To begin investigating which shows to apply to, you might start with what you know - those shows you've attended, ones that are within an hour or so of your home and ones other vendors have recommended. You will not always know if the craftsperson who suggested a show has the same values as you until you check it out for yourself, so this is not always a concrete selection principle. But it's a place to start.
If you belong to a craft guild or organization or subscribe to a trade journal, you may be able to get show recommendations there. Several websites are equipped with lists of local and national shows and all the contact information. Also log onto some of the craft forums where you can ask other crafters and look for some consensus on the best shows.
You will find information about where and when the show is and who to contact to apply. Once you call or check out their Web site, make sure you apply by the requested deadline. When you call the promoter of the show or visit their Web site if they have one, be sure to ask any of the questions you may have such as:
• What was the attendance last year and what is this year's expected attendance?
• How many years have you been producing the show?
• How many booth spaces are there and how many applications do you receive?
• How do you assign booth spaces?
• What are the entry and jury fees?
• Are there any additional fees like percent of gross, parking, electrical?
• Do I need any special licenses?
• What kinds of people attend your shows?
• What kinds of crafts do you select, who makes the selection and what are the bestsellers?
• What is the average price range of items exhibited? Sold?
• What are the average sales for exhibitors in my medium?
• What style is the show?
• What kind of promotion do you do prior to the show?
• Do I get some promotional materials?
• When do you notify the successful applicants?
• What happens if it rains or snows?
• What are the security arrangements?
• Any other support available?
A professional promoter should have this information and should be willing to share it with you. If they won't, you may be able to get it elsewhere - on the Internet or in some craft guides that are sold by subscription and have show reviews.
Some shows request you send a self-addressed stamped envelope for the application. When you get it, you'll see the booth sizes, fees and what you need to submit. You also may receive a copy of the contract, which outlines your responsibilities as an exhibitor, such as whether or not the craftsperson must be present in the booth, what merchandise is and is not allowed in the booth, display requirements and for larger indoor shows, the rules regarding electricity, unions, fireproofing and the cancellation policy. Also, whether or not you need any special permits. Usually, your seller's permit is all that's required.
The best promoters are discriminating about who they select for their shows based on unique, original quality products and attractive displays, as shown in your photos or slides - which is why using a professional photographer is recommended by most craftspeople. They also look for a balanced variety of categories. Good vendors attract good customers and so everyone wins - the customer, the vendor and the promoter!
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