Vendors: Getting Started I – Pre-Shows

Starting off can be daunting! There are many things to consider and it can be overwhelming. Through trial and error you will discover what works for you. In this post, we will point out some of the key details that will give you a leg up and lead to your first show being a success – regardless of what you’re selling.

This post focuses on the period before your first show. These are our insights from our experiences, definitely not a concrete truth – as with anything, take them with a grain of salt and adapt them to your own needs.

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Consider Branding and Aesthetic

…but also know that things are flexible and can change.

Deciding on a look and feel for your business can seem daunting – but just remember, nothing you decide at this point has to be permanent. Colour schemes, fonts, even names – everything can be changed should you discover something that works better for you down the line. Choosing a name and colour scheme will allow you to make a memorable impression at shows.

With that in mind, consider the following before proceeding:

  • Business name (direct sales as well!) – brand yourself (within the confines of your agreement of course)!
  • Products – range, target audience
  • Overall colour feel – are you bright and colourful? subdued? earth tones? black and white?
  • Overall impression – find a few fonts that you think resound with you

If you’re looking to play around with different colours, names, fonts, and other options, we recommend Canva. This isn’t an ad – we personally use it a lot and love how easy this web based program makes creating content and images. Canva is where we’ve created most of our social media posts, logos, banners and more. It’s free (with optional paid upgrades) and completely online. This makes it great for accessing it anywhere!

Get a Tablecloth

It may seem rudimentary but it needs to be said. Almost nothing makes a worse impression than having your products laid directly on a table. Often, the tables provided by shows are not particularly clean, or even necessarily in great condition. While a plastic table cloth (hello, dollar store) can work in a pinch, fabric options are not overly expensive and are more durable, more attractive, and a better value all round. Our personal favourite (partially because of the wide array of colours it comes in!) is this listing on Amazon. Ranging in price (depending on colour) from $11-40. It washes and wears well, even under heavy use.

Here you can see the banner and the table cloth as used by Ifs, Ands, or Buttons! This table cloth is nice and bright and has washed really well! The banner was designed in Canva.
You can also see a very useful letter board!

Get Business Cards

Business cards are super affordable and allow you to make a lasting impression. They help you look polished, prepared, and professional. They empower customers to follow up with additional or customized orders! Vistaprint has 500 business cards for $9.99 (check out the deals page on their website), which is the perfect amount to get started! 500 might seem like a large amount, but you’ll go through them quickly.

If you end up updating your look or information, you won’t be out a lot of money, or you can use them until you’ve given them all out. Their cards are dependable, good quality, and sharp.

These are the business cards we had done! We paid for the upgrade to have them double-sided.

Get a Banner

Banners pack a huge visual punch and can help attract customers to your booth! A banner can easily be pinned to your tablecloth or fixed to the wall behind you, depending on the show’s set up. They’re also more affordable than you’d think! Vistaprint has banners for as low as $13.34 – and they often have sales making them even more affordable. They also have sales somewhat frequently, bringing the cost down to as low as $5! They are affordable and therefore commonplace – and the fact that most vendors have them makes them essentially necessary. They are the icing on top of your display and an asset you should not overlook.

Tip: When designing images to use with Vistaprint (and printing/publishing in general) make sure you’re using good quality and high-resolution images. If you start with poor quality or small images the imperfections will be amplified when printed on a large scale.

You can see how a table cloth and banner polish off Tenoyfer Town’s space at an outdoor event!

Consider Payment Processing

Being able to take credit (and debit) is a huge asset. While many shoppers at craft and vendors show come prepared with cash and while ATMs are often nearby, having an immediate option for customers to pay via card can lock in sales (and even upsells!). There are many options to check out – including Square. To learn more about Kaitlynne-Rae’s experience with Square, check out this blog post.

Bonus: Did the letter board catch your eye? The exact model isn’t available, but one with all white letters can be found here.

ShowWiz.ca is an online resource that offers a comprehensive calendar of craft and vendor shows and a vendor directory. Currently serving Eastern Ontario and the National Capital Region, ShowWiz.ca works to connect vendors, organizers, and shoppers with opportunities that work for them.

Also in Getting Started

A series of posts to get you started with craft and vendor shows. Covering topics such as basic table esthetics, payment processing, applying to shows and more.

  1. Vendors: Getting Started I – Pre-Shows
  2. Vendors: Getting Started II – Choosing Your First Shows
  3. Vendors: Getting Started III – Applying for Shows

View the entire series

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