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The Art of the Craft Show - Trick 1 - How to keep inventory low and sales high...

So, last month I participated in my very first arts & crafts show. An event in Hyattsville, MD where I was able to feature and sell my art in a day-long event.

There are literally DOZENS of websites that tell you what to bring and what to expect. However, if you are looking for the highlights, especially from a newbie, like me, here is the most important tip I received for success that day…

DON'T Bring Lots of Inventory; BRING Lots of OPTIONS!

I would have made a major mistake had it not been for some kind-hearted knowledgeable people who reminded me that inventory costs money (SHOCKER) and you never know who is going to want what, especially when you're a newbie.

So here's the story:

So I have a wonderful printer with whom I am very friendly. (By printer, I literally mean the people that produce my prints – Archival Arts, in MD – they are great!)

When I went in one day all bright eyed and dumb, and said, “Hi, I am showing at an art fair and I need 10 copies of all my work. *GRIN*,” they looked at me and said… “Is this your first time? You don’t want to do that.”

They suggested I do something that I would recommend to ANY artist selling prints of their work – it’s pretty ingenious.

BRING SAMPLES and your ENTIRE Portfolio; and take ORDERS - Rather than bringing – and PAYING FOR – all that inventory, when you don’t know what will sell, Bring a sampling.

Here's what I brought:

6 pieces I thought would sell - I selected a very small number of my pieces that I thought would be appealing to strangers. (I mostly do portraiture, which is more personal and less likely to sell without a commission.)

20-30 Prints in standard sizes - I had 2-3 prints made of the pieces I selected in various sizes and paper qualities that people could see, for instance, what a 5 x 7 watercolor print looked like as opposed to an 11 x 17 poster print.

A Price list - So that people could see all the sizes and prints qualities they could order.

This worked BEAUTIFULLY!

People came by and could buy prints on hand if they liked, but I could take orders this way and allow people the option to purchase exactly the image they wanted, in the size and paper they desired WITHOUT my having to pay the upfront cost of buying prints of ALL my work in all sizes.


It was perfect.

I took four orders, some for multiple pieces that then delivered to the customers a week after the show.

I got the opportunity to talk to people and show them my art AND demonstrate my skill with commissions since they could see my entire portfolio. Customers could flip through my work and ask me questions – can you say “Relationship Building?” This way, I created personal relationships with clients AND I got to sell my work without breaking my bank.

Hats off to the folks at Archival Arts for this suggestion, it made my first foray into this world smooth and lucrative.

And here is the final result. Two of my girls found a home and they owners were kind enough to send me a photo of them framed and ready to make their home more beautiful.


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