Differences between a Market Stall & Craft Show

Having been a market stall holder for a number of years I thought the transition to Craft Shows would have been a little easier.

Leading up to my very first craft show (see below for details) I'll share with you the challenges, achievements and general experiences I come across. It will be interesting to look back once the show is done and dusted to see what worked and what didn't.

I'm ultra excited and my suppliers have been AWESOME but I'll talk about that in another post!
Here are some of the biggest differences I'm finding between a market & show.

Stock levels.
You need enough stock for a full display to cover 4 days of trading. PLUS stock on hand to fill all online orders during that week.  This has been one of the biggest challenges for me.  I usually hold very little stock and re-order often.  Being home based I don't really have any other option.  So you can imagine the state of my office as stock begins to arrive daily. If you are dealing with a number of small, indie supplies like me, who don't have 30 day accounts, there is also a huge outlay in funds up front along with all the general show costs.

While it's important to have a carefully laid out market stall, a show layout must utilise every inch of space efficiently. After spending a morning designing the layout with a trade show veteran (my sister-in-law), I showed it to my cabinet maker husband who then proceeded to put big crosses through everything. Example:  I had book shelves that weren't deep enough and would topple with the weight, when I increased the depth it then created blind corners which I can't have. The layout is definitely one of the biggest challenges for me.  You are investing thousands of dollars.  It has to be both functional and attractive. I may be obsessing over this a little too much!

I've had to decide on lighting & electrical requirements, flooring and walls - all these things are very new to me. I need a van & tradesmen to fit out the space prior to the show and then to dismantle it on the close of the show. Usually I've been able to do all market set ups on my own.  It means that my husband also needs to book out time from his business to work on mine (something he loves to remind me of).

At a market you can usually call on a fellow stall holder to mind your stall while you run to the loo or grab a bite the eat.  Shows are different.  You really need enough helpers to cover the stand at all time.  It's also important that your helpers understand your products and can help customers.  Most customers at these shows are seasoned attendees and will want there questions answered.  I have a number of girl friends who would help in a heartbeat but they wouldn't know how to thread a needle!

Home life.
While I'm still five weeks out from the show, I have tried to keep thoughts about home life to the back of my mind but as all working mums know, it is something that can cause a lot of grief and needs a lot of forward planning. Having a market stall is a full day commitment but the show is five (including setup). Who will do school pick ups, sports training, cook dinner, keep the house in some kind of running order for the days I'm not there? I'm not local so I have a bit of travel time plus there will be the extra time needed at the start and end of the day too. For me, having these things organised now means I won't stress over my family and will enjoy every moment of planning for the event.

The Melbourne Craft and Sewing Show is on October 25-28 at the Caulfield Racecourse.

Not quite ready for a Craft Show but would love to start a market stall? Then you need to read the e-book I co-wrote with Cinti Gonzalez-Pell from My Poppet : The Craft of Markets, How to achieve market stall success. 


Miss Cinti - my poppet said...

excellent post. I cant wait to visit you there :)

Fiona said...

Good Luck, I know exactly how you feel. I have done 2 shows in Tasmania in the past 3 years but hit the road next year for 6 shows. Very scary stuff !!! Hugs, Fee x