Hope Wissel

Is it a Successful Vendor Event?

The age old question of what makes for a successful vendor event differs depending on what hat I am wearing – Thirty One consultant or crafter.

I have been attending craft/vendor shows for over 20 years.  In the beginning, I did doll clothes along with my sister, Kathy Gourley.  Both of us spent hours sewing, I did the leg work for the shows and she did all of the crocheting.  We sold American Girl Doll clothes and accessories.  Success at a craft/vendor show then was to make not only the cost of our space but to have 3 times the amount of the cost in sales.  As a crafter, you never really get paid for the true cost of an item – supplies plus time – but the 3 times rule seems to have worked for man including us.  We gave up doll clothes about 6 years ago when the demand started to die and shows were not as successful as they once were.  In the last 3 years, I have begun making small inspirational angels which are GREAT sellers during the fall.  I believe that they are wonderful year round but the demand has really only been in the fall/ winter so I have started only doing shows during the fall/ winter as a crafter.  Knowing your market and your target audience for your product is the key when selling crafts.

As a direct sales consultant, my view of a vendor show takes on a whole new meaning.  I have learned over time that it is not all about the sales the day of the show.  Of course, I want to make back the money that I spent for “renting” the space but if I don’t, does it mean that it wasn’t a success?  As a DS consultant, my business is based on building relationships – with customers, with potential hostesses, potential corporate clients and anyone else who may be interested in our products.  My goal is to help them find a solution for their particular dilemma – organizing a space like their home, car or purse or getting gifts for family, friends or customers. Connecting with people takes time so the less than 5 minutes they may look at your product and talk to you may not be the time for them to make a decision about something. I share a catalog, my information and some suggestions  in the hopes that if not today, one day when they are looking for that special item – they will call me.  If they see me at enough local events, then we start to build a relationship of trust which can lead to more business.  Two summers ago, I did a VERY large outdoor event and had sales the day of the event and gathered lots of contact information.  Over the next several months, orders trickled in as a result of those contacts.  One evening I received a call from a woman who was trying to place an order online.  In the midst of talking, I found out that she had been at that event and over the last YEAR had received my monthly newsletter.  That night she placed her own PARTY order for over $300.  Since, she has referred customers to me because I was able to turn her “order” into a “party” that got her additional FREE product.  An “AHA” moment for me.  It is all about the customer service and not about what I need or want.

So, if there isn’t a lot of foot traffic (customers) at your next vendor event – make the most of it.  Don’t be “negative nelly” and just complain – network with the other vendors, make the most of the people who do come through the doors.  Take an extra 5 minutes to talk to a customer or someone who is interested in your products.  Practice the 10 second rule – ask everyone who stops by your table a question – then LISTEN!  Who knows they may hold the key to LOTS more people who may want your product.  

Tip for today – decide what is going to be your definition of a “successful vendor event” BEFORE you go.  Remember though the sales are great they may be short lived – wouldn’t it be nice to also network with people who could help you to grow your business.  I am going to talk more about opportunities to grow your business in the next few days…

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

11 thoughts on “Is it a Successful Vendor Event?”

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