10 Trade Show Tips for Beginners

Having been invited to do another booth (my second one ever), my vintage finds and how I will display them on November 30th are heavily on my mind. I barely had a week to prepare for my last booth, so I am happy to have the extra time to prepare this go ’round.

I started looking up display ideas on Pinterest, but I became sidetracked browsing through the various boards and pins. You won’t mind if I show you one eensy little off topic thing I found, right?Estate Sales_400

On this website, you can type in your zipcode and be linked to nearby estate sales. Estate sales!!!

Okay!  Now, back to booths:

After setting up a booth for the first time, I thought I would create a quick “How-To” for other beginners. Here are my top ten tips:

1. If your event is going to be outside, purchase or borrow an E-Z Up tent. I was able to borrow one (Thank you, Crema!) and it was a huge blessing because of the amount of time we spent in the sun.  By the end of the day, we were all angling to be under the canopy of the tent.

2. Price ahead of time. Know what you want to get for your items, price fairly and prepare to be negotiable.

3. Bring a fold out table. When I rented booth space for the swap meet, a fold out table was offered for the day for $5.00. This option was nice since I don’t own a fold out table and our condo has a limited amount of storage space for things like this.

4. Bring a tablecloth or brightly colored sheet to dress the table and display your items. Making your booth attractive will draw more customers in. Plus, how you choose to decorate your booth is an opportunity to represent what you do in a fun, professional manner.

5. Chairs. I meant to bring a fold out chair to my first booth, but I forgot. I was lucky that Margaret at Cash from Clutter offered to let me use some of hers.

6. Get a Square reader.  Square Reader_400

Square will mail you a reader for free from their website. Be sure to set your account up ahead of time and give yourself a chance to become familiar with how the reader and its app works. You may decide you want to charge a small fee for customers using Square as it takes 2.75% per swipe. Some people choose not to take cards at sales and, that’s up to you, but keep in mind that customers do not always shop with cash. Had I not offered Square at the swap meet, I would have missed some good sales.

7. Bring bags and packing paper to wrap customer’s breakable purchases in to take home. Recycled plastic grocery bags will work fine in a pinch, but leave your pink striped Victoria’s Secret bags at home. *wink*

8. Create an inventory and pricing list. Ahead of time is best or you can write down what items you’re taking with you as you pack them for the car. An inventory list will help you know what you’ve sold and what items you might want to re-think purchasing to sell in the future. My first booth was slow and I was able to write down what was purchased and the price each item sold for in between customers. If you create your list ahead of time, you could streamline this process so that you’d only have place a checkmark next to items as they sell.

9. When it comes to cash handling, wear a pocketed apron or have a cash box you can keep track of easily. If you struggle with math (as I do), take a calculator. Figure out how much change you are going to need and the denomination in which you will need it to get going. Write down the amount of cash you take with you so you can subtract it from your sales at the end of the day.

10. If folks on the sidewalk are having to duck through or around your booth to get where they’re going, that’s a real problem. Don’t put stuff in the walkway surrounding your booth or its tables. Thinking of hanging items around the edges of your E-Z Up? Make sure the wind isn’t going to carry those items into someone. I was lucky it was just a vintage nightgown, but it’s not good business to have your items blanket a customer’s face. Speaking of the wind, make sure your set up is sturdy. I took an inexpensive rolling clothes rack to hang my vintage clothing on and a) I have a lot more vintage clothing than I thought and b) when the wind blew, it knocked my clothing rack over. Prior to the swap meet, I spent a lot of time making sure my vintage clothing was clean and wrinkle free. Having it fall on the ground could have undone my hard work and ruined one of a kind items.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Feel free to ask questions if you think I can help. Are there any tips you think I left out? What vintage items would you like to see at my next booth? Your comments are always welcome!

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