Sunday, May 24, 2009

The difference a Display makes

We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words, especially when you are selling online. Good photos can make or break a sale. At Street Fairs, Crafts shows and Open Houses, we have the benefit of hands-on sales. Customers can pick things up, try things on, flip things over.

But before they can see it, they have to want to see it. That is why your display is integral. With 10 years of Craft show (retail and trade) experience, I have learned some things that work......and don't work. And I'll share some of them with you.

Before I do, I want to discuss my new Hook display......and how effective it was at it's unveiling yesterday. The display stands 78" high, and has 12" wide bifold doors. I placed it at the very front of my booth, so it was visible to passerby's, and to those that were approaching (because it was folded, it allowed for 2 vantage points, and 2 selling sides).

I'd estimate that 75% off the passerby's stopped to look at the hooks. Not necessarily to touch them, or buy them. But to look. And that is the first step in getting people to buy! The end result? The sales of my hooks increased by 200% from previous shows.

Rule #1: they have to see it to want to buy it.

The placement of the display was crucial. As was the arrangement of hooks. I was certain to hang the bulk of them at eye level, and arrange an assortment of styles and colors. I had a Price Key at the top of each board. It was easy to read, and noticeable. And it eliminated the need for price tags next to/on each hook (which can make things look cluttered).

Rule #2: keep it clean & clear

An organized, clean display is much easier for buyers to navigate. And is more welcoming. Period.

Rule #3: eye level, eye level, eye level

It bears being said three times. Have focal points that are at eye level!!!! Even if it's your Business sign, photographs of your work, or actual work. Put things at eye level. Buyers are lookin at many things as they walk a show, but I can guarantee you......they aren't staring at the ground or sky as they walk.

Rule #4: share what you've learned

Feel free to comment on display ideas that have worked or not worked for you!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

It's Show Time!

It's that time of year again.........Show Season. Time to load up the car, brush off the tent and start selling my wares in person. I have been fortunate to have success selling on Etsy, and I have gathered some repeat customers (and "met" some great people!).

But, nothing compares to that face to face interaction. To get feedback on my work, to see what people pick up, to see their reactions, and to see what they buy.....and don't buy, is all valuable information.

(I'm also unveiling a new Hook display today.....and will report back on it's success!)

This season, I have filled my calendar with shows......from May-Oct, I have 9 scheduled throughout RI, MA and CT. It will be a busy summer, but I'm ready! See you on the streets!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Birds of A Feather

(Chickadee by dsbrennan.

As a child, my dad would "round up the troops", and take us to the Resevoir in West Hartford for a Sunday morning hike. A rucksack filled with lunch, and 2 pairs of binoculars, and a walking stick was all he needed. It was his Heaven.......and my, well, not Heaven.

As we walked, he would point out every bird he saw, identify it, and tell us a little bit about it. He was good. Very, very good.

We would return home, and he would immediately go for his stack of bird learn more, and help him identify the few birds that he could not identify in the moment.

Truth be told, I liked the bird books. I would use them to draw.......I'd pick a picture of a Goldfinch, Chickadee or Blue Jay, grab my crayons and start drawing. And little did I know, I was actually learning, as now I can go for a hike, and identify some of what I see. It makes me happy, and makes me (fondly) remember those Sunday mornings in the Resevoir.

Our bird education was not limited to hikes, however. It seemed to be very important to my dad that his kids knew the difference between a hawk and a turkey vulture. So important, that he would pull over on the highway to point them out (fyi....turkey vultures have "fingers" on their wings). I can identify one a mile away now.

The reason I share this is because I just purchased an awesome 1983 bird book for $1. If my dad got his hands on it, he would read it cover to cover. I, on the other hand, will use the beautiful photos and illustrations for magnets and paperweights........after I read some of it.

Thanks, Dad.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Save A Lot

I try to be green........and save some green, whenever possible.

As a glassblower, packing materials are an essential, important part of shipping. I need to be certain that my wares will make it to their destination safely. Until recently, I used bubble wrap (kids love me for it), packing peanuts and new boxes. And sometimes I still do.

But, I have found some money and earth saving tips that have proven to be as good as the old standby products. And I thought I'd share them, as well as some of the "don'ts" I've learned along the way, too.
~visit (Free Cycle) to find bubble wrap, boxes and packing peanuts
~use paper shred instead of packing peanuts (to keep it tidier, I put the shred in plastic shopping bags, and tie them shut). Works like a charm
~use newspaper circulars as packing material/fill
~liquor stores are great for boxes.....sometimes I have to double-box my work, and these are perfect as the "inside" box
~talk to owners of local gift/craft shops.....many times they have work shipped to them (from artists, like me), and end up with a surplus of packing material
~use boxes that have been shipped more than twice. They tend to have been "beaten up" along the way and are much less effective
~use paper shred that is just loose in the box. Well, you can, but after receiving many boxes packed this way, I began to resent the sender(s). The clean up is ridiculous. And, they tend to settle A LOT during shipping.
AN EXTRA TIP (for those that sell at retail shows):
Save time, money and resources by using a Stamp instead of labels or "hot stamping" your gift boxes and boxes.
I ordered mine from Tearbearco ( Custom made, with my business name and Etsy address. It has more than paid for itself! (and takes me less time and effort than sticking labels!)
I welcome your tips for re-using packing materials......or sources for them, too.