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Friday, December 03, 2010

The Business Chat - Finding Shows

I’m day 9 into the 11-day One of a Kind show and stringing 2 words together is not the easiest task right now. Please excuse the brevity of this post.
This is not a show for the faint of heart, it’s a marathon endeavour. Last week I mentioned some booth etiquette for vendors, here’s a tip for shoppers. If you have bought a piece from an artist, or met them somewhere, when you stop by their booth please don’t just assume that they will remember you. Always introduce yourself. After 9 days, 12 hours a day of speaking with the public, I don’t think I could recognize my mother at this point. It’s a good thing I like dealing with people.

And that brings me to my main point today, assessing your show personality. When my non-crafty friends visit me at a craft show they look around and think “wow, this looks like so much fun, and it’s so easy, standing around in the sunshine and chatting with people”. Yeah, right. Most people visit craft shows in the middle of the afternoon and if it’s outdoors they only show up in the nice weather. If you’re new to shows make sure you aren’t assessing them with this viewpoint.
Shows are an excellent way of building a loyal clientele, creating a community of fellow artists and making money. They are also a huge amount of work and they do require a special breed of personality. A lot of creators starting out thinking they’ll do shows because it looks like fun and unlike a store that takes 50% of your sales, all the money you make in your booth is yours to keep. What they don’t think about is the work involved in designing and constructing a good booth display, driving to a show at 6 a.m. and setting it up, marketing your presence there, and then spending 8 – 12 hours a day with a “thrilled to be here” smile plastered on your face. Can you be nice to people after 10 hours? Can you close a sale? Can you upsell every sale? If this isn’t who you are acknowledge it and don’t sign up for a lot of shows. There’s no point in keeping 100% of the sales if you can’t make a sale because you aren’t a good sales person or you don’t like dealing the public (who have been know to ask some really not-bright questions. My favourite question is “Is this price in dollars?” Really, perhaps I’m standing in Toronto and selling in Euros? Or rupees? But I digress.)

Regardless of if you want to do 1 show or 12 you must find the shows to be in. And today I bring you fabulous news! Here in Ontario those of us doing shows find most of our information in Craft Source, a publication by the Ontario Craft Council. This is a book that lists most of the major shows in Ontario along with all the really important information such as where to get the application and the application deadline.

This publication has traditionally been a hard copy book published in the first week of December at a cost of $30. For the first time the Ontario Crafts Council is publishing this online for FREE!!! Click her to download the PDF. Note that these shows are the larger craft shows, not the church basement, school fundraisers or mall shows (although as a maker of handmade work you should never do a mall show).
If you aren’t ready to do a larger show download the publication anyway and read it as research. It’s very helpful to learn about application procedures, deadlines and fees.

Craft Source is published by the Ontario Crafts Council. For readers in other provinces check with your provincial crafts council. If they publish something like this why not share this information here?

1 comment:

jen said...

Thanks for posting that link! Great news that it's now free.