Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vendor Etiquette and Tips From Captain Maricruz

Hello Fellow Team FESTers!

It's Captain Maricruz reporting from the SS Tesla and I am here to give some pointers and advice on vendor etiquette.

I understand that some of you may have never done an Art/Craft Show before and it may be the first time that you are participating in one as a vendor. Well guess what, I am still learning the ins and outs of being a vendor and you know what, that's okay!

As your beloved Time Traveling Airship Captain, I've had my fair share of mishaps and misadventures and I am here to help you along the way with my experiences (I'm still learning too)!

So here are a few pointers:

On the day of the show, be sure to arrive on time and check your e-mails and phone even from the event organizers for any additional information and updates before the show. It's always good to be extra prepared and communication is key as well. If you cannot attend the festival as a vendor due to any difficulties, please let them know ahead of time and always be polite and courteous.

Before the show, at least have a good supply of your items ready to sell. If you want, you can make some new items too! For those of you who are doing a show for the first time, don't be afraid to show people what you have to sell. For the next shows, it's always a good idea to have a few new items on hand that way, people can have more to choose from.

Always, always, always have at least professional business cards handy with your information! This was one of the biggest mistakes I made when I was a first time vendor. I did not take the extra time to make some business cards for my little online shop on Etsy but thanks to that mistake, I learned to be wiser and made some cards with the address of my shop as well as my e-mail for custom orders.

On the day of the show have some food and water handy. This was another mistake I made and I almost passed out due to exhaustion and starvation. If you do not have any food or water nearby, ask the person that is next to you to keep an eye on your booth or a friend to go get some. Don't forget to thank your vendor mate/ friend for looking out for your items, which brings me to my next point...

Have a designated booth buddy(ies)! One of the most difficult things about being an airship captain is finding and keeping a reliable crew on board. This also applies to being a first time vendor. When I did my first festival, I did everything on my own. I had no one to help me and I wish I did, but as you do more shows, you learn that having friend help you is really beneficial. In my case, I still do everything on my own, but I would rather have extra assistance. What I am saying is weeks before the festival ask any and all of your friends to assist you with your show, hell, even offer something in return for their services. It's always the polite thing to do to offer your booth buddy something in return for their help since they are taking the time to help you and returning their kind gesture is always a must, at least in my experience!

Have a sturdy table! This is self-explanatory!

Promote, promote, promote! The event organizers will be promoting the event and you will be expected to do the same. It's not that hard these days since you have Facebook, Twitter, and all other social networking sites and pass flyers as well. The more effort you put into promoting events, the more attendance you get and the more people will see what you have to offer!

Make your space presentable. This was another mistake I made. Again, when I did my first show, I practically had nothing that made my space presentable and I wasn't as prepared as I thought I was. Presentation is key and is very important. The more presentable your space is, the more people will want to see what you have to offer.

Expect the unexpected! For outside events, it might rain or it might be windy, so it's always good to have  a plan B. Be prepared for the worst case scenario is what I always say whenever I travel back through time and different dimensions and with shows, it's always better to be prepared than not. For the rain, bring a plastic to cover your items, for windy events, have some paperweights handy to hold some of your items to keep them from blowing away. I wish I had some advice for snow, but I've never done any shows in snow, so I really can't help in that regard. Sorry! :(

Have enough change. This is one that I did not make a mistake on, happy to say! It's always good to have change because chances are, when people purchase your items, they will be likely to pay in $20 bills or $5 bills or what not. If they don't have cash but carry a credit card and you have an iPhone, no problem! There are card reader apps that you can purchase so that people can use their credit cards!

Count your blessings and your losses. In my experience, I've done a few shows where I have done well and I haven't done so well. Remember, there will be good days and bad days. The most important thing to remember is that you are getting exposure and so will be your shop. You will also meet new people as well and who knows, maybe fall in love ;) . All I'm saying is that it's not always about how much you make at the end of the day, but how much fun you had...which is a great transition into my last tip:

HAVE FUN! Art/Craft Shows are meant to be fun and exciting! I know it's scary the first time around, well okay I get a little nervous whenever I go into battle with the notorious Red Baron (don't get me started on him) and I also get a little nervous whenever I do a show. The most important thing to remember is that it's not about much you make at the end of the day, but how you experience the shows. For some, they are great and beneficial and for others, not so much. Also, don't forget to thank the event organizers for allowing you to participate in the show. Hey, you can even give them a little token of appreciation. I gave the event organizer one of my specialty made Kanzashi Flowers as a thank you gift! Kind gestures go a long way, and always be polite and courteous to everyone you work with. In the Art/Craft Show community, at least what I have seen and witnessed, if you act like a "diva" ( I am also including the men in this too, it's not to be taken in the wrong context), word will spread fast. As the old adage goes "Bad news travels fast."

That's all the advice I will offer for now and I will definitely be giving you some more in the coming weeks ahead along with other goodies as well! Aw crap! The Red Baron shot off one of my propellers again! He is so not getting a tip! Gotta go! Have fun at the shows and remember, don't sweat the small stuff!

Leather Tutorial brought to you by Expert Village:

Captain Maricruz of The SS Tesla

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