At the beginning of this month, I participated in my first Art Fair. It was the Tulip Time Art Fair in Holland, Michigan. The weather was excellent and the size was perfect while I started this new venture.
The first thing I needed to figure out, was how my booth should look. I did so many design drawings and made three trips to IKEA. I read a ton of Art Fair blogs to try and prepare myself. I taped out a 10 x 10 foot space in the garage to help with the visual placement of the shelving. We even set-up and tore down the tent to make sure we knew how to do this in case of rain.
For the show itself, I met some really kind vendors and enjoyed chatting with shoppers. It was a very relaxing experience, once everything was set-up and ready to go. The first night I was so tired fell asleep in bed while still in my clothes! I broke-even in sales and learned a few things along the way.
LESSON 1: SHELVING MUST FOLD DOWN
I rented a U-Haul van to transport everything to the event. It was perfect, but it costs money. While I was able to break-even with my sales, I would rather not have to go through the effort or the expense in renting a van. I haven't quite figured out how I am going to solve this problem, but I am brainstorming some ideas right now. I am giving myself until mid-June to come-up with a solution.
LESSON 2: TENT WEIGHTS ARE NOT AN OPTION
I was very fortunate that we did not have heavy winds. While chatting with fellow vendors, I learned that if I don't have better tent weights, I am going to pay a huge price financially. I was given so many ideas and suggestions on how to make this work. I will have everything ready to go for the July event.
LESSON 3: BRING A DOLLY
I was lucky that I had two teenagers and my husband to help me haul and set-up. We were not allowed to park our van next to the tent site, so we had to carry everything over from a block away. Yeah, that was a lot of work. We have a dolly and I will definitely come-up with other wheel-display solutions for the next event!
LESSON 4: HAVE VARIOUS PRICE POINTS
I was very over-weighted with pillow inventory and did not have enough bags or low-cost items. My lowest priced items were pincushions which really only appealed to people who sewed. I did have a few high priced items that did sell, but I need more cute little things at the lower end that has more mass-appeal. I am currently updating and expanding my product-line to incorporate this important lesson.
LESSON 5: BE PREPARED FOR RAIN
While, rain was not a factor at this event, I live in Michigan and it rains here, so eventually I will have to deal with it. For my next event, everything will be stored in bins and plastic for transport. I will bring a few ponchos just in case. Umbrellas are a necessity. Mud could be a factor, so rain boots should be on-hand.