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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Holiday Bazaar 101- Live and Learn

Last weekend I hosted a booth at the local high school holiday bazaar. Having a booth at a craft fair has sort of been on list of things to do for quite some time. I started selling homemade goods at around 10 years old to my neighbors and friends. Early on I loved making "stuff" but never knew what to do with all of it until I started being offered money for my items! In college I learned about Etsy and that is where I have been selling since. I thought a bizarre would be a good way to make some extra sales as well as advertise my blog and online shop.

My nerves about the weekend didn't set in until a couple weeks before. I really didn't know how to prepare for such a thing… I naively thought that each vendor would be provided some sort of credit/debit card reading machine- Chris fortunately assured me early on that that would be the case so I bought a card reader to plug into my phone.

Though I had a card reader, I didn't think to set it up until the day before and it takes about three business days to verify the bank account that you want your funds to go into. I was able to accept payments but they'll be held in my Square account (Square is the program/device I used) until my account checks out.

I also didn't think to have cash on me… Opps. Once again, Chris stepped in by not only bringing to my attention that I should have some change on me but also went to the bank and brought me some small bills and coins.

When using the Square, after a purchase has been approved I am able to either text or e-mail the receipt to the customer but like I forgot about cash purchases I forgot about a way to provide a paper receipt to those who purchased with cash or check (check was only accepted from those who I knew- didn't want to get burned by bad checks).

Buntings are my hottest selling item in my Etsy shop but at the bizarre most people assumed they were part of the display and not an item for purchase. Once I laid some wrapped up buntings on the table people would handle them as they walked by and asked what they were. When I pointed to all the buntings on the shelfs informing them that those were all the different kinds I had for sale more interest sparked.

I thought it would be enough to just have my items cutely displayed on the shelf but after a few hours went by it was obvious to me that not everything was being seen- it was helpful to place some of what was on the bookcase on the table and then refer to the bookcase when someone inquired.

Overall for my first show it was a huge success! The goal was to at least make back the cost of the booth and that was achieved within the first part of the first day. At this point I am interested in doing another bazaar/fair next year.

Some of my take aways include:

  • Having some sort of cash/money box (not just an envelope and baggie)
  • Be prepared to provide some form of paper receipt 
  • Have a large variety of items- not just a lot of one item
    • At first I was just going to sell buntings- so thankful I decided to incorporate other items because those other items (bibs, blankets, ornaments, head wraps) sold better
  • Just because items sell hot on Etsy doesn't mean they'll be the favorite in person
  • Know how to talk about your items (provide examples of use)
  • Network, network, network! I kept forgetting to plug my blog and online shop
  • Offer discounts on future purchases- I do this with my Etsy orders but FORGOT with my in person purchases at the bizarre
  • Bring something to work on- I did a LOT of reading
  • Provide your own chair to sit on- I started off with one of the hard/cold provided folding chairs and then had Chris bring one of our cushion ones when he visited

Now that the Bazaar is over my Etsy shop is back up and running  new items (that are in the above photos) will start making their debut in my shop over the next week or two! Because I love you guys- if you use coupon code Bazaar101 between now and December 1st you'll receive 10%! 

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  1. Congrats! Your booth looks great! Glad you were successful - look forward to checking out your Etsy shop! :)

  2. This is awesome! I have always wanted to do something like this too, so I'm glad it worked for you and that you had fun! Your booth was super cute!!

  3. Great experience for you Lena!! Another thing you might want to look into is business cards. I hooked up with Vistaprint and got a great deal on cards for around $25 bucks. They do have an offer where they do some for 10 bucks but the extra options are what cost you and make your business card go the extra mile.For me it's been invaluable to have them as I can fix jewelry like replacing the batteries in watches I make but other stuff too.
    Your display looks awesome and it's great that you made your booth fare back!

  4. Yes, business cards are a must! I had some printed a couple years ago from Vista on some crazy sale like you mentioned. :) I forgot to add that to my blog, thanks for pointing it out!

  5. Me too and I finally got the nerve to do it!

  6. Thanks Nancy! How are you guys doing? Sickness gone now?

  7. Thanks Hannah! That's how I tried setting it up, "what would a booth I stop at look like?"

  8. Thanks Amy! I'll be sending an item picture to you shortly. :)

  9. Super super cute! I would have totally looked in your booth. Presentation is EVERYTHING at craft shows.

    When I do craft booths I always wear an apron to hold my cash in. That way it's always on me and I don't have to be paranoid and keep one eye on a cash box at all times. I bought one of the canvasy aprons at Lowes and then just added fabric to the front. I also have paper and pen in one side so if I start really talking to someone and want to take their info down for personalized orders or additional contact it's right on me. AND I think it easily identifies you as the seller if there's a lot of people lingering at my booth :) Just one of the things I've learned over time.

    Here's a link to the apron I'm taking about (although it seems like you're plenty crafty and could make the whole thing yourself!):


  10. You have one of the cutest bazaar booths I have ever seen! Adorable.

    Your products are amazing!

    Thanks for the tips... if I ever set up a booth of my own, I'll make sure to reference this!

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.


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