My First Show

by Katha.
(Tulsa, Oklahoma USA)

jmj-question-mark-maroon-on-blue-sky-green-leaves-200x200-jI was at my friend’s house and saw all of her handmade jewelry lined up on her pool table. At that very moment my creative juices started flowing and I wanted to try my hand at this wonderful art. I began creating jewelry Fall of 2009.

I mainly sold to family and friends but have recently started selling on Etsy. I have never sold at a show. My town is having their first Etsy Fair and I have signed up for a booth.

There are lots of great ideas on this website but I still have a couple of questions.

How much money should I take for change?

Should I rent a visa machine?

Will I sell enough to justify it?

Do people try to haggle your price down and do you stay firm?

Any help would be great.


Some answers
by: Leigh

I cannot answer all of your questions however I can tell you before renting a machine you should check with your wireless carrier. Many of today’s wireless phones have capability to take credit cards with additional services through Intuit and Square. There are a few others but these seem to be the top choices of others.

Take what you will, disregard the rest.
by: Stef Florie

Katha – welcome to the wild world of real-life sales 🙂

I’ll tell you a little bit about what/where/when I sell, and you can decide how much of what I do will apply to you.

So – I sell handcrafted jewelry- earrings, necklace, pendants, and bracelets. My price-range starts very low – $3 for a barette with epoxied-on acrylic “gems”, $5 for all-in-one earrings on plated ear-wires – and goes up from there. Most of my earrings are in the $10-$20 range, although I do have some “top shelf” earrings that are priced as high as $60/pr. Necklaces start at $20, and go up to $220, depending on time and materials (most are in the $35-$60 range), and pendants start at $30 and go up from there. All of my jewelry, except the barrettes, are priced at a multiple of $5, and I include the sales tax. This makes it very easy for me to make change! (I created a spreadsheet that calculates the sales tax owed for each item; I definitely pay my sales tax!

I sell at a Farmer’s Market every weekend, and average $75 in sales/week. Not a huge take home, but there’s no booth fee at that market, either, so I’m OK with my take. For the FM, I’ll take $60 in change – seven $5’s and two $10’s, and five $1s.

When I sell at larger shows / events around the area, because I expect higher sales, I bring more change – $80 or $100 in change, and I still only bring five $1’s.

I also take Credit Cards through Square. I find Square very beneficial, as they don’t charge any fees unless/until you swipe a card. I think the fees are extremely reasonable. Square runs on Android phones, the iPhone, and the iPad. (The iPad app is really neat – I’m waiting not so patiently for them to make the Android App work as well.).

If I were just getting my feet wet, and wasn’t sure about committing to a $30/mo data plan on a phone, I would probably buy a pre-paid android phone and get the Square anyway. I believe (though I don’t know for certain) that it would be much more cost effective than renting a Visa Machine – and Square is able to accept Visa, MC, AmEx, and Discover. Can’t beat that, right?

Whatever you decide, GOOD LUCK! And don’t underprice your stuff. 🙂

+++ disclaimer – Square does not have an affilliate program – I don’t make any money by advocating them; I’m just a very happy user.

My first show
by: Dita

Hi Katha,

You’ll get a lot of good advice if you patiently browse this web site. I learned a lot from Rena’s site.

From here I came to know about Pro pay. It is working out fine with me regarding credit cards

I am doing four or five shows a year now. One is coming up this weekend. Do you have a etsy shop or other online shop? That is one way to sell. Check out this website again for more ideas.

Team up with your local artsy craftsy people in your town for input and feed back about craft shows and other ways to sell

Do not under price your stuff. You’ll not be able to survive and keep several price points . Again try the pages how to price your jewelry from this same web site to get some ideas.

Good luck, Katha, we are all in the same boat. Dita

To Show or Not to Show…
by: Patricia C Vener

Your price points seem in line with the kinds of shows you mention. I no longer do those partly because my price points are higher end. That said, when I have sold at fairs and small shows I simply used a knucklebuster and called the card numbers in for authorization (payment) using my landline. Nowadays there is (are?) and app (or perhaps several) for accepting cc with a cell (mobile?) phone. I know nothing about these as I do not have this kind of communications device.

Etsy is overwhelmed with jewelry at pretty much all price points but sometimes you can get lucky – especially with lower end product. Be sure, however, to take into consideration the fees (which are not at all high but they are there).

The Best Advice
by: Debbie

Hi Katha,
The best advice you will ever get is by purchasing Rena’s EBook “The Ultimate Guide to Your Profitable Jewelry Booth”. It is loaded with tips and suggestions on everything you should and shouldn’t do. I found it to be a major help to me when I first started doing shows. I don’t know what I would’ve done without it. Good luck with your first show!

your first show
by: paula

yay for you for taking the steps to participating in your first show! i have been doing it for the past 5 years and it has been an amazing ride. although the majority of my shows are in the summer and fall, i love the “show” aspect of what i do and look forward to each one.

doing shows is a great opportunity to meet your customers face to face and begin the process of establishing a relationship with them. don’t forget that establishing relationships is an important part of being a good business owner.

even though it may be frustrating to have someone come by and spend lots of time browsing and talking, only to leave without purchasing something, its not always a bad thing. i had a woman stop by and do just that at a show last year, and then a week later, i got an email order from her for 25 items…woohoo!!!

i always try to play a game with myself to prepare for whatever the day may hold–i ask myself what is the worst thing that could happen, and then what i would do to deal with it. for example, one might be that i paid a high entry fee and then had no sales. well, it happened, and although i was disappointed, i lived through it and went on about my business stronger for experiencing it. another fear was inclement weather. that happened too. we had a downdraft come out of nowhere and destroy our tent and several of the displays. and we picked up the pieces and went on with the show. both of those stories are now something we joke about…we made it through and it has become a part of our “story.” i remind myself that if i could make it through that, surely i can deal with a rude customer or some other incident.

i don’t personally accept credit cards at shows, only through my personal website and etsy. if you do a fair amount of sales via credit card now, it may be something you want to consider. as far as cash goes, i normally take somewhere between $50 and $70, depending on the venue. i keep all of the bills tens, fives and ones, with the majority of them tens and fives. keep in mind though that if you have odd numbered prices (eg. $33) that it is a good idea to be able to make change for those for the entire day. you don’t want to run out of ones and then not be able to get more.

occasionally people try to haggle the price, or make comments as to the price being too high, etc. that is a decision that only you can make. you just have to decide what you will take as the lowest price and if it is worth losing the sale, and then stand firm. sometimes people come back a for a second look and end up buying more than you would expect.

i know you will do great at your show. just remember to smile, to enjoy yourself, and to wear some of your jewelry. and that every show gets a little easier, and a little better. good luck!!

paula hisel

Good luck and welcome
by: Ann Nolen

How exciting to do your first show!
My biggest advise is to make a list of everything you need to take. It is amazing what I have forgotten to take! I think the stress of preparing makes me dippy, so the list keeps saving my life.
I don’t reduce my prices normally, but instead am prepared to give them a “value added” item to make the sale. Better for me, and still good for them. For example, I have chains to go with my pendants. They are silver plated and cost me very little wholesale. So, I will offer a free chain (doing the math in my head to keep it within 10% of the sale price max). They seem to always go for it. Some people just like to feel like they got a bargain.
I agree to read Rena’s book. I started with that and it saved me learning the hard way on so many things.
I already have a Droid phone, so I use Go Payment for my credit cards. Square is also good and both are easy to sign up for. If I offer credit cards, I make a lot more sales and I find I don’t need as much change. People prefer to pay with a credit card, and have come to often expect it.
Last tip, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Bring some snacks, lunch, and water or drinks you like. I use a little cooler the size of a 6-pack so to keep my load light. You never know whether there will be good food available, and it is a long show if food is not to your taste.
…and don’t forget to smile and have fun!

Warning to all crafters/artists
by: nanci

I do something very different than jewelry these days, but I still learn a lot from Rena’s jewelry site. But I just want to tell you all – I don’t do many shows, but last year thought I’d try to take credit cards and made a big mistake!
I signed up with CardAccept, Inc., (and, as I found out later, aka Pipeline Data Processing, PCI, and Cynergy Data). Just Google “Pipeline Data Scam” and you will get the whole story. They are predatory and I’m sorry I EVER got involved with them. Please stay away from them! I’m posting this on as many sites as I can find to get the word out about these criminals! I’m STILL fighting with them.
Good luck with the show!

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