Doll Shows 101: Preparation/General Tips

Last week, I wrote a post about the etiquette that should be followed while attending a doll show. For this post, I thought I would touch on some ways you may want to prepare for attending a doll show!

1: Save, Save, Save!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t attend a show expecting solely to window shop. Doll shows are the best places to shop, so it’s super important for you to save some cash before your doll show! A month or two prior to your doll show, begin saving a few bucks here and there in case you see your next favorite doll. Maybe pass on that Iced Chai Latte you pick up once a week and put that money towards your doll fund. Did you just have a birthday and receive some cash? Move that directly into your doll fund. It’s tempting to think that having actual money saved for a show isn’t super important if you have access to a credit card or two and you’re good at keeping your credit card debt low and/or paid off. But, there’s a huge caveat to that…

Kane County Doll Show Highlights

2: Remember, Not Everyone Accepts Debit/Credit Cards

There’s nothing worse than spotting a grail item of yours at a show just to find out the dealer doesn’t accept debit or credit cards. This is why saving your money and hitting up the nearest ATM is very, very important when preparing to attend a doll show. I’ve been in a few situations where I fell in love with a doll, just to have to leave it at the show because the dealer could only accept cash. It’s an unfortunate situation for both buyers and sellers!

More and more dealers are signing up for services that will allow them to take card, but if you’re dealing with someone who is, say, a ‘retired’ collector who’s working their first show table, you can’t assume they’ll accept anything other than cash. I’ve also run into situations where the on-site ATM was broken or out of money to dispense, which is another reason to remember to bring cold, hard cash to your next doll show. That being said…

kane County dol show highlights

3: Budget, You Should

Knowing how much you can or should spend at a show in advance is an important thing to keep in mind. Overspending at a doll show can be very, very easy. (I know, I’ve done it many times before.) Buyers remorse is a thing that is real and, rest assured, like many of you, I’ve felt it, too!)

How does one budget for a show when they don’t know what will be on display, you ask? I find it helpful to make a mental list of what I would like to pick up at the show to add to my collection. That way, I have a clear idea of what I’m looking for and how much of my money I am willing to part with to cross the new acquisition off my list.

For example, if I haven’t added a new Skipper to my collection in a while, I’ll make that my ‘goal’ at the show and will be careful about dropping too much money on other dolls. I did that a few doll shows ago when I realized I had very few of Skipper’s friend Skooter in my collection, so at the show, I made an effort to keep an eye out for one. (I ended up finding one that day!) This helps with budgeting, because then you can figure out how much money you want to dedicate (theoretically) to what you’re looking for. Knowing what you are looking for and if it fits in your budget is a great way to not overspend.

kane County dol show highlights

4: Ask For a Card

Sometimes, it’s not possible to take home a doll that you fall in love with, because you just don’t have the cash at the moment to afford it. If that happens, have no fear– just ask for a card with contact info so you can reach out when you do. Also, it may be wise to inquire about if the vendor is open to something like layaway! They want the sale just as much as you want the chance to add a doll to your collection. It never hurts to ask what other options there are to successfully not go broke, while still getting the doll you’re looking for!

Kane County Doll Show Highlights

5: If You’re Selling, Remember To Put On A Show

This is a tip for future doll vendors/dealers that was mentioned in a comment on my last post. I thought it was worth shining a little more spotlight on it, because the dealer made a good point. If you see yourself moving into the world of doll dealing at doll shows, you have to put on a show. That includes advertising that you’ll be somewhere via social media sites, stocking your booth with dolls that are fairly priced, greeting your shoppers with a smile and making an impact on your potential customers by learning about them.

If I were going to move into doll dealing, I would definitely look at the show itself as a jumping off point. Shoppers don’t look for dolls just during the yearly doll show, they look year round, so it’s an asset to know what they’re looking for and to make good, solid connections with your customers. Who’s to say they don’t love one of your dolls, but just can’t afford it? Hand them your card and tell them to reach out when they can, assuming the doll is still available. The doll show itself is just one part of what will help you sell your products.

That being said, I am not a doll dealer and never plan on being one. My collection will eventually just be handed down to people who want the dolls, with no monetary gain for myself. (Nothing is wrong with selling your dolls, but I’d rather just give them to people who like them, personally.) These tips for point number five come from a comment from a reader, my five years working customer service at Barnes and Noble and being a born showman when I need to be!

So, there you have it– Five tips on how to best prepare for your first, tenth, or 100th doll show! Do you have a tip you’d like to pass along to other readers on how to prepare for a doll show? Is there a question you’ve had about doll shows that you’re curious about? Share it in the comment area!


October 27, 2018. Tags: . Uncategorized. 4 comments.

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