Over the holidays, there was a show I was considering in another state. The entrance fee was pretty pricey, but the location was new to my business. Before ponying up the fee, I needed some idea if the payoff could be worth it. I needed to know more about the show itself, what kinds of people attended, and what they spent money on. So I started a mini-fact finding mission.

Putting in the effort to really check out a show before you apply will help lessen the risk of a bad show. But where can you find out what you need to know? And what questions should you be asking?

If you’re the impatient type, you can go right to my free printable list of craft show questions. Or read on to find out exactly how to research a show.

Read, Read, Read

First and foremost, you’ll want to read everything you can about the show. Check out the website, get a copy of the application, and read any and all instructions and FAQs. You should be able to find out the basic information and fees about the show this way. Some shows are even including tips to potential applicants on their site. (Check out the Detroit Urban Craft Fair’s FAQs for an example.) Take these tips to heart — they could be the difference between getting in and sitting on a wait list.

OK, so you’ve checked out all you can online and you’ve still got questions. Where can you go? Righ to the source: The organizers.

Ask the Organizers

As an organizer, I got tons and tons of questions from potential vendors. It was part of my job to find vendors that would do well at the show, so I loved when anyone took the time to ask questions before applying. That said, it wasn’ all roses. Here’s three things to keep in mind when contacting an organizer:

  • Do not ask “Do you think my work is right for the show?” The application process is designed to tell you that. It’s not information that an organizer will be prepared to give on the spot. And even if they liked your work, it’s never a guarantee that you’ll be accepted. Instead, ask questions about the show itself. Keep your email polite and to the point.
  • Don’t ask questions easily found on the show’s site. As an organizer, this was one of my biggest pet peeves. After spending hours writing and posting show information, the last thing I wanted to do was repeat myself in an email. Don’t make organizers waste time telling you to read what’s already out there! And speaking of time …
  • Be conscious of an organizer’s time. Remember that they are busy and often balancing their own businesses, families and other responsibilities. Taking up too much too much time before you even apply leaves an impression that you might need the same hand holding afte you are accepted. Ask a few short questions. Try to group your questions together and send fewer emails so you aren’t constantly popping up in their inbox. If you don’t hear back from an organizer within a week, it’s OK to re-contact them.

It’s important not to expect organizers to answer all of your questions about a show. You don’t need them to anyway, you can ask previous vendors to give you the real deal.

Talk to Previous Vendors

Vendors are often happy to share their experience with a particular show. If you’re able to attend the show before you apply, seek out vendors in a similar category and ask for their contact information. Let them know that you’re interested in this show and ask if it’s OK to pick their brains about it. Do not monopolize their time at the show – vendors are there to meet new customers and make sales.

If you cannot attend the show, check to see if the show has a list of previous vendors on their site. You can also search for any press the show got and find vendor names mentioned. Or you can contac organizers directly and ask for a list of the vendors in your category. However, be aware that organizers may send you to satisfied vendors as happy ones tend to stay in contact with organizers.

Remember your manners. When you contact vendors, be polite and to the point. Do not ask them specific questions about how much money they made or how many items they sold. Instead, ask some general questions to get a better idea if the show is a good fit for your business.

What To Ask Before You Apply — Free Printable

To help you figure out what you should be asking before you apply, I’ve complied a huge list of questions — over 80 of them, in fact — into a free printable.

In this printable you’ll get:

  • A comprehensive list of questions to ask before you apply.
  • A list of five core questions your business needs to answer.
  • Exact questions to ask previous vendors so you don’t step on toes.

Did I mention it’s free? I’m hoping this list will help you pick great shows!

To get your copy, simply fill out the form on this page and I’ll send you the free printable.