Make Your Craft Show Dollars Stretch Further

There was an interesting discussion over on Craftster the other day.

The original poster asked for recommendations about sharing a craft show table. She didn’t feel that she had a full table’s worth of items to sell and was looking for ways to reduce her craft show expenses by sharing a table. The conversation brought up several good points to consider on increasing sales and revenue and I thought they would make an interesting blog entry.

Check the Craft Show’s Policies

If you are planning on sharing a craft show table or booth, make sure that show planners allow you to do so. Also find out if the show is juried and if everyone who will be sharing the booth has to be vetted.

While some shows may not care if you share a table, others may ask you to leave if you haven’t made prior arrangements. Instead of making your craft show dollars stretch further, it could turn into a total loss.

Sharing a Craft Show Table – Product Placement & Money Handling

When sharing a craft show table, most people section off the space to give each participant their own piece of real estate. This may help to keep track of who is selling what, but it also doesn’t take advantage of product placement.

The table/booth will be much more interesting to shoppers if you mix the merchandise together.

Cross Promotions

Your number one goal will be getting people to stop at your booth. Your number two goal is to sell. Yeah, I know – no duh!

Think about how it’s done by the big guys. Look at any advertising circular. They might be selling a dress, but the model is shown with the matching shoes, purse, jewelry, hat, and whatever else they think someone purchasing the dress might also want. That’s called cross promotion.

Why not do the same when sharing a craft show table or booth? For example, if someone is selling felted hats and someone else is selling pins; why not put a pin on the hat? Someone selling a blanket with a tiger on it and someone has a stuffed tiger that somewhat matches – put them together! Cross promotions will help both crafters sell more by combining their marketing efforts as well as position the items similar to how they will be used.

Don’t think about it like it’s her blanket and my stuffie, think about it as our booth.

Minding the Till

This is perhaps the trickiest part of sharing a craft show table or booth and the place where most get into trouble. There were a number of suggestions in the original conversation on how to handle this, but all had a common theme. Figure out how you will be dealing with the money before you even get in the car to go to the event!

When sharing a craft show table, it’s more important than ever to clearly mark the price of each item. No matter how many items your table-mate may sell for more than you had intended; it only takes one undersale to erase that unexpected profit.

Technique 1: Have one money box. Every transaction is recorded and the money is reconciled at the end of the day. Either keep some sort of journal of each purchase, use two-part price tags or remove the price stickers and put them in a notebook.

Pros to a shared money box:

  • Shoppers don’t have to find ‘the’ crafter who made the item.
  • Shoppers buying multiple items only require one transaction.
  • Everyone doesn’t need to stock and maintain their own money box.
  • The person better at money handling can handle all of the transactions.

Pitfalls of a shared money box:

  • If the bookkeeping isn’t accurate someone may not get their money
  • Some customers don’t like it when the price stickers are removed by the vendor. (I’m one of them.)
  • It’s harder to negotiate discounts.

Technique 2: Each crafter sharing the booth takes care of their own transactions.

Pros:

  • Customer deals directly with the artisan.
  • Each crafter has complete control of their own sales.
  • No worries about keeping inventory during the show.
  • You will have to go to the bathroom or eat sooner or later – do you plan on not making any sales at those times?

Cons:

  • Customers must figure out who is selling what.
  • Customer may need to make multiple transactions.
  • At any one time, there may be no one watching the table/booth; as everyone is conducting transactions.

Both techniques for handling money when sharing a craft show table or booth are successfully done every day. I’ve had better luck with technique 1 whenever I’ve shared table space at a flea market. One of the artisans in the original discussion mentioned having a husband of one of the participants being the cashier. This seemed the best of both worlds. The husband in question didn’t know who had made what – so it was in his best interest to keep accurate records. It also allowed all of the artisans to be available to make the sales and promote their items to shoppers.

You might come up with yet another way of handling the money when sharing a craft show table or booth. The important thing is that everyone agrees and you work out as many kinks as possible before the day of the show. There’s nothing that will kill sales faster than a group of people behind the tables fighting over money.

Share the Expense, Increase the Profits

Sharing a craft show table or booth will significantly decrease each crafter’s expenses. By having a table/booth that has different things, you will be likely to bring in more shoppers and have fuller, more interesting tables. And by cross-promoting, everyone should see increased sales.

Seems like the perfect solution for artisans and crafters just beginning to sell at shows, those with smaller inventories, and a way to attend a more pricy show.

A few suggestions for further reading...

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