This last Saturday I was able to participate in my local Inland Northwest Etsy Team’s craft show. It was held at The Service Station, a local coffee shop on the north-end of Spokane. This event was by far the most fun I’ve had at a craft fair in a long time. It was a bit disorganized at first (a lot of vendors showed up at our assigned time at 7 a.m. only to discover that the room wasn’t ready for us and we weren’t sure where to set up!) But we eventually figured it out to the best of our ability and just kind of went with the flow of things. After the initial set-up, my experience with the show greatly improved. The general atmosphere became cheerful as the event started, especially as buyers began flowing through. There are many simple reasons of which may be attributed to this show’s success.
A Small, Cozy Venue
We had only 17 vendors, in a fairly small conference room. This meant no one’s booth got missed. Each person who came up to see the show saw each and every vendor there. (My grandfather tried to come see me at the much bigger show at SCC, but left because he couldn’t find me!)
It’s understandable that some craft fairs let commercial vendors leak through from time to time. After all, handmade Tupperware isn’t an easy thing to create (I’ve tried it once, very messy! *wink, wink*) However, sometimes it goes a little overboard. For example, the self-entitled “craft fair” I attended to at Mead H.S. the second week of November had everything from Avon, to Tupperware, to Cookie Lee jewelry. If commercial vendors are going to be allowed, then perhaps they should only allow those that sell what the crafters are unable to make themselves. I can’t even imagine the storm of complaints that would ensue if a commercial soap seller staked a prominent booth, so why allow it with jewelry? It’s not really a fair competition, and it can be a big turn-off to the customers coming through looking for unique handmade gifts.
We were able to receive a small grant from Etsy to help fund the event and the video that we made of it. The grant definitely propped up the advertising budget, and therefore contributed to the overall success of the show.
I think that a room filled with happy artists and loads of positive energy makes a big difference, sales or no. I’ve become all to familiar with being placed next to some super grumpy sellers who were obviously unhappy to have to sit there all day and complain about lack of customers. I understand griping if your expectations are let down, but please try to remain hopeful until the end of the show. Your attitude will rub off on the customers!
People won’t buy from grumpy sellers because they feel sorry for them. It just DOESN’T HAPPEN. They will, however, tend to look longer at booths where the artisan is friendly and pleasant, because they enjoy being in the midst of that pleasantness. A craft fair outing is supposed to be FUN! At this particular show, the positive energy was infectious. Everyone enjoyed being there and was having a great time, even if their goods weren’t flying off the shelves.
It probably helped that we were selling in a coffee shop and all of the vendors were able to maintain high levels of caffeine! (Oh, caramel macchiatos, how wonderful you are!)
These reasons and more have put this tiny show at the top of my list as a favorite for the season. I am hoping that we will be able to do it again next year, and with a bit of luck, it will be even more successful! As the season draws to a near close, I have but one final Christmas craft fair to attend to this coming Saturday, and then I can breathe a sigh of relief for awhile and focus on my online Etsy shops. Goodness knows they have been suffering from negligence lately!