It can be hard work attending summer's best art and craft shows, but there are things you can do to enhance your experience and make it one to remember.
Before you go
- Put your water bottle in the freezer so you’ll have cool water to sip for hours. Shopping in the summer heat is no joke, you need to hydrate!
- Bring hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes. If you do eat messy food from a vendor you’ll appreciate the quick clean-up.
- Wear loose fitting clothing made from natural fibers that breathe. Sometimes skirts and dresses are the best way to keep cool while still looking stylish.
- Bring a sun hat if the show is in an area with little shade.
- Bring an umbrella. That way you *know* it won’t rain.
- You might want to put a lariat on your sunglasses so you don’t accidentally leave them in someone’s booth.
- Bring your business cards. Art shows are great places to make connections with people you can help or who can help you.
- Bring a notepad and a pen so you can jot down important things.
- Get the booth map if it’s offered! Bring a sharpie to mark your favorite booths.
- Arrive early! Some artists don’t make a lot of their top selling items and you don’t want to miss out. Some even set up early and are willing to make sales before they officially open.
- Bring a small mirror in case an artist doesn’t have one in their booth. You can also use the self-facing camera on your smart phone to see how a piece of jewelry looks on you.
- Bring a large purse or bag that can hold your purchases. If you don’t typically carry larger bags you can bring a backpack.
- Wear comfortable shoes. This is not the day to break in your new heels.
- Eat before you get to the show, or bring snacks that are easy to eat. My favorite is protein bars. Even if the show has food vendors you might not want to take time out of your shopping to eat. And if you don’t eat you might get too hungry to stay and see the whole show.
At the Show
- Walk the entire show to get the lay of the land. Make notes on the show map (see #6) about the booths you want to revisit.
- When you buy from someone, make sure to get their business card and put it in the bag that contains their items. You might want to follow up with them after the show for an additional purchase, or to visit them at their next show.
- If you fail to get a show map, use your cell phone to capture artist booth numbers or other information that will help you find the artist later.
- Watch for artists who have QR codes near their checkout stands. Many will offer a small discount on your show purchases if you use the QR code to sign up for their mailing list. It’s worth it! If you are worried about getting too many emails, you can always create a “throwaway” email account to use for this purpose, but most artists don’t have time to send out lots of emails.
- It’s courteous to ask an artist before you photograph the work in their booth. Many are receptive to this, but some are not. It’s always best to ask.
After the Show
- Artists love customers that get in touch after the show is over. Maybe you were thinking long and hard about those earrings, and wanted to ask about a special commission, or maybe you dragged your feet on the decision and they were gone when you returned to their booth. Taking an artist’s business card and tracking them down online after the show is a great way to connect and build a lasting relationship into the future.
- If you had a great experience at the show (or maybe you didn’t), visit the show sponsor’s website (e.g. the Rotary Club, or a non-profit organization) and contact them to let them know. If there is a survey available fill it out, so that they can either continue to run fantastic shows, or address problems before the next one. They love hearing from show patrons!