Crafts Shows R Us

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Blog series by closetguy updated 04-05-2011 05:01 AM 19 parts 40442 reads 182 comments total

Part 1: Part 1

10-28-2008 04:21 AM by closetguy | 6 comments »

I keep getting a lot of private messages from Lumberjocks asking questions about my boards and selling at shows so I decided to start talking about my experiences this year and maybe it will help those who want start the show circuit or are trying to decide if it’s for them. I consider myself a newbie at it since I just started this year and I know there are a lot of jocks that have been doing shows for years, so I don’t intend to write a “how to” guide, but document my journey into this car...

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Part 2: What do I know about table cloths?

10-28-2008 06:25 AM by closetguy | 4 comments »

The problem when putting everything together before doing the first show is that there are too many choices and price variations. For example, it took a while to decide on my booth layout. This drove how many and what size tables to buy. Once that was done I focused on table covers. I know I went through at least one bottle of Jack trying to figure this out. There are fitted table covers, skirted table covers, spandex table covers, table runners, etc. Again, the list goes on and on. Th...

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Part 3: Getting it together

10-29-2008 06:14 AM by closetguy | 15 comments »

Ok, so I got my canopy, my tables, my brown table cloths, merchant account, my product, and all the government paperwork done so I am finally ready to do shows. I just need to fill out my contact information, send them a check and show up. Wrong! It seems that most shows, particularly the good ones, have an application due date that, in some cases, are 6 to 9 months prior to the show. I can see the school of “hard knocks” is kicking in and graduation is a long way off. I called up a prom...

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Part 4: Don't forget the chewing gum

10-30-2008 03:17 AM by closetguy | 4 comments »

Like I mentioned in a previous blog, you don’t know what you need at a show until you need it. I thought I threw everything except the kitchen sink in my boxes, but at the first couple of shows, I needed things that I didn’t have. Simple things like band aids, aspirin, and a garbage bag were never considered. I carry a crescent wrench. I don’t know why. There is not one nut on my canopy or show package to use it on, but the first time I cut my finger, I was wandering around the booth wit...

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Part 5: It's In The Bag

10-31-2008 01:35 AM by closetguy | 7 comments »

Why is it that the seemingly simple things are the most difficult to deal with? I knew I needed something to provide customers to carry my products out of the booth, and I was certain it would be some kind of bag. Second only to my difficult decision on table cloth color, bags were a month long discovery process that drove me crazy. I had a good excuse for agonizing over table cloths since I am a stereotypical guy, and that has never been my thing, but I have probably carried home every ty...

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Part 6: Crash, Burn, Dog Paddle, or Soar

11-03-2008 06:41 AM by closetguy | 11 comments »

Ok, everyone is asking about numbers, and even though I think it’s too early to get into this, I will give you what I have so far. Here are my startup costs: Trimline Canopy – $1095 with shipping (started with $250 Ez Up)4 tables – $1804 fitted table cloths – $1904 Product transport boxes – $120Propay merchant account – $39 per yearKnuckle buster, name plate, 400 card slips – $20Director’s Chair – $90Administrative supplies – $150Display s...

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Part 7: The Good, the Bad, and the Horrible

11-11-2008 04:17 AM by closetguy | 5 comments »

Ok, it was not quite crash and burn, but I got second degree burns from the Christmas in Lithia show this past weekend. I did make my booth fee and enough extra to buy groceries for two days, so I guess there is a bright side in there somewhere. You have to look hard. In its 23rd year, this show is held at a local high school and was highly rated by local crafters. There were around 140 crafters. It was by far the easiest to unload and load into of all my shows. That is the only good ...

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Part 8: It's Cold Outside

11-22-2008 05:26 AM by closetguy | 8 comments »

Today was the start of another outdoor craft show for me with a 6AM setup time. I got up at 4:30AM, looked at my outside temperature gauge, saw that it was 30 degrees, and went back to bed. Call me a wimp, but I don’t do below freezing. There’s something just not right about icicles hanging off a canopy, and my down comforter was beckoning me back to bed. The high today was 42 and windy, so if anyone showed up at that show, they are better men and women than me. I hated losing my $150 e...

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Part 9: Wouldn't you know it.....

12-02-2008 10:06 PM by closetguy | 4 comments »

Go Vols! For those who watched the Tennessee-Kentucky game last Saturday, I hope you saw me waving in the stands. I was the wet and cold person. Ok, so everyone was wet and cold. It was still a good game. It’s amazing how 44 degrees feels like 34 when it’s raining. We got there about two hours before kickoff and holed up in a sports bar on the strip and watched the final of the Georgia-Georgia Tech game. My wife had to practically drag me out when it was time to walk over to the stadiu...

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Part 10: 2008 Summary

01-01-2009 10:18 PM by closetguy | 14 comments »

Well, it was a good decision to turn down the last minute invite into the Atlanta Sugarloaf show. I visited the show and it didn’t look like there were more than 100 crafters and a lot of empty spaces. I got a hold of the final show numbers and it was dismal. Sugarloaf Shows tend to average 15 – 20,000 attendees and total sales of over one million per show. In fact, some of their shows hit over two million in total sales. The Atlanta show had 4500 attendees and only $267,000 in sal...

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Part 11: Rain, rain, go away

04-30-2009 07:21 AM by closetguy | 1 comment »

I’ve had a few emails lately from LJs asking why I have been suspiciously quiet for the last few months. I just didn’t have anything to write about. I use to say that everything I know I learned in kindergarten. However, I just recently learned an important lesson. Craft shows suck when it’s cold, rainy, or both. March is maybe too early for outdoor shows here in Atlanta. I have so far participated in three shows. The first one, the Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival, is the first big s...

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Part 12: The Yearly Summary

11-11-2009 11:11 PM by closetguy | 10 comments »

I started this blog series back when I first started doing shows as a diary to show what it takes to start up and actually do craft shows. It was more of a “lessons learned” through the school of hard knocks, because being a newbie, I didn’t have a clue. Even though I blog about shows and what I am doing in my shop at DGM Woodworks, that site is subdued somewhat, because it is geared toward my customers. Now that I have over a year under my belt, I have a more educated point of view on the...

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Part 13: State of the Southern Craft Shows

05-24-2010 05:39 AM by closetguy | 13 comments »

So far, shows for this year have been much better than last year. The crowds are large and everyone has been in a buying mood. This translates into more sales, and even more work to constantly replenish inventory. My big sellers last year were lower cost items in the $5 – $35 range. This year everyone is back to buying my higher priced items. This weekend’s show in Atlanta’s Chastain Park continued the buying streak. It seems that walnut is “in” this year. Anything with walnut ...

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Part 14: Percent of Items Sold

06-30-2010 07:20 AM by closetguy | 12 comments »

There has been a lot of active craft show discussion lately since we are in the middle of the season for some of us. I was running my spreadsheets the other day and decided to post some numbers to show what is selling here in the South. I took the last eight shows and did a pie chart of the percentage of sales for each category. I generally have three size boards in both end grain and face grain. Anything smaller is useless and anything bigger presents a transport problem. My sizes are...

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Part 15: Thank Goodness for Fall Shows

10-13-2010 01:40 AM by closetguy | 8 comments »

I just got back from the Maryville, Tennessee show, which is consistently my best show every year. This year brought high 70s and a cloudless sky all three days which was a big improvement over last year’s windy and low 40s. They had 38 Special and Jefferson Starship performing on Friday, Lynyrd Skynyrd on Saturday, and Blake Shelton on Sunday. This contributed to 30,000+ customers walking through this show. Last year brought phenomenal sales, but this year finished out at three times l...

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Part 16: Sometimes It's Just Plain Bad

11-03-2010 02:45 AM by closetguy | 10 comments »

I seem to always talk about the good shows and mention that I have bad shows, but I have never really elaborated about the bad ones. It’s just normal human nature to talk about the successes and not the failures. The craft show business is not always a bed of roses and I have more than my share of failures each year. So what are the pitfalls? In my mind, a bad show is one with low or no sales. I’ve been fortunate that I have never lost money at a show. I always make sales, but I also ...

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Part 17: Just A Little Bit Of Drama

11-09-2010 04:10 AM by closetguy | 13 comments »

I have good shows, bad, shows, wet shows, and hot shows. Every show is different, but they all seem to have one thing in common; the drama. Uneventful shows tend to track with the size of attendance. Large shows will normally bring more drama than small ones. Drama can take on the form of bad weather, disorganized shows, or idiot customers. There is usually some mini drama at every show which can be easily dealt with by a polite comment. These are some of the more extreme ones. I am ...

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Part 18: How 2010 Finished Out

03-30-2011 06:11 PM by closetguy | 13 comments »

It’s been a while since my last blog on this subject and I have finally got to a point where I can collect my thoughts on last year’s shows here in the South. I’ve actually been busy building inventory as I get ready for the 2011 shows, but my mind has been in a writing funk. Last year was my best year for sales in this business. In fact, sales were a little more than double over 2009. I did the same number of shows as 2009, but I dropped a couple and replaced them with new shows in 201...

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Part 19: Online Sales in 2010

04-05-2011 05:01 AM by closetguy | 24 comments »

This is a continuation of my discussion on 2010 craft sales. The previous blog was getting a little lengthy and since I am switching gears, it seemed to be a good place to split the narrative. If you didn’t read the last one, you should after you finish this one (or preferably before). Just like the shows, my online sales doubled from 2009. A better economy made this possible. But I also had sales coming from sources that I have never experienced until last year. My only online store ...

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