Selling your products at shows can be difficult when you have a lot of competition. Although some show organizers are careful to have a good mix of vendors, it's not uncommon for other shows to have 20% or more of the booths filled with vendors in the same niche - which is a buyer's market and a seller's disappointing show.
Before signing up for any show, ask the promoter how many other vendors in your niche will have booths. And if possible, find out what kinds of these items will be represented at the show. Even if you have to dig a little for this information, it's worthwhile to find out in advance whether the show is likely to be profitable for you.
For example, my medium is jewelry, which is usually the most competitive field at any show. And because of the overcrowding in this niche, many jewelry artists price the jewelry in their booth so low that it's hard for them (or any of the other jewelers at that show) to make any sales at a worthwhile profit. No one benefits from that kind of venue.
But I've found out how I can easily get my fair share of the jewelry market by finding less competitive shows for selling my work. Here are some suggestions for shows where you can find eager buyers for your products and likely no other competing vendors:
Local Expos and Events
Many organized events in your area involve wholesale or retail vendors selling their products in booths. These events are usually well promoted and attended, and may be unlikely to have other vendors in your niche. Examples of this type of event include a women's career expo, a home improvement show, a health fair, a business expo, and virtually any trade show.
Other unusual events that can be great prospects for selling your products without competition include historic re-enactments, car club shows, gun and knife shows, garden shows, spring or fall fashion shows, motorcycle rallies (motorcyclists are among the best and biggest-spending jewelry customers you'll find!), and music competitions (like a battle of the bands or a bluegrass festival).
Club or other organization meetings are also a possibility if your product is interesting - you will likely be welcomed to give a talk about your goods and then sell them afterward. Examples of organizations include a Rotary club chapter, a garden club, an alumni association, or a local newcomers’ club.
To find out about events like these well in advance, or to locate clubs or groups that would welcome an interesting product presentation and show, call your local tourism commission and chamber of commerce. Ask for their recommendations, and most importantly, request to be put on their mailing lists of upcoming events. When you receive the listings, carefully consider each event for its potential as a show for selling your goods without competition.
Your Own Shows
With a little more work, you can organize your own shows where you can be certain you'll be the only vendor in your niche. Examples of these are home parties, open studio sales at your studio or home, and fundraiser shows where you donate a portion of the proceeds to a designated charity. You can also cooperate with other vendors to set up bigger shows, and profit from each other's customer lists.
You might do very well at an event with a ready-made huge crowd, such as a high school football game. Secure permission ahead of time to set up a booth presenting your product, and donate a percentage of sales to the school.
The key to success when doing your own shows is to be sure the event is well publicized if it's open to the public, or that you personally phone and remind each invitee if it's a private sale or party. The higher the attendance, the higher your sales.
So you see there's no need to sell your products in overly competitive venues. Instead, consider your targeted customers and think creatively about opportunities to present your products to them.
About The Author
Rena Klingenberg is a jewelry artist with expertise in displaying and marketing products creatively on a small budget. She publishes two websites, http://www.home-jewelry-business-success-tips.com and http://www.trade-show-booth-display.com , to assist other entrepreneurs in marketing their work successfully.