Now that craft show season will be upon us shortly, I thought this would be a good time to write about this. Most people, when doing craft shows, stake out the competition and want to one-up them. I have found that getting your competition to work with you actually becomes an asset!
A friend and I started doing the same shows but had separate booths even though we made similar items. Most of the time, we were right across from each other. Sometimes people would swarm her booth, other times mine. But one thing was for sure was that if they went to one booth, they would pass by the other. Even going to the bathroom or getting food was tough because one person had to watch their booth while keeping an eye on the other. One day we just decided to work together...at the same booth.
Surprisingly this worked awesome. We always had another person to help set up, another person to split booth costs with, and another person to split gas costs with! We found that although we both made jewelry (mine being simple and feminine and hers intricate and androgynous.) Sometimes one of my pieces would draw someone in, sometimes hers. The same person would buy some from her and some from me in the same transaction, where if we were apart, this was not happening.
We also had a lot less stress about our inventory. We no longer had to make 600 pieces each, we could make 300 each and have 600 total to fit our booth. When one person was taking care of a customer, the other was keeping an eye on what was going on in the booth (no matter what you think, you WILL have items stolen, unfortunately.)
You may want to go to your competition as talk to them. Ask them how they are doing?... if they have difficulty taking care of everything on their own?... who watches their booth if they need to eat or use the restroom? Get them thinking about these things and suggest trying to do a show together. You'll be able to eliminate your competition and benefit from them at the same time!