Hosting Your Own Vendor Show

I could go on and on and tell you all the many ways to run a show. I could tell you how I run a show. But the reality is, I don’t think anyone can truly tell you. You have to read up, get a booklet or word document and write down thoughts and ideas from things you read, videos you watch and other event planners. Eventually, you get into your own drift and mode of how YOU handle each show. Plus, there are so many ins and outs depending on what type of show you are planning.

Planning an Expo, go one way. Planning a craft show, go another and so on. Each show has it’s OWN needs, has it’s own TICKS, so it is hard to say

“Plan a show this way”

That doesn’t really work.

You have to do the work.

You have to search things out. You have to see what others are doing. You may have to watch videos. You may have to help someone else do a show to fully understand, and even then, there will be things that you still don’t know, questions you may ned to ask and so on.

All I can do is tell you a few things I do and maybe it will help you along in the right direction. From there I have found some links for you to look at. This way, I have don “some” of the legwork for you and you can click on the links and see what each of these websites have to say. I would get a notebook or have Word opened on another screen or tab and take notes as you go along.

My Vendor Shows are Showcases. I have them themed, I always have entertainment, and I generally give a little gift to each vendor. These things set me apart from the rest.

The first and foremost thing I can say is getting everything in writing or digitally signed at least. For you, for the venues, for your vendors etc. Pay your venue fee up front, so you are not hit with a blammo miscommunication like I just did on my last show. I was expecting $50 for the whole day only to find AFTER the show it was $50 an hour.

#LessonsLearned

For the TOOLS:

I use Google Drive. I love it’s functionality and how it helps me keep everything organized

 https://www.google.com/drive/

I mostly use Google Forms, to put my Vendor Application Online and I tell them right away it is an interest form AND a contract. Then I have them date and sign it digitally. Then forms has a response sheet they supply once people fill out the forms. I keep track of each vendor that applied on this form. This way I can see who filled out the form, what their business is, what category their business is.

Here is what I put on my form:

2015 Vendor Form

Please understand this IS an Interest form AND a Contract! Make sure to check your SPAM or JUNK Mail folder for a reply email from me within 24 hours of filling out this form. I check emails and payments every morning BEFORE NOON. I will not email you again for info or payment. If you do not fill out items on this form, I will assume you meant it to be blank. After payment, you have 24 hours to pay once I send you the link.. If you miss it because it was in your JUNK/SPAM email, then you missed out. IT IS UP TO YOU TO CHECK THOSE FOLDERS.
Once you sign and date it below you are agreeing and confirming of your interest and contract to the shows you state. You understand it is as much YOUR responsibility to SHARE the event, Invite others and PROMOTE the event as much as it is mine! It takes a village to raise a child and a village to produce a successful show!Another email will follow with payment information via Square for your CC. No checks. No Paypal. Some Debit Cards can be used as CC.

If for an upcoming show – Payment is due IMMEDIATELY for any shows you are interested in. If you are not prepared to make payment NOW, please wait to fill out the form until that time. No spots are held on word. Spots are held on payment.

DO NOT FILL OUT IF YOU ARE NOT READY TO PAY “RIGHT NOW” FOR UPCOMING SHOW

If you are filling this form out as Interest ONLY, please state INTEREST IN FUTURE SHOWS and no payment will be required until notified about that show.

NO SPOTS ARE CONFIRMED OR HELD UNTIL PAYMENT HAS BEEN GIVEN AND RECEIVED. IT IS IMPERATIVE TO YOU TO PAY AS SOON AS YOU ARE GIVEN PAYMENT LINK. IF YOU DO NOT DO SO IN 24 HOURS, YOUR SPOT WILL BE GIVEN TO THE NEXT REPRESENTATIVE OR FOR ANOTHER VENDOR.

The information requested on this form not only helps me, but is designed to help promote YOU as well. If you do not fill out your WEB LINK, FACEBOOK PAGE, ETSY LINK OR OTHER WEB LINK, I have nothing to promote you with except your name. If that does not matter to you, then leave blank. HOWEVER, those who DO leave that information will be promoted on the EVENT page. If you leave something not filled out, I will assume you meant it to be that way.

* Required
What is your Business Name or What Brand are you Representing? *
If you own your own business list here or tell me what you are selling?
What Category is your brand? *
Please list what type of items these are or service: Makeup, Jewelery, Performer, etc..
What is YOUR name? *
Enter your First and Last Name
Contact Email where you can be reached? *
Enter your email
Contact Phone # you can be reached? *
Enter a valid phone number
What is your website url? *
Please enter the Link of your website, Etsy Link, or other link you choose?
If you have a Facebook Page, please enter link here *
Enter FB Link or none
Do you agree you are authorized representative of the exhibiting company and understand there is no refund or exchanges and agree to the terms of this form, understanding it is a contract and agree and you further understand that by signing this contract you also understand once payment has been made no refunds or retrurns are given? *
  • Yes
  • No
Which Show is this for? or is this INTEREST ONLY? *
Please state which Show you are filling this form out for so we can best get back to you
Please Type your Full Name Below and Date confirming your agreement to this Contract *
Sign Below NAME AND DATE ON SAME LINE
Do you have any special requests? If so, please tell me NOW, not the day of or right before the event. Thank you. *
If you need to be in a corner or against a wall, please tell me now. If you need against a wall, please tell me now. If you need other special request, please tell me now. ANY OTHER SPECIAL REQUESTS TELL ME NOW
Then they submit it. The responses go into my response folder. Under TOOLS, on the responses you can edit notifications. So then whenever someone submits a form, you get notified right then, or daily.
I like this because then I don’t have to keep watch on it or have the risk of forgetting to look. It will tell me. On the Form part, you can also change the destination teh responses go to, in the event you want them added to a set of documents or sheets you already have. The responses come through like an excel spreadsheet so it is VERY easy to manage.
I also use Google Sheets. Once I have the form responses, in that workbook, I make another tab called Leads, where I ass any leads I have like Business name or Person name, Name of business, category, email and phone number. My other tab is called Marketing. In it I have all the media places I need to send out my Press releases to or sites I need to fill out forms about my show. The third tab is called Venue Locations and this is where I keep all the info about Venues I have looked up. The date, Name of Venue, POC (Point of Contact) , Space (Sq Feet) VEndor allotment (How much can each vendor have for each location, Touchbase, the date I called or touchbased with them, and any misc info needed for that venue. I have a GROUPS tab, with all the Fb groups for Vendor leads and promotions I have in that one tab so I don’t have to go searching for it on Facebook.
Vendor Maps are done on Google Drawing. I generally go into the venue once decided and get actual pictures of the site. I take a tape measure and masking tape and mark the areas where each vendor will be. Then I take pictures of that. Then pull up tape and go to Google Drawing. First I make a drawing of the area as it is now. Just in case it is in a cafe or something where you might have to put everything back they way you found it. If you take pictures and draw up a map, it makes the next part much easier. Then I save that drawing. Copy it, then Rename it to Vendor Map (and the name of the location) Then map out your vendors. Once you have everything mapped out, send it to your vendors with a little note about it and leave room for it to be subject to change. Some vendors will see it and ask you if they can move. Believe me, it is better if they tell you that before the day of. Makes is much less of a headache.
 The other thing I like about Google Drive is the fact that you can also make folders. I have more than one business so this is nice to keep it separated. Plus anything that is under the folders anyone you are sharing the folder with, can see and view the files under it. Make it again, much less of a hassle.
I write up Press Release to send out to the media and try to get that out no more than two weeks out before the event. Too early and they won’t post it, too late is not enough time. You might research how to write press releases if you don’t know. Media outlets are VERY specific about this and want it done a certain way. They don’t just want emails. They want an email with a press release.
Two weeks out also give them time to decide if they want you to come talk on TV or on radio about your event. If you don’t like to talk, you might hire or get an unpaid intern from a college to be your PR person.
So far I have only talked about prep. Before the show kind of things.
Day of show is about getting in early, Putting up road signs (dont forget to make GOOD LOOKING road signs on poster board and markers….name of location, VEndor Show, time and address) , setting up the tables, putting up decorations( if you have any), setting out gift bags for vendors (if you want to do that) having each vendors name on the tables they are going to, or everyone has a map at the door and then they set up. Make sure in one of your original emails to the vendors to not bring more than they can put up or take down in one hour. I have had times I stand there for hours waiting for someone to pack ALL their things. You have to stay until the last vendor leaves. Then clean up your area and put things away. Say goodbye to the venue contact, then go have a drink or whatever you need to relax because after a vendor show, you will want to kick your feet up.
I am sure I am missing something and there is SO much more I could tell you. But as I said before, it all depends. It depends on a set of variables that you have to define to hold a great show.
Most of all, no matter what smile, be professional about anything or any drama that may happen. You don’t want to burn bridges if you can help it. Don’t piss off vendors. I tell my vendors they cannot leave early unless they discuss it with me, in my emails. Then if a vendor starts packing up I ask them to stay, but some are just determined to go. There is nothing you can do about that.
Remind them also in emails, success of a show is not just what amount you have sold or make that day of the show. Have cards with a label for each show to track when someone calls back, which show they got your card or info from. They can track all that in Excel or other data so then they can add sales of show, with callback sales. Sometimes shows are just about getting leads and you won’t make or get to make any sales. But what leads you get out of it, may be worth more in the long run. It is jsut a fact that sometimes people have to think about a purchase before they buy. They take your card and call you later. It happens to Direct Sales, MLM and even crafter and Designers.
As I said, I am sure I am missing something. I am always willing to help answer any questions and make this a more cohesive list and info for you.
Being a Vendor Planner is a love hate relationship.
I love the money I make. I love having a unique and different show for other vendors. I love the Press and Media things I get to do because of it. But, I hate it because vendors ca get snarky, venue locations aren’t always up front, and things often go wrong no matter how hard you try.
But all in all, it can be very rewarding and worth it.
Try your hand at it only if you are thick skinned, have a strong will, don’t let people walk all over you, and you enjoy chaos and stress. 🙂
Or if you just want to try it out. Just be ready and be prepared.
 Hopefully the links I have added with help you out…
Until next time,
XOXO Trisha Trixie

 http://www.handmadeology.com/the-ultimate-craft-show-preparation-link-list/

Tips for Organizing a Successful Small Vendor Show –http://cobwebcornerblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/tips-for-organizinging-successful-small.html

http://cobwebcornerblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/so-you-want-to-do-show-part-1.htm

The Complete Guide To Vendor Event Success for Direct Sellers and Small Biz Owners http://milliondollarpartygirl.com/10/how-to-get-better-results-at-vendor-events/ 

From WAHM http://www.wahm.com/forum/party-plans-50/173591-hosting-your-own-vendor-fair.html 

6 Basic Principles for Organizing an Art and Craft Event http://meylah.com/meylah/6-basic-principles-for-organizing-an-art-and-craft-event

Successful Vendor Event?

http://www.ptotoday.com/boards/17-fundraising/153824-successful-vendor-event

How to Organize a Craft Show https://blog.etsy.com/en/2010/how-to-organize-a-craft-show-with-handmademn/

How can I organize a successful vendor/craft fair with 0 experience? https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120718172710AAdoxIX

how to organize a craft fair? http://community.babycenter.com/post/a40832302/how_to_organize_a_craft_fair

Help! I’m organizing a vendor fair…

http://www.chefsuccess.com/threads/help-im-organizing-a-vendor-fair.61352/

Organizing a Fair, Festival or Event http://festivalsandevents.com/festival-planning/Organizing.shtml

Here are some EVent Checklist that also may help you out

https://www.chass.ncsu.edu/documents/CHASSEventChecklist.pdf

Generic Event Planning Checklist http://www.smu.edu/~/media/Site/StudentAffairs/StudentActivities/OrganizationsResources/Generic%20Event%20Planning%20Checklist.ashx

Event Planning Checklist http://www.fundlist.info/images/3-13event_planning.pdf

Event Planning Checklist http://clarkson.edu/campus_life/clubs/student_life/docs/eventplanningchecklist.pdf

Items to give to your vendors

Printable Craft Show Checklist

http://www.funkyfinds.com/events/craft-show-tips.html

https://brittanysbest.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Craft-Show-Checklist.pdf

Printable Craft Show Checklist

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More Vendor Planning Lessons Learned

When I did Vendor Planning years ago the market was such a different market. For one we did not have Facebook that people would expect to message you on and reach out to you. Honestly I wish I could turn off FB Messenger just for that reason. It is not a viable way or means of reaching out to someone as not everyone uses it and some people never look at it.

Also, back then everything was handwritten contracts and checks. Now I am happy that the internet allows us to use Paypal and Square to make that more seamless as I can’t even tell you how many bounced checks I would get or how many people would show up saying they would pay me on that day and then never would.

But still, even with those issues, I would rather be back in that time of Event Planning. I used to plan Weddings, Birthday Parties, Office Parties, Launch Parties and Vendor Parties. It was so different then. The people were different, the expectations we different, and for vendor events, the vendors were different.

Nowadays we have the younger generation of vendors who have entitlement issues expecting that they just show up, paly on the phone and people should WANT to stop by their booth and buy from them. This is not the case. You need to be proactive. Just showing up does nothing. Stand up. Greet your customer. Look ready to do business with them. If you are playing on your phone you are not prepared to meet or greet them and they often will just walk by you. The person next to you who IS engaged and proactive will end up then getting that business. That is not the vendor next to you’s fault that you don’t know how to get a customer or a sale.

Every vendor show I have recently done has allowed me to learn a new set of rules, ideas and thoughts abotu teh shows tht I want to share with you because I feel honestly, maybe people just don’t know these things.

None of these are a personal attack on anyone, it is merely lessons I learned and things for you to take note on.

Vendor Kids and Babies:

Having your child stop by, having them sit with you for the first hour, or the last, this I understand.  Vendor kidlets need to stay home otherwise. If your child is old enough to have their own mini booth or help you do sales, that is a different issue. I used to go to the Swap Meet at 8 years old and help my grandpops. Children get ancy,  babies cry, these are all human nature for their age. I understand about them being children.  However, a vendor show is not the right venue to bring them because it stifles that child in them. Even a 4 hour show is a LONG time for a child to have to try and be quiet, most especially a baby.

I understand there are issues and reasons why you can’t, but professional courtesy is to tell the planner your situation if you really have no one else or if the husband is away. It makes it easier for the planner to combat off remarks from guests or vendors.

Replacement Vendors: Even if you have everything covered with the planner, it is up to each new vendor to reach out and connect. Not only is it professional it assures you and the planner that you and they have everything ready for you and there are no surprises with tables  not being there for you. Another planner I spoke with this week said she doesn’t even allow replacements. I think this rule is something I need to adopt as well. This last show I had THREE replacements and one didn’t even tell me it was going to be someone else until they showed up.  As a planner, make it clear what you allow because this can get sticky. Believe me, I know.  I have had to deal with the aftermath of this situation since this last show because of it.

Toil Trouble or should I say Toilet: If you are at an event, don’t use wads of TP. Also, don’t use a vendors toilet for your Teet from the Seat time or (sorry to be so blunt) use it to take the dump of a lifetime. And if you clog it up, be mature enough to say so. A floor full of water and an out of order toilet doesn’t help the rest of the vendors, or the guests who are trying to enjoy the show. Guests have to go home to or someone else to facilitiate themselves, they walk out with the business they were going to give you. 😦

Be Prepared: Not every vendor or craft show has tables and chairs. It is up to you to have those items for yourself. Always bring them with you EVEN IF the vendor says they have one for you. Then in case there is a mishap, one doesn’t get held for you, or there is a miscommunication,  you are covered. Also make sure you have your tablecloths, swipe card and a back up if wifi isn’t working or if they don’t have it. Have receipt books, or use the new Offline Mode. It is up to YOU to make sure you have all the things you need for business.

Vendor Space: Abide to your vendor space. If you pay for one spot, don’t bring a load of stuff and push your way into another space. If you need to bring a drill and two men to set it up for you, then you might have too large a space for a small event. That style of setup is more geared for an EXPO not a small Craft or Vendor Show. Also, if you have to move things around so you can fit, please be respectful and put things back they way you found or at least let the vendor planner know. I spent a lot of extra time putting things back because vendors moved them around. Your booth should be able to set up and take down in one hour. Planners often have to pay for the extra time for set up and tear down and often that cost is nto relayed to you. If it was your $25 booth would have been, $50 or $100. Please be respectful of their time and respectufl of other vendors space as well.

Spot Reservations Special Needs or Issues: If you have a tall banner, a tall back drop, are allergic to scents, or need or desire any special access, please make sure to tell the planner of that ahead of time. Showing up the day of and asking to be moved creates hardships. It is better to know beforehand.

Not happy with your surroundings? If you say nothing then you are not allowing the planner to help alleviate the problem. Please be open with the planner and talk to them about your issues. If you feel like you are not being heard, SAY SO! Say “I feel like I am not being heard” Then we or I would at least say ” What may I do to help you feel you ARE being heard?” and then we can try to alleviate it. Please don’t drone on complaining. Complaining for the sake of complaining gets no resolution accomplished. No one ends up learning anything and then both parties feel frustrated and harsh words can be said on either side.

Also, please go directly to the person you have an issue with. do not go to your upline and complain. Go to the planner. If you are mature enough to have a booth and sell at a show, you should be mature enough to handle the situation on your own. If not, do me a favor, don’t come to my shows. Seriously. I expect vendors to be mature and respectful. I expect them to be able to handle their own battles. I expect them to get their own sales. It is not my job to sell their product for them. That is on them.

Lessons, Classes, Training: I realize some people don’t know how to sell, are just starting out, don’t know things like standing up at your booth looks better than sitting down, I get it. You may be uneducated when it come to how to run a great booth. I will try and have some suggestions and such on my blog, but also consider there are MANY resources at our disposal now and MANY for free. Google things, research, take E-Courses, learn from Kat Rocketship at Make/Break classes, or look on You Tube. go to networking or local seminars where they teach you those things. It will make a difference in not only how you present yourself, the brand you are representing or your own brand, but it will also change the amount and value of your sales.

I apologize if this post in any way seems snarky. I have tried to re-edit it as many times as possible. This last show wore on me so much that I seriously am thinking about getting out of the Vendor Market after my next upcoming show. The positive I got out it was the lessons I learned that I am trying to share with you. Perhaps I am not coming across the best in this post because it was quite frustrating to me. I am not trying to offend anyone or hurt anyone’s feelings. I feel these things need to be relayed and said so others can learn from them too.

I wish you all well and hope these things are helpful to you in any way possible.

Until Next Time,

XoXo Trisha Trixie