Alongside more than 200 artisan craft makers, several EdCorps had the opportunity to show off their student-run businesses at the annual Handmade Arcade in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago.

For fourteen years, Handmade Arcade has been providing opportunities for artisans to connect with the community through making, sharing, and learning and draws 10,000+ attendees each year. The student-run businesses that joined for the day had to think through a lot of factors to be ready for their biggest selling event to date.  Here are four best practices that EdCorps Founders and students used to expertly navigate this large-scale market.

Perfect Preparation Pays Off

In the weeks leading up to the event, fifth-grade educators Michelle David and Kristy Frohliger challenged their

students to find a way to efficiently cart their product and displays in and out of the convention center.

“We knew we had little time for setting up and tearing down so we needed to be organized.” ~Kristy Frohliger

While the students made lists of everything they should bring, the educators located a collapsible wagon and a cart. The students configured the carts, fit all of the necessary supplies,  and designed the table displays. Kristy and Michelle took photos of the work so that the students could replicate it at the event, and for any and all future events.

“The students can easily repack and be ready for the next event following these photos as a guide.” ~Michelle David

It Takes Energy and Enthusiasm to Succeed

The elementary students behind Heroes with Heart arrived in the morning, ready to hit the ground running! EdCorp Founder Sherrie Silvio helped her students expertly manage their booth while simultaneously running a “Make and Take” table where they helped other children make Glittery Bracelets. This was arguably the hit of the Make and Take area with parents and children alike. None to waste a good opportunity, the students used their time at both the booth and table to promote their EdCorp business. By the end of the morning, they sold close to $500 of their hallmark product, their stuffies.

“I’m a positive person, always looking for the good in each situation, so I believe I model that well for these girls to take on that same persona – and that’s how we get through anything that comes our way.” ~Sherrie Silvio

Heroes with Heart
Heroes with Heart at Handmade Arcade

People Love a Good Story

Being part of a large artisan market like Handmade Arcade can be daunting. The middle school students of Jeweliful quickly became experts at drawing people to their booth and sharing their story several times over, never losing their desire to make great things happen. EdCorp Founder Sarah McCarty, as an artisan craft vendor herself, was able to guide her students to succeed. Selling both Pittsburgh-themed mugs and handmade bracelets, the students found their groove and enjoyed the experience. It was clear that people want to hear about student-run businesses and it was great practice for students to share.

Jeweliful at Handmade Arcade
Students interact with customers at Handmade Arcade.

Look Beyond Just One Event

There are many unknowns when preparing for a selling event, like how much inventory to make and bring. As the students behind each EdCorp discovered, sometimes you leave the event with more inventory than expected. It’s important to consider these types of events as a part of a larger marketing and selling strategy so that inventory overflow can still be put to good use. Planning beyond one event will assure that morale stays high and there is a diversity of learning experiences. One event shouldn’t make or break your business.

Large-scale events like this are big-time opportunities for students to hone their people skills and project management while growing their business. The fact that they can learn vital skills alongside real-world entrepreneurs as peers is an even bigger win.

“This was so much fun! I can’t wait to do it again!” ~Ava, student