How To: Sell Out at an Arts Festival
Trying new things and being a part of the community is so important to growing a small business. A great way to be seen is participating in local events like the Bluffton, South Carolina Rotary's MayFest; a yearly event thrown in the town over from mine with food, art and family friendly activities. This is my first art show and had zero clue on how to set up a booth, design, display art or get people interested enough to stop and look at my signs! In this blog I break it down in 4 easy step:
I knew 2 absolutes:
1. I wanted a fun interactive booth. In the past I've been to shows that are stuffy with the artist quietly staring at you while you browse their art and feel uncomfortable to ask the price. My booth needed to reflect who I am - bubbly, loud and young. My goal was to drawn you in with great interiors, country music and an artist that says 'Hey Y'all!" when you walk by. A great interactive element was me sitting in front of the booth lettering signs! Not only did this help draw people to my booth but I had blank signs there, so it was easy to sell another piece that I could letter that day to take home.
2. Affordable. Everything in my booth was under $50! I might do an art festival 3-4 times a year so there is no need for me to hold on to these items. Also, I am young and do not have a lot of funds to decorate my home in $200 art, as much as I would love that, but that is why my signs are great. Personalized items that are timeless pieces for your home with sentimental value (and affordable value).
I have the concept, but now I need the art! The show runs Saturday from 10am-5pm with about 200 vendors. The event is 7 hours so I figured 40-50 pieces would be plenty (that is around 7 pieces sold an hour.
With 2 months to prepare I started shopping for pieces; an array of shadow boxes, different color/material canvases, discount frames and my classic go-to a wooden framed sign. Breaking up the shopping for materials and creating the signs over 2 months made the process of production non-stressful. Actually this time was the best! I truly love what I do, so binge watching "Bridezillas" on Hulu and writing signs is my definition of "Sunday Funday".
This is when the stress hit me. I'm a planner, but how do you plan for something you've never done? New things are exciting but also fever inducing. I couldn't find anything online that told you what to pack for an art festival, that's why I wrote this blog - to help others from pulling out hair and yelling at their manfriend because the stress is eating at 'em.
ART FESTIVAL CHECK LIST
$300 in change (1 $50, 5 $20, 10 $10, 6 $5, and 20 $10)
WATER/SNACKS (I was able to leave the booth to pee and grab a lobster roll :drool:)
Price List (I also do wedding signage)
2 picnic tables
1 high top bar table
38 completed pieces of art
8 blank pieces
Paper balls from Dollar Store
Table Clothes from home
Grab items from around you house to decorate!
$10 white crates from Michaels
We had to be onsite by 7:30 AM to unload which was fine, but annoyingly those paper balls took me an hour to puff up, which was totally worth it they looked great. During the day we would change the arrangement of the signs so others had their time to shine. I am so proud of this booth! My sisters came and killed the game with their design aesthetic, thank god for those girls.
One of my sisters Rachelle came up with the idea to do a giveaway. This not only brings people to the booth but creates a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Marketing List for eBlasts. I made little paper sign up sheets asking for a name, phone number and email to qualify for a free sign "Living the Lowcountry Life Since...". If you won I would fill in the year that you moved here!
By this point my anxiety is maxed. I have my boom bucket blaring Dixie Chicks and the booth has the young vibe I was hoping for. Tik-Tok. An hour goes by and my sister Heidi makes the first sale! My sisters and I are chatting having a great time with my niece running around and being her adorable self. Once I take a seat and start lettering live people can't help but stop and see what I am up to. Then they start buying! It's amazing - the day goes by in a blur. I meet store owners, event planners, and wedding coordinators - who knew this would be such a great networking opportunity? Business cards are flying and so am I. This is exactly what I wanted; a lively tent with my personality.
My concept worked because I SOLD OUT!!! First Art Festival = Complete Success.
Thank you all for supporting my new venture. I hope this blog helps you prepare for your own Art Festival. This was a life-altering experience that taught me that if you give your all and work your booty off God will take care of the rest.