Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Recap of the Big Show

Another year at the League of NH Craftsmen's Fair is behind us. After the abysmal show of last year we had to rethink our strategy and our set up. When you couple poor sales with breaking down and packing a booth in the rain in two hours (a booth that took two days to build) your spirit and body are feeling broken. When applications for 2016 were due last fall, we decided to pay extra for a corner booth. The decision was also made to skip building the wood walls with attached pedestals and shelves. This would make set up a breeze and break down in two hours much less stressful.

The booth mimicked our set up at the Celebration of Seagrove Potters show. Our tent frame with the top removed, defined our space and allowed us to hang our lights with zip strips. We hung our tent walls in the back and covered them with inexpensive sheers from IKEA to soften the look. No need for spendy curtain rods, conduit from the hardware store is 10' and costs only a few dollars. Our table covers were purchased from an online supplier. They are only about $12 a piece and have velcro on one end to access hidden storage underneath. This show juries your booth each year. Your score can do three things:

1. Win you an award which will reduce your booth fee by $275 the next year
2. The higher your ranking, the better your chance of receiving your first choice in booth placement.
3. If your booth totally sucks, you receive an "needs improvement" warning. If your booth isn't better the next year, you won't be able to participate in subsequent fairs.

Overall, we were happy with our booth. The jury process is subjective, so who knows what the score will be. When you are working in a small space for four days you quickly learn what you need to change. This is our plan for next year:

1. Purchase a rug or ground cover. We are considering a tarp like cover that looks like an industrial carpet. It's made specifically for trade shows. It's easy to roll up and not too heavy. Our booth neighbor had one and it looked good. Since we used tables with cream colored covers, the bottoms of our covers got dirty VERY quickly. A ground cover would help eliminate that.

2. Attach some extra velcro to our covers to keep them hanging straighter. I was constantly adjusting them.

3. Place a piece of plexiglass over the end of the table that we use for wrapping pots. Even though we are under a "circus" tent, we are still in an outdoor environment. By Tuesday it was looking a little dirty.

The most important thing that happened this year is that we made money. Probably our best 4 day fair week ever. Jeff and I attribute the better sales to bringing just three color schemes of work, and having a corner booth. The corner really gave us much more visibility on the days that the fair was very crowded.

When we pack out mid-week I always enjoy the quietness of the fair. There are only a handful of us that split the week in half (it's a nine day show), so there only one or two booths in each tent that are tearing down or setting up. The grounds look so different when the sun is setting and the crowds are gone.

The pots were packed and the booth was down by 7:00 pm. Just in time for the woodworker, who was taking our space, to set up her booth. We moved everything to the outside of the tent and packed the trailer. At 8:55 pm we were back on the highway.

Exhausted, but pleased with our time at the fair.


  1. Good show! Glad you were happy with it!

  2. I'm glad you had a good show. I sometimes wonder if a simpler booth set up makes it feel more approachable.

  3. Glad it went well. You never know what is going to happen. I opt for corners when I can and believe the extra frontage gives me a lot better chance of getting feet in the booth.

  4. Thanks for the details of how you saved $ and what you want to do next time. So glad you made some money, and then took a vacation!


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