Preparing to Vend at events
One of the first things you’ll need in order to vend at an event is a toolkit for setting up your space; this is going to be something you can put in a bag (or suitcase, depending on the size of your vending space) and bring to any and every event. You will also need stock or at least samples of your wares to show off (that’s the easy part). Setting up is where things get tricky, so here is what you need to bring:
A Table Cloth
There’s nothing worse than having to display your wares on an old pock-marked table covered in paint, glue, or just plain wear and tear. If a table is supplied to you, bringing a table cloth as a backdrop for your polished final pieces can add a touch of professionalism as well as allow you to curate the mood you want. Are your pieces bright and colourful? Maybe you want a dark backdrop for them to stand out against. Do you produce a lot of fanart or pattern pieces? A piece of fabric with colourful characters on it might draw the eye of potential patrons. You can easily purchase any length of fabric for this purpose at a fabric store.
Display furniture is anything you use to prop up or otherwise display your art. This type of item can be purchased from amazon or made at home depending on your needs. Wire cubes you can deconstruct are popular because of their ability to build height; displaying your work at different heights is imperative because if someone is standing in front of your table, you still want other patrons to be able to see your work. A table with wares that are difficult to see is not a successful table. You can use simple cardboard boxes covered by your table cloth, or easels, or (if you’re lucky) sometimes the curator of the event will offer you wall space to display your work on.
The simplest way to network and popularize yourself at events is by having business cards available. How your card is set up is up to you, but generally it’s a good idea to have the name of your business, your name, a way to contact you, and a link to your social media or online portfolio. Even if someone doesn’t buy from you the evening your showing is, giving them your card increases the chances they might buy from you at a later date. Banners are also a good idea, and they’re surprisingly affordable! Services like Vistaprint can produce a small, full colour banner for around twenty dollars. Most banners are vinyl or cloth that you can tape directly to your table or pin to your table cloth. You want your banner to have your business name and logo (if you have one) and some sense of who you are as an artist, usually through previews of your art.
If you anticipate selling anything (and you should) then you should be prepared to offer people change for their cash. Bring either a cash box or some kind of cash apron with $50-100 in small bills and change. This way there’s no chance a customer will have to decline to purchase when you don’t have any change to offer. It helps to have your items priced to rounded amounts so less money juggling needs to happen at all.
You never really know what’s going to happen at an event, so it’s best to plan for the potential of anything happening. I keep a small bag with scissors, tape, bulldog clips, thumb tacks, sticky tack, twine, price stickers, plastic bags (for customer purchases), extra print sleeves, two markers, pens, pencils, a notebook to keep track of sales, a Square (credit card reader), a water bottle, and a power bank/portable charger for my phone during shows. You never know what piece of equipment or mounting material will fail you, so it’s always good to have extra.
A great opportunity to try out vending (or continue vending) is at #TAAP6 in December with CreativeUTO!
Chloe Heathers is an illustrator, writer, and freelance copy editor living in Toronto. She has been a creative collaborator for a wide range of projects including contributing art and content for published anthologies and tabletop role-playing games. She is passionate about ending the stigma against mental illness and promoting diverse representation in art.