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number one tip for doing your first big show

updated wed 15 may 02


Imzadi . on tue 14 may 02


By show essentials, I mean receipt book, pens, business cards, tape,
signs describing the food safety of your products, etc. All those essentials
you need just to make your show RUN!
Make sure the box is in a differently colored, or brightly colored box,
recogniseable from the rest of the boxes so you know you've packed it. Or
separate the stuff among many boxes so loosing any one box will not cause
such a problem.

Ugh! I learned this the hard way at 7am two Sunday mornings ago when
unpacking, on-site for my show. I didn't have time to drive home to retrieve
that one box, and it soon became apparent how much I needed it. I ended up
calling my neighbor (who works until 3 am and was quite dead to the world.
After also calling my landlord (waking him up, too) to open my house to let
my neighbor in to get the box, my neighbor graciously brought me my box.

Yes, I had created a checklist of all the things to PACK. I packed the nite
before. But once packed, I didn't think that at 5am, I'd overlook LOADING a
box into my car. PACKING and LOADING are quite different things.

Also, in hot weather, pack a spray bottle of plain water and two battery
powered portable fans, and extra bottled water. This past week, we suddenly
got hit with a heatwave, and even in the shade, I got overheated. Our booths
were set up on steaming concrete. Misting myself would have kept my
temperature down.

I have an ez-up tent that is super easy to take down by myself - 3 minutes
total, but for some darn reason, I can't lift up the canopy on each pole by
myself (although a stronger man can do it by himself). I have always been
able to find a friendly neighboring booth person who was able to help me put
it up.

Make friends with your neighborboring booths. We have always volunteered to
watch out for each other when needing to go to the bathroom, get or give
water to each other, loan out that spare battery powered fan, etc. They are
in the same situation as you if alone, and if there are two of them, they
usually understand you need that extra eye to watch your booth while you are

If you have dark colored tablecloths, also pack or think of changing to a
lighter cloth to drape over your tables. At two indoor fairs, I was unable
control the lack of lighting, and found my lovely rutiley glazes which
fabulously pop out against a dark background, looked dull and lifeless in
darker ambient light. The table cloth, instead of reflecting what little
available light there was, sucked all color around it. I KNOW this affected
my sales. I'm thinking of packing a couple of portable Coleman camping table
lamps or floodlamps (or something) in lieu of a full lighting system with
portable generator (which I can't afford) when I just need a little more

Unless you are super strapped for money and need every cent, know that most
other vendors, if approached in a friendly, open manner, WILL be willing to
do trades, provided they like your stuff too and aren't so strapped for cash
themselves. This "old time money system" among vendors is the way of the
I've found at many a show. Just don't go overboard! We all know we mark our
stuff up with a retail price. To be able to trade for something for only
it costs to make our pots, is sometimes a great bargain. (This probably
wouldn't work for pottery with carving, or was time and labor consuming to

I bring $50 in start-up cash to make change. Four $5 bills plus thirty $1
bills. It is always those odd sales like $6 that eat up those $1s way too
quickly early in the day. I have bitched out way too many a NYC cabdriver at
8am, who did not keep enough dollars on him from his shift the day before to
make change, for me to
not do it myself.

I get plenty of clear packing tape from the dollar store, a stack of old
newspapers and overwrap the hell out of purchases, paying particular
attention to wadding & cushioning rims, handles, etc. YOU made it, YOU had
better know the stress, bumping points to protect on the way home. Customers
really appreciate that their pottery has been made bomb-proof to take home
and have never complained that it isn't in a fancy packing box or bag
of the plastic obviously labeled grocery bags I've been saving (folded
not crumpled) for the past six months. They realize the savings of fancy
wrappings is reflected in my prices. And also, by that time, the sale is
already made!

Hope this helps. I'm looking forward to reading what other people post to
this thread.