap. if I hire a helper I lose some control...Its a tough decision. I wish hubs would help me. Wouldnt be so bad if family was in on it ya know??

    Good luck with your decision. I know how ya feel!

  3. Well, Audrey, your booth looks fabulous! Mom and I have done a few shows in the past, but nothing too big and some were just a bust. I think with your drive you could rock those big shows! :) Good luck!
    BTW, I love those awesome flowers!