Small Biz Marketing: 10 Things I Learned at Renegade Craft Fair Austin

I was excited to go to Renegade while I was in Austin, partly to shop and also to do some research for my booth at West Coast Craft on June 13th & 14th.  The fair took place over two days at the Fair Market location in East Austin.  I went on Sunday around noon and it was pretty packed with shoppers when I arrived.  The vendors were also packed in tight; according to Renegade's website, there were over 140 vendors.  With such tight spaces, it was hard to shop in some of the booths, especially the shared booths.

Here are a few things I learned from walking through the fair:

1 ★  Make sure my booth is uncluttered and easy to enter.  If a booth or shared space was too cluttered or if I couldn't tell what they were selling at-a-glance, I just didn't go inside it.

2 ★  Provide a clear sign with my brand name/logo.  As I skimmed by a few booths, I couldn't figure out who they were.

3 ★  Always say hello to people who stop by the booth, but don't pounce on them.  I'm a shy person and am not the best salesperson.  But as a shopper, I can feel the weird vibes of bored, annoyed or scared vendors and it makes me not want to shop.  If a vendor was immersed in their smartphone, or tried to give me the hard sell, I split.  When makers said hello, it made me feel welcome and at ease.

The Good Hippie :  Great packaging, friendly maker, beautiful booth, quality products.  I bought this.

The Good Hippie:  Great packaging, friendly maker, beautiful booth, quality products.  I bought this.

4 ★  Provide a mailing list signup.  I only saw two mailing lists and I signed up on both of them.

5 ★  Make business cards easy to see and grab.  This is helpful for when things are crowded or shoppers are short on time.

6 ★  Bring my originality, it'll help me stand out.  I saw a lot of the same things over and over - there were definite trends that Renegade supported.  I really value originality, so when I saw something original or unusual it really stood out.  

7 ★  It's OK to have several types of products, as long as they're grouped and displayed nicely.  Some booths were easy to scan and understand, others were totally confusing.  It didn't matter how many different types of products they had as long as they were in clear groups and the displays weren't too cluttered.  Extra display tchotchkes just confused me.

8 ★  Price all your items.  I've gone back and forth on wanting to tag and price all my items, and I understand why some people don't want to do it.  But when you're dealing with crowds and can't talk to every customer, your tags can speak for you.

★  Try to offer products in a range of prices. There were a few makers I really loved, but I was on a budget and couldn't afford expensive purchases.  It would have been nice to be able to support them by buying a lower priced item. One maker had the most gorgeous necklaces that were priced fairly but out of my budget, and I wished she'd had some affordable rings or stud earrings so that I could have still purchased from her.

10 ★  Enjoy yourself and have a conversation.  I purchased from three makers, all of whom were really open, relaxed and friendly.  Because I love their products and personalities, I'm going to tell some boutique owner friends about a few of them which might lead to wholesale orders.

Lots of food for thought in preparation for West Coast Craft!