I finally finished my 5 day show in Toronto at the OOAKS! Long story short it was a huge success:) Short story long... well that's why you're here to read my post on it:) I thought I'd share with you a break down of the whole process and efforts that went into the show. Let me tell you straight up, it was hard! I totally have to hand it to people who can do this all year round. Selling online and selling in-person are two completely different things. I'm use to sitting on my butt and typing away on my computer or phone, while the trade show was physically grueling, working 12 hour straight days;) If anyone runs a booth more than once a year, please leave a comment below and tell me how you do it!
Back in the summer of 2015 I applied to the OOAKS. They take thousands of applicants so I was a bit worried about them accepting me as a fist time vendor. After a couple months of waiting they called me up and told me I was in! I was super excited and super scared at the same time. Thoughts of 'what have I done' rang through my head. The booths at the show were pretty expensive so I really wanted to make sure I'd make the money back. Luckily it all went great and I'm excited to say I will be back next year!
For the application I had tell the OOAKS staff who I was, what I sell, my price points and I needed to submit a design for my booth. Since I never built a full on 10x10 booth before I knew I should keep it simple, yet really try and pull out some of the design in my branding and my own office space. The whole set was built using 2"x2" studs and 3/8" chipboard walls. The two walls were painted Tulle White, the same colour as our office walls;) The third wall was made using 10 foot pine boards which I stained a dark chocolate colour. Every few boards or so I inserted shelving to display my 8"x10" prints. At first I was going to rest the prints against the wall however they kept falling off with any tiny bit of wind, so I attached a lip to all the shelves to hold them into place. Once the walls were built I started to figure out where I wanted all the frames to go. I used paper placeholders and taped them on the walls to see what would work best. My new signage was hung and essentially that was it.
Let me tell you, there's nothing harder than preparing for something you have never done before. Not knowing how many prints I may need or how many I would sell or run out of was difficult. I chose 3 different sizes to sell, Small (8"x10") Medium (12"x16") and Large (18"x24"). I would say as a rough estimate, I printed 200 S, 100 M, 50 L, all of which were individually packaged with cardboard backing and polybags. Lots of work! Aside from all the prints I managed to gather I also bought frames to sell and to use in my display. About 50 small frames, 15 medium, and 5 large. Shopping around for decent frames at a reasonable price was also challenging.
After about 6 months of preparing the day finally came where I got to set up my booth and sell my stuff. The show started on November 26th and I got to start setting up on the 24th. So the night before I packed up the whole 10x10 booth in my sweet Dodge Caravan, (Side note, those Caravans were made for 4'x8' sheets of drywall so everything slid in perfect!). Crammed to the max I was all set to drive into downtown T.O. I arrived with my cousin ready to help set up in the morning, we parked successfully and then placed everything on a dolly to wheel over to my booth number (P34). Once we got there we started assembling the walls and piecing the whole set together. A couple hours later we were done!
As the first day of the show approached I was beat, the past two weeks I was pushing hard to get everything ready, making sure I hadn't missed anything and running like a mad man around town grabbing last minute things. With the stress of it all, it actually happened... I lost my voice the day before the show! Yep, I could barely say two words, the doctor told me it was laryngitis. I guess it can happen due to stress, which I was definitely feeling;) Like I've mentioned before I've never run a booth before, so I wasn't really sure what to expect, the anticipation was killing me! Luckily I had lots of help form friends and family to talk for me at the show:)
The show started on a Thursday so the first day was a bit slow. As Friday rolled along it was getting very busy. Saturday and Sunday were just flat out crazy, I probably had 15 min total throughout the whole day to catch my breath, go to the bathroom and stuff my face with as much food as I could get in. Monday was a little slower but it still kept me busy enough to have a great end to the show.
Once the show was finished I had to be completely moved out to let another booth move in for the remaining 6 days of the show. So from 9pm-12am me and a friend tore down the set and packed it all in the van. Exhausted and physically beat I dragged my butt home at midnight and took a couple days off to recoup and recover.
All in all it was a great show. I think the best part of the show was meeting people in-person. One thing you don't get on-line is to hear people talk and discuss your work. It gave me all sorts of new ides to pursue and try out. It's such and great feeling to see that all your hard work and talent is appreciated and enjoyed by others. I did the 5 day event this year however I think next year I'll do the full 11 days. It totally kicked my butt but I'd do it all over again in a heart beat!
Cost of the Show:
- $2800 Cost of Booth
- $130 Cost of Electrical
- $50 Parking
- $50 Gas
- $500 Booth Construction
- $130 Lighting
- $600 Printing Costs
- $100 Advertising Materials
- $1000 Picture Frames
Grand Total $5310