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Getting Fest-Ready

With the upcoming holiday season and a whole lot of Renegade on the brain, we’ve been busy, busy bees brainstorming, prepping and trying to maintain a sense of calm around this home. Because, you see, it’s this time of year that has us working longer hours on Pet Shop-y things – you know, like the portraits themselves as well as the future Fair on our calendar.

Since our first time participating in Renegade, we’ve received a handful of emails from readers inquiring on how we get fest-ready, and since this December will be our 3rd year (we hope to see you there!), we’ve picked up a few tips that work for us. Most recently, Renee of Bobobibs asked:

We’ll be at Renegade this year, and I was hoping you could give me some pointers on the booth set-up and any rookie mistakes we could avoid (with regards to the booth or in general). Any advice? – Renee

Because she’s not the first one to ask – and because there are sure to be a lot of craft fairs in our collective holiday future – we thought it was a great time to lay out our suggestions for everyone. Some things might seem very, very obvious, but we think it’s all worth mentioning. Here goes!

CASH MONEY. At the start of any craft event, most shoppers will have large bills with them. Bring cold, hard, cash money, y’all. We make a run to the bank the day before the event (since it’ll be too early the day of to make that quick stop), and pick up about $100. You don’t want to lose a sale by not being able to break change! Tip: I wear a little black apron (dork alert), so I don’t have to worry about sticky fingers.

ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS, TOO. We use Square, and it’s easy and convenient. They charge just a teeny percentage of each sale, and they’ll mail you a card reader that’s compatible with smart phones. If you do accept credit cards, you should say so – state this on your pricing list by using little card icons. More than half of our sales are made this way, and even better – your customer gets a receipt emailed to them.

BE CREATIVE, BUT KEEP IT SIMPLE. Renegade has a gallery that we check in on for inspiration, and we’re always mindful of creative ways to display our work when we shop at any craft event. We keep ours simple with a covered table in the front (we use a painters drop cloth as our tablecloth), and in the past, we’ve made little risers to display our work. We use the empty space behind us to show our logo and take advantage of otherwise unused space.

RECRUIT A FRIEND! In all the excitement, you’ll want to take a break, grab a bite or, let’s be honest, use the john. And at some point, you’ll even want to do a little shopping yourself. It’s helpful to ask a friend along, plus, it’s fun to have someone to hang out with!

STAND OUT. We put bed risers under the legs of our table which allows for extra storage underneath, and it gets our table closer to the shoppers’ faces. With that said, we bring stools to sit on so we’re not lower than the table. You want to be seen, not hidden behind your own display! Remember that I’m an excitable nut, so I stand almost the whole time – it’s just so fun, and I don’t want to miss anything! (Seriously.)

HAVE CLEAR SIGNAGE. Again, make sure your signage is clear. Double check that all your items are priced. More often that not, if a customer doesn’t see the information they need right now, they’ll walk away. Assume the shoppers know nothing, and I mean that in the best possible way. The environment can be very chaotic and people will feel hot, rushed, and pushed, and they’ll simply leave your booth if they don’t see what they need right away.

GET CUSTOM. Does your business specialize in custom work? If so, take orders on the spot! Going back to the signage, make sure this is known, and if it makes sense, bring a portfolio. Last year, we brought along our portrait of Jack and a Blurb book of past work. The book caused traffic jams – and we even met a few of the pets’ owners! Although we’re sold out of custom orders for the year, we’ll be accepting pre-orders for January 2013, as well as offering up gift certificates.

BRING TREATS. Every year, we put out a bowl of Kisses for fest-goers. It’s such a small thing, but often times, they’ll stick around your booth a bit longer.

PROMOTE. We’ve seen some incredible displays for something as simple as a vendor’s business card, and we’ve realized just how important this is. We use mini Moo cards for The Pet Shop, which allows for a different design – and in our case, a unique portrait (up to 100!) – on the back of each one. We jumble them into Ball jars, allowing them to be seen. Last year, not only were our cards a hit (families would linger for 10 minutes trying to pick out their favorites!), but they were fun conversation starters, too.

BE SUPPLY READY. Depending on your product, you’ll want to have the supplies ready for your customer to get it home safely. We bring tissue paper for wrapping, white shopping bags (stamped with our logo) for larger items and brown lunch sacks (again, with a stamped logo) for smaller items. We pre-stuff each bag with promotional materials so we don’t have to worry about it at the Fair!

TRACK YOUR SALES. We use a small notebook to make note of what we sell, how much it sold for and how many of each item goes home with a happy customer. Not only will this be useful for tax purposes, but we look back on our notes to see what sold well – and what was a dud.

SAY CHEESE! Have you gone to a craft fair and come across moody, exhausted vendors? Remember, if you’re not approachable, well, you won’t be approached. A simple smile and a hello goes a long, long way.

We feel so fortunate to be a part of such an amazing crew of vendors, and we can honestly say we look forward to it every year. It’s thrilling and energizing to share our work in such good company, and it’s especially fun when we get to meet you, too. For more information on the Renegade Fair we’ll be a part of on Dec 1 & 2 – along with our pal, Pete, of Wood House Pipessee here.

For all you other crafty-show-partipaters, what are your words of wisdom? Or as shoppers, what makes a booth stand out for you? Let’s share!

See all the photos from our past Fests here and here!

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  • Sam11.1.12 - 8:44 AM

    We’ve never heard of Renegade, but wish we could go! Have fun – thanks for the tips. I’m hoping to have a booth one day, and you shared a lot of helpful advice!


  • Kim11.1.12 - 9:00 AM

    Thanks, Sam!ReplyCancel

  • Life With Alfred11.1.12 - 9:09 AM

    This is a dream of mine! Bookmarking this entry for someday when I finally have the courage to apply… :)ReplyCancel

  • Jessie11.1.12 - 9:18 AM

    I didn’t read any of them since there’s no craft fair booth in my foreseeable future, but the Sew Mama Sew blog just did a series of posts on craft fair prep, displays, etc.

  • Kim11.1.12 - 9:29 AM

    Alfred, you MUST apply! We need snoods in our lives!

    Jessie, thanks for the link! I love catching up on everyone’s tips at this time of year.ReplyCancel

  • Stesse11.1.12 - 9:30 AM

    Just reading about the upcoming fair makes me all excited for the Christmas season! Any recommendations for other craft fairs like Renegade in other cities(since a trip to the middle of the country isn’t in my immediate future)? I feel like there should be a list or site somewhere with stuff like this, but my Google-fu is failing me.ReplyCancel

  • Kim11.1.12 - 10:05 AM

    Hmm, there SHOULD be some list like that somewhere!

    Stesse, where are you located? Renegade is spread in many cities all over the country. Have you tried Googling your city’s name + “holiday fair”?ReplyCancel

  • Tyrell Cannon11.1.12 - 12:43 PM

    Good advice guys! I’ll be there helping Tina ( as well! We’re excited to see ya’ll there. High fives for Renegade goodness!ReplyCancel

  • Aubrey11.1.12 - 1:00 PM

    I can’t wait to go to the Renegade Craft Fair here in Austin. It will be my first time going. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kim11.1.12 - 1:19 PM

    Tyrell, AWESOME! We can’t wait to see you guys there!

    Aubrey, you’re going to love it!ReplyCancel

    • Kim11.4.12 - 9:14 AM

      Wow, that’s awesome! Thanks for letting us know, Renee!ReplyCancel

  • Amber11.6.12 - 11:08 AM

    Kim- I love looking at your pet portraits. Is there a digital copy of your Blurb portfolio book that we can check out? I’d love to see the side-by-side comparisons with the pet photos.ReplyCancel

  • Kim11.6.12 - 11:17 AM

    Hi Amber, thank you! There isn’t one, but I’ll definitely keep your suggestion in mind! I’ll be making an updated book this year, and I can see about making it available through Blurb.ReplyCancel

  • Trude11.9.12 - 5:09 PM

    Even though I’m a portrait photog and don’t do physical sales, I’ve done vendor booths before and this is super duper helpful! Love the idea of the bed risers to help bring up the table – genius! :) Thank you so much for sharing.ReplyCancel

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