Many years ago, I sold imported and handcrafted soaps at my local farmers market. It was great fun, though it can get a little intimidating when you’re new at it.
That’s why I asked my gal pal and veteran show vendor Dana from Lil’ Darlin’ Accessories to share some of the basics about selling at events and shows.
TVM: Tell us about your business and why did you chose to start a home based business.
Dana: I design and hand make pinup/rockabilly styled accessories for women. I try to keep things original, so you won’t find many hair bows or flowers on my website or at the shows I vend at. I decided to start my own business because I didn’t want to work for any one else or do any pyramid-type businesses. You know the ones, where they say you’re working for yourself, but you really aren’t. I wanted to be in control of my income, make my own rules & schedule, so I looked into what it takes to start my own company, filed all the necessary paperwork, made up some prototypes & got some input from friends on them & started making my accessories. That’s how Lil’ Darlin’ Accessories was born!
TVM: What are some the advantages and disadvantages of selling at a shows?
Dana: The advantages are getting your product out there to the public, enjoying some of the venues that you’d usually attend while making money, and, of course, socializing. I’m a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom, so being able to go out on a Friday or Saturday night to work gives me that social interaction without the guilt. The disadvantages are the unpredictability of how much money you’ll be making, or not making, how weather affects the turnout of an outdoors show and if the venue you’re vending at will be a busy one. One year I vended at a major outdoor show in December. It poured the whole event, so the attendance was very poor. I didn’t even come close to making up my spot, so I took it as a loss. I won’t do outdoor events in the rainy season for that reason.
TVM: How do you find and choose the events you sell at?
Dana: It’s basically word-of-mouth from other vendors that you meet along the way. You can also look for events on the internet. Social networking sites are awesome at this. You basically have to keep your eyes peeled & your ears open. If there’s an event that I’ve done that wasn’t very profitable, I won’t do it again. So far there are a couple that I won’t do for that reason (but I won’t say which).
TVM: What the basic items needed to sell at an event?
Dana: If it’s outdoors, definitely an easy up tent. Tables, chairs (unless the venue is providing that for you), table cloths, any kind of display items that you may want to use. Also, props are good, too. I use this doll head that I named Mitzy as my “model” for my Dannas. She goes with me to every event. She works for free and doesn’t talk back. *wink*
TVM: How do you typically prepare to sell at a show?
Dana: For me it’s a bit more maddening because I have to get my event stuff packed, myself & my kids packed to go to L.A. County, because that’s where mostly all of my events are at. I like to wear a new outfit for every show, so I start about a week in advance on making a new outfit. Depending on how big I expect the event to be, I start 2-3 weeks in advance on my Danna inventory. The night before I load up the tent, tables and chairs in my vehicle. The day of I pack up my products and get change from the bank to have ready for all the customers.
TVM: What are the typical expenses to sell at an event?
Dana: Typically, the entrance fee to vend in the show, gas to travel to the show, maybe parking fees and for me snacks. I like to take my own snacks and water because I don’t like to buy food at the event. If I have someone help me, I buy food for us on the way home from the event. I also try not to shop at other booths, too, unless I can write it off at the end of the year.
TVM: Any additional tips you would like to share with other moms that are thinking about selling at shows?
Dana: Be original. Know your product and price it accordingly. Get into smaller venues before you start on the big ones. It’ll save you on money and your emotions if your product doesn’t do well.
Click here to shop Dana’s online shop or here to find out where she will be selling next.