Vendor Rules, 101
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Posted by: Ester Venouziou
The weather is getting cooler (and hopefully soon, a tad drier), and that means vendor season in Tampa Bay is heating up!
Here in LocalShops1 land we're participating in several events, including BluesFest in Gulfport, Sustainable Buzz in Tampa and Circus McGurkis in St. Petersburg. And of course, we are in full production mode for the biggest event of our own, Shopapalooza, the local alternative to Black Friday, now in its fourth year in downtown St. Pete.
So with all these festivities in mind, we thought we'd round up some tips for vendor newbies. But seasoned vendors, read up, too. You might still learn a thing or too ... And if you're the one planning the event, we've got some tips for you, too, in another post. Check it out here.
We asked LocalShops1 members and friends:
"Do you have any tips for someone getting ready to do their first vendor event?" Here are some of their replies:
Suzin Buzas Carr
Illuminated Publishing • Leave magazines and other distractions at home. When the public isn't there, interact with the other vendors to get new ideas for displays and upcoming events.
• Bring lots of cash and some clear plastic sheeting in case of bad weather.
• Smile. What kind of first impression do you choose to leave them with?
Time SystemsBring lots of business cards and brush up on a 30-second explanation of what you do. Also, make sure to visit with all the other exhibitors.
Soup2Nuts Virtual Assistance Social Media Marketing • No texting, even if nobody is at your table.
• Bring a buddy who knows about your business, and take turns visiting other exhibitors and taking lunch breaks. Don't sit behind your table eating or smoking!
• Dress professionally or with your own branded clothing or uniforms. • Arrive early to allow for any setup boo boos.
• Have a giveaway at your table if possible. Ask those wanting to participate to drop in business card or fill out form. Don't automatically add them to your newsletter list! Drop each a thank you note after your event for stopping by your table.
• Bring a cooler and keep it under your table, keep your area clean and professional looking.
• Be friendly and have fun.
Island Flavors And Tings
I think my best advice would be mostly the planning and prepping for any event. Before an event, I picture how I want my booth to look. I imagine the booth set up and I write down every single detail and even imagine I have tons of customers in front of me. So I know what will be on every single table: table cloths, signage, business cards. In my case, I imagine I have to take my whole kitchen with me: food warmers, chafers, serving utensils, water for my pans, etc. Then I have a container with nails, tape, wire, glue. Everything you probably won't use but will probably need.
More tips from Helena:
• Keep a case with supplies in case of bad weather: plastic bags, umbrellas, plastic containers, etc.
• For night events, have a container with electrical stuff.
• Think of the event as one of your biggest advertising opportunities. Make sure you not only sell your products, but also your business! "I try to make sure anybody passing by at least stops and looks at my booth," she says. "I have a lot of signage that has a lot of pictures of food, tons of brochures and business cards."
• Arrive early and give yourself enough time to properly set up your booth. Then you can relax and have fun.
We make a list of what we will need for the event. Then we break it down even further as to back-up items, weather issues, food, beverages, change needed weeks prior, then we fine-tune it as we get close enough to implement the plan. It all depends on the products/services you are marketing and the type of event. Feedback from more experience vendors is priceless.
Karen Wiltshire Rigsby
• Make a flier with your information and specials (this is harder to lose than just a business card)
• Play a game to win prizes. That keeps people at your booth
• Don't just sit behind your table. Be out front and interactive
• Do not smoke in your booth and try to have someone else there so you can step away to eat.
• Post signs that are clearly visible for specials. etc.
• Know your product and your prices!
• Have your calendar handy for bookings (if applicable)
• Have something for the kids: candy, coloring pages or something else as a takeaway
• Have enough stock to satisfy their "instant gratification" need, if possible
• Bring change, bring your Square or other card reader
Have shopping bags so they don't have to carry their purchases without one
Reenie's Bread Biz
Baby wipes! Some outdoor shows can get pretty dusty. They're good for quick wipe downs for your hands and face.
• Find out details from vendor coordinator: Is it iOK to stand in front of your table? What are the set-up and break-down times?
• Have many business cards and fliers.
• Bring a helper to pass out fliers so you can talk to potential customers.
• Get everyone's name, email and phone number that comes to your table so you can contact them after show
• Wear comfortable shoes!
• Bring water.
• Have fun and enjoy talking to people about your business.
Denise Goodrich Pfarr
Neci's Unique Boutique
Bring bug spray if you're in the grass.
Business Builder Workshop
Be ready for any situation. Saw 40+ vendors get rained on at Bridal Expo (recently), and many had their literature and product get destroyed. This is Florida, bring a tote to put your stuff in till the storm passes!
What are your tips for vendors? Feel free to post in the comments below, and include link to your website, if you have one.
LocalShops1 is a coalition of hundreds of independently owned businesses and tens of thousands of energetic shoppers with the mission of advocating, promoting and offering support services to companies throughout Tampa Bay. Founded in August 2008, LocalShops1 is the region's most active voice for small businesses.