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Anatomy of a Craft Show

We’re far from seasoned craft show professionals (when we think of that, we think of crafters and artists and artisans who do shows every weekend, year after year-not just shmucks like us who do a few every season) but with *ahem* Newport Folk Festival under our belts (yeah, we still haven’t gotten over it) we’re feeling pretty comfy in craft show land. And as such, we’re putting together this little blog post with little tips and tricks we’ve used to get us through.

First, the tent. We use an old school, domed canopy 10’x10′ tent, which is the standard size of most craft show booth spaces. We used to use a pop up EZ tent (the same you can find at sportings good stores, and places like Target etc) but  were especially happy we upgraded at Newport when severe storms and massive rains hit Saturday evening. Come Sunday, a lot of those easier to set up pop up tents were broken and had ripped roofs. It was not a good scene, and we felt for everybody who struggled to get through the day held together with duck tape. The domed roof on our tent kept the rains from putting too much stress on the poles, and we had everything securely closed up with zipped sides, and we were intact and bone dry.

And while we’re on the subject of surviving inclement weather, may we introduce a friend of ours: the dog tie out stake. We had three of these babies (two of which we got at the dollar store, one of which we stole from Kate’s pup, McCoy. He never missed it, for the record) and when the winds picked up, the tent did not. We stuck them in the ground and wrapped ropes around the tent poles, and even in gusty, seaside weather we held nice and strong.

Now, obviously, these things are generally going to be necessary for multi-day shows and shows where you need to plan for bad weather potentially making your tent fly off and crush the wicked witch of the west, but there are a few other things we never leave home without, no matter how big or small a show:

  • Twine. Seriously, we should buy stock in gardening twine. We use it to tie things down, hold things up, and secure whatever needs securing. Plus, we tie our tags to our bagz with it, so if we find an untagged bag we’re covered.
  • Zip ties. Again, buy stock. We use the zip ties to hang our tent sides, but we also use them to make loops and hang bagz on the outside of our tent walls if we’ve got our back to a walkway or path. Handy pants, those zip ties.
  • Duck tape. Specifically, white duck tape (since our tent is white, and all). We used almost an entire roll in Newport-seriously. We reinforced a few tears in the roof before the rain hit (keeping us nice and dry, thank you), and on Sunday when it was super windy Kate went to town and taped up every crack, crevice, and seam until our walls were as solid as rock (even though they were reed and nylon). It kept our tent from flapping in the breeze and our bagz nice and steady on their hooks. It was fabulous.
  • Business cards. Seems like a no-brainer, but we always bring extra. If people aren’t ready to buy (or are interested in a special order), out come our business cards. We get them from moo (and you can see our whole thought process on the wonder of these cards here) and we always bring extra.
  • Paperwork. Sometimes we need it, and sometimes we don’t, but we always bring whatever paperwork we’ve received from the venue with us. This can include parking passes, booth placement, or just general information and phone numbers we might need to call if we have a question. Either way, it’s worth having, just in case.
  • Our Square. Again, you can find all of our thoughts on this wonderful little device here, but dear God-if you don’t have one, GET ONE. We easily do the majority of our sales via credit, and the Square is simply the best. People’s faces light up when they hear that we take credit cards, and our faces light up when they buy bagz. That simple.
  • An inventory list. We have a handy dandy red notebook where we keep a runny tally on what we’ve sold and what we have left. Because we have different designs on different bagz, we can quickly check the notebook if someone is looking for something specific, instead of digging through totes and trying to remember what sold when. It also makes it very easy to figure out what we’ve made, what’s sold well, and we we need to re-list when we get home and open the Etsy shop again.

That’s the quick and the dirty of it, folks-did we miss anything? What do you take with you when you go to shows?


About meatbagz totes

Mackenzie is an award winning pie maker, a fast driver, and a screen printing mastermind. Kate is a designer, occasional neat freak, and tea drinking madwoman. They both believe in the power of good karma, air banding as a valid form of exercise, and that getting your hands dirty is a good way to keep your soul clean. Together they make up Team Meatbagz.

2 responses »

  1. Looks like Newport was a good place to do business for you and that you & Kate were ready! I’m so happy that it’s going well! Great tips in this article too as I will be attempting the craft show circuit for the next couple years as well.


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