All photos copyright XRX, Inc. Used with permission.
When you attend a consumer knit and crochet show like STITCHES for the first time, it’s easy to be totally overwhelmed the second you set foot onto the Market Floor. The largest event, STITCHES West held in California every February, has hundreds and hundreds of vendors across 17 or 18 aisles of booth spaces: You can’t even see the entire show floor when you walk in the door. Even the smallest event, STITCHES South, has close to 100 vendors taking up 157 booth spaces (STITCHES South 2015).
You will see more yarn, crochet hooks, books, patterns, tools and implements, yarn bowls, and other fiber-related items than you’ve ever seen all in one place in your entire life. You will see so many things you love and want to bring home with you. However, if you go in to the Market Floor without a plan, it can be all too easy to blow your entire show budget before you even get to the end of the first aisle of vendor booths.
Shopping is fun and exciting, but you want to leave yourself enough money to eat and be able to pay your hotel bill when you check out after the show is over. You also don’t want to have your excitement ruined by finding that your credit/debit card is suddenly being declined. I hope the following tips for managing your money at STITCHES will help you go home with a fabulous collection of new yarn and other products to enjoy with no residual guilt from overspending.
7 Tips for Managing Your Money
1. Set a spending budget before leaving home.
- Decide how much money you have to spend for the entire trip.
- Allocate that money across various expenses: hotel room, plane ticket or gasoline, drinks and meals, classes or other events you’re attending, and shopping.
- Bring cash or prepaid Visa/MC cards for your Market Floor purchases. When there’s no more cash or balance left on your prepaid cards, your spending is done.
- If you will be using a regular credit card, bring a special envelope to store all your receipts. As you make a purchase, write the total on the outside of the envelope. Once or twice a day, sit down and total up the money you’ve spent so far. Stop spending once you reach your budgeted amount for shopping.
2. Alert your credit or debit card company before leaving home.
The vendors at the show will come from many widespread locations. If you make several purchases in a relatively short period of time, and they come from vendors in a number of different states, these purchases may trigger your card’s fraud alert department. To avoid having a temporary block put on your card, requiring a call to your card company to get lifted, call them before you leave home. They can make a note in your account that you plan to be making a lot of purchases over the dates of the show so all your purchases will go through without issue.
3. Take a tour of the entire market floor before making your first purchase.
Many vendors may have “no return” policies, simply because returns take more time to process and their booths are often so busy processing sales, they don’t have time to process a return because a customer has changed their mind and wants to purchase something from another vendor instead. (The “no return” policy will not apply is you find a defect in the product you bought, but that’s a pretty rare occurrence.) You don’t want to risk blowing your budget by the end of aisle 2 only to find the absolutely perfect yarn for you on aisle 4 and you have no more money left to spend.
Here are my suggestions for touring the market floor:
- First make a list of anything specific that you’re looking for, such as yarn for a particular project or a new special yarn bowl.
- When you see something you think you want to purchase, make detailed notes: the name and number of the booth, item description, and price. If you want multiples of an item, be sure to include the unit price, number you want, and the total price.
- Sometimes it can help to have pictures of the items you want to buy. Please remember that taking photos in booths is only allowed if you have permission from the booth owner. If you tell booth owners that you’re taking photos so you can prioritize your intended purchases, most will be happy to let you take a photo of their products. They want you to come back and buy their product(s), after all!
4. Give yourself permission to go ahead and buy the things you just can’t live without.
Vendors can only bring a certain number of items with them. While they may have some backstock of certain items so they can replenish as they sell out throughout the show, you never know when you might be looking at all that is available of a certain item. If you run across something that you absolutely MUST have, give yourself permission to buy it during your initial tour. Just be very, very sure it really is a MUST HAVE item.
5. Make a prioritized list of what you want to buy.
If you’re like me after I’ve toured the show floor, you have a list of items practically a mile long. I generally cannot afford to purchase everything on my list. Here are the steps I use to prioritize my list:
- Make a careful review of all items on the list.
- Assign each item a number in priority order.
- Make a new list with the items in priority order, keeping a running list of the total amount spent.
- Stop adding items to that list when I reach my total budget.
- Consider stopping your list when you still have some money left in your budget, to allow for some impulse shopping throughout the rest of the show.
- Review the new prioritized list.
- Review the list of items that didn’t make that list and decide if I want to re-prioritize anything.
- Make a clean, fresh copy of your prioritized list if you made any changes.
6. Go shopping!
You know that you can afford to buy everything on your list without guilt, so relax, have fun, and go shopping!
- Decide whether you want to go on a whirlwind shopping spree and purchase everything on your list or spread your purchases throughout the entire time you’ll be at the show.
- Remember that if you wait too long to purchase some items that are quite popular, the vendor may be sold out when you return to their booth.
- To maximize your shopping pleasure, be sure to talk to other show attendees. Spend some time working on a project in the seating area on the show floor, in the lobby outside the market, or in the hotel lobby. Ask others what projects they’re working on or what they’ve bought so far. Other attendees are usually all too happy to talk about their purchases! You just may discover something you’ve overlooked.
7. Bring your own lunch, snacks, and drinks.
Food available in the food court is often expensive and healthier options are not always available. You can save a lot of money by bringing your own lunch, snacks, and drink bottle with you.
YOUR Tips for Managing Your Money
Do you have any tips on managing your money when you attend a show like STITCHES? We’d love to know your favorite ways for making sure you don’t go home all stressed out over having spent too much money.
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