An Indie Biz: Indoor Fairs

Tonight is the eve of the DIY Trunk Show and I am surprised to find I have butterflies in my stomach! No matter now many times or places I sell my wares in person – I am always anxious the night prior. And this show is different as I’m not just showing off my handmade goodies, I’m also leading DIY craft demos for participants.

What also sets the DIY Trunk Show apart from others is that Pierogi Picnic was a last-minute add-on. So between this show – and Renegade on December 4th & 5th – my brain is in fair preparation overload!

Here are some of the ideas I have up my sleeve and some things to inspire other vendors prepping for the madness of the season. If you’re anything like me you have butterflies too and could benefit from some advice!

1) Go vertical. This is one of my main stay tips for shows both indoor and out. With the limited amount of space vendors receive from organizers it’s really key to use as much square footage as possible – and spreading left and right’s not an option – so go upwards!

For my indoor shows this holiday season I am using a portable backdrop stand that I used to use for film production and photo shoots. Instead of stretching fabric across its bars I will be hanging my signature white-washed and lace covered picture frames which I will display items upon.

There are plenty of other ways to move the buyer’s eye line up – vendors who score walls can tape decor or items to them. You can always stack things too! The idea is to give passerby something to see from afar and entice them to draw into your nook.

2) Engage your ‘audience.’ I’ve always wanted to have some kind of ‘hands on’ play area for customers – and this year I get that chance! I e-mailed the organizers a month back to see if they’d like me to present some crafts for show-goers and they said, ‘sure – and can you sell your Pierogi Picnic gear too?’ How could a gal say no?! So I sat down and thought about what I’d be teaching. I wanted to have one tutorial that would teach someone how to make a wearable accessory, and another that would be practical. So I narrowed it down: One of the demos will be my signature upcycled t-shirt hair clip and the other is a mish mosh of eco-friendly gift wrapping techniques. The hope is to give fans a way to cheat and make one of my products on their own – while the other is to give gift shoppers a green way to package their purchases.

What could you devise for your customers to not just shop – but learn something too? Maybe you don’t want to give away your trade secret…but is there some other skill you can teach? Is there a craft demo that will show someone to create a similar aesthetic without compromising your sales? Or maybe you can do a demo on something that compliments your items. For instance – if you sell terrariums you can teach someone how to make an hook and pulley system to help them raise and later lower their gardens for misting.

3) Don’t forget your branding. One of my favorite parts about doing fairs is hearing someone squealing their way down the aisle saying “yay – Pierogi Picnic!”

Sticking to your company’s ‘look’ is key for this very reason. Your fans should be able to spot you from many feet away and know that you’re booth is just a step away. The last thing you want to hear is that someone couldn’t find you or accidentally walked by.

Besides the white-washed frames, one of my other brandings (is that a real word?!) is my photography. People recognize the grey backdrop and silhouetted grass and clouds. I’ve always had a hard time incorporating them into my pop up shops – but this time around I’ve figured out how to make it work! By using a super duper large format printer we inherited from a friend I was able to upholster the backs of my frames with huge prints of my items. This way someone from the other side of a gym could spot me from among the crowd!

Don’t have a ginormous printer at your disposal? Look at what makes your items unique and play it up! I’ve seen people build wooden displays that accentuate the raw feel of their items. I’ve seen people play up color with whimsical chachkies throughout their booths. However you can do it – put your unique stamp on some of your visuals and you’ll be sure to never go unnoticed.

There you go – three quick tips to make your booth stellar even on the eve of an event.

If you have tips about presenting handmade goodies in an indoor fair, please include them below.


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