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Use systems to ease the stress of shows

Each year as I get ready for Quilt Market, I tend to get a little crazed. Have I ordered the electric? Do I even need electric? What about the booth equipment? Do I have time to hem the drapes? And, where is the fabric for the drapes? And, did I get a hotel room and airline ticket? What about handouts?

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by all you have to do. I find setting up systems is my answer. Here are just a few tips:

1. Once you get the contracts in for Quilt Market or any major show, put the important dates in your calendar. I like to put a reminder in a few days ahead of time, just in case I need more time. It’s too easy to miss an important date – and that costs you money. I also have a plastic portfolio where I store all the paperwork that comes in. That way when I leave for the trip, everything is in one place.

2. Start a master checklist to track all the tasks involved. What’s great about this idea, is that it’s a master. You get the list out for each show and adapt it. No reinventing the wheel each show. Make notes each year that might help you. For example, if you find that you need a specific type of electric, note that on your master. No more looking through past contracts to find that information. How many handouts should you print? Last year’s information should be handy.

3. Keep another master list of what you ship and what you take with you. I pull out this list each show and make adjustments. For example, I add the last few issues to my list and take off any that I no longer stock. It saves me time shipping.

4. Start early with whatever system you put in place. It’s not fun to be running to the local print shop at 9:00 the night before you leave because you forgot something.

5. Keep notes while you are at your show and then when you get back, find those checklists and make any notes you need to make. When you pull the checklists out next time, you’ll be set – and a little less crazed.

If you don’t have any systems in place for your shows, put some in place this year. It might take more time in the beginning, but you’ll be grateful come the next show!

Please share your thoughts below.


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One Response to “Use systems to ease the stress of shows”

  1. Laura Estes said:

    Systems, lists, plans, guidelines, whatever you want to call them are essential for success in any project, let alone a trade show. A system will get you through all the hubbub and potential delays that may crop up during move in. If you have a system or plan, you will have a better idea of what can be done while you wait on, deliveries,etc. Since I do half-booth space, so my detailed product is up close to attendees, I really have to plan each square inch to maximize exposure, have space to work and keep good traffic flow. I’ve also learned to arrive at the earliest possible time for setup, so my space doesn’t get crowded by adjoining booths. No one intends to encroach, it just happens. Since it bugs me, I am very careful to not crowd other venders space.
    I do a mockup booth, borrowing stands from our local guild and have pictures in my camera to refer too for placement of samples, product and fixtures, and try to pack in the order I will need things. Drapes on top, patterns in the bottom. I have found if you put small things like pens, staplers, rubberbands and so forth in zip bags for tucking in the small places, they will safely tumble to the bottom of the container until you need them. I like my containers packed full, no air. I figure they have plenty of air where I am going.:)
    Then, I plan to stay the night after the show, leaving the next morning. It is worth it to not be rushing to tear down, rush to shipping and tear out to the airport or drive like a maniac to that nights stopping place.
    Morna, your list is great. I recommend it to anyone struggling to get organized for trade and retail vending events. Thank you for the work you do to make the quilting industry seen in a professional light.

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