Your First Vendor Booth

I run a little shop on Etsy where I sell my handmade items. Most of what I sell is either nerdy related, or roller derby related. Over the weekend I was given the opportunity to have a vendor booth at a local roller derby bout! I was so nervous, but also very excited. You see, this was my very first vendor booth! I wasn't sure what to expect regardless of the countless blogs and articles I read. Nevertheless I do feel like there were a number of things I learned the hard way to either do, or not to.

This was my basic layout. I made changes after this picture.

  • First and foremost, get your legal stuff in order. Each state is different so I can't speak for other places, but in the state of Texas, you HAVE to have a Texas sales and usage tax permit before having a vendor booth anywhere. A lot of places will ask you to have it out and visible, but others only require you to have it on hand, in case you're asked to show it. This is so very important. If you have a booth and do not have your proper permits, you can get into serious legal troubles with your state (maybe even city) government. Follow the law, folks!

  • Get cash, and have change- Depending on what the price of your items are, you want to make sure that you can provide enough change for people. The majority of my items are $30 or less, so I focused on bringing a good amount of $1s and $5s.

  • Make a plan for your table- Days before having my booth, I sketched out two different layouts for it. Its good to have more than one option for something like this. Once I got my table, I was able to decide which layout would not only look more appealing, but I was able to see the difference in table size, and what would actually work better with size vs. layout.

  • Location, location, location- This won't always apply to everyone. I was able to choose my location. Where did I setup? Smack dab in the front. I was in between the skater cage (area where all skaters signed in, kept their stuff, and geared up) and the entry door. I wanted to be right there when people first came in. Because of my location, I was able to get the attention of the patrons, but also the skaters (which flocked my table!)

  • Bring a ton of business cards- When someone buys from you, give them your card. They may love your stuff so much they want to get more. Always give your card to people. Especially if they spend time at your table. Just because they cant buy anything right then and there, they may want to some other time. Its better to have tons of cards than not enough!

  • Test your equipment before you get to the venue- This was a boo boo I had. I was using Etsy's handy dandy credit card reader for the first time. With my first sale, I tried swiping it, but it wasn't working!!! I had to manually type in the customers card info. It made me feel a bit flustered. You don't want that to happen, so make sure you test your stuff ahead of time!

  • Organize- I made an inventory list of all the items I was bringing to sell. I also made a list of the other items I was bringing with me (tablet, card reader, receipt book etc.). I even made a list of misc. items like pens and scissors. Again, its better to have a bunch of miscellaneous items you don't need, than to need something you don't have!

  • Bring food- When you're at a booth, you're there. You can't leave. The venue isn't responsible for lost or stolen items, and if you leave your booth, you risk that. Unless you've got a friend that can cover down for you, you're stuck like Chuck. Remember to bring yourself some food and something to drink! There's nothing worse than being stuck somewhere and being hungry too!

  • Have fun- This should go without saying. Yes you're there to make money. But that's not the only thing to bank on. I didn't make as many sales as I was hoping to, but I did have a lot of fun, and it was a great experience!

I hope this helps someone out there who might be interested in having their first vendor booth somewhere. It may seem intimidating, but its not that bad. Anyone else out there that has tips to add, feel free to leave a comment! I'd love to hear what you've learned in your experiences!

Nerdy love to ya!

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