Lessons from a Doll Show

On Sunday, I had tables at the Toy & Doll Supershow, formerly the Collectors Supershow, Denver's sole remaining annual doll show.  I really wish we could get some other doll shows going again, but fortunately this one is really good.  It is always packed with dealers and has high attendance, probably in large part because the woman who organizes it, Dana Cain, is amazeballs at marketing her events.

I was pretty much slammed from the time the early bird admission started until about midway through the show.  I sold a lot, mostly American Girl stuff, even though I had both AG and vintage (mostly 50s) stuff on the tables.

I was so slammed, I only managed to get a couple pictures of our table, at the end where I had Grace's bakery set up.

The sale was overall successful, but there were some takeaways: some things I liked and want to do again next year, and others I want to do differently.

What I liked:

  • American Girl.  American Girl was the big seller at this show.  Hardly any of the 50s dolls sold, but unlike last year, I had a lot of American Girl in our booth, and that's what sold.  Next year I plan to start my rehabs well in advance and have a lot more of dolls, clothes, accessories, and large items.
  • Three tables.  This was our first year having three tables instead of two, and I liked it!  More expensive, but it gave me more space for large items such as the bakery and furniture pieces.  It'll depend on how much I have next year, but I would definitely consider doing three tables again.
  • The bakery.  Whether or not I bring the bakery next year (I may try to sell it locally on Marketplace before then), I will most likely take that approach again of featuring something big and eye-catching.  It got a lot of attention, even if it didn't sell.

What I'll change:

  • Vintage dolls.  Last year I realized that while this show used to be a good way to reach the vintage doll market, that's not true anymore.  Shoppers tend to be younger and interested in newer dolls, so the 1950s dolls my mom and I used to collect aren't selling well there.  We still brought some of them this year, but it was mostly just the American Girl that sold.  I think I can probably find a better market for the vintage dolls online, so I'll bring a lot fewer of them next year.
  • Restringing.  I had been planning to offer doll restringing at the show, but I totally dropped the ball on marketing it, and as a result didn't have any interest in it during the show.  To be fair, I really didn't have time either!  Next time, I'll set my husband up to take payments and answer more questions, and have a table and signage devoted to restringing.
  • Prep time.  I tend to be a procrastinator, so it's no surprise that I found I didn't really have enough time to prep for the show.  I got about a dozen dolls rehabbed for the show over a couple days' time, mostly by depriving myself of sleep.  I need to start rehabbing dolls for the show several months in advance next time, as well as bagging and tagging outfits, accessories and other items.
  • Market!  I really dropped the ball on marketing this year.  I should have been prepping earlier and taking pictures of the process for my Instagram.  I also should have been posting listings on Facebook and Craigslist promoting my booth at the show and my restringing services, probably a good month or so in advance.  I realized today that I didn't ever post in my Facebook doll groups, either, which I also should have done.
Despite all the lessons I learned on making sure to do everything well in advance, I'm already itching to do another doll show.  I wish the Denver Metro area had more than just this one remaining!



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