biz chat: holiday show season inventory prep and sales

Square Analytics
With the holiday show season fast approaching I wanted to do a four part series to help you get prepped. First thing I do is look at our sales data from Square of the previous holiday season. If you don’t use Square, please come up with a way to be able to look back at your sales data, it’s so helpful. Stitch is great, too! We use Stitch to manage online sales and show sales combined (it helps to keep us from over selling), but when I just want to look back at show data, I use Square data. You’ll want to know the quantity, size, style, and price point of each item sold. I have a separate button in Square for sale prices, that way I can easily see the difference in numbers between the regular and sale price points.

If any of the goodies we sold last holiday season are still in play for the upcoming season I look at the best sellers and make sure to start our inventory minimums with the quantity that sold last holiday season.

Poor sellers get the boot. Medium sellers may get the boot, too. Holiday show season is when you want to focus on upping your inventory on your best gift items to maximize sales to get you through the January lull. We sell 1-inch buttons at shows; those are not really a great gift item, but are good for stocking stuffers and just to pick up at check out. We do not up our inventory on buttons for holiday shows. We make “enough” and have them near the check out, just as an add-on item. By minimizing our not so “gifty” (made up word) items we have more time and money to spend on upping our best gift-giving sellers.

For items released newly this year, I like to do spring shows to get a feel for what people are liking, buying, and how they feel about our price points. I use this data to determine the quantities we’ll need per show for the holiday season.

With a holiday line I will not have real data for the designs, so I try to have lower quantities on these, because getting stuck with holiday themed goods after December is not ideal. This happened to us our first holiday season, and every time I looked at the leftover holiday cards the following year I was so frustrated. We did sell the leftovers at a discount the following holiday season.

Keep in mind the chance of each sale being given as a gift is more likely than a purchase for the buyer, you want your items to have your brand name on it. Make it easy for the gift recipient to be able to find you, so that they can become a future fan. Include more than one business card with purchases, too, that way the buyer can keep one, and give one away. Invest in quality cards and or stickers to give away to help get your name out there.

If your packaging has been rock-star awesome all year, then kudos to you! If not, now’s the time to up your packaging. If you can simplify the gift shopping experience you’ll be remembered fondly, and may gain repeat customers.

When we do a series of holiday shows in our hometown we release something new at each show and let our customers know. This gives our customers a reason to come to the next show, has been a great way to gain repeat sales, and an opportunity to chat multiple times with our customers.

Come back next week for a post on booth set-up tips! If you have any questions or tips to share, leave them in the comments below.


the haps: holiday show storm

holiday show prep mess
What a mess! This is a true snap shot into the life of an artist/maker prepping for a show. There’s no staging or styling to make the mess look pretty, I wanted to show you a raw mess. This will not be cleaned up for another week, too many paintings to finish up! I have so much going on, I am having a hard time keeping track of the days, emails, and messages. I recently realized why this season is so hectic. It’s the first holiday season in three years that we didn’t have a studio assistant. I kept forgetting to search for a studio assistant this year, and then it was too late to spend time training anyone. Since we’re cutting back on shows next year, we may not need an assistant again until next summer, anyway. This season has been rough. I have certainly had more pre-show meltdowns than normal. This Buzzfeed post has a pretty good list of the stages that makers that do shows go through. It’s sad/funny, but true.

Let’s break down the haps (sorry I haven’t done one since October!)…

Paintings and restocking the necklaces that have sold out.

All the new things I want to design and make next year.

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar.

Schuyler Fisk and my Toad the Wet Sprocket Pandora station.

Soup, fruit, and Thai food.

Melissa, Jen (co-author of this blog), Sierra, Marci, Ashley, Meredith, Brandy, Rachel, and Josh. Being knee deep in holiday season mania, it’s nice to have awesome friends in the trenches with you.

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. I have accepted my booth is not going to be as amazing as I had hoped. I just ran out of funds to allocate to booth design, and needed to use my show income on restocking popular sellers. Don’t worry, it will still be cute. If we do it again next year, I’ll at least have all year to make my booth dreams come true.

Ugly Betty… again. I needed to have something on in the background that I’ve already seen.

I have solo dance parties a lot… especially in my kitchen.
I do squats while brushing my teeth – a derby trainer taught me to try and work in calisthenics into my daily routines.
I can’t seem to use my iPad for anything other than a Square register. I pull it out to “play” with it, and just hit the Register app.
I go on banana split runs to Sonic, when all I really want is a banana. So sad.

PS – <a href=””>You can now follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

holiday show prep

Armadillo Booth Building
If you’ve been following along on Instagram you may have gathered I’m deep in holiday show season prep. That is a pic of our booth (in the making) for Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, not painted yet, of course. I couldn’t even get a full shot with my phone within the space I had in my parent’s living room. We have a corner booth that is 8×10, 8ft tall. We hadn’t even put the beams that will hold the track lighting up yet when I took this shot. It’s funny how this looks so much bigger than my normal 10×10 pop-up tent. My mom said “are you sure it’s supposed to be that big?” haha!

My parents have been unbelievably supportive through this booth building craziness. They let me clear out their living room, since it’s rainy and cold here and we needed a closed-in space with a level hard floor, and high enough ceilings (hooray for vaulted ceilings!). They let me, Josh, and our carpenter take apart their chandelier lighting, and raise it up to fit the booth under it. This structure will be in their house on Thanksgiving! My brother even had to “suffer” through a Tracy Chapman Pandora station (which is what our carpenter wanted to listen to). I like Tracy Chapman, so it wasn’t a big deal to me. I’m going to have to come up with some super awesome “thank you” presents.

This weekend is Renegade Craft Fair in Austin, which kicks off our “show every weekend until Christmas” time. I’m just a little bit stressed out. Ha! More like pretty stressed out. I’ve heard about other makers getting a creative surge this time of year and wanting to spend their time on new stuff. This year is my first time to experience it. I normally look forward to the holiday show season buzz, but now I just want to fast forward to January to be able to create new things at a more manageable pace, and to focus on prepping for Surtex. It’s so distracting not fully thinking in the moment. I’m hoping that once I’m set up for Renegade I’ll get that holiday buzz back. If you’re in Austin, be sure to stop by our booth, we have lots of new stuff and will continue to release new stuff at each show. YAY!

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