Why Should you Participate in Craft and Jewelry Shows?

Craft and jewelry shows have provided fertile ground for many successful home jewelry businesses. Participation in a craft or jewelry show is highly recommended for the following reasons:

  • shows give beginning sellers their first sales experience, gaining confidence in dealing with the public, test prices and saleability of products . It will also teach you the best way to package and merchandise your product.
  • provide the opportunity for you to meet other crafters and even full-time professional crafts people. Conversations with other exhibitors can be very valuable; you can learn much from others who might be having the same problems as you or may have already gone through it and can give you some advice.
  • provide the opportunity to test new ideas and new designs through direct contact with customers and other craftspeople
  • craft and jewelry shows will give you an immediate profile of your customers
  • your net income from sales is relatively high
  • you are paid in cash
  • gives you the chance to compare the competiveness of your prices and quality of your work with other exhibitors
  • shows allow you to start making money right away, and because there are so many show opportunities throughout the year, you can schedule as many as you like or as many as you can handle.
  • often the contacts made at a fair are more valuable to crafts-people than sales themselves. For example, you might meet one or more shop owners who will want to carry your work, be given a commission to do some special job, catch the eye of a writer or photographer who will give you free publicity, or be invited to participate in other shows and events.
  • Craft and jewelry shows can give your business a tremendous boost. The benefits in increased sales volume, prominent exposure of your company to the public and creation of a name for yourself in your speciality will be invaluable to your business in the future.

Like everything else, craft fairs have advantages and disadvantages. As mentioned above they give you an excellent opportunity to test products and prices, a great source for contacts, a tremendous way to gain exposure. You are also involved in direct selling which means that you are eliminating the "middle man" - the shop owner who generally takes 25 to 40 percent commission on consignment sales, the wholesale buyer who expects 50 percent off the retail price, or the sales representative who requires a 10 to 20 percent commission — you can charge 100% mark-up or more and the revenues are all yours.

Disadvantages of craft or jewelry shows

Many jewelry designers prefer not to sell their work through shows. They feel that they are a gamble, you work hard and long to build up your inventory hoping for a successful show, then you may end up selling very little.

Others find them time consuming, there is a lot of time and work spent in setting up your display, unpacking your goods, attending the show all day (some shows last from 2 - 7 days), then packing up all the unsold items and taking down your display.

Therefore, many of them would rather spend the time in their studio designing and producing. Some other disadvantages are that expenses can be high, especially if you attend many out-of-town shows; not only do you have to get your products and display there but you also have to find accommodations. You may find that your lower priced items will sell where your higher priced items can sit, and you may have to bring them to 3 or 4 shows before they sell.

Learn What Others Are Doing

Before participating in craft or jewelry shows, go to as many as you can as a customer. Carefully observe what is being sold and how crafters are displaying their work. Take as many notes as you can considering the following points:

  • what attracts customers to different booths and why some booths don't seem to attract any customers at all.
  • what type of products are popular and why
  • what price range of products seem to move fast
  • look at the different types of displays and get ideas on how you could set up yours, what seems to work and what doesn't
  • act as a customer and ask the type of questions that shoppers may ask you and see what type of responses you receive; are they polite? helpful? do they know their product?, or do they just sit in a corner of their booth reading a book and pretending that you're not there?
  • take note of their selling techniques and their boothmanship; see how you could improve
  • listen to other customer's comments, or even ask some of them about their views on the show and the products being sold. (Customers seem to answer their views more honestly to each other than they would to an exhibitor, fearing that they may hurt the exhibitor's feelings if they said what was really on their mind.)

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