by Scott Grove
Second of two parts.
You’ve decided to take the leap and start selling
your custom woodwork at a show. What’s next?
Depending on the show, there are things to consider that are important to your showing success.
In the first part of this report (April 2017 FDMC)
we talked in general about some of the different
kinds of shows; now let’s look at some specifics
based on the kind of show you’ve selected.
Local, outdoor craft shows (I call them “mud
shows” from personal experience) usually require
bringing your own 10x10-foot tent (good popups
start at $250). These shows are a great place to
start as you can hone your setup and selling skills
for a low cost. I spent three years practicing my
skills before I felt ready for a larger indoor show,
Outdoor shows can be risky because atten-
dance often depends on weather. Too hot, too
cold, too wet, or even too nice of a day can hurt.
Having a wind and waterproof booth is a must,
and strapping down your booth overnight can
be a test in Boy Scout knots. I once did a show
where a microburst hit before the show opened,
destroying 591 out of the 600 booths. Some lost
everything. Luckily I was making steel furniture at
the time and lost only my booth. Avoid shows with
competing events in the area.
Lower-end outdoor shows typically cost less
and have lower product price points. But don’t discount them—my highest commission, a $125,000
console, came to me at an outdoor show. Turned
out I made more than the breadboard guy next to
me who I thought was outselling me.
Practical considerations make a big difference in outcomes for
marketing custom woodwork at events.
Tips for selling at shows
An attractive booth invites people in, like this booth from G. Keener & Co. Fine Furniture, New Carlisle, Ohio.