This post is part of Getting Started series and is meant to be read after Getting Started IV: So You’ve Been Accepted, Now What. As with all posts in this series, this advice is based on our experience, and, like all things, should be taken with a grain of salt.
So, you’ve dotted all your I’s and crossed all your T’s and it’s almost showtime! You’ve paid the table fee, prepped your stock and you’re rearing and ready to go. Woohoo!
But crap, how do you pack? And what? This blog is some tips and tricks I’ve found from the past few years of shows.
Pack the Night Before
Just trust us. It’ll make your morning so much less stressful. It gives you the piece of mind that everything will fit in the car, and any last minute adjustments can be made then, and not when you’re panicking about being late. Packing things the night before means that you also can’t give into the temptation to tweak things just a little more. Go to bed. Get a night of good sleep so that you wake up rearing and ready to go.
Note: If your products are temperature sensitive, keep the containers with your products inside. Temperatures in vehicles (and outdoors in general) can fluctuate and can go outside of the safe margins for various products. In cases like this having your supplies together inside will still accomplish most of the goals stated above. The point is not to leave all the packing until the morning!
Pack A (Simple) Lunch
Or at least have a plan for lunch. This is especially important if you’re working your table alone (which is very common). Some shows have food vendors or a snack shack, some shows don’t. Leaving your table unattended for swaths of time while you hunt down food is both stressful and not exactly great for sales.
When packing a lunch, we recommend packing either clean finger foods (fresh veggies are excellent!) or something that can be easily eaten in bites with a fork. Keep in mind that you will hopefully be busy and have to sneak in bites throughout the lunch period. Aiming for easy to eat in fragment foods will keep your area clean. Sticking with foods that are cleaner (and remembering to pack lots of napkins) will save time from having to clear sauce or grease off your hands before greeting customers or handling products.
If you’re bringing something that needs cutting, we recommend cutting it at home. Make your life simpler – you may not have a lot of table space for sawing something apart. The easier to eat your food is, the more likely you’re going to get it in you.
Everyone has their favourites, but you’ll notice that containers/bins/totes are incredibly prevalent in the craft and vendor show sphere. They’re more durable than cardboard, provide more protection from the elements, and are stackable in vehicles and back at your home.
The weight of your products will dictate the strength and durability of the containers that will work for you. Someone with knit or fabric items can use the basic (and cheaper) standard bins (Sterilite and Rubbermaid make good bins!). For my own products, which are individually light, but amass quickly, I have found the Sterilite Latched Gasket Plastic Storage Containers to be my favourite.
I recommend considering clear containers as they allow you to easily see what is inside without needing to open them. That tip is courtesy of Marie Kondo.
Alternative: If containers aren’t your thing, or if you need to rely on alternate transportation, many folks recommend using suitcases for their portability and ease to carry.
Pack Your Display Items Together (And What You Need First on Top)
Oh boy, I learned this one the hard way. I got to my table and realized my table cloth had been packed first (I didn’t want to forget it). And that meant it was at the bottom of the bin. I made a mess of everything else I had so carefully Tetris-ed into the container getting the essential table cloth out. Don’t be me.
If you do a test run of your set up at home (which I do recommend), when you’re taking it apart, this is a perfect time to pack your container. I recommend having your products in separate containers from your display (with the exception being if your products can be stored in their display (such as if you’re using crates)). This allows you to set up your table first and then add the product to your displays instead of rummaging trying to find the display pieces for specific products.
Your process is something you’ll develop over time with experience – so don’t stress, but allot yourself ample time the first couple shows.
Don’t Forget to Pack Your Omni Box
What’s an Omni box? I’ve written about them and explained what’s in mine here. I keep my omni box in the bottom of one of my containers. It never leaves that container (except when being restocked) so that I never forget it. It has not only saved my butt so many times, but my neighbour and show friends who know I have it too!
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.