Advice NEEDED on upcoming show

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by EngineerKyle, Feb 26, 2007.

  1. EngineerKyle

    EngineerKyle Member

    This coming Sunday I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I have rented table space at the Gratiot Valley Train Show. I would like you all to stop by and see my display which will be titled “Dream Layouts by Engineer Kyle”

    Here’s the thing;

    I don’t exactly know what I’m doing, so I am asking you all for any advice you can give. Please take a moment to read my plan listed below, and share with me any ideas you might have that will lead to a successful and satisfying day.

    1.)I’ve taken the 17 modules (structures and scenery) that are not glued down off my layout. I’ll display them on the table. I must come up with some type of lightweight shelf structure that I can put on the table so I can get the pieces on three levels. I have yards of black cloth I can use to dress things up.
    2.)Each piece will be accompanied by a couple of 8x10 glossies that will show how they look on the layout.
    3.)No prices will be listed, only a small tag for each item with a number, the number of hours I worked on it.
    4.)I’ll have about 100 trees half made up. I’ll have some spray and WS foam handy, and will show the passersby how to make their own foliage, and give them away, 20 per hour, on the hour.
    5.)I have a backdrop half painted, and will work on it to pass the time. I’ve also got some BB kits I can put together.
    6.)I’ll have my 10 year old son with me to help out.

    I don’t really know where this will lead; I mostly want to promote the hobby and show off my stuff, sort of an exhibition/clinic.

    Any thoughts please?
  2. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    The only thoughts I have are what are you trying to sell? What is the objective of attending the show? Why wouldn’t you want to have prices if in fact you’re trying to sell something?

    Having a great booth with great activities is fantastic as long as you are clear on trying to sell and not just caught up on the activities.

    I find most people that attend shows are looking for deals and supplies and or trains they normally can’t find at their LHS.

    If you just want to show case your work and enjoy being a vendor at the show then you can skip the above.
  3. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    hhhmmmm.... A 10 year old son helping out at a train show.....
    Nope. Don't see it happening.

    What I see happening is a 10 year old boy running from booth to booth going, "Dad! Can we get this??? Did you see this, Dad??? Oh, Dad! We've got to get that! Dad! Can I have $20?? Can I have $50, Dad??? Dad! It's only $150!!!"

  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I think firstly, you have to consider what your goal is for attending. Are you in fact selling something (modules, trees, services to build something)? Are you there to give a clinic? "Promoting the hobby" at a train show is a bit like preaching to the choir... at least in some respects - is the show well attended by people that need "converting" ;) or is it mostly people well established in the hobby looking for deals? Or are you there just to "show off" your work to date?

    Once you have figured that out, the rest will (probably) follow. A few additional points: 17 modules, no matter how small, is a lot! Pick your absolute best work, and pare the number down to a half dozen or so. 17 modules at even 18"x12" plus pictures will require ~42 sq ft of display space. Most tables that you usually get at shows like this allow about 24 sq ft (3x8). So unless you have a fabulous shelving system to display it all, cut it down.

    You'll also need lots of time to set up that much stuff - a couple of hours. Do you get into the hall the night before or the morning of?

    You'll need space for your tree clinic too. I would suggest that you let people make/finish the giveaway trees as they come, rather than trying to do it "on the hour". This would be a good activity for your son, if he's willing/able, as nothing attracts people - especially newbies - to a table/display like a kid having fun. (My 5 year old instructed about 35 people on how to run the raffle layout our club built for the last big show in our town. She had a great time.) You might want a 1 page handout to go with the trees that includes your contact info.

    Don't even think about bringing the backdrop to work on - you will not have any need to "pass the time". The show is only 6 hours long. Between questions, tree building, lunch, bathroom breaks, and looking around at the other vendors/displays that are there, you won't have time.

    Depending on what you decide your goals are, you may need business cards or some other form of "propaganda" to hand out with contact info on it.

    If you are still using the "future tense" and the show is only a week away, you better have a lot of spare time this week...! ;) :D I used to work at a "outdoor" store selling camping gear and clothing, and we would have a booth at the Toronto Sportsmen's Show every year. We would spend weeks getting ready - the ratio of prep/clean-up time to show time was about 1 working day for every hour we were at the show.

    Be prepared to spend some time after thinking about what went well and what didn't. Valuable information for next year (if you plan to do this again ;)).

    Hope that helps. Good luck with your show...!! :thumb: :thumb: Be sure to let us know how it goes.

  5. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I don't know about other parts of the country, but in Southern California, setting up a display to promote the hobby is not preaching to the choir. I have attended many shows with the modular club, and I would say that at least 40% of the attendees at any of the GAT Shows I've attended have been people who are curious about trains but either don't have a layout, or have never gone beyond the Lionel around the Christmas tree. Often times they see an ad in the local paper, and think that would be something the kids might enjoy seeing. Often times the realistic layouts set up by the modular clubs are their first exposure to realistic scenery on a layout. It is amazing the number of people coming by our ho modular club set up to ask what size it is.
  6. EngineerKyle

    EngineerKyle Member

    Thank you gentlemen!

    This will be thousands of people, mostly passing by and passing the time. Quite a few, I'm sure, are not "in the choir"

    I really appreciate the thoughts regarding my goals. I guess I want to introduce myself to the local modeling community in person and possible sell some stuff, or even sell my services as an artist. If I sell all my pieces, I'll have some room on the layout to make some new ones. I'm not making things specifically to sell, nor am I selling off my layout.

    I've decided to go ahead and put price tags on them... and my son is a very helpful and mature 10 year old. He can bring his homework. I need someone to watch the layout while I take a break, and the wife is not interested in helping or getting a sitter.

    More ideas welcome...
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Don't make him bring homework...! That's just mean ;) :D

    I would let him do something model railroad related - even if you don't wnat to put him in charge of the trees, perhaps a Blue Box kit or something would be in order. I am sure that he'll also want to cruise the other vendors and pick stuff up. I don't see you even coming close to breaking even on the show...! ;) :D sign1

  8. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You probably won't come close to breaking even on the first show, but if you are interested in either doing custom building, or custom layout designing or building, print up a bunch of business cards and maybe even flyers to pass out so people who see you at the show can contact you later. Just be sure that you have the time available if you get a good response.
  9. EngineerKyle

    EngineerKyle Member


    My intention is not to show a profit, as I would build models anyway for fun. This should be interesting.

    What do you think of this flyer? I printed up 50.

    View attachment 35300

    Attached Files:

  10. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    looks pretty good to me :thumb: so how much do you charge to build ,say a 10.5 by 10.5 layout...:D .but building layouts would be one cool way to make a living,maybe you could get a job at MRR.sign1 .--josh
  11. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    It looks good. You really can't give pricing quotes without knowing what the customer wants you to do. Fair prices posted on the models you bring to sell should help show what sort of prices you charge. I think you should print up a lot more than 50 copies though. If the show is very big, you will probably be able to get rid of 1000 or more. That won't mean that you will get a thousand responses, but you will probably get a small percentage of responses back, and of those, a few may want you to do something to help them. 50 fliers is such a small number that you will run out in 1/2 hour or less. If you are doing them on your computer printer at home, remember paper is cheap.
  12. stripes

    stripes Member

    I recomend that you attend the show with no expectations other than to have a great day with your son! If you sell a few items and break even or better yet make money, awesome!!
    As far as the modules , bring what you can because if they sell you will want to fill in gaps, set them up so that there is space to see them without crowding
  13. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Looks like a decent flyer.

    yes, but ink is not... It is cheaper to get them done (even in colour) at a copy centre than it will be to print your own.

    I think David's advice is good - have fun...!

    Good luck!


Share This Page