Recently, I received a question from one of the QuiltingBusiness.com community who was going to be exhibiting in her first quilt show (in Argentina no less). She wanted to know how to set up her booth and wanted some tips to make the show go smoothly. Here is the question (which I've paraphrased for brevity):
Once a year there is a big fair in my town (cows, horses and hens, tractors, lorries, and the like). Farmers display their products, others show their tractors, and the ranchers their animals. The three big tents will be for the people who sell things or show what they make. I will display my quilts, shams, and pillows, and I will be the only one with quilts, since there aren't as many quilters here in Argentina as in the USA.
I was wondering if you could give me some advice how to decorate my stand and how to best handle the show.
Thanks for your input!
Here's my response to Pat's question…
So, now that I have some information, I think I can give you a little advice to help you sell more quilts, etc.
Trade shows and craft fairs can be a great way to sell your quilts and quilted products. But, because there is a lot of confusion and lots of other people selling their wares, you need to make sure you stand out in the crowd.
Here are a few tips that you can use to help you sell more at the event.
- Develop a “story” for your goods. Create a small flyer that talks about how much time and effort goes into the making of the goods. Discuss the quality of the fabrics and threads, and how you are using designs that have been passed down through the years (with your own unique twist). Give them a story so they can believe your unique products will be a treasured heirloom in their family for years.
- Organize your booth. Make it easy for people to find what they are looking for. Put quilts together, shams together, pillows together. Or, organize based on some theme – different settings (this pillow, quilt, and sham go together), different designs, etc. This will allow people to find items and also to perhaps purchase complementary items and increase your sales.
- Have low-cost items to sell. If you have some smaller items – $1 to $10 (or the equivalent Argentinian currency amount) – these should sell very well. Not everyone will want to purchase a high-priced quilt, but might want a small pillow that is inexpensive, but looks great.
- Dress the part. Make sure you are wearing an outfit that says you are the person to talk to in your booth. Wear a wild shirt, or if there will be more than one of you in the booth, wear matching shirts. Have a name tag on your chest so people know who you are and also the name of your company (and if you don't have one, come up with a catch name that reflects your quilting style).
- Wear comfortable shoes. You're going to spend a lot of time on your feet, so be prepared. If at all possible, do not bring a chair as that will only invite you to sit down, which can scare people from coming into your booth. When you sit down, it looks like you're bored and don't care if someone comes into your booth. Look excited and try to greet every single person who comes in with a smile and an offer to help.
- Have business cards. Not everyone is going to buy, but a nice business card given to everyone who comes in may result in business further down the road. Make it an attractive card that tells the person a little about what you do, so when they look at it later, they don't forget what the card was for and throw it away.
- Have signs. Use some creativity and create some signs for your booth. You can have a large sign on the easel that tells your story and provides some contact info in summary. Have smaller signs to point out different products, and tell a little more about that particular item. In addition, price tags are another opportunity to be creative. You could use your business card as a price tag by using a nice card stock (different color or some interesting paper) and writing the price on the back. Use a 3-hole punch and some nice string with safety pin to attach the price tag to your items.
- Offer some freebies. You could bring a coffee pot or some other types of refreshments for tired shoppers. But be careful – some people will come into your booth just for the freebies. Make them work for them – maybe fill out a form for your mailing list – to get them. This will help weed out the “gift grabbers” who aren't really serious.
- Have a raffle. Again, have people fill out a form for a raffle at the end of the show. Raffle off one of your quilts or pillows, and build a mailing list at the same time. Try to capture email addresses as well as the physical addresses. Email is a great, inexpensive way to keep in touch.
- Bring a great attitude. Show and fair attendees are there to see what's new and to purchase items. They want to deal with people who are friendly, helpful, and energetic. If you have a great attitude, that will influence the people who come into your booth more than low prices or flashy presentations.
Hope this helps, and good luck with your show!
If you have any questions about your quilting business – whether just starting out or looking for a boost with some solid marketing or business advice – feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chuck Smith is the owner of QuiltingBusiness.com, the web's only site dedicated to helping you make money with your quilting. Visit QuiltingBusiness.com today to sign up for the FREE email mini-course: “7 Unique Ways to Make Money with Your Quilting.”
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