Don't Touch That: Fears-of-a-First-Time-Vendor Part One

The 1st Annual Beat-The-Crowds Handmade Holiday Happening being put on by Two Fair Ladies is coming up on November 17th and I’m a bit nervous. It is also the 1st Annual Selling-My-Work Papercut Vending Freak-Out being put on by Me

This event will signify my entry into real life, face to face, yes-you-can-touch-that selling and the more I attempt to prepare the more I realize I am seriously unprepared. It’s hard to know where to start, but I figure a good place would be getting over the idea that people will be touching my work. Quite frankly, I’m a little overprotective of my pieces and all you guys seem sticky.

What a great sign from My Zoetrope

On a more realistic level, an obstacle that definitely needs to be addressed before the show is the table display. Customers are going to be coming right up to your table (or not), touching things (or not) and buying things (or not) all based on how you present your work. If you don’t do it right then you're not going to sell anything, which is sort of an important part of selling things…the selling part.

The display is essentiallyYou on a table and figuring out how to convey this, while making your products shoppable is the thing that has me ignoring Hurricane Sandy while I sift through page after page of photos in the Show Me Your Booth group on Flickr.

My starting off point is pretty simple. Determine which ones catch my eye and separate out the weakest parts (much like watching lions hunt in the wild…or dating in high school) Once I’ve figured out which aspects work for me I can keep an eye out for those qualities.

Eye-catching, quirky props from (from left to right) Lisa Orgler Design, Meeni  and Crinoline.

Wandering Laur adds corkboard for a beachy feel

Lauren Rogoff from WanderingLaur shared her approach, “I've been working bit by bit on my displays, and hopefully they're improving!  I sell mostly seaglass jewelry (…), so I try to keep my display looking beachy and not overly cluttered.”

I’ve got a long way to go still and all I know for sure is that I really love the things I make. After a few conversations with veteran vendors about they’re initial forays into the craft fairs it seems that overcoming your own misgivings about whether your work is good enough is actually a pretty important first step…but it will have to wait. Hurricane Sandy is coming and I have to buy this awesome spinning display before it knocks out the power. Until next time!

Jessica Alpern