This is my first official craft show season. When I launched Mind's Eye last Fall I was already behind the eight-ball to sign up for any of the big ones because that happens at the beginning of the year. Obviously a lot of thought and planning goes into making these come to life! I imagine organizing one is like coordinating a seating chart for a giant wedding, you know...making sure the right vendors are near each other so as not to offend another...like not having two jewellery booths next to one another, etc, etc.
Right now I'm in Wolfeville, Nova Scotia on the eve of the Acadia Craft Expo—one of the biggest craft shows of the year. Two weeks ago I was at Christmas at the Forum, definitely THE biggest craft show of the year.
Here are some observations I've gathered about craft shows I thought I'd share, whether you're attending one as a vendor or a shopper:
1. Wear Layers
The crowd size, air flow, the surface you're standing on (yes, it might be ice!) all come together on a daily basis to yield an unpredictable climate. One day you're freezing, the next you could swear you're in a sauna. Wear layers and you'll be happy!
2. Craft Show Vendors Are Superheroes
Unloading a car has never been so exciting. Watching all these vendors haul in product that's taken days to weeks to months to make, and setting it up with care and pride is really something to behold. Then they (we) stand on our feet for close to 12 hours a day to share it with the public. Sometimes people walk by and nod at you in appreciation of what you made. Other times they make snarky comments like, "oh I've already got enough beads at home, I don't need a stinking bracelet kit". Then there's really precious moments when a little girl comes up to you with her allowance and glowingly asks if she can buy something you made. Craft shows are like a box of chocolates—you never know what you're gonna get.
3. Trading is Fun
When I have the opportunity to leave my booth it's fun to walk around and see what other people have made. If I wear my exhibitors pass and express interest in something, sometimes I'll get lucky and the vendor will say, "I might be interested in trading", to which I say an enthusiastic "YES!". At Christmas at the Forum I traded 2 bracelets for Christmas ornaments and a bunch of Selenite spheres for 2 bottles of hot sauce! Win-win.
4. There will be booze
I am not ashamed to admit that on one occasion, yes, I did sample four varieties of wine before the show opened at 10am. You might not think of wine and liquor when you hear "craft show" but yes, my dear Watson, those vendors are there!
5. Time Flies
The hours go by like minutes when the show gets busy and then before you know it, the weekend is over. During the 3-day shows your booth becomes like home. It's almost weird to tear it all down, stuffing all the pretty bits into plastic bins and reloading your car.
6. Your neighbours become your friends
You're always checking in on each other, comparing notes (how was your day today?), covering each other for bathroom breaks, and sometimes sharing snacks or each others facebook posts. It's such a supportive environment. This past July, I was so exhausted from a long day of travel that as I was tearing down my booth I accidentally left ALL OF MY JEWELERY in the parking lot. I had a meltdown. But thankfully a FELLOW VENDOR had discovered it, picked it up, and reached out to me before I nearly lost my mind. Us crafters, we have each others' backs. It's community.
Go to craft shows. Support your local crafters or if you've never been to one to sell your creative goods TRY IT! Start with a small local fair then work your way up. Putting yourself out there builds confidence and courage. It's worth all the effort and more.
Check out these awesome local Nova Scotia shows: Www.christmasattheforum.com