Saturday Sidecar- Selling Your Wares at a Booth – Are You Up For It

Written by Gina Blitstein on January 12, 2013. Posted in Saturday Sidecar

Some Sidecars operate from a fixed location, some are portable, some are virtual – and some may be a little of each. Could your product or service be offered for sale at a booth? No matter what you sell, chances are there’s a fair, conference, seminar or other event at which you could set up a booth to showcase and sell your wares. Even if your business is regularly home-based or operates online, booth sales represent an opportunity to take your Sidecar on the road. Booths allow people to interact with you and your product or service in person, giving a face to your business.

There are events at which merchants can set up booths all over the country – most likely all over the world. Some booth vendors are constantly on the road, following their audience, traveling from venue to venue with the seasons. Others concentrate on a more localized area, within a close radius to their home base.

I recently interviewed Barb Mason, owner of the talented hands that create bobbi kahn design jewelry, her own Saturday Sidecar. Barb has a Monday through Friday day job and runs her jewelry design company on the weekends. Especially during the summer months, she spends those weekends at her booth, displaying and offering her necklaces, bracelets and earrings for sale at events and fairs throughout the area where she lives. Although Barb’s jewelry is available on her website, she makes the bulk of her sales from her trusty booth.

An art fair or gift show proves to be the ideal exhibition opportunity for Barb’s jewelry. Patrons of these events are there to see precisely the types of merchandise that Barb has to offer. They get to view the jewelry up close, touch it, try it on and discuss each individual piece with its creator herself.

While booth sales can be an ideal situation for businesses like Barb’s, there are many factors to consider when taking your show on the road. Even before thinking about the realities of booth sales, let’s consider if you and your Sidecar are up for it.

These are some of the issues of which you should be aware if you’re thinking about adding booth sales to your repertoire:
Discover where you belong
There are a plethora of booth opportunities; some will suit you perfectly and – and you them. Others will turn out to be a disastrously poor fit. Ideally, you want to discover the most desirable shows at which your merchandise will be well-received. It will take trial and error to find those opportunities where your vendor booth will prove most successful.

Barb says that some of the determining factors will be:
● type of event
● age of the event
● patrons’ tastes, expectations of the offerings and their prices
● event coordinator’s expectations for the show’s offerings (is their priority to have a mix of items or just to fill the space?)
● variety of vendors (too many that are similar to you may present too much competition and make your offerings seem run-of-the-mill rather than extraordinary)
● distance from home (if it means an overnight trip, you’ll have lodging and travel expenses to recoup)
Planning is king
When you decide that you’d like to explore selling at a vendor booth, the time to begin the process is now. Events are planned and scheduled FAR in advance. According to Barb, you need to apply for admission to summer shows the previous autumn. Look into the application process well in advance of the event to make certain you have adequate time to fill out paperwork and fulfill any requirements for acceptance at the events.
Upfront costs are involved
Admission fees are due (Barb’s can range from $175 to $2000 per event) at the time you register as a vendor, which can easily be 6 months in advance of the event itself.

Remember, you’ll need inventory to display at your booth, so you may need to pump up production to make certain you have merchandise to display when the time comes. That may mean ordering materials and supplies earlier than expected. You’ll also want to have advertising materials available at your booth so customers will know who you are and how to contact you.

Then, of course, you need a booth, tent or some sort of display area, which is also a pricey proposition. The better shows judge your booth as well as your offerings so a card table with a plastic tablecloth won’t make the cut. Barb had a professional designer help her with her booth’s interior to ensure that it represented her business elegantly without overpowering her jewelry itself.

Taking these initial factors into consideration, how prepared for booth sales are you and your Sidecar? If you still feel up to the challenge, read on for the rest of the story in the second part of this post, “Saturday Sidecar: Selling Your Wares at a Booth – It’s All On You.” Barb shares more of her first-hand experience and advice gained from selling her jewelry designs at fairs and events throughout the year.

Sidecar Tuneup Tip: Are you ready to take your Sidecar on the road? Know what’s involved from the get-go with the decision to set up a vendor booth from which to sell your Sidecar’s offerings.

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