As I mentioned on Tuesday, I participated in a very large bridal fair last Sunday. I had looked into doing this show for a couple of years, but just couldn't justify the cost. A normal booth at this show costs $850! So when the organizers sent out a chance to win a free booth, I jumped on it right away. The first 50 people to respond got a free 5' x 10' booth.
While this is a very small space, I knew I could make it work. And hey, it was free! But then the organizers mentioned that this booth would be 5' wide and 10' deep. Hmmm...how was I going to make that work? 5' deep and 10' wide would have worked great, but I just couldn't find a way to make the narrow booth work. So, cost #1...$300 to upgrade to a 10' x 10' booth. I did also get the bride's lead list with this upgrade as well, which will come in handy for contacting the brides.
Then I went to a meeting for all the vendors and found out that my upgrade did not include a listing on the website. So, cost #2...$100 to be added to the official website. The organizers made a good point that if someone remembers your items, but has misplaced your information, they will go looking on the show's website. If they cannot find you there, they may go with a competitor who is on the site instead. And I did have one bride tell me that she visited the website the night before the show and knew she wanted to stop by my booth. So that made me feel a little better about the extra cost.
Also at the meeting, we were giving forms for renting tables and table clothes. I normally bring my own tables and coverings to shows with me. But since I had a show the day before the bridal fair, I didn't want to have to mess with unloading the tables and reloading them for the bridal fair. Also, my tables are only 5' long and I could rent 8' tables, a tall cocktail table and white table clothes. I'm really glad I went with the white coverings as I think they helped my items stand out well. So, cost #3...$65 to rent tables and coverings.
I also saw a really cool idea online for a cupcake stand that I thought would make a really cool display for my invitations and guest books. I really thought this was something my dad and I could just throw together at a minimal cost...WRONG! Above is the inspiration for my displays. I wanted 18" tree slices with tree limbs in between. Well, come to find out, unless you kiln dry the tree slices, at the size, they will warp...a lot...and very quickly! So I went to a local saw mill to see what other options I had. They made me some really nice oak circles that I could do the same thing with. When I got the cost, they told me the board foot cost and the hourly labor cost, but never mentioned how many hours they thought they would take. We had a huge misunderstanding on the price, but in the end, I had to pay it. So, cost #4...$435 for new displays!! (Live and learn!)
I also printed special brochures for the bridal fair that had photos of my most popular wedding items and pricing for them as well. I also printed business cards to hand out with the brochures. For a giveaway item, I engraved wood wine bottle stoppers with a coupon code and my Etsy web address. I also ordered a banner for my booth as well. I realize this is all part of doing business and advertising is essential for continued business, but most of this cost was directly related to this specific show. So, cost #5...Between $400-$500 for advertising/marketing.
In the beginning, I thought $850 was way too much to pay for a booth at this show. But in the end, I spent about $1350 for this booth!!! I realize the cost of the advertising/marketing materials would have been an additional cost whether I paid for the booth or not and the cost of the displays would have been additional as well. But I wanted to break down all the special costs that went into this specific show. So next year when I'm deciding whether to participate or not, I'll know that if this year's show was a success, it won't be any problem to just pay for the full booth up front :)
Have you had to learn any lessons the hard way lately?