Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bead Fest: A Vendor's Perspective

Last year I decided to take the plunge and sell my beads at a bead show.  I figured Bead Fest was the perfect place to do it since I'd been attending as a buyer for years.  Go big or go home, right?

On Thursday, we headed out from NJ to the convention center.  It seemed so strange wheeling my stuff in and seeing everyone setting up their tables.  I admit, I squealed when I saw my empty booth.
 Getting the tablecloths, lamps and jewelry on the table wasn't too bad but figuring out how to lay the beads took awhile.  The tables they provide are much narrower than what I had practiced on at home.  Eventually, I had a layout I was happy with.
When I saw all my beads on the table I started to spazz out, thinking I didn't have nearly enough stock.  I slept that terrible feeling off that night.

When the doors opened on Friday morning I felt so anxious.  I really wasn't sure what to expect.  I put on my biggest smile and waited...  It wasn't long before my booth was hopping.  I had friends, online friends and total strangers come over.  It was pretty cool when people held up their lists, pointed to my business name and said they came to see my beads.
Funny faces greeting customers.
Friday ended up being a wonderful day for sales AND a great day of meeting new people and making connections.

I shared the booth with my bead partner-in-crime, Jan Onipenco/Molten Mayhem.  Here she is with Colin (aka The Suburban Guy).
Colin was a wonderful help.  He handled all the transactions and provided Jan and I with much needed shopping/social/bathroom/food breaks.  We really couldn't have done it without him.  He was an important part of this well-oiled bead machine.

So, what kinds of important things did I learn during this experience?  Well for one, you never really have any clue if you have enough or too much inventory.  It's a learn as-you-go thing.  Friday was a bang-up day for business but then Saturday slowed and Sunday was almost a dead stop as far as sales were concerned.  Make what you can make.  You can't ask for more than that.
The reality of what it looks like inside your booth.
  
Also, smile at your potential customers.  A warm smile welcomes people AND you never know who might be shopping your table.

While I didn't make my goal, I did do pretty well for my first time out.  I also made some excellent connections and just had a real fun time.  I certainly recommend every bead maker try a show at least once.
Keep the cloth down and no one will ever know.
It was a great experience and I can't wait to do it again next year.

16 comments :

  1. Glad to hear you had a good experience at the show. It was so fun to finally meet you in person! My husband helps me out at shows too, so I really understand the value and appreciation of having them there!

    I honestly could have spent all three days in artisan alley! I had to force myself out of there on Saturday because I needed gemstone strands and chain. I will have to say my best purchases came from the artisans-those are the beads I am most excited about. I had planned to come back on Sunday but ran out of time (darn those necessary bathroom and food breaks)!

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    1. Getting to meet everyone in person (you included) helped make the experience as great as it was. Also, the gummy bears helped! ;-)

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  2. Very nice Diana! Congrats of a good show and thank you for sharing your experience.

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    1. Yoli, come out and do the show with us next year!

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  3. Thanks for the thoughtful review of your experience. I've done a couple of small shows when I lived in TX. Planning on this one for next year. Kind of makes my heart get all anxietied up but this is helpful. And you are absolutely right. The most important thing is to smile. Makes you and everyone else feel good.

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  4. Reminds me of doing craft shows! You just never know what the crowds will be like OR what they will buy from year to year. Make what you like, make what you can, and smile away!

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  5. That's a huge leap having a booth at such a big show! I am only just starting out and had a small booth at show this month and boy was I freaking out over the inventory as well. I guess you are right you never know how much is enough . The smiling actually helped me as well, instead of just gaping at the visitors I smiled and said a hello they smiled back! Good for you having a friend help out is such a blessing!

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  6. Thank you for sharing your experience! I, unfortunately, could not make Bead Fest this year, but have enjoyed everyone's pictures! Relative to this post, I like how you prioritized your husband's "relief duties", as in "shopping break" came first! :)

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  7. Like Lori, it reminded me of all the craft shows I have done. You always worry do you have the right amount of inventory. But major Congrats on such a big step and wow in such a major big way..give your self a pat on the back, grab a cold drink and prop your feet up and relax, you deserve it.
    Sandy

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  8. Congrats for taking such a huge step forward. The lack of crowds were not something you had any control over, and when people were there, you did very well. So you can be proud of yourself, girl! Yea! Fingers crossed that I'll be there next year!

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  9. Very cool to hear about Bead Fest from "the other side"! You are so right about smiling! I've seen some gloomy gusses at other shows, and I avoid those booths! Similarly I am way more apt to spend my money with someone who takes the time to smile and chat with me!

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  10. Mucho Congrats Diana! You DID it! And I know you'll continue to do well and then some! It was SO much fun meeting you and everyone else! PS - I hope you let Colin go on shopping and bathroom breaks too...?

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    1. We let Colin out for a few minutes here and there, lol!

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  11. Thanks for sharing your experience! Did you feel like you took enough inventory once all was said and done?

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    1. I did, but only because Saturday and Sunday ended up being super slow. Also, my most popular pieces on Etsy were NOT popular at the show. It's very tricky to know what to do on your first time out.

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  12. You totally rocked your booth!!!

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