I’m gonna be honest with you guise. I’m not a big fan of participating in craft shows. They freaking STRESS me out.
I stress ahead of time about not having enough inventory.
(I always have more than enough inventory; it’s ridiculous that I even worry about this. Ever.)
I stress about forgetting something important. (Like change! Or tape! Or drinking water!)
I stress about having to deal with people. I’m super introverted, so while I am certainly capable of acting like a social butterfly when I’m at a show, my energy is completely DRAINED by the day’s end.
I stress about my display. (It just isn’t pretty enough, dammit!)
I stress, and stress, and then stress some more. I don’t sleep well the night before a show, no matter how many I’ve done so far.
After the first day of my big 3-day craft show this past weekend. I got home and cried. It seems quite silly in retrospect, but I was completely overwhelmed. It was a really long show day (9 a.m. til 8 p.m.), and it was extremely slow. I felt like my prices weren’t high enough, nor my booth attractive enough for it to be worth it.
“If it stays like this for the rest of the weekend, I’m not going to make any money,” I complained to my husband, who graciously listened to my whining, and offered to show up and give me a lunch break the next day. Bless his heart.
Turns out, the show went much better over the rest of weekend, and ended up being completely worth it. Not just because I was able to make enough for it to be profitable, but for the #1 reason it is a good idea to attend craft shows: they offer a perfect opportunity for eavesdropping.
For all of the reasons stated above, I prefer selling my crap online instead of at shows. However, when it comes to getting to know your customers needs and wants, the internet leaves much to the imagination. I have to try new listings, and tweak my current product offering in order to find out how my customers will respond. At a craft show, all I have to do is listen to them talk to each other.
When one browser picks up a bracelet and says to her friend, “This would be great in gold and black,” I make note of it. When another asks me if I have any necklaces with magnetic clasps, I tell her not at the moment… but I will definitely be working on some in the future!
No online selling experience gives you the chance to meet your potential customers in the way that a craft fair lets you. I get to see for myself exactly which kinds of people are attracted to my products in the first place, who are willing to buy, and what the rest of their avatar looks like: age, personal style, etc. Selling in person allows me to take what I think my customer is like, and fill in the blanks with who they actually are. The suggestions they offer me give me new ideas for products that I might not otherwise have considered, and I get to overhear genuine feedback that I can actually use. Usually they don’t realize I’m listening (or they don’t care, because they think that the young girl sitting in the corner couldn’t have possible made all of this stuff by herself.) *wink, wink*