Three times a year, artisans and vendors exhibit their wares to thousands of customers at the Horseshoe Craft and Flea Market in northwest Denver. The next Market is scheduled for Saturday, May 11th, 2013 in the Berkeley neighborhood.
Participating in a one day, outdoor event presents special challenges to all of the small businesses who will exhibit at the Market. In effect, exhibitors are operating a temporary retail store out of a tent within tight timelines for setting up and tearing down. Such an effort requires special planning and preparation.
One of the exhibitors, Helliemae’s Handcrafted Caramels, is a veteran at engaging in this type of business event. Ellen Daehnick, CEO/Owner of Helliemae’s, started her business 2.5 years ago at the urging of her husband to share with the world her home cooked caramels. Ellen did an entrepreneurial ‘pivot’ and opened up her business that now has two full time and five part time employees.
Ellen’s number one piece of advice for exhibiting at a trade event is forecasting product sales. Because Helliemae’s caramels are perishable, forecasting is particularly important. The goal is to ‘almost’ sell out at the Market. Taking a lot of product home or not having enough product represents a bad forecast. Ellen shoots for sales within 10% of her forecasts. She builds her forecasts off of her past experiences. After every event, she writes a detailed debriefing to herself that she can pick up one week or three months later that talks about how the booth could have performed better. Sales receipts are tabulated for each type of product and compared with sales at other events. When asked how to forecast for the first time, she stated “Make a guess!” It will serve as a starting point for your next forecast.
Ellen also emphasized driving traffic to Helliemae’s booth at the Horseshoe Market. She said that an exhibitor cannot simply depend upon customers attracted by the marketing of the management of a trade event. “It’s your responsibility to promote the event.” An exhibitor at a trade event “must have as much stock in the outcome” of the trade event as the company hosting the event.
Helliemae’s starts telling their customers at the first of each year that they will be selling in person at the Horseshoe Market. This is a special opportunity since Helliemae’s sells almost entirely online and only attends a few trade shows. Helliemae’s repeats its message to its customers throughout the year on their website, in direct communications with customers and in their advertising program.
Ellen recommended that exhibitors state the date, hours and location of the Horseshoe Market when promoting the event. This helps customers who have never been to the Market before to put it on their calendar and to find them on the day of the event. She suggested including an Internet link (URL) to the Horseshoe Market in case the customer wants additional information.
Saturday, May 11
9 am to 4 pm
4345 W. 46th Avenue
Denver, CO 80212
Planning is the recipe for success!