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Retail 101: Best Convention Booth Practices for New Vendors

Posted by Laura Bailey on

The Captain's Blog Entry 17 - Stardate:  No Idea

You applied with your local or favorite Comic Convention to sell your stuff and you got in!  Congrats and go you!  As a fellow vendor, we are happy to have you. 

Now the real work begins.  Exhibiting at a convention for the weekend can be a real boost to your bottom line and a great way to represent your business.  However, a lot of work and preparation needs to go into your booth, products, and set up to make it worth your while.  

Here's the 1st installment of basic set up tips for New Vendors at Comic Con!   

 

1.  SKETCH YOUR BOOTH, KNOW YOUR SPACE! 

As a new vendor you probably purchased one 10x10 or 10x8 space to exhibit your stuff. (This doesn't apply to Artist Alley because the set up is generally different.)  We always sketch our booth out ahead of time on paper, especially if we are trying something new.  Time goes faster than you think during set up so you should show up at least the night before while the convention hall is open to move your stuff in and get started.  Make sure you have some basic essentials with you to do your set up:  zip ties, tape, hooks, tape measure, scissors, some tools, snacks, lots of water.  

Fun fact:  A lot of the convention spaces forego running the AC during set up so be prepared to sweat a little or lot.  ;)  

 

2. QUANTITY MATTERS

It's a good idea to plan ahead and slightly overestimate production or quantity.  We've seen our share of vendors run out of stuff and then sit there for the rest of the day with nothing to sell.  This is especially important if you are traveling!  It's a huge missed opportunity for sales if you run out of items because you didn't bring enough AND most conventions have fine print prohibiting vendors from taking down their booth early.  It makes the convention itself look bad to have a lone booth surrounded by 2 or 3 abandoned ones. 

 

3.  PROFESSIONAL SHELVING

We have a severe LOVE/HATE relationship with Grid Shelving.  Have you ever caught you finger in it while trying to move a piece?  YOWZA!  But when it comes to conventions, it's a vendor's best friend.  If it's in your business budget, you should definitely consider investing in some retail shelving!  It really makes a difference in the appearance to the customer and organization for you.  It's designed to take a lot of wear and tear and most of the pieces are standard sizes so ordering replacements is easy.  We get our supplies from Specialty Store Services, but there are lots of companies that carry retail build outs.   

Here's one of our many layouts from 2016!  We almost always get a corner booth when we exhibit.  :)

Con Couture Booth Layout from 2016

 

 

4.  NOTHING EXTRA IS FREE

You paid for your booth and that's it right?  WRONG.  The only other thing normally included in the booth purchase is a set amount (2-4) of vendor passes that get you in and out of the event for the entire weekend.  However, the following items will be extra and are all marked up to make the convention center money:  internet, electricity, food, and parking.  Make sure when you are calculating your business expenses for the event that you include those items too.  We've gotten to the point where we bring our own internet source and cooler with sustenance, but believe me it took some trial and error to get there! 

 

5.  LOCK IT DOWN WITH TARPS

You need to invest in and bring tarps and hooks or locks with you as soon as you are planning to leave anything in your booth overnight.  We use various tarps with zip ties and locks to secure our items.  Although it sucks to think that someone would steal from small businesses, it's better to be safe than sorry.  Even though the facility is generally locked down from Attendees every evening, there will still be a number of security personnel working and walking through overnight and it's better to have your stuff covered.  As the old saying goes, "out of sight, out of mind."  :)     

 

We hope you enjoy vending at your next Convention whether it's your 1st or 50th!   If you remember these 5 simple rules, it should be a great experience.  Thanks for reading Part 1 of our Convention Rules for Vendors.  Tune into our blog next week when we discuss some additional best and worst practices for Vendors and Attendees! 

Let us know in the comments below what conventions you plan to exhibit at in 2017! 

- Con Couture

 

 

 

 

 


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