What makes me the expert? Nothing. But I have been to a more then a few as a vendor. There are shows that are well organized and well attended and others that aren't. I don't have all the answers - but I here is a list of items that I have found make for a better craft show.
1.Getting vendors is easy! Make sure you get the traffic too.
Vendors are eager to to go to successful craft shows. We hunt them down. Word of mouth, internet even publications. The key to a successful craft show is to get traffic with people who come prepared to spend money. Of course if your vendor products don't match your traffic target audience then there will be an issue there too.
If you are organizing a fundraiser make sure your community is willing to support you. At a recent (not so great) show another vendor came up to me and said he can tell if it will be good based on the bake sale table. If the parents and volunteer community within the organization are willing to support the bake sale with great baked goods, chances are it will be a good show. But don't rely on your immediate community of family and friends. Spread the word!
A. Signage within the neighbourhood. And good signs. BIG BOLD lettering that people can read while they're driving by. I've seen so many signs that I've been looking for and I can't even read them! Place, Date, Time maybe even directional arrows. If you need more space - use 2 signs spaced one behind the others so people can catch Craft Show, Date, Time then a few meters behind the place. This way if they're driving they don't have to strain to see it. I've been told I have amazing eyesight as a passenger and if I'm straining - there's an issue with the signs! Loads of signs - surrounding the neighbourhood.
B. Community Papers - use them! I know that most organizations don't have the advertising budget to place an ad. But ALL community papers have a "what's going on" section. Send them the information a few weeks in advance including the date, where, when, what, and even why if it's a fundraiser for something. Community papers love to support their communities! Even send out a press release and get them their for the event for some after event media coverage. The more you build the reputation of a show the more successful it will be year after year.
C. Web Sites - There are tons of websites that allow you to list events for free. Use them. Many people I know search Kijiji. Does your local community have a website about what's going on? Contact them and put a listing in. It's usually free for community organizations who are putting on a fundraising activity.
D. Drop Flyers - this is something that is so easy and can be so effective. Especially if you're a school. Make up a little 1/2 page flyer. It can be an simple black and white flyer with a little clip art. Get volunteers to help and simply put them into the mailboxes of the homes surrounding your organization. This can serve two purposes. The first is to invite them to the invent. If they're not part of your organization they may not be aware of it. And secondly it can at least alert them to (hopefully) increased traffic in the area as a common courteousy. I'm not talking thousands either - it doesn't take long to drop 200 flyers and it's great exercise. Of course avoid the houses that ask for no junk mail or flyers. The last thing you want to do is anger your neighbours.
This is huge. Communicate not only to your community and to the public but to your vendors! I know you're busy, but a few days before the show send out a reminder email (or call) to all the vendors. Build excitement with them! And give them, or remind them, the information they need. Where is the show. General directions. Do they check in (where) once they arrive. When can they start setting up? Will you have helpers there for vendors? If you're asking for a donation to a silent auction or raffle will someone go around to collect them? Will you have a canteen or a place where vendors can purchase food during the day. Specify that vendors are not allowed to pack up before the closing time!
Once at the show and vendors are set up - I've often found it's a nice touch when the organizers go around to each vendor if possible to thank them for joining them and to wish them success during the day. It's something so small, but it makes a big difference.
Feedback forms are great too!
3. If it's a Craft Show - make it a CRAFT Show.
I've been to craft shows that should have been called an open house or a shopping party or something else. As a crafter when I attend a craft show I expect it to be crafts! Not resellers! How are Ty Beanie Babies considered a craft? You know - I'm even fine with a few reps from something like Creative Memories, Epicure Spices even though it's a bit of a stretch but there is still some creativity involved in the end product, but selling china dolls from china? Or silk scarves from India? Don't get me wrong - I think there is a place for everything, but again if you are calling it a Craft Show - keep it to crafts. I know many artisans who are not as willing to stretch their imagination of crafts as I am.
Also - think about the layout of where you're putting your vendors. Do you have 2 card makers beside each other?
4. ATM Machine!
I know this one costs money - but if you're at all able to, bring in an ATM machine! Your patrons and vendors will love you for it:)
5. Seeking Vendors
As I mentioned before in my opinion it's very easy to get vendors. But make sure the vendors you get are right for your target audience and community. There are some wonderful crafters who are hobiests and price their pieces accordingly. There are some wonderful crafters who are artisans who actually pay themselves for their work and price their pieces accordingly. Are you looking to have more of a bazaar type sale with hobbiests? Or a slightly upper scale sale with artisans? Not that you need to choose one or the other. I think a great show has a good variety of items and a variety of price points. But something to think about.
I love doing craft shows! I love setting up and showing my Loopy wears. I love talking to potential buyers about my hats and the sock monkeys. I love talking to other vendors and checking out their talents. It's amazing what people can do!
I've always found it easy to tell when a show is successful. If vendors are buying it's been a good day:)
I don't think if you fall all of these tips that you'll have a guaranteed hit, but I do think that these tips will certianly help get you there. Organizing any type of event is no small task! It's a lot of hard work, organization, communication, blood, sweat and tears I get that! These are just tips of things I've noticed in the shows I've attended as to what makes for a better show then others.
I'm sure other crafters have other tips they'd like to share! Feel free to leave them in the comment section:)