On prepping for shows
November 4, 2015
One of my goals this year was to take part in as many indie markets and craft shows as I could conceivably do. I was shooting for 12 — one a month — and while I’m definitely not going to hit that number, I’ve done about half that. Even better, I tend to sell well at these shows! Not bad, considering this isn’t my full time job.
So I have methods now to get ready for each show, and to decompress afterwards. Later this week I’ll do a roundup of sources of information and inspiration, but for now, here’s my Foolproof Get Ready for Shows checklist:
- Inventory! I’m kind of a mess in terms of organizing inventory, but I’ve gotten good at assessing what I have, what I need to make, and what I can make in the time between getting accepted and the time I show.
- Spent all the hours in the studio. And by “all of them” I mean every weekend day for minimum six hours. It’s like cramming for an exam, only far more fun and full of fire.
- Obsessively double- and triple-check the size of my booth. The smallest space I’ve had is 4’x4′ and the largest was 8’x4′ in a freezing cold warehouse-turned-public space. It doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but it affects the way I lay everything out.
- Unearth the folding table I recently purchased from its hidey-hole in our tiny apartment and then proceed to take over our living room for several days while I do a trial run of the booth. Our cat loves this part, because it means there are lots of new toys for her to play with.
- Design and print show-specific signs, which then get placed in little frames on the table. These are everything from pricing to policy (no checks, please!).
- Finish, clean and price any new inventory, and if I’m especially on fire, load the details into my Square register.
- Pack everything into a rolling cart for transport, usually the night before load-in. I’ve gotten good at this part, and my setup is compact enough to travel easily by Lyft or Sidecar. This part comes with lots of list-checking, as I make sure that I’ve packed my credit card readers (yes, plural), backup batteries, business cards, cashbox, signage, and OH YEAH THE JEWELRY.
- Hide and recharge. Showing takes a lot of energy out of me — I turn my retail brain on and try to engage with everyone who comes by my booth. Since I’m usually flying solo, this means several hours of being ‘on,’ which I’m not naturally good at. So the night before a market, I’m basically in low-power mode.
- After the show, I hide and recharge again. Usually this involves an evening of wrestling and dinner and Gavin and sleeping like the dead at bedtime. Eventually, I unpack my show-cart and put all the pieces of my booth back in their respective homes…but after my last market, it took two weeks to get to that point.
I feel like this checklist is a little like the Draw the Owl meme, in that I’m leaving out a lot of detail, but I do think that show prep is a process that’s relatively unique to each maker.