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The Bead Show

We came home late on Sunday night from my first ever bead show in San Antonio. In fact it was my first ever show of any sort out of my region. It was a steep learning curve. But it was good and an all around great learning experience. I chose a smaller show organized by a bead society. There are a couple of reasons for that. One is that a smaller show, like the SABOS bead bazaar, is more affordable and because it was smaller, a little less overwhelming. I found this one by searching the internet for bead societies and bead shows in my region.

This is my set up and that guy there is my husband who quite generously helped through the whole thing. You can’t really see it here, but all of my beads and pendants are organized by type (bead, pendant, buttons) and then by design and colour grouping. It seems to help people make choices if they don’t have to search all over.

One piece of advice I do have is that if you can, get someone to help you. It’s really hard to ‘work’ the table and do transactions at the same time. And with art beads, you probably need to do a lot of explaining. That was especially true at this show where many of the customers were new to beading and very new to art beads of any sort.

We learned early on at art markets, having a small table to do transactions and packing from is a must. It keeps things tidy and frees up your entire table for display. We also put business cards into the bags before a show and keep a wholesale policy at hand. I also keep a clipboard ready if someone needs to write something down or sign a credit card receipt. There’s also a little cheat sheet of prices on this table because not all of my beads are labeled individually. But they are all clearly labeled on the table. When I shop I don’t like to ask about prices. I think a lot of people are that way. So clear labeling is important to me.

This is a view out from my table. I’ve been to a few bead shows but learned that the view from behind the table is very different. I thought my display was alright in the quiet of my own home dress rehearsal. But there is a lot of visual competition and confusion out there. I started to think differently about my display and I will make changes.

Turquoise Magpie Gemstones was set up across from me and I learned a lot about display from looking at their booth. It was all nicely arranged like a bead store might be. They got quite a bit of traffic through that booth because they used display elements that drew people in. A booth set up is different than a table, but I’ll be thinking about how I saw people shopping in this lovely booth. They had absolutely gorgeous gemstones!

One of the things I did notice was their use of interesting props. All of their tables and racks had non-bead things on it. It was very much like home d├ęcor and I personally think that helped to establish their brand and at the same time make people want to come in and see what they had. It made me curious and I wandered through several times.

Lastly, I learned from other vendors. I learned about other regional shows and which ones might be good matches for me. I also learned which ones are probably not going to be good for me. Will, I do another show? Yes! I’m doing one in August in Austin. I got good information about what to expect from that show from other vendors who’ve done it in the past. Networking was an unanticipated benefit of doing this show.

A show is quite a lot of work and I did a fair bit of planning for this one. Tuesday I’m going to go through a little bit of my planning process. Oh, and I’ll even tell you things that I wish I’d done differently.


  1. That is such great information. It sounded like you had a great time. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. Thank you for post!!! Very interesting information!!

  3. Great post LeAnn. I liked the way you explained all your observations. I am looking forward to your next installment. Also I would like to add that the Blog is looking even better. The black type is a great improvement and so are the ads. Gets better and better.

  4. I am so glad you had a good show LeAnn! Your display looked great! (hubby too!!) Mine always go with me too.

  5. This was a perfect post for me to read! I am signed up for my first bead show in September. As I have never been to a bead show, even as a customer, your insights are great. I do art shows full time with my finished jewelry but I know this is going to be different.

    Thanks so much!

  6. I love reading about this process. Can't wait for the next post.

  7. It looks like your hubby is a great boothmate!

    I am new to the Bead Show thing too, and Oh boy! I think I want to change my set up every time!

    Those are really great tips on your packing table!


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