May I suggest items to keep on your “short list” the next time you are preparing for an Art Fair, Art Sale, Art Exhibit or Art Display Trade Show. My suggestions are based on a few basic observations, some obvious some perhaps overlooked. We can all forget one on the list no matter how seasoned we are in participating in any of the above forms of public art display. I’d like to share what I try to do to make the experience more pleasurable for myself and for my customers during an expo.
1. Arrive in enough time to set up your area. This is not the time to be rushed in putting your items on display. You want your best foot forward at all times and you want to leave yourself extra time for the unexpected delays that you might encounter. You may opt to arrive in comfortable work clothes and then change after you are set up.
2. Dress professionally. Many visitors to your booth do not know you and are getting an important “first impression”. Make sure that you pass along the message that you want, and dressing appropriately is a good place to start.
3. Be sure to use table coverings that are draped down to floor length and are well ironed. Some events ask this as a requirement. It keeps tables neat, uniform and will also help hide your supplies under the table. Tuck the ends at the table legs so that they are not easily tripped on from excess material flow.
4. You should have a name tag on identifying you or your company. Also, make sure your name tag is visible. It associates you with your space. If you happen to step away from your booth area, the customer will not mistake another person standing in your place as the artist , owner or wrong employee, if you have your name tag on.
5. For safety sake, if you are using electrical outlets, make sure you comply with the recommended standards and tape down the cord as to not trip or walk over it repeatedly. Also, keep walkways clear and display heights at safe levels.
6. Hide your “junk”. If you have extra space under your table that you are storing your supplies or extra storage boxes, make sure that everything is tucked away and not showing as part of your display. You do not want to confuse or convey the wrong items that you are selling. You want to stay organized in your small space and be able to find what you need.
7. In your display- look at it from the customer’s view. Is it interesting to look at? Do you have various levels that make the display space appealing? Do you have a variety of items to look at to hold their interest? Are prices marked clearly? Do you have appropriate signage that explains details that you wish not to repeat often throughout the day?
8. Have enough change, tell the customer up front if tax is included in the price, decide in advance your accepted payment options. Never count your monies in front of customers or other vendors. ( really, I have seen this too). Keep your funds in a locked money box for safe keeping. Decide in advance how you will include your receipt if you are providing one.
9. Include significant items at your booth that are not for sale but, may be of use for a shopper. For example, a mirror, ruler, calculator, pencil, pen, paper, tape, extra chair, clock, Kleenex, hand sanitizer. For yourself: include water, snack, and mints.
10. Be prepared to have business cards on hand. Another form of information such as a postcard, brochure, coupon or promotional item is also helpful to engage your customer and have them take away your contact information if they are not leaving with your actual product at that time. A mailing list or raffle ticket info can be important for both you and customer.
11. Be the expert you are. Inform curious shoppers of your craft, and the process involved. This is your chance to be the expert and spread word about your passion. Education is the key to letting others know first hand exactly what you want them to remember about you. Remember, there are many other booths at the same event and you want to stand out.
12. Talk to your booth neighbors. Encourage them and learn from them as well. Making a connection of support will bring about a friendship that may last way beyond the day or two of being a side-by-side booth buddy. Always wear a smile too.
Good luck in your next exhibit. I hope these tips will allow you to become more comfortable with your next display experience.