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Tips for Selling Jewelry at Shows

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Art Show Tent

Art Show Tent

Tammy Powley
Years ago when I first started selling my jewelry, I started out just selling to people I knew, friends, family, and co-workers. Eventually, I realized I needed more customers and started to sell at arts and crafts shows in my local area. I continued to sell at shows like these for about eight years, and while I no longer have the time now, I feel like these early years on the art show circuit were really a worthwhile experience. It is a lot of hard work, but if you are considering trying to sell your jewelry at shows or have been doing it already, here are some tips that may make it a little easier on you.

* No matter what happens, try to keep a positive attitude. It will make the experience much more pleasant for you as well as your customers. If you get upset or angry when working at a slow show because of your lack of sales, this attitude will only generate more negativity from potential customers.

* On that same note, think of your purpose as more than just a dollars and cents venture. When you are at a show, it is like having a little shop for a day or two, and you can gather a lot of wonderful information from people who wander into your tent. My husband and I used to refer to this at "data collecting." What kinds of reactions do you get from people when they look at your jewelry? If this is the customer base you hope to appeal to, then listen and learn.

* Be as prepared for a long day and try to make it as comfortable for yourself as possible. Bring healthy snacks and lots of water rather than rely on the fried food and soda pop available from the food vendors. Wear comfortable shoes because you may be on your feet a lot if the show is busy.

* If at all possible, do not do a show alone. I was very lucky to have my husband help me at shows. Very often we had to park a good distance away after setting up, so he would bring a bike in case he needed to run back the car for something. And, of course, his muscle power was super important when hauling all our inventory and setting up the tent. If you don't have an understanding husband or other relative, consider at least asking a friend to stop by for a few hours to help at the end of the show so you can have some help after your long day.

* Don't spend too much time setting up because the longer it takes you set up the longer it will take you to break down your displays. Try to find ways to have jewelry on displays already so you can set them up quickly. Your time is money, so spending hours setting up a booth with no sales to cover it is not very efficient.

* Bring plenty of inventory, but don't kill yourself making it all. There is no crystal ball to show you what will sell and what won't. It can be easy to think you need a ton of pieces to do a show and you end up at all hours of the night days before the show in a jewelry making frenzy. Worse case scenario is that you don't have enough jewelry and end up selling everything you bring. Is that really a bad thing though?

* Limit what you set out for display in your tent or booth. You can over do it. Too much will distract and confuse customers. If an item sells, have a back up jewelry piece under your table to replace it, but do not feel like you have to have every single piece out. It just looks messy.

* Experiment with different booth and tent set ups to find what works best for you and your customers. The only way to really know for sure what works for you is to try a few different set ups. Also remember to bring business cards and other types of promotional materials to hand to people when they come by or enter your booth.

* Bring a few tools and supplies to make jewelry at the show. If you get too busy to make jewelry, that's okay. But during slow times, you can get some work done and perhaps attract customers who may be interested in the jewelry making process.

* Do not let negative comments get to you. Some people just like to be snarky for no reason. I remember hearing things like "I could make that." Sure, maybe they could, but were they making it and selling at shows like I was? Nope! I was also asked a lot where I got my supplies, so I would honestly answer that I often attended wholesale trade shows open to professionals in the jewelry business. This was usually enough to seem like an answer without giving away any trade secrets.

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