Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Helping to Organize a Handmade Craft Show

I never really ever thought about what goes on behind the scenes to organize a craft show. I guess it was just something I took for granted... put out an application, deposit the checks when they come in, make a floor plan and designate who goes where...simple, right?

Well that's not quite how it works.

I'm helping to organize a show and luckily, the EtsyNJ team is large enough and spread throughout the state, so it's possible to just place a message in the team's forum about a show and instantly, 10-12 members are interest (more if you are lucky) That was the easy part. Dealing with the actual person overseeing the show, has been quite easy also.

Getting permits, not quite as simple. After being transferred from event permits to licensing and to zoning, explaining everything over again, I found myself in a holding pattern for a few days (precious days when the show is less than 6 weeks away)
Finally the word comes down from zoning...everything is cool, but since it's an outdoor event, vendors who want to put up tents, need to submit for a tent permit. A simple EZ up tent will cost the vendor $10 to put up at the show, in addition to their table fees.

Of course the facility hosting the show does not want the vendors to be forking over extra money and they suggest a reduced table fee rate. That doesn't seem fair to the vendors that are not bringing a tent, so it becomes reduced rates for those bringing a tent. And so on and so on....

And then there is the question over food. Do we need to have coffee and bagels/rolls for the vendors (set-up begins at 7am...we will NEED coffee!!!) and what about something for lunch? The facility organizer would like to make available a lunch for a $10 fee (which also includes a bigger breakfast menu) and who might we use to supply us with the food?

What happens if the weather is not cooperating? I'm sure many people have done outdoor shows that resembled the wicked witch of the west (in the Wizard of Oz) flying through the air on her bicycle in a tornado...I know I have. Do we move the show indoors if it's raining. (indoors is not very conducive for a show, but better than a rain-out)

Advertising the show isn't quite as easy as I would have thought either. Newspapers need long lead times to get ads in their papers (huh?... with the way things are for newspapers lately, you'd think they grab onto any $$ that comes there's not like they pre-publish the paper in is a daily paper after all, isn't it?) Local area advertising on the internet seems like a good idea too, but you are still at the mercy of the person who actually puts the ad on the site.

Of course I need/ want to receive final approval from the facility on every single thing I submit. From the application, to all advertising, and even every change from the original plans, I want them all approved before making them public.

It all takes so much time and effort. To all that have thought about organizing their own show, consider the behind the scenes efforts that take place. And kudos and a standing ovation to those that already do organize a handmade craft show. I'm just beginning to realize the amount of work you do to get the show off the ground. Sitting behind a vendor's table must seem like a vacation compared to organizing and putting on an entire show!

'til next time...


TheClayMuse said...

Whew! I know it will be great! I'm so mad that I'll be on vacation during the show and couldn't participate! Hope it works out well for everyone! Keep up the awesome organizing work!

AbbieRoad said...

hehehe, I feel your pain honey :)

never knew something could be so fun and such a nightmare all at once, huh? lol!