Abbot Kinney Festival is a no frills festival where vendors have to bring everything for their booth. And I mean everything– it’s seriously BYOB (bring your own booth!). You bring your table, chairs, and there is no power. Luckily you can buy a 6′ folding table from Target for less than $50, and that was my biggest expense. I had sewn my own tablecloth because tablecloths are surprisingly expensive, and I decorated my booth with vintage items I had bought from the Santa Monica and Venice flea markets. I am now obsessed with flea market and yard sale shopping– I guess this whole experience has made me a much more conscious consumer!
So as a new vendor, I luckily did a lot of things right: I had a credit card swiper for my iPhone, I brought lots of $1 bills for change, and I collected a lot of email addresses of people who were interested in our new messenger bag (coming soon– October 15!).
There were a few things I’ve learned too– so if you are thinking about being a vendor at this festival, or any other “booth” events, here are things I’d recommend:
1) BRING A TON OF BUSINESS CARDS. I brought a lot, but not enough. In fact, I gave out so many that I had to use hangtags as business cards toward the last 2 hours of the event!
2) BRING SOMEONE TO HELP YOU. My dear husband was my loading and unloading partner, thank goodness. I don’t think you can do the driving and booth set-up by yourself, because at some point you need to leave your stuff to get your car, and you leave your booth. Being there solo I had the obvious absence of coverage during bathroom breaks, and I noticed that shoppers came to my booth in waves. I was only able to really talk to one person at a time. I would have loved to attend to everyone who came by. Perhaps with a partner I could have doubled my sales!
3) ANTICIPATE QUESTIONS AND FIND WAYS TO MINIMIZE REPETITION. The most popular question for me was “How are you fabrics made from recycled bottles?” I knew that question would be asked, but I explained the process more than 50 times! Next time I will have a poster or sign that explains the recycling process. Then I can focus on sales
4) DON’T SIT AROUND TWEETING AND FACEBOOKING ON YOUR PHONE. I actually didn’t do this (hence the lack of festival updates!) but I saw some vendors near me who were doing that, and I know it hurt their sales. They didn’t make eye contact with people and were too absorbed in their own world. Making connections with people is key at an event like this. Being in sales mode for 12 hours is hard work, and exhausting, but it’s what you signed up for!
I am sure there are other things I am forgetting– if I think of something else I will add them to the comments. Overall I had a great time and it was a good investment because I sold some inventory and was able to network with relevant people. And Andie MacDowell stopped by my booth, which made my day!