Monday, October 24, 2011

My Craft Fair Booth Makeover

Vending at a Craft Show is pretty much a crap shoot.  There are no guarantees you will sell anything nor can you predict what the weather will be like.  And anyone can just clunk down some merchandise on a table and hope someone will give them money for it.  But setting up your vending space to attract the potential customer is a crucial factor in this business.  There are many "tips" and set-up ideas available online and thousands of people full of advice, which can be helpful (or confusing) for a newbie, but nothing can teach you better than just getting out there and doing it yourself!!

My first vending experience was earlier this year at a local Earth Week Expo.  I had no idea what to expect and didn't really have a concept as to how I would set up my booth even though I spent hours researching various set-up ideas.  I purchased a table at Costco and figured that was a good start.  The Expo graciously provided vendors with a canopy, table, and a chair so all I had to really worry about bringing was my product.  But being it was my first time, I worried about way more than that!  I continued to research different ideas and tried to come up with something "my own".....

My First Craft Fair
I positioned the tables into an "L" shape and covered them with two flat sheets I picked up from Walmart.  I was thrilled to find a vintage sewing machine off of Craigslist that I could use as a prop.  To give the illusion of height, I placed boxes under the sheets ....  Not very "trendy" or eye catching is it?... You can't even tell what I'm selling ... It's "my own" alright!!, haha  :) 

Surprisingly I saw some traffic, made a few sales, and got LOTS of positive feedback on my merchandise, but it didn't turn out quite as I had hoped.  I mean I was grateful for the experience to have been around other vendors to learn from and it was super cool to be a part of an eco-friendly event that I'm glad I didn't scare myself out of going to, but I knew I would have to "dress it up" some more if I were to do another show.

And low and behold I was asked to attend another little festival a few months later.  You'd think I would have learned from my first mistake... I mean show, and try to have a little more organization or flow in my second attempt....

My second Craft Fair
No such luck!!... This time I borrowed a table in addition to the one I owned and purchased my own canopy from Walmart.  I kept the "L" shaped layout the same and somehow thought that adding some picture frames filled with product information would help soften things up.  But the overall look was still cluttered with no sense of order or purpose.

Although I did make a few sales, I had even less traffic than before.  And I ended up spending what I earned on the other vendors that were there!  Again, grateful to have participated in this little shindig and for the practice in setting up, but I just knew that if I were to do this again, I would definitely have to make some major changes if I wanted to see things pick up.

There were a few events on the horizon, but I still didn't have a plan to create a new set up nor was I prepared with enough product so I didn't apply for any of them.  A few more months went by and I finally decided to attend a Fall Boutique not far from where I lived.  I had a few set up designs in my head, but nothing concrete.  I worked on increasing my product line and before I knew it, the event was days away!!

I think I had about 6 hours of sleep the entire week leading up to the craft show!  The hardest part was constructing my set up pieces while trying to create enough product in time for the show.  There just didn't seem to be enough time in each day to get it all done!  I had to make new table cloths, preferably fitted ones.  I also wanted to make curtains for the corners of the canopy and a backdrop along the rear of the booth.  I needed a stand to display my neckties, but had no idea what to buy or make.  ... Tick tock!! ...

Tah-Dah!! ... My new and improved Craft Fair Set-up

Third time's a charm, right?!?!?!  It's like night and day!!  I borrowed two tables in addition to the one I owned and decided to change the layout of the tables to create a more inviting atmosphere.  My table cloths were made from two brand new shower curtains I found at the Goodwill for $8 each that retail for $25 each at Target!

I used one of the green sheets I already had and cut it into strips, hemmed it up, and made four corner curtains out of it. The other green sheet was used as a table cloth for the smaller table toward the back of my booth.  I purchased another flat sheet in brown and cut pieces from it to sew along the sides of the shower curtain to make the fitted table cloths.  My husband built a shelf for one of the tables which I created a slipcover for from the same sheet.  The remaining pieces were used to cover the Necktie Wristlet stands my husband made from scrap wood and PVC pipes.  

Recycled Necktie Wristlets

Ivory curtain panels and a few storage baskets were also found at the Goodwill.  I somehow MacGyver'ed the curtains together to make a "backdrop" for the rear of the canopy, but once I started setting up the booth I decided to split them up and have one on each side to kind of break up the closeness of my neighboring vendors.  (Guess I'll have to make some "walls" before the next show!)

Traffic was light, but this event brought in the most sales for me so far!!  I received TONS of positive comments regarding the cleverness of my products, and even suggestions for new ones.  And I only spent my earnings on lunch and a face painting for my daughter!!

It was exciting to go home with extra cash in my pocket and rewarding to have my merchandise appreciated by such wonderful customers.  Completely renovating my set-up was a refreshing experience, one that has inspired me to attend more craft shows and has shown me that I am capable of creating anything I put my mind to.  Now my booth is an organized and inviting environment that shows some personality and flair, a far cry from what my set-up was like before, and I did it all for under $50!! 

If you are preparing for your first Craft Show (or attending your 90th), may I suggest you just have fun with it.  Enjoy the experience and know that as your craft evolves over time, so will your products and how you display them.

Have a Beautiful Day!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Got Junk Mail? - Recycle It!!

Got Junk Mail ??...

I remember going out to the end of the driveway to my grandparents mailbox and collecting their mail for them everyday.  It was a job I was proud of (unless there were bills inside), but I don't remember them complaining much about receiving too much junk mail.  Today, that's all we seem to get in our mailbox!! From credit card offers to catalogs, junk mail fills up our mailboxes on a daily basis only to be dumped in the trash to then fill up our landfills.

Sure, you can sign up for one of those services that promises to rid you of all junk mail, but it will still come.  So accept it, and recycle it into something USEFUL!!!  Here's how....

If you don't already own a paper shredder, I would highly recommend you go get one.  Now, you don't have to go break the bank by buying a "Top-of-the-Line" model, just find one that will ... idk ... shred paper! ...

My 6 sheet max strip cut shredder

Once you've got that shredder plugged in and ready to rock, grab all that piled up junk mail and shred your little heart out!! This could even be a great activity to keep your kids busy (Adult Supervision is recommended of course!!)  So the next time you need to pack up that gift you're sending to Aunt Marge or Grandma Jean, you can simply stuff some shredded junk mail into your shipping box to keep the items from shifting around in transit.

And it's more eco-friendly than those styrofoam peanuts or inflated plastic pouches because the shredded paper can simply be tossed into the recycling bin once the package has been opened!  Or it can even be stored in reused plastic grocery bags until it's ready to be re-used again!!
Use shredded junk mail as shipping or moving filler

With Christmas right around the corner, you should start shredding now so you'll have plenty of filler to ensure your gifts will arrive safe and sound to their recipients this holiday season.  You know, this might also be a great way to cushion breakables while moving!!

Or how about making your own paper from the shredded strips??!!   You could also take those fake credit cards they include and give them to the kids to "pretend play" with (age appropriately, of course).  I use mine as props for my online merchandise photos.  Wow!, the "re-uses" of junk mail are endless!! :)
Re-use Credit Card & Gift Card offers
So there you have it, a few easy peasy ways to recycle all that junk mail you never stop getting!!

Have a Beautiful Day!