We had several makers reach out to us for ArtsGoggle advice, so we called on some talented Fort Worth makers – who are ArtsGoggle veterans – to share their best tips! Whether this is your first show ever, or your first or fifth time at ArtsGoggle, these tips are spot-on and can be easily applied to any outdoor show.
- What: 500+ artists, 50 bands, five main stages across 15 blocks of the Near Southside.
- Where: Magnolia Avenue (8th Avenue to Hemphill Street).
- When: Saturday, October 21, 2017 from noon to 10 p.m.
ArtsGoggle is produced by Near Southside, Inc. This popular arts festival is free to the public, family-friendly and attracts a crowd as diverse as the neighborhood itself. Visitors enjoy live music, art of all kinds, plus local food and drinks. ArtsGoggle closes Magnolia Avenue to car traffic and dedicates the street to hosting artists and musicians for more than a mile.
The Near Southside team works hard to keep costs low for artists, while drawing a large crowd (estimated at 30,000+) to support their vendors. The event is committed to keeping artist fees affordable, with a registration fee of only $45. (Registration deadline is September 3, 2017!)
About Fort Worth Makers
Fort Worth Makers is a 501(c)(3) creative community run by local makers. We exist to promote artisans and handcrafted goods in Fort Worth and are big advocates of ArtsGoggle. Our board of directors have all registered to show their own art at the event. Feel free to list Fort Worth Makers as one of your collectives/associations so we can feature & meet you at ArtsGoggle!
ArtsGoggle Tips By
"How many times have you participated in ArtsGoggle?"
@bigtwoodworks: This will be our fourth consecutive year.
@thebabybirdboutique: This will be my second year.
@everlastingjoyjewelry: This will be my second year, with many other outdoor shows including Friday on the Green, fall festivals and pop-up shops.
@kristyjarvis_art: This will be my third year.
@tucker.ink: This will be our second year, but we've done many outdoor shows and have learned a lot from each of them!
"What is your favorite thing about ArtsGoggle?"
@bigtwoodworks: Basically, it's the best! No other show has this kind of attendance and it's consistently our biggest sales event of the year. Seriously, the crowds are insane. Take our top month for online sales and ArtsGoggle beats that in a single day. Seeing the Magnolia area become such a celebration of arts, crafts and music is just fantastic. Buyers and sellers are always in a great mood and we feel a sense of community.
@thebabybirdboutique: I love the sense of community at ArtsGoggle and seeing the talent of our city (and surrounding cities) showcased all in one spot. Plus, we love the Near Southside area and that they close the whole street down for this event.
@everlastingjoyjewelry: The sheer amount of talent in Fort Worth that is all gathered into one place is amazing! I feel like every single person who comes to ArtsGoggle truly wants to learn about your business and products, which isn’t always the case at other shows. I would take full advantage of walking up and down the streets. The entertainment and sights will blow your mind. My only advice on that front is to beware, you might end up buying way too much for yourself!
@kristyjarvis_art: I love the location! Magnolia is a fabulous area with historic charm and wonderful restaurants. Plus, it is a really fun, well-organized event with a great crowd – you also get to meet other talented artists.
@tucker.ink: Magnolia is one of our favorite areas in Fort Worth, so of course the location is great! Near Southside does a fantastic job drawing a crowd to this event, and it is a crowd who is genuinely interested in art, as well as talking to the artists about their process. We have several loyal, repeat customers who initially found us at ArtsGoggle! We also love to see all levels of talented artists – from beginners to experts – all gathered together and supporting one another. It’s a fast and furious, eclectic event, and we love every minute of it.
"What would your advice to a first-timer be?"
@bigtwoodworks: Get a Square reader for your phone, download the app and get it set up before the day of the show. Bring your phone charger so your credit card capabilities don't vanish along with your battery life. Four out of five sales are done with plastic, so running a cash-only business would be utter madness. Still, you should start the day with a good amount of change in various bills. Only charge even dollar amounts for the sake of simplicity. You can back out taxes later.
You need business cards. Lots of them. I get mine through Vistaprint. Leave cards out on a table for people to grab and in each bag you give out. One time I brought 2000+ business cards and ran out by mid-afternoon! If that happens, whip up a handmade sign with your card on it, and ask people to snap a picture of it on their phones. Hand business cards to people who are even halfway interested, even if they're starting to walk away. Say something like, "Here, keep me in mind for Christmas!" I can't tell you how many times I've had people come back later and buy something because I planted that seed in their head.
Bring a lot of bags. To stand out, you must have your name on anything that leaves your booth! I use brown paper bags and got a self-inking rubber stamp of my logo to take those plain brown bags from amateur to professional.
Don't mortgage the farm on getting show supplies. Tents can be purchased for $50 at Walmart or Academy. But if your budget allows, it's worth it to spend a little extra on a good tent with UV blocking fabric. My first tent was not UV resistant, and I managed to get sunburned even with a tent over my head all day.
Drink plenty of water and take food/bathroom breaks before you get shaky-hungry or it's an emergency. Also, bring headache and allergy medicine, as being outside all day can do a number on you. Throat lozenges aren't a bad idea because you'll be talking all day at high volumes to an enormous number of people.
Every year, we've had paying customers well before the official start time, so get there right at your assigned time to set up. The organizers allow you to pull your vehicle directly up to your spot for quick unloading, then direct you to a parking area. This goes assembly line style. Don't even think of unpacking a thing or pitching your tent if there are still cars behind you. Be a good neighbor and they'll be good to you.
If time allows, network with other sellers. I don't see other wood-based artists as competitors, so much as people that I share something in common with. Bartering between sellers is pretty common. If someone really digs a scarf you knitted and you like the soap they make, perhaps work out a trade. Take their business cards, take a picture of their work and tag them on your Instagram feed. It's all about artists supporting each other.
@thebabybirdboutique: Prepare for weather, specifically wind and heat! You must have weights, or your tent can lift off the ground with even a small wind gust. There are tons of tutorials online for how to build your own low-cost weights. Even if the weather is decent, it can get hot inside of your tent when it is full of people. Consider bringing a fan and plenty of cold beverages.
There are Pinterest tutorials, YouTube videos and hashtags loaded with booth display ideas, so if you’re not sure how to display your items, research DIY displays! I also suggest browsing the hashtag for any event you are participating in (#artsgoggle in this instance) – this will give you a good idea of the location, setup and crowds from past events.
Also, don’t stress if you forget anything. Ask a neighbor or send your booth helper to the store. Yes, bring a booth helper! You cannot do this show alone. It is far too busy and your neighbors won’t be able to keep an eye on your booth while they are swamped.
@everlastingjoyjewelry: Take it in stride. Your car will be overflowing with random things that you may or may not need and even then, you are going to forget something. Don’t be afraid to ask your neighbors if they have something you may have forgotten. It is a huge community where everyone will be sharing tape, scissors, weights and ideas. By the end of the show you will know about your fellow vendors’ children, life and jobs.
Don’t compare your sales to those around you. Everyone will be at a different price point and have a different product. You may be a smaller niche market but when the right person comes by you make an awesome sale. Some of the vendors have been doing shows like these for literal decades and have a well-earned following from this. Everyone was new at one point!
@kristyjarvis_art: Play around with your booth set up at home and take pictures to help you remember. It will make set up the morning of a lot smoother. It also helps to test out your lighting to make sure you pack enough to light up your booth Make sure you clearly mark your prices.
@tucker.ink: Our number one lesson learned the first year was that we should have priced every single item individually! People are far more likely to purchase if they can see the price upfront without having to ask. We had instead put up a sign that said 5x7’s $10, 8x10’s $20 and so on – this was NOT GOOD! People did not even see the signs and were not familiar with print sizes like we were… so everyone had to ask us to confirm the size print they were holding, which was not efficient. So, learn from our mistake and put price tags on everything!
Get a card reader and do a practice transaction at home so you are familiar with it. We use Square. Also have plenty of small bills for change and keep your cash somewhere safe… in a money belt, preferably. We charge even prices with tax built in because it is far too difficult to produce coin change at such a busy event. A lot of buyers expect this, they see $20 on a print and hand us a $20 bill, so it is just easier on both sides.
Find ways to draw people into your booth. Since this falls just before Halloween, we always have a “trick or treat” sign and candy in a big pumpkin. Some people just come grab candy, but we also hand them a business card, so that’s ok! This also gives the kids something to do while their parents shop. We built a marquee sign that lights up after dark and we always have decorative string lights in addition to our booth lights for ambiance.
Bring a helper! You cannot do this one alone. With that being said, when one of you grabs lunch… don’t eat in your booth. Step out and take a quick break, then swap. Otherwise, someone will ask you a question while you’re stuffing your face and that’s just not a good look 🙂 Try to not sit unless you’re taking a break. Stand up, move around your booth, spend time straightening things and replenishing business cards. If you’re sitting on your phone you can give off a negative vibe.
We had to take two cars our first year because we didn’t have a large enough SUV or a trailer. This was not an issue, we just pulled up and unloaded quickly, then immediately moved both cars to the vendor parking. After we set up, we take empty boxes to our car to keep our booth looking nice and neat.
We purchased our tent online through Costco. Knowing we would be doing a ton of shows, it was worth it to us to invest in a higher-quality tent, which is also much easier to set up than the cheaper ones. We put up our back wall for ArtsGoggle, but left the side walls off so that we could get a breeze and interact with our neighbors. It is still warm in October, so we do bring a fan!
Speaking of tents, you must have weights. We built our own weights using this tutorial and they are still going strong after 10+ shows!
"What are some miscellaneous items you make sure to pack? Do you take your own food/drinks?"
@bigtwoodworks: You should bring a power strip, extension cords and ample lighting for your booth. Two clamp-on can lights at minimum. People won't buy what they can't see, as the show goes well past dark. Opt for soft whites bulbs instead of "natural light" bulbs, which are hard on the eyes. For the sake of nice lighting and uncluttered wiring, zip ties are your friend. Bring wire cutters to remove them, and don't leave them lying in the street when you leave.
Wear the most comfortable shoes you own. Bring a good-sized rug or walk pads to put down. You'll be standing most of the day, and concrete won't do your feet any favors. And aesthetically, a rug makes your space feel more inviting. Definitely bring a cooler with plenty of water and drinks from home. We like to buy food at the show, because the variety and quality there just are too good not to try new things.
@thebabybirdboutique: Bring lighting since it goes past dark, bring a card reader and get familiar with it beforehand. Bring snacks… Lots of snacks! Definitely bring a phone charger, can’t make credit card sales if that phone dies.
@everlastingjoyjewelry: Make sure to pack weights for your tent. I know this is listed everywhere, but even when it doesn’t “seem” windy, you will need them. We use gallon buckets from Home Depot filled with cement, which works really well and has a handle for easy carrying. We have also used sandbags in the past. Tablecloths may blow up and displays may tip over, so we have bricks and paper weights on hand.
We also put our Yeti cooler on a dolly packed with sandwiches, snacks, water and Gatorade. I am a snacker, so this is a must in our household. In the past, there has been a hospitality room as well the restaurants open along Magnolia, so this is not a necessity but may save you a bit of money. I also recommend bringing a sign (people like to know who you are), scissors, tape, clamp lights, extension cord and zip ties. If you can offer a bag or something to carry your product in that is also helpful as most people are doing a bit of walking.
@kristyjarvis_art: I usually have a booth "first aid kit" with safety pins, scissors, tape, zip ties, pens, a small dust pan and bags, just in case. I think about my setup and what supplies I might need to make small adjustments, if necessary, throughout the day. I bring a small ice chest with plenty of water and snacks but also like to get a bite to eat there.
@tucker.ink: You must bring lighting! The street lights will not light the inside of your booth at night. The tents that don’t use lights are empty since customers cannot see your work. We use these lights plus this power feed – for this pairing, you need both, but one set is enough to light a 10x10 booth.
Zip ties, scissors, extra price tags and a sharpie, lots of business cards, tape, Tylenol/meds, mints for after eating, cash, extension cord + power strip, Square app, phone chargers, signage, bungee cords (for our type of tent weights), a blank sign (because there is always something we forget to make a sign for!). We also bring a cooler of drinks and snack items, but usually buy meals from a vendor. This also gives us a chance to walk around and meet fellow artists.
"How much do you interact when a customer walks in?"
@bigtwoodworks: At minimum, we try to greet and acknowledge everyone who pokes their head in. Generally, I'm as talkative as the customer wants to be. Don't ignore people. Unless you're swiping someone's credit card, a customer should NEVER enter your booth to see you looking down at your phone! Pretend it's the 90s again and meet everyone at eye level with a smile and a hello. There will be time to browse Facebook and text your besties later, but show day is absolutely not the time for it.
If you're like me, not usually the talkative type in person, push past it. My normal personality is on the introverted and guarded side, but that switches at show time because I love woodworking and sharing what I make. My private enthusiasm for my craft wins out over my social anxieties concerning talking about myself. People are there to meet and support artists, so put yourself out there.
@thebabybirdboutique: Depends on the customer, but after my standard greeting I usually allow customers to initiate their level of interest and roll from there.
@everlastingjoyjewelry: I always say my same basic spill, which includes me talking about our line being handmade in Fort Worth, the materials we use (personally, our line is used with higher-end materials like 14K gold and gemstones, but at an affordable price point — you will have your own selling point) and our cause. After that, I offer to answer any questions and leave them alone to shop. When I shop, I personally don’t like people hovering so I try to keep myself busy. Most of the time you are able to tell pretty quickly if someone is interested in learning more about you and the product, or if they are on a mission to hit up every booth quickly.
@kristyjarvis_art: I usually greet customers and then let them look around. If they have questions or seem interested, I will talk more about my pieces and about my process.
@tucker.ink: We are both pretty introverted 🙂 But we take great pride in our work and greet each customer with a friendly hello and something tailored to them, either complimenting something of theirs or telling them about a product they head straight to. We don’t like when sellers hover while we shop, so we try and extend the same courtesy. You can tell if someone wants to engage, but if they give a swift hello and look away they probably want to be left alone. At that point, we just say let us know if you have any questions!
"How do you know how much product to prepare/bring?"
@bigtwoodworks: Oh, this one is easy. Bring everything you have. If you don't have the table space to display everything, keep stock under a table cloth and bring it out when it's needed.
@thebabybirdboutique: I bring enough to fill my space +20-30%
@everlastingjoyjewelry: This is a guessing game that I still have not mastered. Some items that we sell out of immediately at one show, we don’t sell a single one at the next. I would gauge what you bring more on how well it fills the booth and your displays. Practice setting up your tables or displays at home to see if you have any holes or awkward spaces. The appearance of the booth and drawing people in with catchy displays and well-filled tables are more important than the actual quantity. Keep a few spare pieces below the table so if something sells you can fill in the gaps.
@kristyjarvis_art: I never really know how much product to bring or what will I will sell the most of. I just try to bring as much as I can make before the show that will fill my booth, then try to have a plenty of extras/duplicates to replenish throughout the day. I try to have a variety of different price points to appeal to more buyers, with plenty of products in the low to medium price point.
@tucker.ink: This is the hardest part of your first show, but for ArtsGoggle we always say bring even more than you think you should! Have backups under your tables to replenish with. We sold out of numerous items by noon our first year (and we thought we had over prepared)! Practice your setup at home. Pop your tent up in the yard and do your full setup. This will make you way less stressed on the day of, and will show you where you need more product, signage, etc. At each show, you will learn what sells best and can adjust accordingly the next time around.
"Do you keep your pricing the same, or run a sale?"
@bigtwoodworks: Generally, my pricing stays the same, but I sometimes run a special on certain items if they're really popular and I have a lot of them. Be confident and well versed in your pricing. When someone asks how much something is, you shouldn't have to stop and think about it. You should not have any qualms about charging what you think your work is worth. Don’t charge outrageous prices, but don't sell yourself short just to make a sale. If there's something special about what you make, talk it up.
If the items you make are able to have a price tag attached, do so. Or if they're grouped together like, "Everything in this section is $20," you need clear signage. The best look we've found is to use black cardstock and write on it with a white ink marker. Peoples' eyes have grown so accustomed to black on white paper that they barely notice it.
@thebabybirdboutique: I run sales on certain items, but I mark everything at even prices... If it's normally $32, I'll jump down to $30. I always post coupon codes on my social media so that any existing customer has a good reason to come see us.
@everlastingjoyjewelry: I keep my pricing the same and most people are completely okay with this. On occasion, we print out coupons that the customer receives with a purchase. This coupon can be used on our online store for a discount or free shipping on future orders. This creates repeat customers, which is important once the show is over… to keep up that relationship.
@kristyjarvis_art: Sometimes I run a sale on my prints if they purchase more than two.
@tucker.ink: We use our normal pricing, but we do have a sale box of items. A lot of people go straight to that & rummage. Most people don’t try to haggle on single items, but sometimes they’ll ask for a discount if they buy multiple items and we do give them one. Don’t ever feel pressured to haggle. Be confident in your work and pricing. We know that if we don’t sell an item at one show, we will sell it at the next.
We try and have a wide price range and we like to offer at least one item as cheap as $3-4 because those sell like hotcakes at this event. We keep those items low down for kids to grab as well.
Sometimes we will offer a coupon for our social media followers. “Mention this post at ArtsGoggle for a free gift, or 10% off, etc.”