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Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Business Chat - Rain or shine, the show goes on

This morning I awoke to that gentle sound of rain pitter pattering on the roof. Ah so lovely. And even lovelier was the knowledge that I am not exhibiting at the first craft show of this summer season! A lot of my crafty friends were however, so as cosy as I was I felt bad for them. 

Here’s the thing with outdoor craft shows, they are rain or shine meaning that they go on regardless of thunderstorms, tornadoes or extreme heat waves. You just have to be prepared.

So here are some tips on surviving an outdoor craft show.

You absolutely must have a tent. And it has to be a good tent. You must weatherproof your tent.

Now you must weatherproof yourself for rain. Craft shows are not the time to be worried about the fashion statement you are making. Yes, we want to look good especially if we’re selling wearables. At the same time, if you are uncomfortable or cold you are not going to be happy. And happiness is the best sales tool you can have. More important than being fashionable is being comfortable.

Let’s start with your feet. If it looks like rain, wear rubber rain boots. Cold, wet feet for a 12 hour day are silly. I leave my rain boots in my booth bin. Along with a pair of socks (who wants blisters?) If it’s not raining running shoes are the best. In the heat, a good pair of sandals with lots of support are critical. Make sure they are shoes that can be easily washed, parks are full of mud or dust.

Before you go to a show check out the weather report and dress appropriately. Always take an extra sweater or jacket and layer up. It is very different to be standing around for 10 hours than to be walking around for 2 hours. 

On my first ever outdoor craft show I had a lovely neighbour who was wearing a super cute sundress and bare legs, by noon she was freezing and miserable. Because she was so cold she was shivering and all scrunched up. It’s not good body language. I learnt that lesson. We want to look positive in all aspects of our presentation.

Pack a decent rain coat, a nice long one. Umbrellas are great but they require a hand to hold them. It’s better to have a really good rain coat with a hood just in case you happen to be standing in the rain. Again, I leave a dedicated rain coat in my booth bin so I’m never without.

Extra tarps. You just never know when you’ll need a tarp to throw quickly over a pile of something. You can pick up cheap ones at a dollar store, do yourself a favour and put 4 of them in your booth bin. You might also want to put in a couple of clamps to hold the tarps in place.

A bag of rags. Paper towels are great for windexing mirrors or dusting small objects but if you get caught in rain you might have to do some serious clean up. Go with a couple of small towels or something else absorbent.

Wet wipes. Should you get caught in rain in a park life can get very muddy. Wet wipes will help, they’re also useful in a very hot and dusty park.

Treats for you and extra to share. Sitting in a tent in the rain isn’t high on the fun list, in fact it can be downright crappy. It’s amazing how much a treat can make you feel just a little bit better, it’s very Pavolvian, but hey, it works. Make friends with your neighbours too and try to make light of it, you’re in it together.

My outdoor season last summer finished on a cold and soggy note. There was a massive thunderstorm that resulted in over 2 dozen tents being destroyed. I had a huge amount of mud all over my display that took an hour to wash off. Fortunately I had great neighbours, and we were all doing the same thing. Someone went on a coffee run, someone produced chocolate cake. 

Even in the crappy rain customers came out. By noon it was just a steady drizzle and yet more customers came out. At the end of the day when I added my sales up I was pleasantly surprised, I sold as much in the rain as I normally do. Yes it was harder, but my neighbours and I had some laughs, we made good friends and I made money.

Rain or shine. The show goes on.

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