Selling at Events

July 4, 2008

One of the best ways to promote your clothing line is to attend and showcase at events and trade shows. You get to put your products in front of potential buyers and fans, and you might even manage to sell out your entire inventory. You’ll also get to network and meet other cool people in the apparel business. Displaying at a show is not always easy, but we’ve got you covered with some tips that’ll help you do your best.

We’ve asked Eric Terry of Linty Fresh to offer some advice on displaying at events. He recently made a big impression and sold a buncha shirts at a show in Georgia called the Indy Craft Experience, so this guy knows his stuff!

booth set up for selling at events

Eric: Here’s a few pointers I’d give to anyone doing a show:

Keep it organized
Obviously a strong lineup of products is important, but equally important is the way you display them. Try to think this stuff out long before the day of the show – set it all up beforehand to anticipate possible problems. Make your prices clearly visible, and if you’re taking cards, be clear about it. Basically, convey all necessary information to your potential customers so that all they have to do is pick a design and size and make their payment.

Keeping your inventory neat and logically arranged is a must, too. I went the route of actually bringing 3 sets of shelves to have all my inventory at the ready, and this served the additional bonus of giving the look of a professional storefront, which people seemed to fascinate over. Some folks opt instead for large bins or boxes to store their tees. Of course, this is a matter of preference, but the faster you can grab a tee for someone, the better.

It’s free advertising, so don’t forget it. Stickers, buttons, postcards, flyers, pens, etc. At my show I had a bowl where folks could fill out preprinted cards with their emails on them to enter a drawing for a few free Linty Fresh items. I took further advantage of this by having a little checkbox at the bottom of the card that asked if they wanted to be added to my newsletter. Again, these are people who are asking to be advertised to, so don’t pass it up!

Make an impression
People are impressed by what looks professional. This may seem like a bit of a paradox since these are typically the anti-mainstream crowds, but it’s true. They want to see that you care about your product enough to give them a reason to care about it. This means coming up with a distinct look and keeping everything consistent with this look. If you’re already running an online storefront, you likely already have this figured out, but if not, sit down and figure out exactly what attitude you’re trying to convey with your brand. I recommend designing everything digitally and getting signs printed rather than doing them by hand, unless, of course, you’re going for that specific look.

Money and Payment
The decision about whether or not to accept credit cards is one you’ll have to figure out for yourself after weighing the pros and cons. The cons basically boil down to you having to make monthly payments on it as long as you own it (whether it’s in use or not), having to make that initial investment of a few hundred dollars, and having to pay a small percentage everytime you swipe a card. The pros, of course, are that most everyone has a credit card, and accepting them increases your chances of making a sale as folks are typically less eager to hand over cash than a card. I personally use BANCARD for my plan, but there’s many other merchant services than can work with you to find the perfect package.

The other part of this is making sure you’ve got plenty of cash change on the day of the show. Keep it on you if possible (space is rarely a luxury) and if you’re storing your earnings somewhere separate, designate someone to watch it closely for the whole day.

Talk to everyone and have fun!
Shows give you the unique opportunity to attach your face to your brand. People will remember the way you made them feel and the vibe you gave off. So even if you’re a little bored and sales are slow, do your best to keep positive and be friendly. Folks will remember it, and it may even convert a curious browser into a motivated customer!
Read about Eric’s experience at the Linty Fresh Blog And check out the Linty Fresh shop!