How to Have (and How NOT to Have) a Craft Fair – Part Five

Christmas decor available for purchase at the show

Christmas decor available for purchase at the show

Months of organization are behind you and it’s the week before the fair. Here are the last tips, things I would have done totally different if circumstances had allowed.

14. Ensure a clean venue going into the week. This might mean rounding up volunteers to sweep and mop and move things out of the area, or this might mean calling someone and verifying.

15. Collect paperwork. Gather your vendor applications together, along with a list of those who have paid and those you will collect payment from at the show. I put mine in a binder with pens, sharpies, my layout diagrams, business cards from vendors, and some blank paper. It might be a great idea to bring several copies of the guidelines in case there are any questions.

16. Mark spaces. I didn’t do this and I wish I had. I intended to, but like I said, circumstances. Use masking tape and layout each booth space directly on the floor. It will save time and trouble. Correct your diagrams and note the location of electrical outlets for vendors. Number the spaces. If tables are included, move tables to spaces.

17. Put together a sign-in kit. I fully intend to do this next year as I think it’ll be a nice touch. I’ll have name tags for each vendor and their helper(s), their space number, guidelines, and a general thank you for attending. If you have a sign-in table, it also provides an opportunity for you to meet these people you’ve been talking to for the past three months.

18. Expect to change your plans. I cannot emphasize this enough. As a girl who loves plans and cannot handle spontaneity, it was a brief exercise in make-it-work. Something will not go according to plan and you have to expect that. Whether it’s making space for an extra vendor, having a few no-shows and needing to spread out to cover the empty space, whatever. Plan for last minute changes to your plan.

19. Be helpful. Offer to carry things, move stuff, offer your help to every vendor you have. Let them know that you will do everything in your power to make sure that they and their needs are taken care of. Next year I would love to designate a volunteer for every two or three vendors, just to help them set up, bring them a drink if they need it, watch their booth if they have to run to the bathroom, etc.

20. Enjoy it. You’ve worked hard. You’ve earned that cup of coffee and that doughnut.

Thanks for reading! Catch the rest of the series here!

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How to Have (and How NOT to Have) a Craft Fair – Part Four

Christmas decor available for purchase at the show

Christmas decor available for purchase at the show

Congratulations! You’re now well on the way to your first craft fair. You’re organized, you’re advertised, you’re publicized, and most importantly, you have vendors.

11. Follow up with your vendors. Send them an email, call, just touch base and make sure they’re well and good (and haven’t forgotten) and you’re all on the same page. Some will need directions and that brings me to the next one.

12. SIGNS. Make signs or have them made, I don’t know your budget. But you will need signs. Put them at the obvious places, the entrance to your venue, the turnoff from the main road, the interstate exit. Cover all possible entrances to your town, your main road, your venue. If your community has signs announcing community events, have yours up there. If you have a church group attending, have them mention it on their sign. Signs are going to be the last reminder that something is going on and people need to be there. They’ll also help out-of-towners locate the event.

13. Out of town vendors. Suggest motel/hotels, restaurants, sights to see, town attractions, etc. Pick up some pamphlets from the Chamber of Commerce, mention how great the fajitas are at your favorite restaurant, let them in on some of you town’s main attractions. You are basically the welcome wagon for this particular event and going out of your way can mean a lot.

Planning a craft fair? Check out the rest of this series here!

How to Have (and How NOT to Have) a Craft Fair – Part Three

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All of your advertising will soon have vendors rolling in, and it’s best to be prepared with the following:

8. Vendor Application. I had no idea what should and should not be on a vendor application, so I looked at examples posted by the coordinators of other craft fairs and went from there. I’ve posted a sample of mine here: Vendor Application Example PDF.  Our show was not specific, nor was it juried, so the application is simple. The first deadline was September 15th, nearly two months before the show, but I extended it time and time again and was taking vendors up until two days before the show. It’s one of those things you’ll have to decide whether or not to be firm on.

9. Guidelines. You can’t just send people off with an application. People are unique individuals and there really truly is no telling what will show up. The guidelines I developed are here: Hometown Craft Show Guidelines. Again, because our show is not juried and because I didn’t want to limit the creativity of anyone, I didn’t care about exclusivity. Because of that, we ended up with five or six different people selling the frilly scarves made from Sashay yarns. But that’s okay. That’s perfectly okay. Prices were competitive, colors varied, I don’t think there was any ill will felt between vendors.

The original idea behind having vendors submit photographs and websites/Facebook pages was not to “judge” their work, it was for advertising on the Facebook page some of the things we would have at the show. I probably dropped the ball on that one a little bit, but at the same time, I might have received pictures from three or four people.

10. Make a Facebook page and create an event. This cannot be mentioned enough. Facebook connects people, people love to invite people to things. Make a Facebook fan page or whatever they’re calling it now. Post pictures. Invite people to invite people to like it. Create an event on that page with more details of the show. Invite everyone you know. Don’t let the page die in the off season, mention other industry related things, like other craft fairs, or special deals vendors are running, or hold a contest to win free booth space, anything like that. Just keep it alive.

Planning a craft fair? Check out Parts One and Two here and stay tuned for the rest of the series this week!

The Truth of The Matter

Honestly, I am overwhelmed.

To begin with, I have a tendency to bring plants home from work. It’s a serious problem. But apparently it affects everyone who works at the garden center. My only problem is that my plants tend to leave my car and find their (semi) permanent home somewhere on the ground (sometimes) somewhere near where I intend for them to live. There they exist until supreme guilt sets in and I plant and water them. And there they struggle on until I get around to mulching them (still hasn’t completely happened). And then more plants half-die, or something new I just have to have comes in, and the process starts all over. Self control is an issue, it seems.

And then there is the issue of the vegetable garden. I’m an avid planter, and an avid eater, but not an avid picker or weeder. I have plenty of fall and winter seed to get into the ground, but my extremely late squash plants are blooming profusely so I don’t want to pull them up yet.

The squash blooms naturally bring me to the honeybees which seem to be doing well though I haven’t inspected recently. I should, as well as treat for varroa mites and begin preparing them for the winter. It’s on the to-do list, long and never ending.

Christmas presents. I have an itch to get my shopping started and finished. What do you give a brother in the Navy? On a ship?

Writing. I used to write. The thirst for putting words on paper was in my blood. But two completed books, three or four or five halves of books, trying to force myself to put words on paper, it quenched my thirst and was no more. There is an inkling coming back. I don’t want to scare it by jumping in too soon, so I intend to nurture it along gently.

To top my whole pile of overwhelmed off, I’m coordinating a craft fair in November, also setting up a booth to sell my wares. I have yet to figure out exactly which wares to focus on, much less create a stockpile of such wares.

And yet, every single morning (or five days a week, to be honest) I get to drive to work looking at a sunrise so breathtaking my camera won’t do it justice. And everything is not only okay, it is good. It is well.

Creating a Craft Fair

Among the 40 bazillion other things I have in the fire, I got the bright idea to start a craft fair. I live in the perfect location, it’s absolutely ideal, with a large crafting community. It’s early enough in the year that I can still advertise, I know several people who are behind the idea one hundred percent, I’ve got the perfect location. It’s great.

I’ve never done this before, okay?

There’s nothing special about that, there’s a lot of stuff I’ve never done before. I have three or four almost confirmed vendors, my sister is going to have a booth, I’m going to mix some of my stuff in with hers (shh!), it’ll be great. I’m researching and trying to come up with the few hard-and-fast rules we’re going to have.

I have a name. I have a press release. I have a location.

It’s going to be a simple thing. I’m not in it for profit. I’m in it to get an opportunity to purchase Christmas presents from local people like me.

Craft Fair-ing and Soap

My mom and I went to a little craft fair one county, two communities, and one town over this past weekend. We’ve been talking about organizing one in our town, and we were looking for inspiration.

I don’t know about inspiration, but I did find some pretty cool handmade soaps. I love handmade. I love soap. I found Laurel Creek Naturals. And Laurel Creek Naturals has some pretty cool soaps.

I chose The Dirty Gardener, which is a rosemary and mint scented soap with ground oatmeal mixed in; and Daydream Believer, which is lavender and lemongrass scented. I’m always looking for the perfect lavender-scented soap and I love the strong scent of this one. I just took a shower with it and it’s knocking me out as I type.

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(excuse my photography, I haven’t been home during much natural daylight. also, it’s been particularly dreary lately)

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I just love the shape. And the marbling. And the packaging. And the wonderful smell.

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I also found her lip butters! They’re wonderful. I was a little bit worried about the cinnamon one, because my lips have been a little chapped lately, but there was no stinging or anything of the sort. I haven’t tried banana coconut yet, but I’m anxious to.