The Untold Story of Being an Arts Festival Vendor March 15 2016

If you are a business owner, crafter or artist you may have had many opportunities to participate in business or craft shows as a vendor.

A vendor is a person or business offering something for sale; vending is an opportunity to show your goods for sale, to define your marketing or close your business, at a location outside of your work location.

If so,  you have undoubtedly seen or read dozens of articles with titles like “10 Reasons Why ….”, “4 Ways to ….”, or, “The 36 things about …” giving you tips on how successfully sell your creative or artistic work. Most of these contain pretty basic, common sense tips on displays, set ups, and so forth.

Some of the more helpful suggestions that I found included:
  • Making sure to have a professional-looking, attractive table sign
  • Getting professionally printed business cards
  • Decorating tips to keep a tidy and attractive table set up
  • Tips on bringing change to meet customer needs

My First Time Was Easy & Fun

My first vending display as an artist was EASY.  I remember it as if it were yesterday: I was invited to vend and display at the Delaware Art Walk. So I pulled out one of the many vending lists and got to work on a basic table design, ordering business cards, etc.. Not only was it easy, but it was fun, very successful, and educational. I learned a lot that day, and I’ve applied those lessons to the vending opportunities I’ve had since then with very good results.

But I still had a lot to learn.

Behind the Scenes at the Colorado Black Arts Festival

In July of 2015, I had an opportunity to vend at the annual Black Arts Festival (BAF) in Denver, CO. It is the premier exhibition event for artists and crafters in the region and is the best place to showcase your artistic work for all to see.

Here’s How My Festival Experience Went

Once I registered with BAF as a vendor, I received a vendor information and instructions packet outlining specific vendor requirements and the reason for each requirement was explained. Up until now none of the vending articles or opportunities had prepared me for the UNTOLD story of vending

Here it is.

Vending: The Untold Story

  • Submit photos of work – Even though this is not a juried show where artwork is judged for acceptance, monetary value or an award, I submitted photos of my work to BAF. This ensured the sponsor of the quality of products that would be displayed.

Lesson: take good photos of your best work and be prepared to submit them should a request be made.

  • Vendor License – While my business is legally registered with the city and state, a vendor license confirmed that my business was legitimate and professional.

Lesson: keep legal paperwork updated and handy for easy access when needed; it certifies your legal right to collect and pay taxes. 

  • Vendor Insurance – For the protection of vendor and customers, I was required to buy Vendor Insurance for the days I was selling at the BAF. Side Note: I had no idea there were companies that make money selling only vendor insurance!

Lesson: go online, search “vendor/exhibit insurance” and you will have plenty of choices.

  • Tent Walls and Tent Weights – I had a tent and string tie downs; no walls, no weights.

Lesson: go online, search “tent walls” to fit your tent and tent weights, again there are plenty of choices.

IMPORTANT NOTE: following the close of the first night of vending the city had a big rain storm with howling winds. The next morning, at the vending site, unlike the damaged tents around me, my tent was standing tall, secure, and dry with no damage and little water intrusion.

It took me several days to work through the vendor information package and become compliant with the requirements. The result was well worth it though, as it made for – thus far –  my most successful vending event.

So remember to come out to see me at the Colorado Black Arts Festival July 8-10, 2016 in historic Denver City Park West. In the meantime, feel free to browse through my store!