Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Trade Shows Versus Craft Shows

Lately I've been doing a lot of thinking about whether or not I should do a trade show or sign up for craft shows.

I really drive myself crazy with this.

I was going to make a list of pros and cons of doing a trade show and the same for doing craft shows, but I thought it would be better to blog about it, and maybe get some feedback.

Trade Show

Here is a site that lists all of the trade shows that I would be interested in.

This site does not even list all of the available shows out there, but it's a start for me.


  • Serious buyers come to these shows to buy inventory for their shops.
  • Minimum orders are $75 to $100 per customer.
  • One good show can give me business for the rest of the year.
  • I would be networking with other business owners and artists.
  • I would be surrounded by the latest in gift shopping trends.
  • I can introduce my product to 1000s of buyers in only a few days.
  • My product looks so much better in person so it's sure to draw attention.
  • Cash and carry show can generate a lot of money!
  • I can take orders for my product and give my customers a time line to expect it.

  • Doing a trade show is expensive.
  • I would have to find someone to help me and possibly rely on their vehicle or rent a car.
  • It's risky in these economic times (but so is everything I guess).
  • I could be next to someone who has an even better product and display (meaning I might be ignored).
  • If it is a successful show, I might get over my head in orders causing customers to be angry with me if their orders are late.
  • Most business want 30 day net, which is costly to a home based business.
  • The trade show days are long and I might not be able to stand all day with my knee.
  • I have to be outgoing and personable, which I am, but I get kind of loopy after talking all day long. It's hard to stay fresh when you are busy talking up your product for 8 or 10 hours.
  • Displays need to be professional looking and attractive ($$$$$).
Unforeseen circumstances can make or break a trade show. There are usually no refunds!

Now, here are the pros and cons of doing Craft Shows.

  • Usually the shows are within an hour away.
  • They are set up and taken down in one day.
  • They are fun.
  • Customers are loyal and return to buy a new item or just to chat.
  • Craft shows are fairly inexpensive (however signing up for several can be more costly than doing a trade show).
  • I receive cash in hand, no waiting for payments.
  • I can network with other crafters.
  • I live in Michigan and we are getting hit HARD with layoffs, so money is tight.
  • Craft shows have been down the last few years.
  • The more successful shows are outside and I'm not going back to those days when I traveled all over the state with my van and my tent. There is nothing more frightening than seeing a storm approach, hanging on to your tent in a wind storm, or sweating to death in 98 degree heat.
  • Some shows are just awful. They haven't advertised and there are no customers.
  • Sometimes people can be rude or ignorant, and there are times when I just don't want to hear another comment on how expensive my things are (NOT) or how they can make it at home. (go home then)..
So, as you can see I have a lot of thinking to do. Craft show applications are starting to roll in and trade shows are starting to fill.

Another choice I have is to continually build up my etsy store, my website and ebay. It takes a little work to network and market online, but I guess it's not as much work as driving to Pennsylvania to do a show. Plus, I do enjoy working from home and it doesn't cost much. (I also enjoy my lazy summers relaxing on the beach, working in the yard and taking mini vacations around Michigan.)

Just that thought alone moves me in the direction of continuing the online approach.

I love the idea of blogging about this because it makes it more concrete for me now. It's given me a chance to write it all down, share it and ponder about my choices. I started this post off by saying "I drive myself crazy", but now I feel a little more calm about it. Funny how a few little lists can help!

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