Craft Show Season is Back, and There’s Always More to Prepare!

It’s been a year since I did my first (and so far, only) big craft show. Preparing for it was a ton of work. I had to design and then purchase an entire booth display: tent, furniture, bag racks, and so on. I had to paint and sew, cut and glue, and think of all the little details. During that fair, I was mostly happy with the way my booth looked.

Well, this year I signed up for not one, not two, but for THREE big shows! Naively, I thought that since I already had most of the necessary items, I was mostly ready. However, an entire year passed since the last show. An entire year of not thinking about shows…

As the date for the first one snuck by (it actually starts TOMORROW!), I suddenly realized that I still needed a couple of items. Predictably, acquiring them wasn’t straight-forward…

In Pursuit of a Folding Chair

Last year, the only noticeable problem with my booth was the chair: I used a camping chair, which turned out to be far too low. While sitting on it (it’s hard not to sit every now and then during a ten-hour show), I almost disappeared behind my table. A new chair, therefore, was at the top of my to-buy list.

I needed something tall, black and foldable. Foldable since I don’t have room in my house for more furniture. I needed a chair I could easily store away most of the year. At last year’s show, the jeweler in the booth next to mine recommended a folding IKEA bar stool she was very happy with. But when I finally got around to buying it, IKEA was out of them! It was out for WEEKS, and I was getting rather worried. I spent hours online looking for alternatives, but couldn’t find anything else that seemed as good. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I was desperately checking IKEA’s website once again, and was surprised to see they finally restocked. I was there that very afternoon!

Mirror Mirror

I was packing my inventory when I suddenly recalled a not-so-pleasant encounter with a customer at last year’s show. That lady was looking at my bags, and wanted to try one on. Then she wanted to see herself in a mirror, but I didn’t have one. Since I personally never need mirrors for buying bags, it never occurred to me that other people might want one! The lady was very upset. She literally yelled at me for not having a mirror, and then stormed out of my booth empty-handed.

Well, since this year I’ll be selling textile jewelry in addition to bags, I figured that a mirror was a must. Hence many more hours of research and contemplation. I was thinking of getting a full-length mirror, but realized there was no room for one in my booth. Also, a large mirror like that would be a nightmare to transport to shows safely. So I bought a table-top mirror that I hope will do the job.

Fire-Resistant Equipment

Different shows, it turns out, have different requirements for their vendors. One of the shows I signed up for this year notified me they require a fire-resistant table cloth. I didn’t have one. I do now. It was a good excuse to get a purple tablecloth, which I think might look better in my booth.

I was all smug about having a large, fair-approved fire extinguisher, since I bought a brand new one for last yea’rs show. I knew those were good for several years, and assumed mine was still perfect. When I got a letter from the show organizers a week and a half ago, however, detailing all the final logistical details, I learned that I actually needed a NEW fire extinguisher. Fire marshals, it seems, require one that has this year’s date stamped onto it! I didn’t even know fire extinguishers had a date stamped onto them. Live and learn.

I had a busy week, so I left that one to the last minute. I figured any hardware store will have them, right? WRONG! When I finally did go to the nearest hardware store a couple of days ago, it was–how not?–out of this specific kind of fire extinguishers. They told me they will have them next week, but that is too late for me. So yesterday I went on a small expedition in search of a fire extinguisher. I did find one, in the end, but it took a good portion of my morning. I checked: it really does have this year stamped on it ūüôā

So, am I ready for tomorrow? Possibly. Hopefully. I guess I will find out for sure in the morning…

If you’re in the Bay Area, come by to say hello. It’s always nice to see friendly faces, and I have a booth-full of great Mothers’ Day gifts ūüôā


What It Takes To Prepare For a Craft Show: Getting Ready For My First Big Fair

Up until a little over a year ago, I attended¬†craft shows only as a customer. I loved browsing local fairs, and enjoyed looking at the beautiful things they offered. Since I started sewing in earnest, however, I began to realize that there was a lot I needed to learn about such shows. I slowly became acquainted with¬†the other side of this world–with art shows as seen from the vendor’s point of view.

Over the last few months I participated in a handful of small crafts fairs. These gave me a taste of what it feels like to sell art in person. Recently I decided to take the leap and, for the first time, applied to a big, two-day show. I chose to apply to our local craft fair, which happened to be a juried show. Unlike non-juried shows that take first-come-first-serve applicants, juried shows require a much more detailed application, and pick their vendors more selectively. Understandably, I was quite nervous after I submitted my application. When I discovered, a few weeks later, that I got accepted, I was truly elated!

Since then I learned that preparing for a large craft show is very different than preparing for a smaller fair. My previous venues all provided a table and a shared space. The infrastructure was already there, and I just had to show up with a table cloth and inventory. This time, however, the show organizers only allotted a space. I have to take care of everything else myself.

And so, in addition to sewing my art (a daunting task in itself), I also have to design a booth display and acquire all the necessary props. Over the last few weeks, therefore, I became the proud owner of the following:

  1. A ¬†10’x10′ fair canopy
  2. Folding wooden display shelves.
  3. A 6′ folding table.
  4. A greeting-card rack.
  5. A brand new fire extinguisher.

The first two items required several days of online research each. I read through many reviews and browsed numerous forums discussing canopies. I hesitantly settled on one: ABC EZ Pop-up Canopy, which I hope will be both easy to set up and strong. Choosing between different shelving options was also difficult, if a little less critical than a tent. I ended up buying shelves that look good but are light and easy to carry. I have yet to see whether I made the right choices!

My show is two weeks away, yet the preparation for it did not end with buying the equipment. In the coming two weeks I still need to get weights for my tent, so that it doesn’t tip over in the wind. I need to paint my new shelves, and finish sewing my shop banner (adding loops so that I can hang it on the canopy wall). I need to frame my price signs to make them¬†more professional-looking and stable. And, of course, also¬†to finish sewing my inventory. Since I have never participated in a big craft show before, I have no idea how many items I actually need. I hope I have enough, but will know better next time if not!