I just came back from doing the Renegade Craft Fair in Portland, Oregon - which for me was an out of town show. It got me thinking about sharing tips on how to do an out of town craft/retail show (these tips can be applied for trade shows too, but some of the options that exist for trade shows aren't available for craft shows). I asked some other members of the Creative Business League to share their tips as well.
Kendra Bryant of Kendra Renee Jewelry suggests:
- Fly Southwest or another airline that lets you check your bags for free.
- Only pack what you really need. You can always go to a hardware store of drugstore if you forgot something, and schlepping is the worst.
- Travel with a friend (I usually go with Alana of Etta + Billie) who is amazing at finding restaurants and great places to stay so you can have fun on your trip as well as make that money.
Alana Rivera of Etta + Billie says:
- Check AirBnB for reasonably priced accommodations. You'll probably save some cash and some schlepping time if you can snag a place closer to the craft venue. Bonus: most places have a fridge or mini fridge you can get access to so you can buy groceries, saving money on food too.
- If you have heavier items to send to a far off show, consider shipping them to a local Fedex or UPS center OR to your AirBnB if your host is willing to hold onto them for you.
- Don't want to haul all your display items with you? Once you arrive at your destination, check out local thrift stores and even IKEA for display items.
Sharon Zimmerman of Sharon Z Jewelry adds (from her booth at NYNow - a trade show in New York for gift items):
- Double stick tape.
- A collapsible step stool - I have one that folds completely flat and packs into a suitcase. The additional 12" comes in so handy when you need to hang lights.
- Rent larger items like cases or hard walls.
- Once you're to the point that you're doing multiple shows in the same region look into renting storage in that area.
Also, cannot give enough praise to Trello - my list-making/organizing app. (It's for desktop and smart phone). It helped me immensely to prioritize and organize for this show. I could divide the lists into higher-level (marketing strategy, decision-making) and task specific (photography list, daily to dos). It's even where I put my packing list and where I reminded myself to buy snacks and do laundry. But all of the lists were nested under one event, so anytime I had to look up what else needed to be done before I *gulp* got on a plane, it was all in one place.
Alyson Thomas of Drywell Art suggests:
Totally obvious I am sure, but make an insane, OCD, checklist of everything you will need. This is especially important when you will be in a different city the night or two before the show. I like to go through my normal show set up, step by step, starting with when I wake up, to make sure I have everything I will need. Include minutia like — "coffee before setting up."
Also, it is way worth it to possibly pay more to stay closer to the venue than to save money and have to drive in from far away.
I definitely agree with all of the tips above, and I will expand on a few and some of my own.
- I usually use vintage crates and containers as part of my display, but they are too bulky to travel with, so I suggest doing some research online to see if there is a Home Goods, Cost Plus, Target, etc. where you will be exhibiting and buying some items. The key is to take very good care of them and RETURN them after the show.
- If you don't have a store like this in the area, or don't feel comfortable with that plan, you can buy cardboard boxes and cover them in fabric or pattern in your brand's colors. Or, you can cover them with a neutral so they blend into the background on your table.
- Make sure that if you rent a car/have a car you empty it at night of all valuables and anything that looks enticing. I have heard so many stories about people parking their rental truck/car, etc. overnight and having ALL of their product stolen! Even if it's not your product that is stolen, it is still a headache that you don't need to be dealing with.
- If I am flying, I always arrive at least 2 days before the show to ensure that not only do I actually arrive on time, but so do my bags. Allow for delays, since we know they happen. Use the extra time in the city to visit shops for potential wholesale accounts.
Any other tips to add? Please leave them in the comments. Happy selling and safe travels!