Here at Brandywine, we are in the midst of preparing for our spring show at Southern Charm. As this trend is growing (at least in our area), I thought I'd put together a list of what my experience has been in preparing beforehand and working the day(s) of an outdoor show.
First of all, be prepared for things to get messy.
Organizing all your stuff gets worse before it gets better.
I start with empty boxes. Sometimes this means dumping boxes out...sometimes I just shrug my shoulders and go to the liquor store for boxes. Sometimes I beg for my sweet DL to hoard copier paper boxes from work. But one simply MUST begin with empty boxes.
Now, here's where you have to go backwards before you go forwards. This is the most annoying part of getting organized, but it will save you SO MUCH TIME!
1. First, I figure out what I want to sell. This means keeping track of inventory for a few months ahead of time. (April is a great time to do a show, because I start with an accounting of my inventory in March so that I am ready for taxes. I just look at the list of the stuff I have already.)
Once I've figured out what I want to sell, I put items into categories. This month, my categories are:
2. After I've figured out my categories, I figure out how I'm going to set up my space and what sort of display spaces I'll need. That means rooting through the workshop for display pieces or things I can use as display pieces. (I should also have a few display pieces I am willing to sell, like the garden cart I will have gardening items on, and the bookcase I'll have the books in.)
Once I've finished with that, it's time to play with the layout. I decide (roughly) where display pieces will go (and my layout is never to scale...math not being my strong suit) and how I'll group items.
3. Then it's time to sort through all the items I'm planning to bring and create a box or boxes for each category. This will (hopefully) prevent me from running around like a chicken with my head cut off during set-up. I'll be able to put the boxes next to the appropriate area and efficiently put together my vignettes. If items need tweaking later on, it shouldn't be time consuming. Each box gets labeled with the category.
4. The last thing I do is pack all of the accouterments that get taken to the show which are not for sale--the small things in a tote bag, the larger in a box labeled "supplies." Here is what those contain:
*table coverings and embellishments (for this springtime show I am using a lot of white, peach, and bright lime green).
I always pack more than I could possibly need.
*an apron. I love the look of an apron, and I am in the process of making two for use at sales.
*a money container. This container varies, depending on what I have handy. I don't like a huge cash box, so I try to keep it small. Most of the money I collect will go into my apron pocket, anyway. I will run to the car with "deposits" if I feel like I need to put some away. I usually start with $100 in twenties, tens, fives and ones. If I had a lot of larger, more expensive items, I would probably invest in a square to go with my tablet, but until that time I am a cash-only vendor.
*a chalkboard, where I'll write "Welcome to Brandywine Cottage." This is just one other place folks will see the name of the business.
*my lunchbox. I usually prepare a sandwich the night before and put the whole thing in the fridge.
*some paper shopping bags. I have a dream that one day I will get my own bags with "Brandywine Cottage" on them, but until that time I will just save them. That way, if folks have purchased more than one thing, I can give them something to put their items in.
*an extra jacket or sweater and an umbrella. Better to be safe than sorry!
*a pen and Sharpie
*lots of business cards. Last fall, I handed out all 100!
*scissors and twine
*money for spending (I don't like to use the money I'm making for spending, because it's more difficult to make an accounting that way.)
*bottle of water
*snacks (Skinny Pop in individual bags and an apple are good)
*my cell phone, just in case I need to call someone. But mostly, it's for taking photos and posting them on social media so that I can promote the sale!
(I use a large Land's End tote bag for this, and it is perfect!)
Speaking of social media...I spend about three weeks before the sale promoting it all over the place. I post on Facebook, on Twitter, and I mention it to friends who might be interested. I send out a blast the night before, and talk it up...mentioning the great stuff I've seen at set-up. Even if just 50% of them show up, that's a phenomenal turn-out.
Tomorrow, I am going to talk more about the sale itself, so I hope you'll be back!