3 Things You Should be Doing at Your Next Craft Show

Lexi Erickson is the President of Wubbers University, and is a well-known author, teacher, and frequent contributor to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist Magazine.

This is a busy time for our Wubbers U instructors, with many doing shows and making extra pieces for their galleries and shops. I attended two shows here in Denver this week-end and noticed many jewelers with a wide variety of techniques. There was a wide selection, and all different levels of technique and abilities, and I was having a hard time deciding what to purchase. It was very enjoyable to visit with the individual artists.

While almost everyone had done their homework and their booths were delightful and professional, I did notice some things that stood out… and not in a really positive way. I’m sure none of these are thing YOU would do, but it is always a good idea to reflect on your craft shows to evolve and improve.

1. Present your work in its best light

I noticed that everything and anything was used as a display, and while there were some winners, there were some displays that didn’t show off the jewelry in the best light. One display that comes to mind was a beautiful handmade quilt used as a table cover.

It was lovely, however, it was such a busy background that the jewelry got lost in the design of the fabric. A simple, non-patterned background would have been much more effective and would have been more elegant to show their beautiful jewelry. The pieces, which were brightly multi-colored with beads and dichroic glass, and lots of movement and dangles, did not get the attention they deserved. Unfortunately, they just blended into the background. As I looked over the artist’s work, one potential customer approached the table, then said “Oh, my, just looking at this makes me dizzy!” and walked off. I felt really bad for the artist.

At another booth, I saw some great beads with macramé and kumihimo. The main problem was these pieces looked shopworn and dirty. They had been handled a lot.

Present your work in the best light.  Make sure your displays play a supporting role to your jewelry.  If you find that customers notice your displays more than your jewelry, reconsider how you are presenting your work.  Only put out your best work, and be sure that work is clean, polished, and ready to wear.

2. Provide Fantastic Customer Service

I approached another table and saw the artist and a young man sitting down behind the table and holding hands, giggling and kissing, oblivious to anyone around them. I didn’t want to interrupt them, so I passed them by. Now everyone has heard not to eat or read while in your booth, but this was a bit over the top.

Another lady never looked up and just kept texting as I stood in her booth and looked at her jewelry. As I passed by a second time, about 20 minutes later, she was still texting.

Acknowledge your customers when they walk up.  Give them the same customer service you would expect from a brick-and-mortar store.  Say hello, allow them to browse, and if they seem interested, let them know you are available if they have any questions.  And remember, while too little engagement can be a problem, so can too much.  Too much talking can drive customers away and take the focus off of your jewelry.  Find a happy medium.

3. Don’t Undersell Yourself

A couple of things really stood out: one was a huge pink poster board sign that said “50% OFF EVERYTHING” and another artist who said, as soon as I approached her booth, “Buy one piece and the second piece is 50% off”. Now maybe I don’t understand, but to me those two different booths gave me the impression that the jewelry presented were leftovers from their summer shows. The artists didn’t seem to value their work. Why cut your profit before anyone ever sees your work?

You can always offer a discount later in your conversation, IF you feel the need.

In Summary…

So if I have anything to share, it would be to make sure your pieces stand out and catch attention, and make sure they are polished and clean. And finally, don’t spill your popcorn in the lobby. Give people a chance to look at your work and to buy it at the full price. You made it, and it is your own creativity and outlook on life. Don’t sell yourself short!

I would love to hear what you have to say about marketing!  Leave a comment telling us about your marketing tips, and dos and don’ts. Let’s share what works. And may all your upcoming shows be profitable and enjoyable.

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Posted in Selling Jewelry
6 comments on “3 Things You Should be Doing at Your Next Craft Show
  1. Kathie Condon says:

    I sat down from getting ready for my big show of the year starting tomorrow and this was waiting in my in box. Thanks for this timely article. I will definitely make sure I follow these guidelines this weekend. Good luck to everyone and your future shows.

  2. The more interactive I am with my customers, the better chance I have of making a sale. If I’m behind my table, I come around to the front and engage them in conversation after greeting them. “Is anything catching your eye?” or “What type of jewelry do you like?” I encourage them to try pieces on and if they are fumbling a bit to hook a bracelet, I offer help. And always have a mirror on hand for earrings (and necklaces) and don’t wait to be asked for it.

  3. Heather Poggi-Mannis says:

    I always say, “Please let me know if you have any questions. I made everything in the booth.” That usually starts a conversation.

  4. Great point, Heather! People always seem to be so amazed when you tell them you made everything. “Wow, really?” LOL

    • As you mentioned here, I am always amazed at the number of artist who do not greet a customer when they come into their booth. A hello and a smile works wonders without putting pressure on the client , just let them know you are there to answer any questions. Be engaging and thank them for stopping by. Often people will look through a whole show before they decide what they will purchase so make sure you are pleasant and give them a business card. I have a lot of sales after a show closes- I get emails and calls sometimes months later because they had that business card!

  5. Elaine R says:

    I always strive for a professional looking booth. I also try to walk around to see what the other booths look like for ideas on what to consider and what NOT to do. I typically like to change my booth for each show however, I do have a few items that remain constant so returning customers may easily recognize the booth even with seeing my sign. I not only want the booth to look professional, but I also present myself as a professional.

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