Monday, June 10, 2013

::Craft Show Mini Series:: How to Prepare

The idea of setting up a cute little retail space to peddle your wares is a romantic idea, but it is a daunting task to make that sweet little space work well for you and make you some money!

You've got to think about more than just pretty colors.  You've got to put your big girl pants on and set up a bank account, order a point of sale credit card swiper, figure out pricing, collect sales tax... UGH!  It's enough to make someone stop right there and forget the whole thing.  But don't!  You've got a great idea!  People want and maybe even need your item!  You can do this!!

I am no pro at this.  One thing I've learned is how little I really understand about all of the red tape involved in setting up a small business.  But what little I understand I'm happy to share!

Find Your State's Department of Revenue Website
Every state is different, so I recommend starting by visiting the Department of Revenue website for your state.  There you will be able to check and see if the name you have chosen for your business is available, see what licenses and permits you may need, register your business to start accepting sales tax, and later you may even be able to file and pay your sales tax through that site.  Once you've registered you'll get your tax ID number.

Set Up a Bank Account
Research the banks in your area.  The bank I chose had a free business checking account and very low minimum balance.  Check about the fees associated.  If you're just starting out it might not be best to open an account right away.  I just found book keeping easier when my business transactions were separate than my personal transactions. To open the account you'll need a few documents to verify your business registration.  Check about those before you go.

Decide How You'll Keep Your Books
I recommend checking out  It's easy and free accounting software that automatically syncs with Etsy and your checking account so you don't have to think about transferring all of those transactions one by one by hand... yuck!

Order a Square
I've said it before, but the Square is the BEST way to accept credit cards!  NPR has a fantastic article about it here.

Decide On Your Pricing
That's one thing I can't help you with.  I also can't promise that it will be anywhere close to easy to figure out how to price your items.  Most people agree with this formula:

Price of Materials Used + Labor + Expenses + Amount You Want to Profit = Wholesale Price

Wholesale Price x 2 = Retail Price

Set Up Your Booth
I recommend setting up your booth at your house first.  I set mine up in my garage and it helped me work out so many kinks ahead of time.  You may only have a couple of hours available to you on the day of your event to set-up and what you don't want to be doing is wasting that time running back and forth because you've forgotten something.  I worked out the traffic flow of my booth and I had plenty of time to tweak it over the course of the week I had it set up.  What did I want my customers to see when they walked by?  (Note: Candy on the end of the table makes little ones stop at your booth, just sayin'!) I was able to "shop" my house for different display pieces before heading out to the store and it helped me in packing my car too because everything was in one place.

Prepare Your Mind
Prepare yourself mentally by thinking through a sale.  When someone hands you an item and says "I'll take it" what do you do next?!  My process was:
1. Write up a paper receipt with the retail amount, tax and total (the paper receipt trail was key to doing inventory at the end of my show)
2. Accept cash or credit card
3. Stick item in a gift bag with the receipt, my business card and my enclosure card (read my post about branding for more on these things)

You'll also want to think through some talking points for each of your items because you'll be saying those things a gazillion times all day... Why would you buy it?  What do you love about it?

The best thing you can do for yourself mentally is to get some good sleep before the show.  Relax, you'll do great!  You're so prepared!

UPDATE:  Here are the links to all five posts in this mini series:


Unknown said...

this is the part about having a business that I do not like. ugh. but you've laid it out pretty clearly. thanks for all the tips!!

Unknown said...

Putting up your own business is indeed a romantic idea. But there are matters that require more attention than just picking pretty colors and designs for your etsy shop. Good thing though, there are accounting software that enables us to perform these tasks with ease. Be proficient in accounting and bookkeeping to keep you and your business on the right track. Thank you for these tips!

The Business Bookkeepers

Sassmuffins said...

Great series! Found you through a Pinterest link. I have been on Etsy for almost two years now, but have yet to do a show, although I have done career fairs and retail displays. One thing I learned from doing all-day long career fairs is that having a foldable lightweight aluminum stool gives your feet an occasional break while keeping you at eye level with your "customer". That and plenty of water are absolute essentials! And a friend to cover for restroom and food breaks doesn't hurt either.