I've just returned from my first show of the season and, although I did okay with show sales, I believe the real benefits of show trading will come over the next few months as orders trickle in. IMHO, this drip feed of work is what makes the difference between doing okay and doing well. I'm convinced that the effort I make to present my work to a wider audience is worthwhile and, if you aren't doing it already, I'd strongly suggest you give it a try.
I started out with a folding Eezee up style tent but, this year, invested in a 16ft x 16ft canvas marquee (see pictures of my set-up at Glastonbury Medieval Fair 2012). It gives me loads of space to display my inventory but best of all I have room to live in the tent at shows so I can afford to do longer events. Setting up and trading for three or five days is much easier (and more profitable) than setting up and trading for one.
Getting 'out there' and talking to people is not easy for some folk. I'm one of the lucky ones and enjoy most of the banter (although I freely confess I have problems when it comes to unruly kids). I still haven't found a good way of telling kids to 'go away and trouble someone else'. I always come across as a grumpy old man - which, I guess, is exactly what I am... hmmmmm. Anyone got any ideas?
Transport to shows has been an issue for me over the past few years. I had what we call here in the UK, an estate car. It simply wasn't big enough so last year I purchased a VW Transporter van. What a difference. Suddenly everything fitted in. Unfortunately, suddenly it didn't fit any more... what happened? Quite simply, the inventory was bigger, the display stands to put it all on got bigger, the tent got bigger and I'm back where I started. If I'm not careful I'll be turning up in a sixteen wheeler before too long.
The investment I'm most proud of is a set of solid oak display stands that were custom made to show specific items. One is a five foot long belt rack, I have another that holds masks and pouches and two shelving units that stand on my folding tables. These things didn't happen by accident. It took hours of agonizing to decide how each piece would fit together (and come apart to fit in the van). I would urge you to take some time over presentation. A good display will make your work look more valuable and command a higher dollar.
It is a weird thing, but table cloths are something of a problem for me. I can't decide if plain white is better than coloured. I currently use some Celtic design cloths but they will need replacing soon and I want to get something that really enhances my display. Suggestions welcomed.
Anyone got any other thoughts on selling at shows? Suggestions, tips, shortcuts? I'd like to hear them!